Sunday, September 30, 2018

For a Big Chest, Part Two, Complete - John McCallum (1969)

Originally Published in This Issue (June 1969) 

Within the limits of a certain busy city, there is an area known colloquially as skid row. It is also known as canned heat country, the ghetto, hunger hollow, flop town, garbage manor, bingo village, and a hundred and one other terms of an even less complimentary nature. 

This is the area that shelters the socially unstable, the have-nots, the welfare cases, the chronically unemployed, the rubbies, the unfortunates who, through accident or design and usually no fault of their own, can't hack it in the competitive jungle man has created for himself. 

This is the area that screams for attention but never gets it. The people who design building codes and safety bylaws try not to think about it, and Fire Chiefs lie awake all night whenever they do.

It is twenty-seven square blocks of shame and misery, populated during the day be ragged, blank-eyed, listless families, and during the night by hordes of clicking rats who eat better than the children. The buildings are tall and gaunt and look like starving old ladies holding each other erect, and  pall of gloom shrouds the whole area like a dirty grey blanket.

One of the long time residents was a gentleman named Loganberry Charley. Charley was a sixty-year old with watery blue eyes who subsisted on gallons of cheap wine laced with shoe polish squeezings, both of which he purchased after the sale of anything he could steal.    

One rainy morning, Charley was sitting on the edge of his cot waiting for the tremors in his leg to subside while examining a box of shells and a Remington 12 Gauge Pump Action shotgun he had found in an unlocked basement. 

I saw a guy have an alcohol seizure once. Fair good friend. As good as you could allow, considering he was prone to drinking absolutely anything with alcohol in it when he'd crash at my place. You know, trying to avoid the horrors of a full on seizure. 

Here's a Polish film that got the thing right. You might wanna avoid this one if you have a thin skin. Some of the seizure scenes are ruggedly realistic. Of course, there's an underlying comment on Poland at that time running throughout . . .

Anyhow, Buddy of mine would always leave a nicely worded note when he'd gulp down all my rubbing alcohol, etc. I could tell by the shakiness of his penmanship how severe the thing was, each time it happened. He pitched a helluva seizure this one morning while we were sitting out in the backyard of some other drunks' rental place. There was a "barbecue pit"  . . . a hole in the ground with the ashes of fence-posts, broken chairs and such in it. The ground around was dusty and when he began vibrating on one side of his body violently from the seizure a cloud of dust and ash rose up. That little fella in the Peanuts cartoon. Pigpen. Like that but prone and minus the happy aspect.

One leg and a hand shaking out a drum roll of sorts on the dusty ground. Hard to explain just how fast a rebelling body can shake, flutter and convulse. His pal ran inside and came racing back out with a bottle of over proof rum. Proceeded to pour a good third of it down buddy's throat and, slowly but surely the vibrating subsided. Pretty scary, actually. Another guy I knew, no idea if he's alive or dead and gone now, went into a full bodied seizure and hit a coma for a long enough time to cause some brain damage. This one had a very, very active mind that raced around about 20% faster than most. Make that 35, I keep forgetting the average speed. He came outta the hospital and from what I last heard from his brother the guy's doing fine. Better than he was before, socially. Slowed him right up. Anyhow . . . that movie is KILLER . . . 

Pod Mocnym Aniołem:
The Mighty Angel is the name of the bar, so don't get all positive and such thinking it refers to the lead character. Some excellent cinematography in there, but for me the keyword was visceral. 

Here's a trailer. It'll be subtitled film unless you speak Polish. Eh. 

It comes from a novel by Jerzy Pilch that's been available in a fine English translation since '99: 

Pilch's prose is masterful, and the bulk of The Mighty Angel evokes the same numb, floating sensation as a bottle of Zloldkowa Gorzka.

The Mighty Angel concerns the alcoholic misadventures of a writer named Jerzy. Eighteen times he's woken up in rehab. Eighteen times he's been released—a sober and, more or less, healthy man—after treatment at the hands of the stern therapist Moses Alias I Alcohol. And eighteen times he's stopped off at the liquor store on the way home, to pick up the supplies that are necessary to help him face his return to a ruined apartment.

