Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Fountain of Youth, Part Four - John McCallum

Taken From This Issue (April 1969) 

Parts One, Two, and Three are here:

If you've been following this rejuvenation thing -- and if you're over 40 you should be -- you'll be pretty well informed on the first three of the four segments we're considering. The four segments, you'll remember, are: 

1) nutrition,
2) weight training, 
3) vigorous social activities, and
4) running. 

In our discussion of nutrition, we stressed the elimination of all junky foods from your diet. That means no cakes, cookies, candies, steroids (sp. junkie), and so on. No soft drinks. No processed grains. No junk, period. You don't have to become a crackpot about it, but do become very, very health conscious. 

Eat as few carbohydrates as possible. Your meals should be largely first class protein foods. Use supplements in generous amounts, but again, don't turn into a crackpot or supplement addict.

Don't skimp on your diet. There's really not much point in following the program at all unless you eat appropriately. If you persist in loading your gut with sugary garbage, then you're wasting your time and it's as simple as that. 

I've got a friend named Larry Robson. He asked me to work out a nutrition program for his grandfather. The old man, he said, was eating himself into an early grave.

I went over and spoke to the old fellow. He was sixty years old, with a head like a block of concrete and as polite as a charging rhinoceros. I suggested some light protein food would make a good basis for his breakfast. 

"Mush," he snarled. "Eat it every morning. Been eating it for sixty years." 

"That's nice," I said. "But certainly . . ."

"With sugar," he snapped.

"Yes," I said. "I know. However, under the . . ." 

"Sticks to your ribs," he added. 

"I'm sure it does, Mr. Robson," I said. "But you really . . ."

He got up and brushed past me. "Scuse me, sonny," he said. "Star Trek's on. Never miss it." 

I got Larry to one side and wrote out a list of low calorie protein foods.

"Here," I said. "See if you can wean your grandfather off the mush and on to some of these." 

I went over a few days later. The old man was eating a big slab of white bread.

"What's that?" I asked him.

"Vitamin enriched," he said. "Yessir. Says so right on the label." 

I pointed to the bread. "What's that you got on it?" 

"Strawberry jam," he said" Great for energy." 

I spoke to Larry.

"I guess it's no use," he said. "You can't help him." 

"I'll help him," I said. "I'll be a pallbearer when they bury the old codger." 

We discussed weight training as the second segment of your rejuvenation program. The important thing, you'll remember, is working the large muscle groups vigorously in PHA style. Cardiovascular stimulation is the key to the whole thing. You've got to train your heart and lungs as religiously as a physique contestant trains his biceps.

Don't be concerned with pumping or cramping or any of the other tricks the muscle boys use. Your primary goal is a strong, enduring body and perfect health. You'll improve your appearance, too, but make it a secondary thing.

The third segment we discussed was vigorous social activities. Get very interested in such things as hiking, tennis, skiing, swimming, and so on. One of the best social activities, from a health standpoint, is vigorous "country dancing." That means square dances, polka, and so forth. Find something you like and enjoy it regularly. 

Just before we get into the final segment, there's three other items you should note if you're really serious about regaining and retaining your youth. 

1) Mental Stimulation. Don't let yourself stagnate mentally. Expand your intellectual horizons. Read new books. Read old books. Start new projects. Join discussion groups (this was, of course, pre-internet). Nothing will age you as fast as a closed mind. 

I've got an Uncle who's a weight lifter. He follows all the rules we've been talking about and he's an absolute marvel. A little while ago he joined a night school class in marine biology. I talked to the instructor a short time later and asked him how my uncle was making out.

"Oh, fine," he said. "He's won the whole class around to his viewpoint." 

"Did he?" I said. "That's great. I didn't realize old Harry knew so much about the world under water."   

The instructor pulled his lip back in a snarl. "You gotta be kidding," he said. "The old bugger wouldn't know a soft shelled crab from a sea serpent. He's just so christly bit nobody'll argue with him." 

2) Sleep. Don't try to get by without enough sleep. You don't have to sleep like a groundhog, but sleep enough so that you feel peppy during the time you're awake. Dragging yourself around in a sleep-starved state is one of the quickest ways to blow the whole thing.

3) Body Weight. Keep your weight down. Don't accumulate fat. Your ideal bodyweight is the least you can weigh without losing muscle tissue. Remember that you life line is in inverse ratio to your waist line. 

Now we can discuss running, the final, and probably the most important segment of your rejuvenation program. Running, more than any other single thing, will guarantee you a long, healthy, youthful life.

My Uncle Harry does a lot of running. He's always concerned about doing everything right, though, so he phoned me. We agreed to meet at the track the next day and run together. 

I got there first and stripped down to my track suit. I was walking around on the grass when I heard him wheel into the park and pull up in front of the oval. Uncle Harry drives a lavender colored Buick with a pair of Smitty mufflers and flowers painted on the doors. Half the traffic cops in town know it by sight. 

He came bounding into the oval and on to the track. Three girls walked in behind him and lined up by the bleachers. All three were blond, mini-skirted, and in their late teens.

"What's with the bubblegummers?" I asked him.   

"Friends of mine," he said.

He pranced out onto the grass and started bouncing around. "Warming up," he said. He had on soft blue track shoes, a pair of white jogging shorts, and a bright purple turtle neck with a gold chain and medallion. He leaped through the air and landed on one foot with his arms outstretched. There was a squeal of delight from the girls. "What do you think?" he said. "Do I look like an Olympic star?"

"You look more like Anna Pavlova," I said. "What's with the bouncing? We're supposed to be doing a run, not Swan Lake." 

He leaped over to the girls and sat them down in front of me. They looked like triplets. He leaned down and whispered something and they all giggled.

"C'mon, Uncle Harry," I said. "Let's get going. I've gotta get back to work." 

Uncle Harry fiddled around some more and then, finally, we started down the track. He turned his head and waved back to the girls. They came to their feet like the bench was hot and waved little lacy handkerchiefs.

"For goodness sake," I said. Do they think you're going to Vietnam or something? We'll be around again in about a minute." 

"Don't shout," he said. "They'll think they're being scorned out." 

We jogged a lap and passed the girls again. Uncle Harry raised a hand like he was giving the Papal blessing.

"What are you doing?" I said. "Waving to them or drying your nail polish?" 

