Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Two Hands Snatch - Al Murray (2054)

Article Courtesy of Liam Tweed

I am beginning this article in amusement as I have just finished running through the books and articles on the two hands snatch which I have collected over the years, many of which have been written in countries other than Britain. The amusing part being the fact that they nearly all cover this highly technical lift in half a page, when one could easily devote 2,000 words to over a dozen sections of the lift. However, in spite of this I will attempt to cover the most important phases in one article.

Let us deal with the grip on the bar. Many years ago the grip used was a comparatively narrow one, this meant that the bar had to be pulled somewhere between the chest and the chin so that you could lower the body low enough to get under the bar. Then came the extreme wide grip which meant that the body could be lowered under the bar before it reached the height necessary with the old fashioned narrow grip, BUT and it's a big but, for when one when uses a very wide grip the power of shoulder pull is greatly reduced owing to the fact that the hands are too far sideways from the vertical line passing through the shoulder joint greatly increases the resistance placed on the muscles of the shoulder girdle.

The correct path is somewhere between the two. Place the arms in the sideways stretch position, now bend the arm to right angles, get someone to measure the distance from elbow to elbow and this should give you the distance of grip suitable to you personally. This will give you the advantages of both wide and narrow grip.

Feet should be placed slightly wider than the breadth of the hips so that during the pull the resistance is transmitted vertically down through the hip, knee, and ankle joint and over the ball of the foot cutting down on unfavorable leverage. Once you have placed your feet in this position grip the bar making sure that it is directly over the insteps.

Your back should be flat but not vertical, otherwise too much weight will be over the heels. Place the shoulders slightly in advance of the bar, head up, eyes looking to the front. This means that the weight is evenly distributed over the whole of the foot and ensures that the bar starts its upward journey along a vertical path instead of the incorrect and common backward pull.

I prefer to call the first part of the pull THE LIFT.

To raise the bar to the height of the knees you should direct the head, shoulders, and hips upwards at approximately the same time, this takes the knees backwards sufficiently to allow the bar to maintain its vertical path.

Now comes the second phase which I call the THRUST OR HEAVE.

This part of the lift takes place as the bar passes the knees (see Figure 1)

 Click to ENLARGE

It is at this stage that you exert your full power of pull in this manner. As the bar starts to pass the knees THRUST THE HIPS UPWARDS AND INTO THE BAR. AT THE SAME TIME RAISE THE CHEST AS HIGH AS POSSIBLE PULLING VICIOUSLY WITH THE LEGS, BACK ARMS AND SHOULDERS. This should bring you slightly forward into the ball of both feet and to the point where you feel yourself about to loose your balance forwards.

Now comes the third stage called the SPLIT, and when you do jump astride make sure that BOTH FEET LEAVE THE FLOOR AT EXACTLY THE SAME TIME. This will ensure that your balance is not disturbed by the very common fault of pulling on one leg or kicking back with the rear leg, which causes one to lose balance to one side. Note the full extension of the pull in Figure 2.

Once you have taken both feet off the floor you must keep the trunk and head in an upright position whilst the body is being lowered forward under the bar. The rear foot will then come in contact with the floor first, due to the limitation of hip extension (backward movement of the hip joint). This assists in controlling the balance of the body and can be useful in forcing the body forward under the bar.

The fourth stage is known as the PUSH and it comes almost as soon as the front foot hits the floor. The bar at this stage should now be passing the top of the head, the wrists should now be turning from palm down to palm upwards. Now comes the push. Your wrists have turned over, the front foot is now on the floor with the body still a little behind the bar, push the heel of the hand viciously upwards and at the same time PUSH the knee of the front leg forwards over the toes, this should bring the body into line under the bar as in Fig. 3.

The fifth and final stage is the RECOVERY. To recover from Fig. 3 is comparatively simple if done correctly. You will note by Fig. 3 that considerable weight is over the front foot. To recover tip the backwards gently and as the weight starts to move back brace the rear leg and push strongly off the front leg, the body will now rise up and back pivoting from the rear foot, as the body moves back the front foot will begin to leave the floor, step back a few inches with the front foot, check the backward movement of the bar. Tip the bar ever so slightly forwards to transfer the weight on to the front foot, at the same time bring the rear foot in line with the front foot, pause for two seconds then lower the bar on the completion of the lift.

Training for this lift is quite a tricky business. There are many assistance exercises of great value in perfecting the lift itself.

The high pull exercise is a popular movement, but it can be greatly improved upon. Grip the bar as in the snatch itself and perform the pull as in the lift, but instead of splitting the legs for and aft, merely step forward a few inches to regain your balance, then lower the bar and repeat in sets of threes, twos, and singles with similar poundages as used in the snatch, as follows:

Assuming your top Snatch is around 160 pounds . . .

Take 100 pounds to warm up with, perform 4 reps concentrating on technique and balance. Then take 110 x 3, 120 x 3, 130 x 3, 140 x 2, 145 x 1. Drop back to 130 for 3 sets of 3.

There are many variations on this schedule but space prevents me from enlarging the number of schedules. However, I would like to add that the Front Squat (bar held on chest) is a REALLY GREAT SNATCH ASSISTANCE EXERCISE. This is best performed in sets of 5, say 4 or 5 sets jumping by 20 pounds each set until you reach the final poundage where you can just squeeze out 5 reps.       

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Bench Press - Judd Biasiotto

What an Elite Bencher Looks Like to an Ascended Being.
For a while, I knew a twig with a three-color leaf that became one of them.
Lately, there's a piece of broken bottle that's appears to be getting close
when the Sun gives it a boost of visual energy. 
A few more go-rounds and being broken on The Wheel of Life and it'll be there!

"For the Love of God, man . . . seek professional help before you actually understand something!" 

If you took a survey of American lifters, I'm sure you'd undoubtedly find that the bench press is by far the most popular lift. If you checked, you'd probably find that it's the most popular  lift in the world. Everyone benches, even the Russians, and just about everyone loves to do it -- except for me. 

For the longest time I hated the bench press with a passion. Just the thought of it would turn my stomach. If course, I had a few good reasons for the way I felt. First, but certainly not foremost, was the fact that I never had what you'd call an awesome bench press. It's true that I once out-benched Pee Wee Herman, but not by much. Generally, I used my bench press as a rest period between my squat and my deadlift.

Another thing that bothered me about the bench press was that everyone and his brother consider it the ultimate criterion for strength. No matter where you are, if people find out that you're a weight lifter, the first thing they ask you is, "How much do you bench?" If you don't come up with some great big numbers, they look at you as if you're someone who trains at Spa Lady. It's absurd -- especially when you consider that the bench press is the least important of the three powerlifts because you can lift significantly less weight on it. You can be blown away in the bench by 50 pounds -- whereas in the squat and deadlift you can be blown away by 250 pounds. Obviously, if you're a powerlifter, you'd be better off with a good squat and deadlift than a good bench. On the other hand, if you're a bodybuilder, it doesn't matter if you can bench press your own bodyweight as long as you look as if you can bench an apartment complex.

In the past, when I'd try to explain that to powerlifters or bodybuilders, they'd look at me as if I were intellectually constipated. In short, it seemed that everyone wanted a big bench, whether it was important or not.

The thing that grated on my the most, though. was that a lot of guys were cheating on the lift. In fact, in my opinion, there was more cheating going on involving the bench press than you'll find being discussed in most divorce courts. 

So what changed my mind about the bench press? 

It's simple. I learned how to cheat. That's right, I learned how to cheat, and my bench jumped fro 285 to 320 at a bodyweight of 132 in less than four months -- without my using a bench shirt. What's even more amazing is that I honestly don't believe my strength increased during that time. In other words, by learning to cheat -- which in this case means "correcting" my form -- I increased my bench by approximately 35 pounds without significantly enhancing my strength. 

Note: There's something to be learned there concerning the use of numbers only to measure strength. Argue at will online about it. Fer zample, a bench performed with an arch, the bar taken to the upper gut swelled out, etc. (you know the drill) . . . compared to a bench with the back completely flat on the bench and the bar taken to above the nipples (there's that drill again, what are you . . . a dentist?). Argue at will to no end if you please.

I'm sure you'd like to know how to cheat the way I do, right? The major secret is the arch. According to powerlifting rules, you're allowed to arch your back as much as possible during the bench press as long as your shoulders and buttocks remain in contact with the bench -- so it's not really cheating, according to competitive rules. 