While he's in rehab, Jerzy collects the stories of his fellow alcoholics—Don Juan the Rib, The Most Wanted Terrorist in the World, the Sugar King, the Queen of Kent, the Hero of Socialist Labor—in an effort to tell the universal, and particular, story of the alcoholic, and to discover the motivations and drives that underlie the alcoholic's behavior.

A simultaneously tragic, comic, and touching novel, The Mighty Angel displays Pilch's caustic humor, ferocious intelligence, and unparalleled mastery of storytelling.

Two other translations of Pilch's work you might dig:
My First Suicide
A Thousand Peaceful Cities

Okay, enough already, although I can't sing the praises of this book/movie enough. 
Back to McCallum's Loganberry Charley . . . 

Abstract thinking was a subtle art Charley had long since dispensed with, and no one will ever know for sure what reserve of remorse prompted his next act, but finally Charley got to his feet and opened the box of shells. He loaded the gun, put the open end of the barrel in his mouth, reached down with a stick of wood, and pushed the trigger. 

Ah, that stick of wood. 
Man: The toolmaker. 

The Fire Department Rescue and Safety rig was there in a few minutes. The R & S Captain pushed open the door of Charley's room and put his head in. Charley was on the floor. His head, from eye level up, was gone. The lower part was a hollow shell, scooped out as cleanly as a newly washed bowl. The ceiling was festooned with little bits of things that dripped redly on to the dirty floor. 

 - Pretty surprising McCallum got this all into the magazine without cuts. 

Twenty-five years in the fire service had given the Captain a macabre sense of humor. He pulled his head out and turned to the youngest of the crew standing behind him.

"Hanley," he said. "There's a sick man in there. Get in and give him mouth-to-mouth!" 

Hanley rushed in, took one horrified look, and fell over in a dead faint.

"Strange," the Captain muttered. "I always thought those weightlifters were tough."

The young man, Hanley, was revived and taken back to the Fire Station where he was plied with strong black coffee and prevailed upon not to murder his Captain. On his first day off, after some heavy heckling, he went down to a gym where he trained and talked to the owner.

"Tell me," he said. "Does the sight of blood bother you?"

"That would depend," said the gym owner. "Some blood would bother me immensely. My own, for example."

"I don't mean your own," the young man said. "How about other people's?"

"That, too, would depend," said the gym owner. "For instance, I would love to see my mother-in-law's blood. Great gooey gouts of it, running all over the floor and gushing . . .

"Hold it!" the young man said. He clenched his teeth and swallowed hard. "Never mind the details." He thought for a moment. "Isn't weight training supposed to make you tough?"

"Tough?" said the gym owner. "I suppose so, in a physical way."

"What about fainting at the sight of blood?"

"That wouldn't have anything to do with it," said the gym owner. "That's a matter of emotional sensitivy."

"So what do you do about it?"

"Nothing," said the gym owner.
"Live with it. Improve the things you can and forget about the rest."

The young man thought about it. "That sounds like a good idea."

"It is."

"Okay, then. In regards to something I can improve - I'm ready for the next step in my chest program. Remember?"

Here, Part One:

"Sure," said the gym owner. "I remember." He got out a paper and pencil. "Step two," he said, "means a change in your workout, and a supplementary exercise you can do throughout the day.

"We'll take your workout first," he said. "Do this three times a week and work hard.

"Start off with one-arm military presses. Alternate arms for 3 sets of 12 reps each. You got it, right? 12 reps with one arm, 12 reps with the other arm, and 12 reps with the final arm, you circus show freak.

"Next, do concentration curls. Alternate again for 3 sets of 12 each arm.

"Now," he said, "we do breathing squats. One set of 20 as heavy as you can, followed by 20 light stretching/breathing pullovers. Give the breathing a Grade A effort. Your ribs have got to ache when you're through.