We jogged around once more. Uncle Harry nodded to the girls as we passed. They gave hims a burst of applause and I gritted my teeth.

I was starting to sweat a bit. We were both running nice and easy and I could tell it was going to be a good run.

"This is the greatest, isn't it?" Uncle Harry said.

"It really is," I said. This'll do more for your health than all the pills and medicines since the beginning of time. If everybody'll start a program of progressive running, we could close up half the hospitals in the country." 

Running progression, here:

"Running and sensible weight training make a miraculous combination," I said. "You can convert middle aged men into youngsters with them." 

"What do you figure's the best distance to run?" Uncle Harry asked.

"Five miles," I said. "Anything less isn't enough and anything more isn't really necessary. Anybody that starts a running program should plan on working up to five miles per run. It seems an impossible distance at first, but almost everybody can do it." 

"What about speed?" he asked.

"A nice medium pace is best," I said. "You should try to knock off a mile every nine or ten minutes. That means your five mile run will take about 45-50 minutes. Anything slower than that is too slow." 

"It's also a good idea," I said, "to open up on the last lap so that you finish out of breath." 

"How many days a week?" 

"At least four," I said. "That'll give you the best results." 

We jogged around. I quit talking so I could concentrate on breathing. The laps fell off one by one.

"Last lap," I puffed.

Uncle Harry opened up. He crossed the line twenty feet in front of me and pulling away. We slowed up and walked a lap to cool off.

"Uncle Harry," I said. "You're amazing. How often do you run?" 

"Almost every day," he said. "At least four times a week." 

I shook my head. "I don't know why you come to me for advice," I said. "I should be coming to you." 

We finished the lap and the girls came running up to meet Uncle Harry. They fluttered around him and smoothed his hair and dabbed his forehead with their hankies.

"Why don't you come over to my pad tonight?" he said to me. "The girls will be there." 

"What's the occasion?" 

"Nothing," he said. "Just a little party. Music. Cultured conversation. You know." 

"Yeah," I said. "I know. I imagine it'll be a very healthful affair." 

"Why sure. We may even do a little country dancing." He leered at the girls. "First, that is." 


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Two Questions: Press . . . Calf Training - Charles Coster

A "Thank You" to Liam Tweed! 

The Best Crucifix Lifts of All Time: 

Note: This is taken from a monthly column (1951) Charles Coster wrote for "Vigour" titled  
Idle Thoughts

Over a period of time I have had quite a number of inquiries on how to solve certain problems, the most frequent of which seems to be "How to develop the calves" and How to increase the press." I have always felt a little conscious of my own shortcomings when dealing with the Olympic inquiry. This was the sort of information I felt would be better dispensed by people like W.J. Hunt, Ernie Peppiatt, or Ron Walker -- they qualify. 

William James Hunt 
Find out more about this guy's grip feats! 

Ernest James Peppiatt.
The one with the heaviest bell.

Ronald Walker, July 1937.
Finally, a photo showing just how handsome Walker was. 
His lifting ones don't do him justice. 

Nevertheless, it is possible to pick up some very useful information and practical experience when one is interested and observant and one Press schedule in particular stands out in my mind.      

A certain 10 stone lifter, Alf Griffin of Hackney, who at one time held the British Press record with 198 pounds, found himself year after year 'stuck' at this figure. Suddenly, at a slightly heavier bodyweight, he blossomed out during club competitions with presses of 203-209-214 and, on one occasion 220 pounds. 

As I refereed and passed 214 on one occasion, naturally I asked for details. He had discovered a 'new' pressing system it seemed, of unusual rigor, and there were plenty of muscular 'aches' attached. But the most important thing was IT GOT RESULTS and that was what mattered. 

Seeing the Griffin was an unusually well-developed lifter of some years' standing and a Herculean hand-balancer to boot, I decided to make a few notes. 

Herewith that Press Schedule: 

Take a barbell loaded to only 60% of your limit Press. Assume a hand-grip 12 inches wider than the one normally used for competitive purposes . . . and perform 5 presses.

When the bar is overhead at the conclusion of the 5th press, 'rock' the bar so that the hands may be 'slid' inward to your normal width press grip and then, with no resp period perform another 5 presses - from behind the neck. 

When the weight is once again overhead at the conclusion of the 10th press, 'rock' once again, and decrease the hand spacing until the thumbs are only about 9 inches apart. In this 'cramped' position -- and with no pause, lower, and perform 5 more presses from as low a position in front of the sternum as possible without bending back. 

Take a short rest, and then repeat the same routine with the same weight. The lifter has now performed 30 presses.

After a further short resting space, repeat the performance for the third time, after which 45 presses will have been performed. 

The weight of the bar must now be altered until it represents only 40-45% of the lifter's limit Press, and after a suitable resting period another 45 presses are performed in the same manner, in series of 15 repetitions, and from the three different positions and angles described. 

I myself have experimented with this particular routine, and I can vouch for the fact that it is extremely tough going in spite of the insignificant nature of the poundages. Pressing muscles that had not ached for years became acutely painful at the first onset, and even when one has been acclimatized through use, the pressing muscles always felt thoroughly worked.

In my opinion the Griffin pressing schedule is the best system I have ever come across and I can completely recommend its adoption . . . with the usual warning -- don't expect miracles to happen after the first workout. 

try executing a thousand presses in this manner, spread over three weeks or a month, before you form any conclusion. Rome wasn't built in a day, and it takes time for the shape of the physique to alter and for stronger tendons and ligaments to form.

Variety of execution can relieve the monotony of this type of pressing to a great extent, so don't forget that the order of procedure need not always be 'wide grip' -> 'behind neck' -> 'very close'. That order can be reversed, or one can commence with the 'behind neck' position and please oneself whether to finish with the 'wide' or 'very close' grip.

Personally speaking I found the exercise to be much more effective by variations of technique -- and therefore I used to vary as much as possible, remembering Ron Walker's maxim 'to keep the ache as long as possible'. 

Finally, the chief point to remember for anyone trying this system: 

Don't throw the bar overhead quickly. Don't let the bar 'fall' down. Press upwards slowly . . . and lower the weight to the shoulders slowly. The object of a schedule of this nature is to keep the entire pressing group under CONTINUOUS TENSION for as long as possible -- in order to promote maximum muscular growth. 

Ronald Walker at one period of his W/L career used a pressing system very similar to this one, and I hope to mention details in the near future.   