The idea is to roll your shoulders under and then inch your buttocks in the direction of the shoulders as much as possible. In other words, you want to position your body so it looks like an inverted U. By arching your back that way, you can significantly increase the height of your chest above the bench, and the higher you can elevate your chest relative to your arm length, the less mechanical work you have to do to perform the lift. Arching also helps you increase the horizontal distance that the bar travels in the lift.

I've taken a good five inches off my bench press stroke by arching. Obviously, that makes the lift a lot easier because I'm not moving the weight as far. 

Another good technique is to learn to drive with your legs. That's right, you can use your legs to do exactly what most great benchers have done: taken a chest exercise and made it a near total-body exercise. By supporting the weight with your shoulders and legs and by just grazing the bench with your buttocks -- thus, staying within the rules -- you can generate momentum from your legs to your upper body. According to Dr. Thomas McLaughlin, a biomechanics expert who'd done extensive analysis of the bench press, the preferred leg position is with your legs parallel to the bench. As he said, "When the legs are positioned at this angle, the momentum generated by the legs can be channeled horizontally through the body much better than if the legs are out at an angle to the bench." 

Also according to McLaughlin, "The effect of the momentum -- especially in the more dramatic cases when bridging/arching is used to help this even more -- is to move the bar toward the shoulders. 

Note: McLaughlin's book is on this blog in full. You'll find it by, um, looking for it, eh.
Ah Fark! There's 16 parts not counting the Table of Contents post, starting here:

In fact, the result of this momentum transfer is to cause the bar path to be transferred horizontally toward the head and for the bar to move at lower angles toward the head. These changes in bar path caused by the momentum transfer in bridging/arching are exactly what constitutes superior technique in bench pressing. This is the main reason that bridging helps bench pressing -- i.e., by focusing a better bar path. 

There's only one little problem with arching like that to enhance your bench press -- it's dangerous. (They don't mention that much, do they. How often do you hear of some strength and/or powerlifting "coach" reminding you that when coupled with regular hard power squat and reg deadlift training the powerlifting bench press can lead to . . . and why should they! "Come on, we're tryin' to sell hats, supps, manuals and DVDs here, Bra." The whole race, we human beings that is, are basically whores for one thing or another. Cash, power, respect from pets, fictitious religious rewards, family, notions of service, health today, longevity tomorrow and all combinations therein. She's a long list. And so is he. Here's to all us whores! Whores to whatever it is that gives us the delusion of a meaning we can live with depending on our current view of what's it . . . 'worth'. But I'm sure you already see and know that and have gone on to stage two . . . refusing to see and know that.). Anyhow . . . You significantly increase your potential for injury to the lower back due to extensive lower-back hyperextension. In addition, any transfer of momentum from the legs to the upper body will result in more lumber hyperextension, so there's an even greater potential for injury. 

Obviously, lower-back flexibility is not only necessary if you're going to perform your benches with a big arch, but it's also necessary to help protect against injury. Still, even with superior flexibility, there's  chance for injury. You should consider this before deciding to use a technique that includes a big bridge. (And if you do choose to do so, remember the stress it can put on your lower back, and design your total program with that in mind. Or don't.)

A few other considerations now. 

Your grip. Generally speaking most top bench pressers use a wide grip, and there's some scientific evidence indicating that a wide-grip bench is potentially better than a narrow-grip bench. While there must be more research before we can draw a definite conclusion about bench press grips, I believe I can present a good argument for the wide grip from a strictly empirical standpoint.

First of all, in terms of mechanics, the wider your grip the shorter the life span of your shoulders . . . no, wait a second here . . . the wider your grip the shorter the distance the bar has to travel. I've seen some guys, like Lamar Gant, cut out a good foot of their bench press stroke by using these techniques.

How much could you bench if you shortened the distance the bar travels by a foot? I guarantee it would be a dramatic improvement, and if and when the rules grow up and start recognizing that short guys have access to much, much more grip width variation in the bench than tall guys, well, maybe we'll all be able to experiment with those wider widths. Don't hold your valsalva, though, this is likely a ways off still. That 32" deal, eh. A wee bit from the bottom of the deck, isn't it.

Another plus for using a wide grip is muscle involvement. As you're probably aware, a wide (damn you, hyphen) grip bench involves the pectoralis major more and the triceps less. With a close grip the revers is true. Since the largest muscle mass used in the bench press is the pec major (stop saying "the back" you wiseacre), it seems logical that you'd want to involve that muscle more. The closer your grip, the more the triceps are brought into play. Then, as you move your hands outward, the more the combination of triceps, deltoids and pecs takes over.

"Of course. Obviously!"

Obviously, the more muscles you bring into play, the greater your strength potential. Plus, your potential for strength is much greater in the pectoralis major than the triceps because of the pec major's much larger muscle mass. While I won't deny that there are some top bench pressers who use narrow grips, they're few and far between. Not only that, but I honestly believe that even those lifters would improve their bench numbers if they moved their grips out. 

"I see and agree." 

The next consideration is the question of whether or not greater enjoyment and audience involvement can occur in a work of storytelling art that does not limit itself by self-enforcing a plot or some sense of 'ending' along the way. The stability of characters, when allowed the fluidity of often changing expressions of behavior as is true in life, can be widened out and therefore become less predictable to the reader/viewer. Black hat, white hat, hats of all hues between. Developing a sense that all things emanate/manifest from the same foundation of energy transfer and are in that way connected/related can lead to characterizations of combination beings easily moving from one physical form of manifestation to others. The multi-species, variable form hero of the story who is shown in Chapter One to be a failing 40-year old human being but is a successful falling autumn leaf at the completion of a fulfilling life in Chapter Five. Or some such unrelated nonsense that is so rarely used to widen the scope of the storytelling experience, likely owing to a lack of energy input on the part of reader/viewers and an  inability to see the sentient life in all things. Incapacitated we are. But by what or whom? We really don't wanna know that. It ain't pretty. Whoooooom??? Who-What the hell is behind stopping the return of the mind to its all encompassing power and and a fuller perception of the life in all things? Wellsir, I guess that'd be you and me, then, ain't it. We ARE the WhoWhat! Talk about yer passive/aggressive crimes against the universe, Buddy! All this life and consciousness viewed as inanimate, blunt, and conveniently 'less' than us. And all these 'beliefs' spread by those who can gain power by leading us right into this abyss of semi-consciousness. Duped, I tells ya . . . we bin duped! Dupes! Now No future!!! No worries, though. Just poke out one eye, refuse to use whole sections of your brain, read some bloody crap in a series of currently accepted texts and  . . . call that your world view. Problem? Solved!

There was a child went forth everyday,
           And the first object he looked upon, that object he became,
           And that object became part of him for the day or a certain
              part of the day,
           Or for many years or stretching cycles of years.
Rubbish! Rubbish I tells ya!!! The whole idea of such a thing. 

Now. Consider the bar's ascent and descent. There are two very important points. The first is that we're all anatomically different. Consequently, each and every one of us has to develop his or her own groove. Not everyone's bench is going to look exactly the same. There are, however, some general rules to follow when developing your groove.

The second point is that strength is very specific. Even a slight deviation in your groove can cause a significant change in muscle involvement and a decrease in strength. I've experienced that phenomenon on numerous occasions. I'd attempt a weight in competition and miss it badly. Even so, I'd add more weight to the bar for my next attempt and smoke it. If course, the difference between the two lifts was that on the first one I missed my groove and on the other I nailed it. It all boils down to the fact that you need to develop your groove and then make a conscious effort to follow it on each lift lift you attempt -- even on your warmup lifts.

As for the descent, there are only two things to remember. First, let the bar descend straight down to the highest point on your chest, and try to stay as tight as possible. Be careful not to let the bar free-fall from the straight arm position to your chest. There's considerable research indicating that it takes more strength to stop the bar and reverse inertia when you let it descend at a controlled rate. Of course, it's also dangerous to free-fall the weight.

The second point about the descent concerns your elbows. They should be tucked near your sides during the descent. Whatever you do, don't let them flare outward, because you'll decrease your mechanical efficiency for driving the weight off your chest and through your sticking point.