"Next," he said, "take a short rest and then do bench presses. 5 sets of 10 with all the weight you can handle.

"As soon as you finish the bench presses, go right into the flying exercise on a flat bench. 5 x 1nd get a good stretch at the bottom.

"Now," he said, "a short rest and then another set each of BODYWEIGHT BREATHING squats and light pullovers. 20 reps.

"Rowing comes next. 5 x 12 with a narrow grip.

"After the rowing, do pulldowns to the back of your neck on the lat machine for 5 x 15.

"Finally," he said, "do a set of 15 stiff-legged dead lifts and a set of pullovers, then a set of 10 stiff-legged dead lifts and a set of pullovers, and then a set of 8 stiff-legged dead lifts and a set of pullovers.

"And that," he said, "wraps up your program for the second month. Work as hard as you c an and concentrate on chest size."

"What about the supplementary exercise?" the young man asked him.

"Oh yeah," the gym owner said. "I nearly forgot.

"The supplementary exercise," he said, "is a combination of two things. It's a form of yoga breathing technique designed to develop your lung power to its fullest, combined with an exercise designed to lift your sternum and give you a high, arched chest. It'll expand your rib-box terrifically and reshape it in the process. It'll give you chest size at the top where you want it. It'll give you a high, massive foundation to build slab-like pecs on."


"Very good," the young man said. "But how do you doos it?" 

"Easy," said the gym owner. "First of all, you do the exercise every day. It only takes a minute or so. You do it 10 or 15 times spread out evenly over the day.

"You can do it standing, sitting, kneeling, or balancing on your head if you want to. The only equipment you need is something to grip that's solid and at any height between your waistline and a foot or so above your head. About eye level is best, but not absolutely necessary. You can use the steering wheel of your car if you're driving, or the dashboard if you're a passenger. You can stand and use the top of a door, or kneel and use a window ledge or a piece of furniture. You can always find something to fill the bill. 

"Now," he said, "get in front of a solid object and grip it. Any grip from wide to hands touching is okay. It doesn't really matter.

"The thing," he said, goes like this. Blow all the air out of your lungs. Now inhale through your nose to the count of three. At the count of three, your lungs should be jammed completely full of air.

"Now, hold your breath," he said. "and start pulling with your hands. Pull down and in together. It's as though you were trying to make the figure "V" and the only thing stopping you is the object you're gripping. Pull for a count of three. Pull down and in as hard as you can. If you're doing it properly, your sternum will rise a couple of inches and your pecs will contract strongly. Tense the muscles in the front of your neck and try to lift your chest higher with each count.

"Now, release the pressure, relax, and exhale to the count of three. Your lungs should be empty when you reach three.

"And now, pause for a count of three on empty lungs, and then start the cycle all over again. Inhale, tense, exhale, pause. Three counts to each section.

"Call the full cycle one repetition. Start off with 10 reps and work them up to 20 in a week.

"Do you understand?" he asked.

"I think so," the young man said.

"Don't forget, now. You do the supplementary exercise at odd moments throughout the day. Every day. 20 reps a set, and a set every hour or so.

"If you're doing it correctly," he said, "you'll feel a definite soreness in your sternum and upper ribs. If you don't feel the soreness, readjust your position and work harder."

The young man got up to leave. "And this'll give me fast results, eh?" 

"You'll be astounded," the gym owner said. "Man, it'll blow your head clean off." 




Power and How It's Achieved - Jim Williams

You may be interested in this book:
Search for jim williams benchpresschampion pdf

Power and How It's Achieved - Sam Diana

While talking to Big Jim about his mental attitude and approach, and his great well of power, I was amazed at his answers. I thought I'd share one of them with you. When we were talking about "pure raw power" with or without drugs, I said to Jim, "How does one get this power that you possess, and how are you able to bring it to the surface within seconds?"