Now, to the calf development question. 
Requests for information about the possibilities of calf development are common from body-builders and since various authorities have made generous remarks about my calves from one time to another, I suppose this is a section of body-building where I qualify.

The calves are frequently termed the most obstinate part of the body to develop, and so they are -- for some people. 

My calves were 'normal' from the start . . . but that didn't prevent me from trying to improve on them, and many routines have been carried through at one time or another.

Years ago, I was about 19 at the time, I worked in a building where there happened to be a couple of half hundred weight iron blocks in the basement.

There were 143 steps from the basement to the top of the building, and such was my youthful enthusiasm in those days that whenever possible I would grip the 56-lb. block weights and walk to the top for the benefit of my calves -- using my toes as much as possible. After some practice I found it possible to ascend from the bottom to the top just by raising on my toes . . . and keeping my knees locked. This increased the severity of the exercise.

In those days I used to cycle to business, six miles, and back again at night, and I always made it a practice to cycle 'with my toes' as much as possible.

In this way thousands of repetitions were performed during the course of time -- and by the time I was 21 the tape measure showed a tight 16.5", sometimes more.

Practice nights at the Hackney W/L Club were three nights a week . . . and whenever a dead lift bar was loaded I frequently 'went up on my toes' for a few reps.   

As well as contracting the calf to the fullest possible extent, I used frequently to 'stretch' my heel down to the ground with my toes and the ball of the foot placed on a couple of books. 

Plenty of bulk repetition work of all kinds is the only solution for stubborn cases that lack calf development. 

People have sometimes expressed surprise at learning my calves were only 16.5 inches . . . but the reason for their large appearance lies in the fact that my knee and ankle measurements are somewhat small.   


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Fountain of Youth, Part Three - John McCallum

Taken From This Issue (February 1969)

If you've been following this  rejuvenation thing, you should be pretty well up on the first two of the four segments we're considering. The four segments, you'll remember, are:

1) nutrition,
2) weight training,
3) vigorous activity, and 
4) running.

We want to go on now and consider the next segment of the program -- vigorous social activity.

Some people get more social activity than others. Some get almost too much. My Uncle Harry is a good example. He phoned the other day and asked me to meet him for lunch. I got to the restaurant ahead of him. I was sipping a coffee when he walked in.

Uncle Harry is fifty-seven years old, but he looks thirty-five and he acts like eighteen. He started weight training about forty years ago. He figured he had a good thing going so he stayed with it. He bought a set of York weights way back when and he still uses them as faithfully as the day he got them.

He came through the door like gangbusters. He's about six feet tall, weighs two-ten and it's all muscle. He's got thick curly hair in a block cut, an eighteen inch neck,j and shoulders like Reg Park draped in a beautifully cut Nehru jacket. Every woman in the place sucked in her breath, and the cashier looked like she wanted to spring over the counter and molest him in the doorway.

He walked over humming "Black Day in July" and sat down. Three waitresses sprinted for the table.

"Uncle Harry," I said. "You're a constant source of amazement to me." 

"That so?" he said. He turned and flashed a smile at the nearest waitress. She broke a sweat and dropped her pencil. "Just bring me some nice cold beer to start," he said.

Her mouth dropped open and I thought she was going to drool on his jacket. 

"I'll have the same," I said.

She never even heard me. 

Uncle Harry gave her my order. She looked at me like I was intruding.  

Uncle Harry picked up the menu. "Well," he said. "What do you think? About two pounds of  nice rare steak?"

"For you" I said, "I'd suggest about five pounds of Mexican laughing grass." 

"Never use it," he said. 

"You don't have to," I said. "You're turned on all the time, anyway." 

The waitress flashed up to the table with two beers on a tray.

"Holy cow," I mustered. "She must know somebody at the brewery. Has the track coach heard about her?" 

She plunked my beer down and some of it sloshed over the rim of the glass. She lowered Uncle Harry's in from of him like it was the Holy Grail. 

He picked it up and sipped delicately. He turned to her and nodded approval. She took a deep, slow breath, lowered her eyelids, and darted her tongue across her lips. 

"Uncle Harry," I said. "For goodness sake order something. I'm starting to feel like a peeping tom." 

He picked up the menu and smiled at the waitress. "What would you recommend?" he said.

She leaned over and breathed on his ear. I thought she was going to bite it. Her voice dropped about three octaves. "The dinner steak," she whispered.

"Fine," he said. "We'll each have one, then." She stared into his eyes and her head weaved back and forth like a cobra getting ready to hit a rat.

"Rare," he added. She nodded approval and I began to think I'd come to the wrong restaurant. 

She whispered in Uncle Harry's ear. He smiled pleasantly.

She turned and bumped her way to the kitchen like she was coming down the runway at the old Roxy theater. For a wild moment I thought I heard distant drums.

"What did he say?" I asked him. 

He yawned. "Said she's through at eight o'clock." 

I stared at him in awe "Uncle Harry," I said. "You gotta be the greatest. Why do you bother with a slob like me?" 

He sipped his beer. "I like your ideas," he said. "I'd like to hear more about that rejuvenation thing." 

I choked on a mouthful of beer. (that fit nicely!) "Rejuvenation?" I said. "You gotta be kidding. If you get rejuvenated any more they'd lynch you."  

"I'm serious," he said. "I want to do everything right." 

"Uncle Harry," I said, "you do everything right already. You always did. You eat right. You train righ. How young do you want to get?" 

"What about social activities?" he said.

I stared at him for a while and finally he got embarrassed.

"You said it was important,"he muttered. 

"Listen, Uncle Harry," I said. "The kind of social activity I'm talking about your already do. I mean, swimming, for example." 

"I do a lot of swimming now," he said.

"I know you do. The trick with swimming, of course, is to swim. I don't mean laying on the beach, or floating around on an inner tube. I mean swimming hard and vigorously until you're too tired to swim anymore.

"Energetic swimming in cold water is one of the greatest stimulants for your cardiovascular system. Get in a good session every time you're at the beach.

"Tennis is another good activity," I said. "You don't have to be a star at the game. Just get out on the court and move around a lot." 

"I like tennis," Uncle Harry said. "And handball, too." 

"Handball's good," I said. "So's hiking, if you've got mountain country to do it in. Or skin diving Or skiing, if you don't use the tow lift. Practically any outdoor recreation that involves a lot of leg work. They're all good for you and help keep you young." 