On the ascent, according to McLaughlin, "Lifters should develop a horizontal bar path that's as close to the shoulders as feasible. The displacement of the bar path toward the shoulders reduces the torque that the lifter is required to generate at the shoulders. The initial movement of the bar from the chest should therefore include a substantial horizontal component toward the head and shoulders and should generally continue along this path until completion of the lift." In gym terms that means, when you push the bar off your chest, gradually drive it back over your eyes until you reach a lockout position.        
Note: the use of bench shirts can create a different animal. But argue forever online about the merits of a straighter bar path as opposed to the curved arc nonetheless. Remember the arguments for and against a straight bar path in the Clean/Snatch movement arc?

Okay, here's nine tips for a bigger bench press:

1) Arch your lower back and inch your butt forward toward your shoulders as far as possible. Your torso should form an inverted U. Note: be cautious, as this is a dangerous position for your lower back.

2) Plant your feet and keep your legs parallel to the bench, not angling out.

3) Use a wide grip to force the larger pec muscles into the role of the prime mover and to create better synergy from the pecs, triceps and delts.

4) Find your groove and consciously try to duplicate it on every set.

5) Control the bar's descent straight down to the highest point on your arched torso. Don't let it free-fall.

6) As the bar descends, keep your elbows tucked near your sides.

7) On the ascent, develop an horizontal path that's as close to the shoulders as possible.

8) Drive with your feet. Your butt should be barely grazing the bench so you achieve maximum power from your legs.

9) As you push, gradually drive the bar back over your eyes until you reach blackout, er, lockout.

And there you have the mid-90's view on bench technique.

Here's a sample big-bench routine:



Bench Press -
1x8 x 65% of 1RM
1x5 x 80% of 1RM
1x3 x 90%
1x1 x 100%
1x3 x 85% - with a 3 second pause on each rep.

Dumbbell Bench Press -
2 x 8 x max

Dip -
2 x 8 x max

Lying Triceps Extension -
2 x 8 x max,
substitute apple sauce and 30 weight motor oil for butter twice a month
and remember to keep practicing the Band-Aids song. Come On! 


Bench Press -
1x8 x 65%
1x5 x 75%
1x3 x 85%
1x1 x 90-95%
1x3 x 80% with a 3 second pause on each rep.

Dumbbell Bench Press -
2x8 x 90% of 8 rep max
This was the way they used to write RPE back then.
In the early 1920's they would . . . well, that's another story for another time
from another time. Check the research, Bro. This shit is all new!

Dip -
2x8 x 9% of 8 rep max

Lying Triceps Extension -
2 x 8 x 90% of 8 rep max.

Okay, Tiger. Make like that silly child up there and get to work on your bleedin' bench already! 


Thursday, June 21, 2018

Arnold Schwarzenegger - Basic Mass Training (Gene Mozee)

While almost all newcomers to bodybuilding are faced with the problem of gaining weight and adding muscle size, the majority are able to make satisfactory progress without needing special help. There are, however, a number of slower gainers who find it more difficult to put on a basic foundation of muscle mass.

There are many factors that cause this, and eating habits are at the top of the list. You must supply your body with high-quality foods in sufficient amounts, protein foods for tissue building, as well as energy supplying carbohydrates and fats. Your goal should be to eat a well balanced diet that is both high in protein and high in good calories. Think of increasing your food intake much as you would your training poundages. Gradually increase your intake over time, making sure you never stuff yourself or force-feed to the point of simply wasting food. The human body is only capable of using the quantity of food that it adapts to, which can be increased slowly over time, again, much like it adapts to the amount of work it can recuperate from. Think "adaptation" and not sudden gross exaggeration.

Another factor that frequently interferes with progress is overworking -- too many exercises, too many sets and reps, too many days a week. All too often we try to follow the pre-contest routines of champion bodybuilders and hope to garner the same results. Just as you can't expect a passenger car to keep up with a top fuel dragster, there's just no way a bodybuilder without sufficient experience and a good foundation of muscle mass can keep up with an elite lifter. Excessively long, energy draining workouts in which you train to the point of complete exhaustion won't give you what you're after.

Too much energy expenditure outside of your lifting can also keep you from gaining much, if any muscle mass. Make sure you get plenty of rest and sleep on a regular basis while you are working to build basic muscle mass.

Never underestimate the importance of mental attitude. Mental strain can be a real energy drain on your body, which can adversely affect your workouts and your muscle growth. Always try to maintain a positive attitude toward yourself, keep calm, and stay relaxed around meal times. Just because those around you choose to throw themselves into a self-created living hell of negativity is no reason for you to join them down in the limbo of Dante's First Circle, going nowhere, gritting teeth all day and forgetting, no, refusing to even acknowledge their own power of choice. Let 'em fret and fume. You'll be glad you did once you've been alive long enough to realize that crap doesn't add up to anything in the long run. You may have to change your circle of friends as you become more open to the wonders of life, may even be left on your own at times without a social circle. What circle of Hell is that one, anyhow? Never let the childish fear of being alone determine what you do with your few years here on Earth. Or do. It's all up to you.

Learn to slow down, physically as well as mentally (except when needed). If you have trouble sleeping, check to see that you're in control of your mind. When it comes time to stop thinking and sleep, simply say "Don't Think" to yourself, give yourself the gift of mental silence, and drift off quickly into the land of refreshment and rest.

Now, on to the training methods we'll be using to gain weight and build a basic foundation of muscle mass. The most effective way to do this is to work your MAJOR MUSCLE GROUPS with the exercises that involve as many large muscles as possible yet still have you going through various full ranges of motion. Heavy weights on the big movements will bring you results at this point that isolation exercises simply cannot. I gained most of my beginning muscle mass on a program of 10 exercises that I performed three times a week, moving the poundages up as I could over time. After I built a satisfactory foundation of basic muscle I switched to more complex split routines and used many different exercises for each bodypart. Don't get ahead of yourself.

If you still need to put on 20 or more pounds of basic muscle mass, the following programs are for you, whether you've been lifting for one year or ten. The basics are what you need to add basic muscle mass. Is that really so hard to understand? 

These 10 movements are the ones that that helped me the most in my quest for a bigger physical foundation. Although they may already be familiar to you, please read the exercise descriptions for each, just to be certain you're performing them correctly for this purpose. Use these routines on three non-consecutive days, Monday/Wednesday/Friday for example. 

I prefer to add weight on the 2nd and 3rd sets and then stay at my Set 3 weight for the remaining sets. For example, if I can use 135 for 6 reps on the barbell curl, then my progression is as follows: ]

115 x 8
125 x 6
135 x 6
135 x 6
135 x 6.

Here are the exercises: 

1) Squat. 

This not only develops the thighs but it also strengthens the heart and lungs and improves general circulation. You will need to do your squats with the aid of racks so that you can use heavier poundages. Don't even think about wasting your time squatting if you don't have racks or boxes. With the bar across your shoulders on the shelf formed by your traps just below the base of your neck, lower yourself to a full-squat position while keeping your upper body straight and your back flat. Inhale deeply before going down, then exhale forcefully as you return to the starting position. Use the weight progression method shown above, dropping from 8 to 6 reps as you increase the poundage for your third set. You may not get all 6 reps on your last two sets. It's perfectly normal with a challenging weight for the last three sets to be, for example, 6, 5, 3or 4. Don't bloody worry! Just keep working at it until you do get 6 reps in all of the last 3 sets, then add weight to the bar next time and keep going.   

2) Bench Press.

This is my favorite exercise for adding basic muscle mass to my upper body, especially my pectorals. Squats induce heavy breathing when worked hard, so you get additions growth promoting benefits when you follow them with chest work. Use a fairly wide grip, don't arch your back much, lower the bar to just above your nipples, and then ram it back to the top. Inhale deeply before lowering the bar and exhale forcefully on the way up. Do five sets using the same add-weight method above.

3) Incline Press.

You won't find a better exercise for thickening your upper pecs and front delts. You can use either dumbbells or a barbell. Start with the bar at arm's length above your face. Lower it to your upper chest just below your neck, then press the bar forcefully to a position over your eyes at arm's length. Again use the same weight-add progression.

 4) Wide Grip Chin.