His answer startles me to this very day! It was different from what I had ever expected. He said, Sam, you don't acquire this kind of power . . . YOU TAKE IT! You literally take it from yourself upon demand. It's just a total mental preparation. If I was to train any of the top bodybuilders in the country with the ideas I have conquered, they would be the easiest to train with this method.

Bodybuilders train for a maximum muscle control, minus the power of a top powerlifter. This is why Big Jim always tells lifters, especially those who are new to the game, to bodybuild first and learn the complete body. You see, if you know what muscles work with a certain movement, these would be the muscles to zero in on during that movement. 

After you have gained all the strength you can get, the secret is to be able to control it to failure. Failure does not mean taking a great weight that you can't do and then failing with it. That would be simply absurd. Then what are its principles, and what does it mean? It means that you do not fail because of techniques or training, but you fail because you have reached the profound limit. 

Of course, you have seen lifters (and you may be one of them), who in the past have taken extraordinary poundages beyond their limit, because of embarrassment or the need to win, and get injured, or completely fail, mainly because they were not ready for it, neither physically or mentally. This is definitely against all my principles and is not what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about a maximum prepared body and mental condition that knows no limits but failure.

Most people train for success, so therefore, if 500 lbs. is a person's goal on the bench, squat, or deadlift, etc., they will no doubt take lifts that will drive them to this 500 lb. goal and, if really pushed, maybe another 15 lbs! You will probably argue that it may be the person's limit; I fail to agree. It may be the limit, because of the way one trains, but it is not failure. Just because a person is stuck at a poundage for years it is not necessarily the case of one who has reached their limit. Limit and failure are almost the same, but there remains a gap between them. Limit is what you have allowed yourself to do. Failure is the boundary you reach through combined full physical mental output. 

My training is much different and more difficult and knows no limits but failure, because I use my mental capacity to push my strength to failure. To calculate failure, I have to form a problem by using the number 7 in my formulas. For instance, if I bench 600 x 7, it will equal 4,200 lbs. in total reps against the poundage 600. One must also be aware of the fact that each additional rep brings on the increase of gravity's pull! By the time I reach the 6th and 7th rep the resistance factor is combined to 4,200 lbs. by my calculations. Some may be able to figure it out to be more or less; this I'm not going to argue with. 

At this point how do I know I can do a 700 lb. bench? There has to be a way of finding out. Let me explain it to you. Now, when I've completed this cycle of training and it is the last 6 weeks in a 16 week period, it is at this point where any other strenuous training would be of no value. The machine is in tiptop condition and only needs direction. Like a loaded gun needs a trigger, so does the lifter. It is only now that one can understand "total command". We understand that no one is capable of a 4,200 lb. bench press, but if you drop 20 lbs. from the 600 to 80, it will look like this: 20 x 7 = 140 + the original 600 lbs. = 740 or to failure. This means that 700 is sure, and 740-750 may be good to failure. Again, for me to do this awesome 770 lbs. I will do 630 x 7 which will give me 4,410 lbs. Now if you drop 610 per 630 lbs. it will leave you with 20 x 7 = 140 + the original 630 = 770 lbs. to failure.

Now, understand this: we have so far trained the bench, calculated the pounds to failure, and the last event is to take the power and do the lift through "total command." THINK! If a man can do 600 x 7 which equals 4,200 lbs, by subtracting 3,500 lbs. mentally and on an all-out effort should he fail with 700? I should say not! Number one, if you stretched the 7 reps to 7 individual sets, it would be more than the required effect to do one with 700. Secondly, from 600 to 700, one would not be required to do 7 sets. Seven sets would burn you out in between. I myself would be at 700 on the third set after warmups of 405/475/525, which would be 600/650/700 etc. Now, if you add these poundages up, single rep theory, you'll come up with 3,355 lbs., against 4,200! If you want to count the warmup reps, then you must count the same warmup reps for the 600 x 7.

Really, in a case of someone like myself, 600 x 5 gives me the 700 I need, and the extra two reps of 1,200 lbs. give me the 40 lbs. I need for 740.