"I do all those things," he said.

The waitress brought our steaks. She fussed over Uncle Harry. She moved the salt and pepper closer to him. She brushed imaginary crumbs from the tablecloth. She did everything but run her fingers through his hair.

"Give her the cutlery," I said. "Maybe she'll cut your steak for you." 

She gave me a cold look and flounced away. 

"One of the best social activities," I said, "is dancing. Vigorous dancing." 

Uncle Harry took a mouthful of steak. "I do a lot of dancing already." 

"Listen," I said. "I've seen you dance and you oughta be ashamed of yourself." 

He looked indignant.

"I don't mean shuffling around the snake pit with some broad young enough to be your granddaughter," I said. "I mean real live stuff. Polkas, square dancing, and do on.' 

He looked at me like I was crazy. "Man," he said. "That bumpkin bit ain't really my bag, you know." 

"I know," I said. "But it's great exercise. Lots of authorities recommend it." 

"Name on," he said.

"Bob Hoffman often mentions the value of vigorous dancing." 

He thought about it for a moment. "Course" he said, "Hoffman ain't really the swinger I am."

"Uncle Harry" I said. "Nobody's the swinger you are. But that type of dancing is still good for you." 

He hacked away at his steak. "Where would I learn?" 

"Take lessons," I said.

He dropped his fork. "Take dancing lessons?" he said "You're outta your tree."

"No, I'm not," I said. "You asked me and I told you. Vigorous dancing is a good social activity if you want to stay I Am Stuck On Band-Aids And Band-Aids Stuck On Me young, and if you don't know how to do it, then a few lessons is the best way to find out."

We finished our lunch. The waitress was nowhere in sight. Uncle Harry handed her a bill. Her eyes glazed over and she punched three buttons before she got the cash register open.

Uncle Harry gave her a big smile. Her nostrils dilated and she crouched a little. You couldn't tell if she was going to curtsy or leap over the counter. I opened the door and pushed Uncle Harry out.

"Well," he said. "Thanks for the advice."

"Thanks for the lunch" I said. "You don't need any advice."

"I'm going to give the country dancing thing a whirl," he said. "You really think it's good, eh?"

"I do," I said. "I really do."

"Great" he said. "I'll get started right away."


He peered through the restaurant window and then looked at his watch.

"Maybe tomorrow." he said.   





Monday, July 16, 2018

The Fountain of Youth, Part Two - John McCallum

Taken From This Issue (December 1968) 

The Fountain of Youth, Part Two
by John McCallum (1968)
My bachelor uncle came over the other night. His name is Harry. He was wearing a pair of turquoise cords, a light blue ascot, a shirt that looked suspiciously like gold lamb, with a set of Buddhist prayer beads hanging around his neck.
I shielded my eyes. "That's a nice outfit, Uncle Harry." 

He flopped down into a chair and crossed his feet on the desk. He had on cowboy boots with curlicue engraving down the sides.

"And nice footwear, too," I added. "Who do you think you are? Matt Dillon?"

He flicked an imaginary piece of lint from his cords. "The trouble with you, my boy," he said, "is that you don't know a real swinger when you see one." 

"You're right about that, Uncle Harry," I said. "I gotta admit you're a swinger. You started swinging the day you were born." 

He yawned.

"The trouble is," I said, "that was fifty-nine years ago." 

"Fifty-seven," he said. He looked as pleased as a cat. "Yessir. Fifty-seven last March and I feel like a two-year-old."

"A two-year-old what?" I said. "Horse or egg?"

He grinned at me. "Don't be snappy, son. You oughta be flattered."

"Flattered?" I said. "Why?"

"Because," he said, "I've come to you for advice. Free advice," he added."

"Advice about what?"

"About," he said, "the finest, kindest, most deserving individual I know."

I sat up. "Who?"

"Me," he said.

I looked at him for a moment. "Uncle Harry," I said, "you're nothing but a dirty old man and you know it."

He grinned. "But a swinger."

"Right," I said. "But a swinger."

He took his feet off the desk. "What about it then?"

"What about what?"

"The free advice."

I put my feet on the desk where his had been. "Uncle Harry," I said. "My vast store of information is at your disposal. What do you want to know?"

He looked a little embarrassed. "It's what you were saying about staying young. You know, the fountain of youth thing."

I gave him a close look. "Uncle Harry," I said. "Don't tell me you're finally becoming aware of your advancing years."

"Never mind what I'm aware of," he snapped. "You were talking about getting young and staying that way with the right kind of training. Remember?"

"Of course I remember," I said. "I'm not senile like some people I know."

He gave me a cold look. "Watch it, sonny," he said. "I'll cut off your allowance."

I swung my feet off the desk and sat up straight. "Okay, Uncle Harry," I said. "I'll tell you how to train so you can get young and stay that way."

"Wild," he said.

"But I think all the old dolls on the bourbon circuit oughta send me something in appreciation."
"They will, my boy. They will," he said. "I'll see to it."

"You still do a little lifting, don't you?"

"Oh, sure," he said. "A few presses and curls. You know."

"Yeah," I said. "I know. But training for rejuvenation involves a little more than that. Are you sure you want to?"

"Certainly," he said. "It's worth it. I'm looking forward to a long, active life devoted to charity and good works."

I looked him right in the eye but he kept a straight face. "All right, Uncle Harry," I said. "This is what you gotta do, then. Pay attention."

"The first thing to remember," I said, "is that your rejuvenation routine should do two things. It should give maximum stimulation to your cardiovascular system, and it should do it in as short a time as possible. Two and three hour workouts are okay for the kids peaking their biceps, but it's wasted time for you."

"You've got to compress your workout. No wasted moves. There's other segments to the program and you've gotta save time for them."

"Great," he said. "I'll spend the time wisely, too. Long walks through the park and all that."
"Uncle Harry," I said. "Who the heck do you think you're kidding? You'll spend it in the gin mill with your juice-head friends and you know it."

He put on an indignant look. "It's better than sleeping your life away."

"Sleeping?" I said. "You gotta be kidding. Half those guys are wiped out by ten-thirty, anyway."

He looked hurt.

"Never mind, Uncle Harry," I said. "Let's get on with it."

"Now," I said. "You won't be doing much on the smaller muscle groups. You don't need it anyway. There'll be no cramping. No pumping. No half movements. Nothing like that."