This is a great exercise for widening and shaping your upper back. Take a wide grip on a chinning bar and exhale as you pull yourself up until your chin is over the bar. Inhale as you lower yourself under control to a full stretch. Do 5 sets of 8-10 reps. If you can get more than 10 reps strap weight around your hips.

5) Bentover Barbell Row.

Grasp a barbell with a grip that's slightly wider than shoulder width and bend forward so that your upper body is parallel to the floor. Keep your back flat so that your lats do the work. Pull the weight up to your lower chest while exhaling and lower under control while inhaling. Use the add-weight system for 5 sets. 

6) Seated Press Behind Neck.

Take a medium-wide grip on a barbell that is behind your neck resting on your shoulders. Press the weight forcefully overhead while exhaling, then lower it under control to the starting position while inhaling. Perform 5 sets with the add-weight system above.

7) Barbell Curl.

Use a medium grip for direct biceps action, although you may wish to vary your grip to whatever feels comfortable for you. Stand with your arms hanging straight down and the bar resting at your upper thighs. Take a breath and exhale as you curl the bar all the way up to full flexion without swinging. Contract your biceps hard at the top and then lower the bar as you inhale. Use the add-weight system for five sets.

8) Lying Triceps Extension.

Lie on your back on a flat bench with a close grip (10 inches between the thumbs) on a bar at arm's above your chest. As you inhale lower the bar down and back, bending your elbows until the bar is behind the top of your head and below the level of your head. Ram the weight back to the starting position. Try not to let your elbows stray outward during this movement. Use the add-weight system for five sets.

9) Heavy Deadlifts.

Far too many bodybuilders neglect this great exercise. Start gradually with this one and do only three sets for the first two weeks. Once your back has become accustomed to the movement, add two sets and do 5 sets of 3-5 reps as you increase the weight on each set. Use and over-and-under grip on the bar, and alternate hand positions with each set. You know . . . right over/left under for set one; left over/right under for set two, etc.

 10) Calf Raises.

Go through the full range of motion for 5 sets of 10-15 reps.

The above program can build tremendous size and power over time, but it can prove too rugged for some beginning lifters. Here's a decent novice introductory routine:

Bent-Knee Situp: 1 x 15-20
Squat: 3 x 10
Bench Press: 3 x 8-10
Bentover Row: 3 x 8-10
Overhead Press: 3 x 8-10
Barbell Curl: 3 x 8-10
Deadlift: 2 x 10
Calf Raise: 3 x 15-20
Bent-Leg Raises: 1 x 15-25

During the first week of training do only one set of each exercise and rest to 2-3 minutes between exercises. Do two sets for the second week and increase to three sets for the third week. If the reps are easy when you hit the top number in the listed range, add weight to the bar, 5-10 pounds is sufficient. Increase your poundages whenever possible but use correct form at all times without intense straining. Beginners can make continuous progress on this program for a good three months.

Note: If you already have several years experience and you're stuck in a rut, parked on a plateau or having trouble coming up with another bland phrase that sounds poesy-like, basic beginner routines can often help you get past that point. Sometimes decreasing the complexity of your routine does the trick. Or not. You'll figure it out, and have an even more lasting, fulfilling takeaway from it all if you do this thing as much as possible on your own, using what you can from articles like this and other sources as well. Just don't throw up your hands in frustration and flail about earthbound like some silly clipped-wing bird who sees the neighbor's cat coming nearer. Think for yourself, be the canary in that coalmine and fight to understand the personal trials and tribulations that, as always, lie in wait for you. But not you, of course, 'cause you're just so damned special and different. Right?

If you are a bodybuilder with limited time to train, works long hours, has a large army of small children etc., try the following mass routine:

Squat: 5 x 8-10
Bench Press: 5 x 6-8
Wide Grip Chin or Pulldown: 5 x 8-10
Press Behind Neck: 5 x 6-8
Barbell Curl: 5 x 6-8
Lying Triceps Extension: 5 x 6-8
Deadlift: 5 x 3-5.

Go Get Em, Tiger.
Before the party's over.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

(As Complete as This Crap'll Get Here) From 'Ideal Manhood' to 'Muscle for Muscle's Sake'

 Chapter 3: From 'Ideal Manhood' to 'Muscle for Muscle's Sake'
Shift of Paradigm in the Middle Period (1940s - 1970s)

This chapter explores developments in organized bodybuilding culture in what I term the middle period, from the 1940s to the 1970s. This is a period marked, first, by the emergence for the first time of national and international structures and governing bodies for bodybuilding competition: these were either purpose-built organizations - i.e., created precisely in order to govern competition bodybuilding such as the International Federation of Bodybuilders (IFBB) in the US, and the National Amateur Bodybuilders Association (NABBA) in the UK - or already existing sports bodies that undertook the governance of bodybuilding contests, such as the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) in the USA; and second, by escalating competition and the development of different factions and interest within organized bodybuilding culture. 

Although comparative references are made in the European context, the focus shifts onto the USA as it becomes during the course of these decades the focal point of bodybuilding culture with an increasingly global influence.

Debates about the 'proper' meaning of bodybuilding, typically inscribed in the various systems of aesthetic criteria and rules of competition, often involved in indirect or direct ways claims over institutional power in an expanding field of social and economic activity. In an attempt to illustrate the antagonisms characteristic of this time and the progressive consolidation of a shift in the dominant model of organized bodybuilding culture, I focus on two prominent contests and the organizations that promoted them: The Mr. America, sanctioned by the AAU, and the Mr. Olympia, sanctioned by the IFBB. 

As I will demonstrate, these pivotal events functioned as flagships for the respective governing bodies, reflecting and (re-) producing the antagonistic models of physical culture and bodybuilding put forth by each. In researching them, I have greatly relied on the publications that were closely associated with them or represented similar viewpoints (Strength & Health and Iron Man magazines for the former, Muscle Builder magazine for the latter), and which I have used as sources of both factual information and dominant discourses that I attempt to analyze.

The Mr. America Contest: In Search of Ideal Manhood

The Mr. America has been one of the most widely recognizable and longstanding bodybuilding contests worldwide. [Evidence of the contest's prestige were the attempts of competing organizations to appropriate some of it by producing their own Mr. America contests. Unless otherwise specified, the Mr. America I discuss is the original one, sanctioned by and closely tied in all respects to the AAU.] 

Like the popular Miss America in search of the perfect specimen of womanhood, the Mr. America contest's objective was to showcase an 'ideal representation of American manhood' in every respect: physically, morally, and mentally. As phrased in the following editorial of Iron Man magazine, a leading publication of its time, "WE ARE ALL AGREED THAT WE MUST EITHER HAVE A MR. AMERICA WHO WILL BE AN IDEAL AMERICAN IN EVERY WAY or change the name to something like 'Best Built Man' or some other less inclusive title" (Iron Man, September 1954: 42, emphasis in original). The overt emphasis placed on the grand ideological framework of the nation's youth, health, strength and moral uprightness is situated in a post-World War II climate where physical preparedness becomes a central concern and index of patriotism.

The criteria for evaluating the 'good' body seem, in certain ways, in line with the early holistic model explored in Chapter Two. [Building 'Perfect' Bodies: The Restorative Model of the Early Period 1880s - 1930s]. In his discussion of the second, 1940, Mr. America contest held at Madison Square Garden, John Fair (Come On! You should know this author by now.) points out that "more emphasis was placed on muscular development, as signified in points and in the separate recognition of a most muscular man, but symmetry, posing and general appearance were nearly as important as in Macfadden's early Physical Culture shows". Muscular development, an aesthetic attribute, was still considered a derivative of more fundamental qualities, such as strength and health. Given the framing of the contest as in search of the ideal representative of American manhood, a series of new criteria were added. Thus, the decision was made by the governing body in 1955 to "gradually adopt such criteria as character, education, career aspirations, and athletic ability in a 'rather informal way' through an interview process." Significantly, athletic ability was introduced in 1956 as a formal criterion for the overall title. In the seminal article "Judging a Physique Contest," Bob Hoffman, head of the AAU committee for weightlifting and bodybuilding, stipulated: 

In selecting Mr. America, or any other Mr. Titlist, there should be an endeavor to select the best all-around man, a man who will be a credit to the title he bears, not just the most muscular, as too often has been done in some quarters. In selecting the title winner, whether Mr. America, Mr. Pennsylvania, Mr. New York City, or whatever the title being contested is called, the following system of scoring is employed: 

5 points for Symmetry of Proportions
5 points for Muscular Development
5 points for General Appearance, Skin, Hair, Posture, etc.
5 points for Athletic Ability.
 (Strength & Health, May 1957: 60)

In the detailed explication of each of the criteria of this judging system the link was consistently made to the overall ideal bodybuilding champions were expected to meet, that is a development of the whole person. With respect to athletic ability, the following case is made:

The fairest, simplest and surest way to measure a man's athletic ability is to ascertain his ability with the three lifts, practiced world over. The two-hands press, the two-hands snatch, the two-hands clean and jerk [all standardized movements in weightlifting competition]. A man who is a good performer with the three Olympic lifts will have developed physical ability which will permit him to perform well in a wide variety of athletic contests. He will have built super-strength, superior health, a well-balanced physique, and the expectancy of a long, happy, successful and useful life.