This formula can be applied to any set poundages of the medium-heavy range upwards, providing they are trained the way my book states. This formula will surely give you the point of total failure and not what you set up by under-training. The important thing about this formula is: you don't just hit a maximum lift that you have decided off the top of your head. This formula will bring you all the way past a supposed mas until failure. But this failure is the total you have trained for, and with what you now know you can command this power for the lift, knowing the point of failure. How many times in the past have you been asked, "What is your max?" and you either lied out of embarrassment, or didn't know. With my formula of training, the medium heavy rep to the number 7, you will know to the point of failure by the way you train those last six weeks.   

Got it? The problem sometimes with understanding the thoughts of a person who has delved deeper than I have into any specific subject is the breakdown of language. What the man in the deeper-than-mine area says may be interpreted as something completely different by the less experienced reader. Or, it may seem to make little if any sense to that same less experienced reader. Okay then.

This is not my only formula or routine. You will find listed in this book several others that will prepare you for such advanced formulas. 

No worries! It'll all become clear later. 

What are the advantage of my formulas in relation to many others? In my way there is a very distinct advantage. In today's race for championship crowns, it is no small secret about muscle tissue becoming brittle through the use of drugs. Proven or unproven, drugs have received the blame. 

Note: Ben Johnson's Olympic race in Seoul was 30 years ago today. 
Don't connect the following links with the Jim Williams material, but
some interesting facts about Johnson's test have been made public recently: 

Carrying on with Jim Williams . . .

I'd like to clear all of this up right now and in this book. Drugs get the blame because of the fact that many many many people get very strong in such a short period of time through drugs but are still unaware of the fact that, to begin with, they didn't train enough and now with the fast growth, they even train less. Astonishing, but very true.

My formula defeats this attitude that steroids falsely give to many lifters. The real problem is that most steroid uses spend the least amount of their training time on the medium heavy reps. They are so pleased with size gains and that in the arms, and the weights that they can now use, that this positive thinking gets them in and out of the gym without paying attention to those medium heavy reps. Just what am I talking about? 

First off, with this happening, the muscles are growing at a rapid rate through the use of drugs, bigger and bigger, but the tendons holding the muscles are neglected through the lack of those medium heavy reps. What happens at this point is anticlimactic! When the muscle if forced to work with a heavy effort, it actually pulls itself loose from the weak tendon, or tears. Quads, pecs and biceps are the major muscles hit by this neglect. My formula trains you to train your muscles accordingly, with the medium heavy approach. We will talk about this subject further on in this book."

Without a doubt, Jim's way of thinking will prepare you to max to failure, with the positive assurance that you have trained those tendons too. Jim said that, when he is through training you, you will have achieved the impossible without injury; much less failures.    

Part Two: Jim Williams, the Man Himself.



Chest Training - Dorian Yates

"From the Shadow" by Kaspa Hazlewood
Published by Dorian Yates
 Feb 27, 2018

One of the most common frustrations I hear from the countless people I meet deals with what they feel is an inability to pack on more size to their upper body - namely, their pecs. Because of this, a lot of people label themselves as "hardgainers," often prematurely and unnecessarily. But believe it or not, I can relate to their frustrations.

In my earliest days as a competitor, my chest was a weak point, and I wanted to seriously bring it up to par with the rest of my physique. At the same time, I knew that simply hammering away at it with the heaviest weights I could handle would be a waste of energy (and an injury risk). I decided to attack the problem systematically and analytically. 

As a result of my efforts, I was able to hone in on three effective exercises to address the specific areas that needed the most improvement. With the goal of adding mass to your pecs, here are the exercises - both presses and flyes - that will help you keep the gains coming. 

Problem Zone No. 1: Upper Pecs
 - Exercise Solution: Incline Press.