"Don't be concerned about getting cuts in our deltoids or your biceps a half inch bigger. Your goal should be the developing of a strong, enduring body, and absolutely vibrant health."

"You'll work on the large muscle groups. You'll use standard exercises, moderately heavy weights, and you'll do your workouts in PHA style."

"You should work out three times a week. No more; no less. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday is ideal. That'll give you plenty of exercise with the weights and still leave time for the other segments of the program."

I scribbled on a piece of paper and handed it to him. "There," I said. "Do this."

1) Press behind neck: 10 reps
2) Squats: 12 reps
3) Bench Press: 12 reps
4) Situps: 25 reps
5) Hyperextensions: 15 reps
6) Bentover rowing: 15 reps

Uncle Harry studied the paper. "That doesn't seem like very much."

"It'll be enough for now," I said. "If you do it properly."

"Do the behind the neck presses standing. Use a medium width grip. Clean the bar and do the first rep off your chest. Do the remainder behind your neck. Don't let the bar rest on your shoulders between reps. Rebound it right back up again.

"Keep your head up and your back as straight as possible during the squats. Take three big gulping breaths between each rep. Squat to parallel position, no lower.

"Use a shoulder width grip for the bench presses. Do them in strict style. No back arching, no footwork.

"Do the situps on an incline board and hold plates behind your head for added resistance. Don't let your back arch. Roll up and down down like a rug being rolled and unrolled.

"The hyperextensions are terrific for your lower back. Concentrate on doing them in perfect style. Round your back at the bottom and arch it high at the top. Use extra weights as soon as you can, but not so much that your style gets sloppy.

"Use a close grip for the rowing exercise and pull the bar to your lower abdomen. Arch your back and raise your head when the weight comes up. Round your back and lower your head when the bar goes down.

"You got all that?" I asked him.

"Sure," he said. "No problem. I know how to do all those exercises anyhow."

"That's right," I said. "Now, don't forget. You'll be doing the workout in PHA style.

"Do a set of exercise #1, then a set of exercise #2, then #3, and so on right through the group. Then do a second set of exercise #1, a second set of exercise # 2, and so on. Then run through the group a third time, then a fourth time, and so on for six sets.

"Use an extremely light weight for the first set. The empty bar may be enough. Add a little weight for the second set, and a little more for the third set. The first three are just warmup sets, really.

"Don't neglect the warmup. A lot of the success of this routine depends on stimulated blood circulation through thoroughly warmed up muscles.

"Jump to your best exercising poundage for the fourth set. Drop ten pounds each for the fifth and sixth sets.

"Don't stop and rest between exercises. Keep on the move. If you're puffing too hard, walk around till your breathing slows a little and then go right on to the next exercise. If you sit down and rest, you'll undo most of the good of the PHA system.

"Figure you can handle all that?" I asked him.

"Like nothing," he said.

"Okay, then. But, don't forget, there's other segments to the thing. Are you eating a pretty strict diet?"

"Like a Trappist monk," he said.

"I'll bet."

He grinned and got up.

"Wait a minute," I said. "Don't you want to hear about the other segments?"

He looked at his watch. "Like later, maybe." He started for the door. "I've got a deal figured for some of that free time tonight."

"Good," I said. "Phone me in the morning and I'll come down and bail you out."  


The Fountain of Youth, Part One - John McCallum (1968)

Taken From This Issue (October 1968) 

The Fountain of Youth, Part One
by John McCallum (1968)

While the youngsters are bulking up their arms this month, let's have a word with the most neglected man in weight training. I'm referring to Daddy-O. The gentleman over fifty years of age. The senior citizen who wants to improve his strength and health and roll back the years a decade or two, but isn't sure how to go about it.

And it's no wonder he's in doubt. At least 99% of all weightlifting's instructional data is aimed at the young man. And there's nothing really wrong with this. Some fine, result producing systems have emerged from this mass of information. The only one who's suffered so far has been dear old dad. He's not interest in physique contests, or at least he shouldn't be, and contest type training isn't suited for him anyway. It doesn't answer his physical needs.

And what are his physical needs? Youth. Youth is the answer. Youthful heart, youthful lungs, youthful mind, youthful everything. The old lady may not let him chase girls up and down the beach, but at least he should feel like it; and if the old dragon ever stays home, he should be physically capable of doing it.

And how to reach this happy state of affairs? You can sum it up in one word. Conditioning! Not peaked biceps. Not high pecs. Not cuts, nor sep, nor def, nor anything else. Just conditioning. Conditioning, proper conditioning, will add years to your life and life to your years. It'll put snap and zing in your arteries and give you a heart like a teenage boy. It'll hand you the most priceless gift of all -- youth.

Don't confuse muscles with condition. It's possible to have big muscles and not be in condition at all. It's possible to have big muscles and not be in condition at all.

A friend of mine is fifty-four. I watched him work out one time. He did flying exercises on a flat bench for twenty minutes and then started concentration curls. After ten minutes of curls, I spoke to him.

"Alan," I said. "What are you doing?"

He gave me a puzzled look. "What does it look like I'm doing?"

"It looks like you're pumping up your biceps."

"I am," he said.


"Why? Why does anyone pump up their biceps?"

"Well," I said. "The kids do it to get bigger arms. But I don't know why you're doing it."

"To get big arms," he said.

"You already got big arms."

"All right, then. To get them bigger."

"Al," I said. "You're nuts. You got big arms, big chest, big shoulders, big everything including a big gut. At your age you should be working to get into condition."

"Condition?" he said. "I'm in terrific condition." He flexed his arms. "Look."

"That's not condition," I said. "How far can you run?"

"How would I know?"

"What would you guess?"

"I dunno," he said. "Couple of miles, maybe."

"Baloney," I said. "You couldn't make it around the block."

He didn't agree, so next evening we met at the track. It was a nice cool evening and I said I'd run with him.

It's a quarter mile track. Halfway round, he sounded like a Yangtze River gunboat, and at the three-quarter mark he gave up. He waddled off the track and collapsed on the grass.

"Good grief," he gasped.

"You all right?" I asked.

He was gulping air like a fish out of water.

"You better go home now," I said.

He sat up. His face was beet red.

"C'mon," I said. "Let's get out of here. If you drop dead, the cops might figure it's my fault."

He got up finally and I walked him to his car.