  - Featured above amongst his 'all-American' family is John Grimek, multiple winner of the Mr. America contest, Olympic weightlifting champion with the USA team, and editor of Muscular Development magazine. He epitomized the model of physical culture and masculinity celebrated by the AAU dominant order, combining athletic ability and character with a body aesthetic often described as "rugged." 

It is particularly the criterion of 'general appearance' that the model of (competition) bodybuilding embraced by the dominant players of the time was laid out in its different dimensions. Here, the heterosexually coded surfaces of the body were but an aspect in the constitution of ideal manhood. The champion bodybuilder was defined by his position in social context, his visibility and distinction rendered meaningful on the basis of culturally privileged discourses such as role-modeling for the youth. Breaking down the evaluation process regarding general appearance, the head of the AAU weightlifting and bodybuilding committee [Bob Hoffman] continues :

Judging in this class must include in addition to general appearance, skin and hair, also teeth, posture, carriage as the platform is approached and left, posing and many other features almost too numerous to mention. The winner must be a good looking man, handsome in a manly sort of way. Features such as big  ears, buck teeth, small chin, lined face, skin irregularities, shortage of hair or bald spots, varicose veins, stretch marks, flat feet, are retarding factors in judging in this department. There are many intangibles which must be included in the selection of the man most worthy to bear the title Mr. America or any lesser title which is being contested. Morality must be given consideration, for we must select a wholesome type of man. Education is important, for Mr. America must be able to speak sell as he will frequently appear on radio and television shows, and will speak before groups of people, at schools, Boys' clubs, YMCAs, Service and Sports groups. He must be patient, for he will have to answer innumerable questions, particularly from the young enthusiasts. He must sign autographs endlessly without becoming impatient. He must be a live, alert, friendly man, must possess a combination of human qualities, which will make us proud to call him Mr. America.

Another central feature of the model of elite bodybuilding supported by dominant players in this period is the ethos of amateur sport competition. In its capacity as the largest amateur sport organization in the US, operating since 1888, the AAU insisted on the amateur character of competition, considering bodybuilders who made any money from their bodies as professionals. The seriousness with which the amateur ethos was upheld is evident in the various sanctions that were in place for those bodybuilders who participated in events that were deemed to be non-amateur. In some respects, this amateur, non-profit profile at an institutional level seems concurrent with the dominant meaning the embodied practice and organized display of bodybuilding were vested: a high-minded enterprise geared towards serving society and providing role-models of wholesomeness. John Fair his two books, has shown how in this emphasis on the amateur character of bodybuilding competition, the AAU was a significant part of an international alliance. NABBA, the governing body for bodybuilding competition in the UK, was a key partner in this respect well into the 1970s.

Sport of Beauty Pageant:
The Precarious Place of Bodybuilding Inside the Dominant Order

Even though growing in popularity, bodybuilding as an embodied practice and formalized spectacle occupied a precarious place inside the dominant culture of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. This is apparent in how bodybuilding was discursively produced in the specialized media as well as how it was handled in the institutional arrangements of the time. Despite being the most extensive and powerful sports federation in the whole of the US the AAU had for decades no separate governing bodies for bodybuilding and weightlifting. Only a single Weightlifting and Bodybuilding Committee existed.

Writing of the 1940s and 1950s, John Fair argues that "bodybuilding could not be pursued as a sport for its own sake since there was virtually no frame of reference for it within the AAU structure that governed competitive weightlifting." As late as 1964, suggestions for the creation of separate governance for bodybuilding were not even dealt with seriously. Reflective of this hierarchy of importance was the fact that for the most part bodybuilding contests were typically held as adjunct shows to the more culturally legitimate and recognized weightlifting competitions.

One of the main reasons for this seems to be the reluctance on the part of AAU officialdom to fully embrace bodybuilding as an activity equally legitimate as weightlifting. Although the latter was fully supported and celebrated, representing the US in international sport competition such as the Olympic Games, the former was seen by key figures in the organization as rather dubious and effete when pursued for its own sake. Disparaging comments from authoritative figures of the status quo were often voiced in public fora, effectively delineating 'proper' and 'improper' approaches to the embodied practice and communities forming around them:

"A boobybuilder is usually a young man who has nothing better to do with his time than to spend four or five hours a day in a smelly gym doing bench presses and curls and squats and lat pulley exercises. He usually wears his hair long and frequently gilds the lily by having it waved. He is supremely concerned with big lats, big pex, big traps, bit delts, and flapping triceps.

He lives for his big moment, when he can strut and posture under the glare of a spotlight before an audience of several hundred followers of his peculiar cult. Athletic fitness and muscular coordination and superb health are completely meaningless to him."

Strength & Health, Feb 1955, "Behind the Scenes: Boobybuilding" by Harry Paschal

Note: So there ya go. A fine muscle author can also be somewhat closed-minded and quite a butthead. Can't we all! This hasn't really changed much, outside of the veneer-thin coverings and situations slightly shifted (please repeat that phrase five times quickly) to protect the tiresomely redundant in life, has it. Oly lifters looking down on bodybuilders, powerlifters looking down on Oly lifters, men about to jump to their deaths from penthouse balconies looking down on themselves. It's a helluva thing, this life, ain't it? Fortunately, aside from the lies we tell ourselves and others, we don't have clue fucking one what it's all about or any idea of the repetitive horrors behind it all or by gosh we'd all be fighting for diving space on that penthouse balcony. The building's actually owned by offspring of Scrooge McDuck, by the way, who jointly control the financial proceeds garnered from tolls gathered by trolls as those about to suicide go through the penthouse gates en route to the gates of liberation leading to the other worlds. "Liberation" of course being defined here as "different" and not necessarily any better or worse. At least that's what Saint Harry Paschal told me in a fever dream the other night. See what I mean? Diet is so important. Beers followed by ice cream'll do it to ya every damn time. Next thing you know I'll be bloody banging my head against a wall long enough to cause brain damage severe enough to put stock in prayer. Please shoot me if I do. Thanks for reading, and thanks for that bullet if it's ever needed. Only those with good aim need apply. "My aim is true," as they say. And yes, I know this world is killing you.

From the standpoint of a traditional 'upright' masculinity that informed a hegemonic heteronormative paradigm in post-war USA (that'd be yer DubYa DubYa Two), a preoccupation with one's 'look' and an assumed corresponding neglect of the fundamentals of health and athletic ability was framed as 'unmanly,' not only 'improper' but 'wasteful' too. The problematic status of bodybuilding in this period often manifested itself in public debates over the proper definition of competition bodybuilding: is it a legitimate sport or merely a male beauty pageant?

The following extensive editorial from Iron Man magazine entitled "Is the Mr. America Contest an Athletic Event?" highlights some core assumptions in dominant bodybuilding culture of the time. The cultivation of one's body as an aesthetic object gets contrasted unfavorably to a more legitimate approach prioritizing strength and ability. Interestingly, what results from this discourse is a dominant standpoint that does not recognize the logic of self-referentiality as legitimately applicable to bodybuilding. Rather, pursuing muscular development for its own sake is understood as a peculiar form of gender dysfunction spoken in the stigmatizing terms of 'vanity' and 'narcissism':

Here, Peary Rader writes in the August/September 1964 issue of Iron Man . . .  