I'm not a fan of flat bench presses, as they rely too much on the power of the front delts. Incline presses do a fine job of stimulating the muscle fibers of the upper pecs. Set the bench at a 30 degree angle, instead of the standard 45 degrees, to ensure that the resistance is placed on your pecs - a steeper incline will shift the emphasis to the front delts. Be sure to use strict form. Begin with a light warmup set of 20 reps, then perform 3 all-out max sets of 6-8 reps. Keep the movement slow and precise on the way down, and then explosively drive the bar up until your arms are fully extended at the top. 

Problem Zone No. 2: Inner Pecs
 - Exercise Solution: Hammer Strength Seated Bench Press.

This exercise works as a multi-joint mass builder much like the standard barbell bench press, but the unique angle (the arms come across or inward at the end of the movement) provides a better contraction and allows you to target your inner pecs. The Hammer Strength machine also offers more safety and stabilizing than a free bar, which requires balancing the weight. Press out to the extended position and focus on getting a burn as your contract your pecs. Typically, I work up to one heavy working set of 6-8 reps, plus one or two forced reps at the end of my heavy set. I suggest three working sets for you so that you accumulate more total volume. If your gym doesn't have a Hammer Strength machine, use a comparable seated chest press machine. 

Problem Zone No. 3: Outer Pecs
 - Exercise Solution: Dumbbell Flye.

Dumbbell flyes, both flat and on an incline, are the best exercise for stressing and building the outer pecs, in my opinion. The reason being that they almost fully take the deltoids and triceps out of the equation so that it's the pectorals that are carrying the brunt of the load. Also, the stretch at the bottom of the movement helps flood the area with more blood, which carries muscle-building nutrients for optimal growth and recovery. And developing the outer pecs to their max adds width and density to the whole pectoral region. For maximum effect, go for a complete stretch at the bottom position. Don't bring the dumbbells together at the top, either, because there's no significant muscle resistance gained by doing that. For full effect and safety, flyes must be performed in a slow and controlled manner. Use the heaviest weight with which you can complete 3 sets of 6-8 reps.


My own version of the exercise program below brought up the lagging areas of my chest early in my career, and it continues to pay dividends today. Hardgainers and pro bodybuilders have more in common than you might suspect. The goal is always to improve mass and muscularity at the quickest possible rate. At the end of the day, that's what my recommended chest workout for hardgainers is all about.     

So then . . . 

Incline Barbell Press, 3 x 6-8
Hammer Strength Seated Bench Press, 3 x 6-8
Dumbbell Flye (flat or incline), 3 x 6-8.

Workout Boosters

Forced Reps. 
This is one of my favorite training methods, as it's an excellent way to extend a set beyond failure. Here's how it works. During incline barbell presses, for example, I often reach failure at the 8th rep. Failure means being unable to complete another rep with that maximum weight - it does not mean that I've depleted all my strength. To put the idea into action, my training partner places his hands under the bar and provides me with only the assistance that's needed to get just another two assisted reps and take the muscles beyond their normal point of failure.

Once again, the rest-pause method is employed at the end of a set to push the muscles past their normal point of failure. For machine presses, for instance, once I reach failure (see my definition above), I sit there and rest for 10 seconds to recoup strength. Then I press out one more rep, rest another 10 seconds, and press out one final rep. Rest-pause is a terrific strength builder, and it's a lot safer than forced reps, if you don't have a reliable training partner to help you. 

Partial Reps. 
This is another way to extend a set for exercises that don't lend themselves to forced reps. Exercises like dumbbell flyes or dumbbell lateral raises are the types of moves I'll normally employ partial reps on. As I reach failure on a set of lateral raises, for example, rather than ending the set, I'll continue to raise the dumbbells as high as my strength will allow. Typically, it's three-quarters of a full movement or slightly higher. For dumbbell flyes, you can bring the bells from the bottom position to about halfway up. You'll still feel quite the stretch in your pecs. I'll use this method for a couple of three-quarter reps, then half-reps, and then quarter-reps, until my target muscle is fully fatigued and I'm out of gas.

Deadlifting for Lousy Deadlifters - Mark VanAlstyne

I am a lousy deadlifter.