"Al," I said. "You better give a little thought to what I said about conditioning if you plan to start any long novels. You're a walking heart attack."

He had his breath back. "I hate to admit it," he muttered, "but you may be right."

If you think I'm right, we'll get on with it. We'll work out a conditioning program that'll bounce you into shape real fast. It'll add twenty useful years to your life, and pour more pep and vigor into your working parts than you'd believe possible.

Ponce de Leon spent most of his life searching for a mythical fountain of Youth. You can discover your fountain of youth, the real one, simply by reading and putting the following into practice.

Remember -- the secret of regaining and maintaining your youth is conditioning. Conditioning from the inside out. Training your cardio-vascular system as hard as Mr. Big trains his biceps. That's what keeps you young.

We're going to be pressed for space this month, so we'll have to go more deeply into the whys and wherefores some other time. If you'll take my word for it now, we'll carry on.

There should be four distinct segments to your conditioning program. Each segment is as follows:

(a) nutrition,
(b) weight training
(c) vigorous social activities, and
(d) running.

Let's take them one at a time. We'll start with nutrition.

If you're over fifty and you're serious about your health and condition, then you better start paying attention to your diet. The kids may get away with gastronomical murder but it doesn't mean you can.

I watched my daughter's boyfriend eat a brick of ice cream one time. He smothered it with strawberry jam and washed the whole mess down with three cokes.

"Marvin," I said. "That's more sugar than I'd eat in a year."

He smacked his lips. "Delicious," he said. "Whyn't ya try her, dad?" 

"You're out of your tree," I said. "If I ate all that garbage I'd gain twelve pounds and my liver'd fall out."

He licked off the spoon. "Course," he said, "let's not forget I'm a growing boy."

"Marvin," I said. "You're a bloody garbage can."

He looked hurt.

"But I envy you," I said.

You can envy the kids too if you want, but don't try to eat like them.

the old saying that you are what you eat is never truer than when you reach middle age. And if you really want to look young, feel young, be young, then don't forget it.

Diet for the man over fifty isn't a complicated process. You don't have to be finicky about it, just be sensible.

To start with, and this is very important, eliminate all the junk food from your diet. All the gooey cookies and cakes and candies and soft drinks and sugar and processed grains and so on. Eliminate them completely. They're junk and you don't need them.

Don't just cut down on that kind of crap. Stop eating it, period. Bob Hoffman used to say that enough leaks would sink the biggest ship, so quit letting your youth leak away by crummy eating habits.

Slash your carbohydrate intake to the bone at the same time. They don't do much for you except make you fat anyway.

The bulk of your diet should consist of protein foods, preferably from animal sources. Meat, milk, eggs, cheese, fish, poultry, etc. This is the stuff you should be living on. Round it out with fresh fruits in small amounts and preferably raw.

Supplements should play a large part in your diet. You should be absolutely saturated with protein, vitamins, etc. Anything less isn't good enough for the kind of results you want, and it's impossible to get this kind of nourishment without supplements.

One final word of diet advice. Keep the amounts of food you eat down to a reasonable level. Don't overeat. If you do, you'll ruin the whole deal. 
We're out of space. Start cleaning up your diet, and we'll get at the next segment of your rejuvenation program as soon as we can.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Call Me Old Fashioned - Paul Kelso

"Whatever you do, Son, don't do it." 
Now shut up and read this . . .

I'm in my office up in the classroom building one day  going through a stack of what Ken Leistner's mailman used to call "comic books" (glossy bodybuilding magazines), when the Big Kid from Houston eases in with a problem. Says he wants to lift in the Ark-La-Tex meet in the spring and train for football at the same time, as he plans to transfer to the four-year school at Nacogdoches in the fall.

He complained that he couldn't get a good workout in our wright room because the equipment was too old-fashioned. No pec-dec, no cable crossover, no leg sled, hack machine or seated calf raise; no nothing. All we had in the early days was a squat rack, a bench, a couple of Olympic sets, one power bar and a lot of loose dumbbell bars and plates. This guy had a build like a black panther and the sleekness of a seal. Weighed about 200 at 6'. Benched 280, squatted well but was behind on the deadlift and other big pulling movements. If he did them at all.

I explained the programs I had the Wampus Cat powerlifters and round-ballers on and suggested a few football-oriented changes.

"I know that stuff. I want to use modern methods and show up buff," he said.

I could see we had a little translation problem.

"Did you ever hear of Charles A. Smith?"


Lived down in Austin. Wrote for Joe Weider for years. He used to say, 'There is nothing new in weight training.'" 

Note: do a search of this blog for Charles A. Smith. I spent a couple years and some dollars rounding up all the training articles of his I could. Well worth the effort. He's my all time favorite lifting author. Or keep reading and I'll give a link to some of his stuff on here.

The Houston Kid looked at me like I had just spoken to him in Chinese. He picked up one of the "comic books" and pointed out a picture of our current pro "Mr. Sensational" as his goal. Besides, he didn't care for squats that much as they hurt his shoulders. I caught on as to what I had here. Another young trainee who confused appearance with ability. (There is no true correlation between size and appearance with strength and ability.) Then he said he'd like to look so good when he got the college that the football coach would come up and ask him to try out. 

"You must have been watchin' old Mickey Rooney college movies," says I. His expression was blank.

It is really sad that so many have no conception of what it means to be able to actually DO something, and what it takes to accomplish goals with reasonable expectations of success. These fantasies are encouraged by the tendency of some publishers and writers in the game to market image instead of the acquisition of competence. 

Note: Ain't there just a lot of that going on now in every field you can come up with! 

Miss a workout? Take a pill. Paint on some bottled suntan and buy a cantilevered shirt and go struttin' with your earphones on. Heck, I just wrote a song.

I told him that the first thing he was gonna do was go back to the dorm and write a letter to the coach and tell him that the Houston Kid wanted to play football for him, what position he wanted to try and ask what weight he should come in at. The second thing was to pay up his power club dues and I'd send off his entry for the spring contest four months hence. The Kid's expression slid over toward panic. The third thing was to meet me in the weight room at four o'clock. He made a sound like "homina-homina" and blurted out that he needed time to think about it. 

Then I caught on. He was using me as a sounding board to find out if his dream had any plausibility. Maybe he would have been relieved if I'd told him to forget it. I don't know. I decided to act like a professional educator and molder of youth instead of a professional curmudgeon (see photo above). 