I do not disprove of physique contests. I do think, however, that there are too many of them for the good of the game or for the good of the participants. I fee that a few such contests each year would be sufficient. Area contests, Jr. and Sr. Mr America contests should be sufficient. Any more than this tends to place too much emphasis on narcissism or, as the dictionary says, "self-love; excessive interest in one's appearance, comfort, importance." Vanity becomes the driving force in the lives of some of these fellows. What real value has a 19- or 20-inch arm or the most beautiful physique in the world? Seemingly a man with a 20-inch arm should be extremely strong but we see featherweights and lightweights who have 14- or 15-inch arms that are stronger.

Note: Peary never did quite get the deal, did he? Possibly owing to his prudish, only slightly less repressive than Calvinist upbringing. You still find people like this in the world today . . . and some much worse in terms of self-imposed 'purity' for the sake of feeling they have meaning and have not contributed to the 'fall' of mankind in any way. "Right Crazy" I believe is the psychological term for these types. Just an example, but there's a fella I know, and I do like this guy (oddly enough) who has never tasted alcohol, had sex with only one partner (his wife in a pre-arranged wedding), never worn jeans, never even held a cigarette and has only used drugs as prescribed by his physician. Hey, the guy can be funny at times, and that's my main prerequisite for a friend. That, and not kicking me in the balls every time there might be gain to be made from it. I'll admit to having the odd fantasy of slipping him a mickey spiked with taste-covered overproof, a half dozen hits of M, Acid and Viagra, of course adding some outrageously potent amphetamines just to keep him mobile when I drop him off in the middle of a grossly placid tepid flaccid residential area. But that'd be cruel, and come under the heading of 'kicking in the balls' for my own gain. Pretty good friend of mine, oddly enough. Nonetheless, this quirky little 'life' thing. Just say O to it. Just say S across the board. I really don't know, but quite possibly mankind's biggest failing may be asking Y. Far from nonetheless and while we're speaking of Blue Velvet fictitious fantasy locations, there's a new David Lynch bio/autobiography out this last week that features an innovative format. The chapters are in chronological order, and alternate between the biographer using her very detailed and well researched info to write one . . . followed by a chapter of Lynch commenting on that chapter. You might say he's conversing with his own biography. It's titled Room to Dream and it is outstanding!         

Rader continues:

There should be some other incentive for winning a physique title than just the title. There should be some other objective than this. It has never been proven that a man with 20-inch arms is any healthier than a man with a 15-inch arm. Many physique men, when asked why they wish to win the Mr. America title, will reply that it is the ambition of their lives; the most wonderful thing that can happen in their lives. Truly, it is an accomplishment, but to what end? Some of them say they want to be an inspiration to youth to improve themselves physically. Improve themselves physically for what? To win a few physique contest? A Mr. America contest?
Iron Man, August-September 1964.

So, there he was in '64. Little did he know what was coming! The concept of 'worth' when it comes to endeavor has always fascinated me personally. From high above in a land of self-created dreams where ethics and 'worth' have been determined by . . . yes, by whom exactly? What gives a man the right to determine the worth of my actions? The fictitious writings of some populist religious belief or that lie we call the pursuit of the 'common good' usually hold sway over these determinations. Good Grief, how much longer will this nonsense go on. If I should choose to develop the absolutely weakest, skinniest, least 'functional' physique I can, and if there should be a contest where like-minded men decide to compete to see who is the weakest, scrawniest and least able to do much more than crawl out onto a stage and wheeze a few times before going into cardiac arrest . . . well then, simply keep your nose out of it and carry on doing what you believe for some absurd and hazy unproven reason to be the 'right' way to train or compete with others. Really! Butt out if you don't like it. That, of course, will never happen. The Do-Rights just gotta stick their snouts in even the tiniest endeavor, all the while praising the glory of a free society and the illustrious diamond of self-determination/individuality. For god's sake, these leaden beasts are quite the lot, then, aren't they. You're not still reading at this point, are you? If you believe you can make some form of lasting sense out of even one thing in life you really don't belong here. I mean, the tool we all use to make sense is itself, in its very design and nature, flawed. But don't let that stop you from forging forward into the blank and pointless abyss you perceive as human knowledge. Bro. 

Where the hell was we . . . 

In configuring competing masculinities, body ideals, practices, and qualities get vested with particular meanings. Thus, notions [my italics] or uprightness, wholesomeness, and propriety are encoded in the aesthetic and fitness of the 'rugged' body: manly, healthy, sturdy, able, the produce of a strength-oriented training system founded on Olympic weightlifting. From the standpoint of the dominant model, the 'Adonis' ideal, associated with those who pursue bodybuilding for its own sake, is derided as 'puffy-looking' and 'inflated,' a reflection of an 'unhealthy' love of oneself. In a similar vein, the training methods used to build it get dismissed as 'sissy' in their emphasis on cultivating one's looks through the use of lighter weights and muscle isolation techniques rather than developing maximum strength and athletic ability.

Okay, finally . . . let's see how this bit of BB-ing history gets treated here . . .

'Lesser' Masculinity as a Continuum: The Monstrosity of Homosexuality

The undue preoccupation with one's looks discussed above appears in this period as a wider continuum of a 'lesser' masculinity; the 'degenerate' far end of this continuum was homosexuality, a central anxiety in post-war US culture. Inside the world of physical culture, this uneasiness seems to have lain in the fear that an emphasis on appearance would not only avert practitioners from the fundamentals of strength, health, and wholesomeness [ya gotta love that word and all that it implies with the bluntness of of a sledgehammer], but could also leave the door open for a transgressive [def: involving a violation of accepted or imposed boundaries, especially those of social acceptability] reading of the male built body.

'Blue' or 'beefcake' magazines become the pivotal reference points in this respect. In more or less direct - if coded - ways, these publications not only circulated representations of the male built body but also functioned as a device for promoting services and networks of a sexual nature. In light of contemporary laws against indecent literature, Hooven (Valentine F.) argues in his '95 book Beefcake that "for much of the fifties, those little physique magazines were not just an aspect of gay culture, they virtually were gay culture."

From the standpoint of the dominant players in the field of advocating 'clean,' 'proper' heterosexual masculinity, such publications and their representations of the male built body directly undermined the effort to establish in the public consciousness the social value of physical culture. There's that 'worth' and 'value' routine again. By equating homosexuality with perversion and criminality, a type of monstrosity one needs to spectacularly distance oneself from, editors and alleged readers of the official voices 'representing' the field recognized the authority of state-related organizations, such as decency societies, the police and the postal office, in their combined attempt to thwart the 'danger.'

This must be starting to sound familiar to you. Pick any one of the multitude of 'evils' these clowns are against and you'll find, with a little digging and insight, that the same tactics are used across the board. "We can't allow this abhorrent freedom of choice in a free society!" Okay then.

The discourse on 'illegitimate' publications was overtly framed with a culturally central vocabulary of public morality, the nation's youth, as well as 'innocent' and/or 'exploited' practitioners. A great deal of the distinction between legitimate and illegitimate representations, networks, and practices was produced in terms of the purported motivations that brought them forth. The former were described as socially useful, providing the nation's younger generations with respectable role models and structures for clean living and self-development through sport. The latter, in contrast, were designated as lacking any sense of morality and service to society, only guided by the motivation of economic profit of the individuals orchestrating them. In the section "Letters From Readers" of its November 1961 issue, and under the title "Innocent Victim," Strength & Health published the following complaint allegedly sent to its editor regarding the circulation of 'beefcake' magazines:

Revulsion and anger have motivated me to write this letter. I was down at the local paper store today buying the latest copy of my favorite magazine, Strength & Health (who woulda guessed!), when I came across, er . . . ran across a copy of Joe Weider's latest queer sheet, Demi-Gods. What a sickening magazine!

Oh oh. It's Larry Scott in a leopard skin bathing suit
brandishing the ever-deadly homosexual hoola hoop! 

It is possible for the male form to possess a rugged beauty that transcends the ages; take, for instance, The Laocoon, or more recently, Eugen Sandow. Both possess a beauty that can hardly be said to be homosexually inspired (Oh, really?). But Demi-Gods does not deal in masculine beauty, it markets perversion. Harumpah! 

Decidedly effeminate 'men' (if that's what they can be called) are pictured in poses which were formerly the right of womanhood only. [I wonder how far back in time this this 'formerly' referred to is? If only more of the cave paintings of yore had survived intact I'm sure we'd find . . .]. 'Cute' little beddy-bye invitations caption the filth. And whose picture do I find opposite of these mascara-ed beauties? Ron Lacy's [former Mr. America champion], that's whose. My opinion of Mr. Lacy dropped but fast, faster than my fucking pants I tells ya! 

Okay, enough of this bullshit already.  The York crew goes on in their response to 'explain' away the whole thing, chalking it all up to the huge number of photos taken by an enormous army of photographers at the ever-innocent, driven-snow-pure AAU contests. Of course this angle of condemning the competition, i.e. Weider publications, would prove to work for a while at York. They tossed monkey dung at each other for all to see, and with many topics other than the homosexual appeal issue of their respective issues. You name it, they used it in an attempt to discredit the other side. Of course yet once again, both were in so many essential ways the same animal at heart. I couldn't give a good god damn about any of it . . . I just like the training articles to be honest with ya. 

And here we end our excerpt and all excerpts from this book. 
Christ, what a bore academia can be.
Right up there with Science Based Training.
Damn! Why!!! Tell me now, oh great God Who Never Was . . .
Why Is This Shit Everywhere and in Everyone!
One last thing before I sign off on all this:
There is no truth to the rumor that John Holmes used that hoola hoop as a cock ring.



Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Bob Bednarski One Lift a Day Training Week

Bob Bednarski

Bednarski, in just the last year, has come across a training system that suits him perfectly. Others, too, have tried this formula with various degrees of success. He does just one lift per day, concentrating solely on that lift until he's satisfied and then quits for the day.

Here's a sample week out of December: 

Presses, working up to 5 sets of 3 with a moderate poundage - 350 to 380.

Snatches, up to 5 sets of 3 with 305.

Squats, up to 3 reps with 450-500.

Clean and Jerk up to 3-5 singles with 405-425.


Total or work heavy on two lifts.

Squats, up to 3 reps with 450-500.    

Bob Gajda - Shoulder Specialization by Bill Starr


People are always impressed by wide shoulders on a man. Broad shoulders are almost synonymous with tall, dark and handsome. Relatively few men take the time to exercise their way to broad shoulders. They do as so many women, and rely on some sort of padding. This is surprising as naturally broad shoulders are not a common endowment. However, there is hope for those born with a narrow shoulder width, including this author, through hard work and as application of proper programming with consideration of anatomical structural weaknesses.

Anatomy and Kinesiology Applied

There are numerous muscles that are a part of the shoulder girdle but presently I will limit the discourse to deltoid function. When programming for deltoid exercises the trainee should consider three separate areas, which are:

1) Anterior Deltoid (front delt)
Action - flexion, horizontal flexion, adduction, inward rotation, mainly raising the arm forward.

2) Middle Deltoid (lateral/side delt)
Action - abduction, horizontal extension mainly raising the arm sideways.

3) Posterior Deltoid (rear delt)
Action - horizontal extension, abduction, outward rotation, adduction, mainly moving the arm backwards.


The bodybuilder should be award that the deltoid complex serves many functions; pulling. pushing, stabilizing. The function of this muscle changes depending on the angle of the arm. It is because of this that I have used a great variation of movements in my workouts, and recommend that others do so also. Sticking to the same exercise has never done a complete job for me. I've known many trainers who will do nothing but press behind the neck or military presses, whereas I do everything that my imagination can devise. This practice has helped me greatly. Try it. There do exist valuable pieces of apparatus -- like expanders, pulleys, crushers, and many more that will benefit the trainee. They also should be incorporated into a program because they afford different angles of stress that cannot be accomplished with barbells and dumbbells.


In every sequence [search this blog for more on PHA, sequence training] I always do one deltoid movement because this is a prominent weak point of mine. I work the deltoids every single day but with great variation. Always consider that the deltoids move the arm in three different ways; front, side and back. Weightlifting movements are great for the shoulders and would by any standard by a great asset if incorporated into a regular schedule. I will elaborate on weightlifting for the bodybuilder in a later article


and mention it now only because it is worthwhile. I usually work heavy pressing and pulling movements on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and lighter laterals with pulleys and expanders on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

My Favorite Shoulder Exercises

Exercise No. 1: 3-Way Combination.
In this exercise I do three movements as one set. Seated, I do 10 reps of side laterals, keeping the knuckles up and arms straight. I immediately stand and lean forward and do 10 reps of bentover laterals. Be sure to keep arms straight, knuckles up, and hold at the top of the movement for an instant. Again without hesitation, turn the palms to face behind and do 10 reps of reverse kickbacks. The think to remember in this exercise is to return only to the knees and do not swing the weight When working laterals always lower the weight slowly and raise fast. At the completion of one set I will do four or five other bodyparts to alleviate congestion. This exercise can be really great for separation and definition.

Exercise No. 2: Seated Dumbbell Press
The use of heavy weights is the secret of this exercise. I usually start out with 55's and work up to 105 pound bells. I like 10 repetitions in all shoulder movements. Try to keep the back straight, and the feet braced. If you arch the back the pectorals will come into play more, thus cutting the benefit to the deltoids. This exercise is good for size building of the frontal and middle deltoids.

Exercise No. 3: Incline Side Laterals
Check photo for correct performance. Lower slowly. Perfect for working the middle (side) delts.

Exercise No. 4: Pulley Side Laterals.
Work on getting a good lateral delt contraction and lower slowly.

Exercise No. 5: Seated Press Behind Neck
This exercise is done on special racks at the Duncan YMCA. The hands are spaced as wide as comfortably possible.

Exercise No. 6: Expander Front Pull
This exercise is great for the rear delts.

Exercise No. 7: Press Behind Neck With Cambered Bar
I vary this form of press with exercise number 5 for variety. The cambered bar gives a terrific stretch, even though less weight is handled.

Final Comments

Every bodybuilder must decide which exercises will work best for him. No two men are built the same. Following a Steve Reeves' routine won't give you the same build. You have to use common sense. I've suggested many exercises, but don't try them all at once. You've got to determine your energy level and time allotment and program around that. I would suggest that the novice pick out one movement for each section of the deltoids and work up in sets and reps.

Again, I want to say that I sequence all my exercises and use anywhere from five to ten sets of ten reps each. Please don't do exactly as I do. Work out your own scheme to fit yourself.  



Monday, June 18, 2018

Unnatural Exercises - John Grimek (1956)


Photos From a Time When Lifters Had Fun Occasionally.

Unnatural exercises. What are unnatural exercises? Is there such a thing? 

I'm well aware the above statement will shock many readers when they first see it, but let me explain that any exercise that feels awkward or strains the muscles or joints (and there are many that do just that) can be considered unnatural!

Barbell men think all barbell exercises are natural, and any signs of strain are often mistaken as "working the muscles hard" and are acceptable, instead of being associated with eventual injury. But check yourself and answer truthfully, when was the last time you recall nursing a sore shoulder, painful elbow, an aching back or bad knees? Chances are, somewhere along the line you have suffered some slight pain reaction. Nothing serious perhaps, so you let the matter slip by because you've come to accept a "few sore spots" now and the, especially if you train hard with heavier weights or perform extra reps in an intense style. 

However, there may be a morning when you wake up to find stiffness or pain in certain parts of your body. Naturally you'll rub it to stimulate circulation in the region, thinking a numbness developed while you slept in an awkward position and, feel quite certain the pain will leave after you move about. Instead, the pain intensifies as you move the limb. You try desperately to recall if anything you did in your last workout caused these annoying symptoms. Nothing you recall has any direct bearing on the incident, nor explains the reason for the pain. Once more you console yourself that all will be well as the day progresses

You may be right to some extent. Your duties occupy you and you forget the painful incident. As your working day draws to a close, your thoughts stray to training. You move the limb a few times to check any improvement, and while it feels better some pain still remains. You conclude that a good workout will fix it up and, at the appointed hour, you go to the gym and ready yourself for action. You feel fine and prepared for a terrific workout, but when you begin, you are sadly disappointed. With your very first movement the limb shoots out a painful warning in rebellion. It hurst! Man, ya gotta love the occasional spelling error, especially when trying to throw additional stress on a statement. Always good for a small laugh. You find it is difficult, downright impossible, to handle your regular training weights because of the aching limb that throbs with every movement. Somehow it doesn't figure. On your last training day, before this painful condition occurred you felt fit and unusually strong. You took a hard workout and felt like a million Dimons afterwards; no pain, not even a sore spot. Yet two days later you find yourself almost incapacitated and without a clue to the cause . . . where have you erred? 