"Look, you've been studying this. I think you've got a shot. It's a long time 'til fall. Come on down to the gym at four and we'll get started." 

He stumbled out.

I sat there a few minutes longer and read in one of the "comic books" about a student at a Big Ten school who a Master's degree for proving that three sets of eight to ten reps with eight or nine basic exercises is a more effective way to train than one set each of twenty or so movements. Where did I first read that, Strength & Health in 1949? Peary Rader's Master Course? 

Rader Course! 

Some Bob Hoffman stuff on this blog set up for nice and easy access 

You guessed it. You can find a great listing of Charles A. Smith's stuff there too.
There might be some more recent posts not included. 

Then I saw in a coaches' mag that a kinesiology major had proved that excessive stretching before competition reduced power and performance. I had heard that from McAdoo Keaton, the famous SMU track coach, back in 1955. He helped Jack Adkisson (later known as pro wrestler Fritz Von Erich) to become the number two college discus thrower, and Forrest Gregg (later All-Pro with the Green Bay Packers) to throw the javelin from here to Fort Worth. 

There was more. A 1992 study proved that vitamin-mineral and amino supplements were unnecessary for athletes if they ingested a well-balanced diet in sufficient quantities. Right. How about somebody developing a surefire program to guarantee that the athletes will eat such a diet. Good luck. 

Another article quoted a Ph.D. strength coach as saying that trainees should not follow programs based on anecdotal evidence until they'd been tested under academic, scientific conditions. Translated, that means that 80 years of reports in non-academic books and magazines in the field are questionable. Yes, there has been a lot of baloney. But are methods that were proven or disproven in training or by trial in competition to be dismissed as anecdotal? 

Certainly the game needs the benefit of sound research and new scientific exploration. However, it is my opinion that we are just reaching the point in growth of our game where we are beginning to understand what the questions are. Please remember that academic study of weight training did not really begin until the mid-fifties, and then in the face of hostile opposition, with the boom taking off in the '70s. And, in contrast, that the first realistic championship in weightlifting was in 1889. 

Surely there were some valuable insights during the interim period. 

May I suggest that before spending a lot of money and wasting students' time that the new breed of academics in weight training and competition familiarize themselves with the history of this activity, consult with the aging old-times still involved, and peruse the "anecdotal" literature? They could save themselves the risk and embarrassment of telling a lot of people what they already know. 

Yeah, I know. Maybe I am a curmudgeon.

The Houston Kid wanted modern? I'd give him modern. I just had to get some "new" equipment. I went down to the campus shop and got a couple of tow chains. Then I drove over to Lope Delk's construction site and "borrowed" one of those big hooks they attach to crane cables to swing wrecking balls from. I couldn't get the wrecking ball in the car. Just as well.

I met the Kid in the weight room on time. He was wearing posing trunks and pretending he didn't see me while he did some alternate DB curls. I was supposed to be all agog at how "buffed" he was. He had done that peculiar psychological twist common to the young (and some older folks who are allegedly grown up) of challenging me to make him do what he wanted to do in the first place.

True, he did have an impressive visual physique. Sort of early gymnast: bulbous pecs, biceps like softballs, high lats and carved out humps above the knees. It was obvious he had trained up to that point: for the beach. He could carry pony kegs of beer pretty good. 

The Kid pouts, "Okay, Coach. I'll try it your way. Now what's this super program I'm gonna do?" 

I exhaled slowly, under control.  

"First, throw these two chains over the rafters so the ends hang down on each side, then take that hook over to the parallel bars." 

The Kid looks at me like I'm crazy. He takes care of it, nearly knocking himself silly when the chains whipped around. I admit I had mixed feelings just then.

Then I put him through a few tests. He couldn't deadlift much more than he could bench, which is far too common, didn't know what a hook grip was, and thought a shrug was a Padre Island shore bird. I worked him up on jerks off the rack and had him hold each one for a count of five. By the time he got to 185 lbs., he was shaking like that guy on the space roller coaster in the movie "2001." 

"What we're gonna do, Kid, is work you in ways and from angles you never imagined. You'll end up with more overall strength and maybe some increase in athletic ability. You're also gonna have a back from the planet Mongo.

Here's the program, and it isn't modern." 

1) Standing DB Presses - 1 x 8, 3 x 6:
Heels together. Improves pure pressing power while increasing control and balance.

2) Overhead Supports - 3 single reps, each held overhead for five seconds: 
The bar is suspended in the chains (you can use a power rack) almost to full lockout over your head. Get under the bar and use your legs and arms to lock it out at full extension over your head, like finishing a jerk. Bring your feet in line. Stabilize under it and hold it for the count. Control the weight and work to your limit. I hope I'm not confusing anyone by mentioning the jerk. Weightlifting -- Olympic style -- remember? 

3) Dips - when you can do 4 x 10 reps start using added weight and go for 6-8 reps: 
Our hook is 50 lbs., when you can start hanging DB's on that, you're getting to be somebody. Perform these with the elbows held back at about 45 degrees and try to find a position that involves the delts, pecs, triceps, lats and serratus more or less equally. Dips have been called "the upper body squat," and are extremely useful in a limited program. They should be practiced regularly by anyone wanting strength along with development. 

4) Power Cleans from the Floor - 4 x 5 reps: 
Jerk the first rep of each set. With the bar on the floor, start the lift with the legs and then pull with the back and arms, rising to full body extension. Do not split the legs forward and back. Dip the knees slightly to get the shoulders under the bar as you rack it in. Get someone to show you if you don't know how. This very basic movement will do wonders for your pulling power and develop columns of muscle from your heels to the base of your skull. Do the first two sets with moderate loads and think speed, then add weight for the last two sets. Caution: Don't throw the bar; pull it up straight. Please treat this movement as an exercise and not a lift. Add small plates every workout if you can, and the poundages will mount over time.

5) Squats: 
After a warmup set or two, grind out 3 x 8 reps with a weight you can handle in good form, high-bar style. Then drop the weight down by a third and go for one set of maximum repetitions. The most important thing: On the first rep of every rep of every set, try to shrug the weight upwards with your shoulder girdle. This is the old Hise shrug and it will accustom you to heavy loads faster than anything I know about. Every two weeks or so, load the bar with about 95% of your best high-bar single and simply back out of the racks and set up. Try to shrug the bar a few times, and then put it back. Do this three times. Use spotters, or live -- maybe -- to regret it.   