Well I was wrong, self destruction's got me again
I was wrong, I realized now 
that I was wrong.

The injury, while not serious, may linger for days, sometimes weeks, making it increasingly difficult to train . . . so you rest a good bit. Certainly you've had sore shoulders before, but a couple days of rest usually made it well enough for you to continue training lightly. That's just it . . . if you train it must be very light, and such training may prove conducive to a quick recovery. However, if any degree of pain is associated with any of the movements, don't force it, thinking you can work it out. You won't, but might succeed in aggravating it. Forcing the muscle to work against resistance that promotes pain will only delay the healing processes, but light exercises to stimulate blood circulation into the inflamed region will help. Applying heat will also allay the stinging sensation, and a good rubbing compound could be applied which can help to retain warmth and circulation for longer periods.

But all this doesn't explain how the condition happened or what caused the pain to start, nor what could be done to prevent it from happening again.

Up until recently little attention was paid to the matter, since numerous letters are always received for advice pertaining to various types of physical injuries, but of late an increasing number seem to center around elbows, a condition rarely mentioned in previous years. Now, however, it's not unusual to find several such complaints in the mail everyday . . . why?

This article was prompted by just such a letter which was received from a young man who visited us some months back and trained here. It was while training one afternoon that everyone turned to see where the grinding noise came from and saw our visitor indulging in an unusual exercise that looked more like he was trying to tear his shoulders and elbows instead of developing muscle. Someone asked him if that didn't bother his elbows.

"Not much," was his reply, "although they get mighty sore sometimes." It was logical to assume that a painful reaction might result eventually if he persisted with this exercise. His letter verified our beliefs which added, he was forced to quit training because his entire arm had developed a painful soreness that wouldn't permit the slightest movement in comfort.

Here was a fellow who very obviously ignored nature's rebellion against the exercise he thought he should do, in spite of the grinding noises that issued from his joints while he performed this movement. Cracking sounds from shoulders or knees are quite common and no cause for alarm; they indicate there is a lack of synovial fluid within the joint to properly lubricate it, but exercise will eventually stimulate a better flow and thus eliminate the audible creak. But the sounds our visitor emitted indicated very definitely that the joints were being strained, not trained. 

Even ordinary back exercises could prove a menace to those who have weak backs and decide to strengthen them quickly. There's no such thing as "quick" where muscles are concerned as those who seek such shortcuts find out.

Stiff-legged deadlifts can be a wonderful corrective exercise if employed properly, but they can also be the prime contributing factor to a sore back! Whenever back exercises are employed utmost care should be taken to warm up this region thoroughly with numerous repetitions and light resistance. Once the back is warmed up, it can stand amazing strain and show remarkable flexibility, even among those who are naturally stiff and weak. Some of the outstanding twisting movement we've featured within these pages can boomerang on those who sit around in drafts and chill their backs and then plunge directly into vigorous exercise. This is dangerous and encourages strained and pulled muscles in this vital region, resulting in an aching back that can plague you for months.

Many bad knees stem from exercises that place an unnatural strain on them, mainly because of the position the legs are forced into. The Hack Lift has contributed to such complaints because very often the feet are not naturally spaced, I've always felt that if the limbs were used more naturally, complaints would be fewer.

Some years ago a chiropractor came up with a zig-zagged curved bar to ease the strain during curls, and while this was an excellent idea, dumbbell could be employed with equal success. Hint, hint. Dumbbells allow for more freedom of movement. Nevertheless, this odd bar was the first step taken in the right direction to eliminate unnatural strains from curling weights.

Another condition, less painful but more detracting, are stretch marks. Unheard of years ago except among the very fat, today stretch marks are found to be quite common. Note: There's a great little Kelso article, The Stretch Mark Machine, that I should put up sometime for people who haven't had the pleasure of reading it yet. The flying exercises recommended to build massive pectorals may do just that in some cases, but many develop skin tears instead, which eventually heal and show up as silvery streaks. Exercises that bring about such marks should be avoided or employed more carefully, but more important is to see that skin is supplied with all the elements that keep it healthy, soft and fully elastic.

Using excessively heavy weights at all times is not necessary in all exercises to build muscle, but very often results in sprains, strains and skin tears. Figure it out . . .

Why are such problems more prevalent today than they were years ago? There is a very good reason. On comparing notes recently our conclusions centered around some of the newly invented exercises which are widely practiced today, and are supposed to develop muscles bigger and faster. Too many cheating curls, for example, for those who aren't prepared to employ such poundages can pull the biceps attachments enough to make them painful for days, sometimes weeks. The idea of handling heavy weights appeals to the majority, capable or not, and because this movement brings into action stronger and larger muscles the strain always falls upon the weakest link, which may be the elbow, biceps or shoulder. It may seem odd to a novice that the shoulder can be pulled while curling, but have you tried curling weights when your shoulders were injured? Just consult your anatomy chart and convince yourself this is possible. It has happened many times.

Another exercise that could be labeled unnatural for many trainees is the French Press. This exercise works the triceps in an unnatural manner, therefore it often strains elbows, especially when overdone by using excessive poundages. The greatest strain results when the weight is heaved from behind the head, instead of bringing it up with a steady, gradual pull. Those who employ this exercise in its various forms should be careful to warm up first by using a lighter weight and repeating the first set numerous times. Such precautions will help to minimize the elbow soreness to some extent. Always bear this in mind when doing any exercises: first warm up the muscles thoroughly before attempting any heavy poundages. Much grief might be spared.

Numerous exercises have been hailed as new ideas for muscle developing in recent times, but most of them aren't any newer than the standard curl which has been know and used ever since exercise in any form has been employed. Many of the exercises accepted now were tried and rejected long ago because they felt awkward or unnatural.

Feeling unnatural doesn't always decrease the developing potential of the exercise, however, since many of us are constructed slightly different anatomically so that some of these exercises can be done more naturally by some while others find it impossible, which proves  

As I write this an incident comes to mind. One of our fellows become obsessed with the lying down curl done with an overhead pulley. He found it cramped his biceps faster, but always experienced a stinging sensation after. After finishing his training one day on which he included more of these lying down curls than usual, he joined some of us who were having fun lifting one end of a car. He lifted the car with ease, but while he was holding his end up with ridiculous ease, it happened! The biceps tendon snapped! This wasn't because his biceps were weaker than any of the others, but they were weary and played out from those cramping curls and snapped from pure exhaustion. It's possible, had he not exhausted his biceps with those unnatural curls, he could have lifter the car with all of us sitting in it without tearing the tendon. But unnatural exercises have a tendency to fatigue muscles faster because of the strained or cramped position the muscles are forced into. BE CAREFUL IN YOUR USE OF THESE TYPES OF EXERCISES.

From the foregoing readers are apt to assume I'm out to condemn their favorite exercises. On the contrary, I think most bodybuilders can reason things logically for themselves and realize when an exercise is doing them harm or bringing results. I would like to reiterate, however, that such exercises which feel awkward or unnatural should be done first with a very light weight and repeated many times with this light weight to warm up the tissue thoroughly. A muscle so stimulated absorbs the shock and strain better and offsets possible injury.

The most common danger lies when one attempts to show off for his friends or for the sake of his own ego when alone how much he can do without warming up. It's when the muscles are "cold" and not fully activated that they are so susceptible to injuries.

It also happens when the muscles have been overworked and fatigued, when the tissue is clogged with carbon dioxide, lactic acids and other body chemicals that are produced whenever a muscle is active or exercised. Any sudden exertion in an unnatural position could result in pulling or tearing a muscle.

By experience you will learn when any movement feels unnatural to you, and knowing this, the best thing you can do is discard it. If you eliminate the exercise, you can find at least a dozen to replace it, and perhaps several will prove much more effective. For example, there are many movements that work the triceps just as thoroughly as the French Press and with less strain on the joints.

The old adage, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is truer in exercise than any other field, and those who have suffered painful muscle soreness and even injury will realize the true meaning. So, don't try to show off without first warming up thoroughly. Don't train in cold or drafty locations without ample covering.

Take care of your muscles and they will take care of you. 


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