6) Kelso Shrugs - 3 x 10 reps: 
Perform on a low-angle incline bench, under 45 degrees, lying face down. A curl grip on the bar, lifting straps until your grip catches up and big iron is the ticket. Shrug the bar up toward the chest, concentrating on a point in the middle of the upper back, not up toward ears. "Yeah, but ain't that modern," you ask? Maybe, maybe not. The shoulder girdle has been able to "shrug" to the rear since it was invented, and chances are, well, see Charles A. Smith reference earlier on here. Vary your hand spacing and grip set-to-set for different "feels." 

Every third workout: 
Do ONLY squat (competition style) and bench, 4 x 6-8, and deadlifts for 4 sets of 5; first and second sets with moderate weights, then two work sets. Alternate exercise: bent-arm pullover and press instead of dips. If splitting the routine, include it one day and do dips the other. 

There's a reason for including the weightlifting moves. I love 'em. I started as an Olympic-style weightlifter way back when there was no such a thing as powerlifting. 

Note: You might like this two-part article by Peary Rader - 
"Powerlifting: How It All Started" 

It is a terrific high to succeed with personal record overhead lifts, when everything is perfect and in the groove. I think every weight trainer should try a long cycle on the lifts at some point in the first several years of training. It'll help with whatever you decide to do with the iron in the future and make you strong and quick. But there's a danger . . . . you might get hooked! 

For three months the Kid did each of these movements once or twice a week, splitting the program in several combination at first because it was just too much to do them all in one session when he began. Probably started too heavy, which was my fault, not his. Every third workout was competition-style squat, bench, and deadlift, nothing else, 4 x 6-8 (see above for deadlift reps). One month before the meet we went to lifts only, 3 sets of work sets of 3-5 reps, after a few warmup sets. 

His personal record total jumped 100 lbs. at the contest. He came back to the "old fashioned" program after the Ark-La-Tex and gained fifteen pounds by the time football season rolled around. He made the team at the four-year school and earned a letter his senior year.

Is there a moral to this story? 

How about this: 

Dreams can be realized if you are willing to take the risk of failing.   



Thursday, July 12, 2018

(Complete) Calf Training - Vince Gironda

This article is taken from the March '68 issue of Joe Weider's Muscle Builder/Power.
That cover likely sent a lot of guys to the gym more often. 
Yeah! It's a Classic. 

Seriously, fellow lifters, you have to be a bit of a pain freak to do the full-blown type of calf training. Torch 'em . . . Burn 'em . . . Blow them babies up! That type. I was thinking about this on my afternoon "rapid" transit commute to work today.

There was a hellish accident on one-a the main bridges around two o'clock. Some idiot's semi flipped and wound up blocking all lanes of bridge traffic going in both directions. So, all the vehicles that'd normally be going over this bridge were diverted to the next one . . . halfway across town, right along my usual bus route.

I got on the thing unknowing. Who bloody knew! First thing that clued me in was the fact that the bus took 10 minutes to go one block. Okay then. About 60 or so more to go! I should be at the train station just in time for Christmas. It'll be nice and cold then too. Bonus!

It was bloody hot. Packed on that bus like pigs heading for slaughter. Standing hip to hip, sweat rolling down the small of your back, some stranger's baby in a stroller screaming. The heat. And that's around block two.

It became a kind of low rent S & M.
Lack of oxygen set in.
Mobile Bondage Dungeon #100, en route.

I suppose we all have that weird friend we suspect is into some kind of homemade S & M on the cheap. There's always a huge spiky dildo drying in this guy's dish rack. You notice things like a length of electrical wire with what looks like pubic hair on the frayed end, mouse traps but never any mice, pantyhose hanging in the bathroom but no females ever, drug paraphernalia for substances that aren't even close to fun.

Standing there on that stinkin' bus next to that screamin' kid. The strap handle you hang onto starts looking pretty tempting. "Deranged man breaks infants neck then hangs himself on bus strap." That's when I decided to get off and walk to the train.

After a stiff 40-block walk in the sun I showed up at the station just in time to run up those four big flights of stairs and squeeze on the train. Pouring sweat. Wet shirt. Sure, I guess I mighta smelled a little too. Musta been the salami and cheese sandwich in my bag cooking.

Hopefully the driver of that overturned semi died in the accident.
Hey, I know I'm not alone in that sentiment.

Anyhow, some of this intense style of calf training . . . I figure you gotta be a bit of a pain freak to really get deep into it. Or not. 

Calves, eh.
Crazy Calves!

If any single muscle rates as the least developed of all muscles among all bodybuilders -- 


Stubborn and difficult to develop, it requires special attention; it must be bombed into growth. No matter how well developed the thighs, the legs, as a whole, cannot be impressive when the calves are small.

Take Steve Reeves as an example . . . perfect from top to bottom. How great would he look if his upper body and thighs tapered down to a spindly base? Get the point?

Because of the density of calf tissue and its distance from the heart (the body's pumping station -- which delivers nutrient-rich blood to the muscles), the calves must be worked a minimum of 20 repetitions per exercise to respond. You must rise on your toes on the base of the big and second toe (when performing various exercises), if you are to develop the meaty inside portion -- the most difficult part of all.

Rotate the heels inward as you rise to the contracted position.

As you lower the body allow the heels to resume the wider position.

The legs should always be slightly unlocked at the knees.
This places stress on the lower part of the calves. 

Calves are a "stretch muscle" -- so you must try to lengthen the muscle by stretching at the bottom of the movement. I have discovered that men with poor calf development have poor range of motion. On the other hand, men with good calves have developed great flexibility. Obviously, then, the Donkey Raise is on of the best calf exercises because the bentover position induces great stretch. Second best is to work on the calf machine.

Hard-to-develop calves should be worked daily, but not in the same way. That is, work 3 heavy days and 2 pump days. On your pump days do not tire the calves, just induce circulation. The best procedure is to do sets of 100 or more reps with moderate (bodyweight) poundages. Use good slow form. Do not try to rush, especially when you reach the pain barrier. Speeding usually causes a shortening of the motion and causes pain, or "burns" to the point that you won't be able to take it. Again, work slowly and stretch the muscle at the bottom of the movement and fully contract at the top. 



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