It's my favorite lift but I suck at it. I once had a plateau in the deadlift that lasted nine years. I was able to get my deadlift to a semi-respectable 600@181 in 2010, and have been able to maintain this over the next four years despite many injuries including a triceps tear and a herniated lumbar disc.

Brad Gillingham assessed me back in 2010 and said I had powerful quads but underdeveloped gluteal muscles. Gluteal conditioning was missing in my training. I was never locking out my hips in the deadlift or the squat. In other words, I never contracted my glutes forcefully at the top of either movement.

I have always noticed that single ply and raw lifters seem to be better deadlifters than many (not all) of the lifters in multi ply suits. The single ply suits aid the gluteus maximus less and allow for deeper squats. The further below parallel the lifter squats, the more gluteus maximus activation. The same can be said about raw lifters. This means multi-ply lifter needs to supplement equipped squats and deadlifts with raw exercises which utilize the gluteal musculature.

I do a variety of assistance exercises making sure I contract my glutes hard at the top of the movement. I mixed in Romanian deadlifts with a cable or kettlebells, low box squats, reverse hypers (with my lumbar spine always in extension), and kettlebell swings.

I use a three week rotation very similar to the Cube method to train my deadlift. There is a rep week, and I find this helpful in staying healthy and fresh. I may also take a week off from deadlifting every 3-6 weeks or whenever I feel stalled or overtrained.

I use three different types of bars: a Texas deadlift bar that has a 28 mm. diameter grip, a Texas power bar that has a 30 mm. diameter grip, and a squat bar (mine is 7 feet long but an 8 foot bar is fine) that has a 32 mm. diameter grip. The thicker bars flex less and are harder to hold on to so they offer more of a challenging pull. I also save baby powder on the legs for the meet only.

Assistance work should focus on glute lockout strength. Romanian deadlifts, and kettlebell swings are my favorites. Pick one or two and do 3 sets of each for 6-10 reps following your deadlifts.

Regarding equipment, if allowed, a multi ply canvas or poly suit will act like artificial glutes. Using them in the deadlift, especially the sumo deadlift, should help increase the power of the pull. I switched to an Inzer Leviathon squat suit, but I found that wearing it backwards really made the suit work better for me. Narrowing my sumo stance helped me get more pop out of the suit, but I have been working on widening my stance to shorten the movement and take some of the pressure off my lower back disc injury.

Grip Strength:
Grip strength is important for any lift but especially the deadlift. Bob Bridges taught me years ago that holding the bar in your fingers and not the palm will actually prevent the bar from rolling in the hand as much and will also shorten up the pulling distance. Static holds can help this type of strength. I like farmer's carries with two kettlebells for this purpose. Grip them with the fingers and not the palms. Squeezing potato chip bad clips is also helpful especially for pinky strength. Also, if your hands are big enough, the hook grip is worth trying.

Regarding the execution of the lift, don't concentrate on pushing the feet into the floor. Think about getting your hips forward as fast as possible and pushing the floor forward. This will speed your lift through the sticking point.

Hip Structure:
Stuart McGill, PhD, is a renowned lumbar spine expert who feels that many lifters do not have the hip structure to deadlift conventional with their spines in a safe position. I agree with this because I hurt my disc deadlifting off the floor. In fact, I can't even lift conventional off three inch blocks; I need six inch blocks to be in proper (safe) spinal position.

The Plan

Week 1:
Speed deadlifts - sumo off floor using deadlift bar and deadlift suit plus double black mini bands, 10 sets x 1 rep, 60 seconds rest between sets; assistance work.

Week 2:
Max effort - sumo deadlift raw off 3" blocks using regular power bar, 500 x 2 sets x 2 reps; assistance work.

Week 3:
Sumo pulls - raw using reverse purple bands in power rack using squat bar, 445 x 3 sets of 6-7 reps; assistance work.

Week 4:
Speed deadlifts - sumo off floor using deadlift bar and deadlift suit, 425 plus double black mini bands x 10 sets of 1 rep; assistance work.

Week 5:
Max effort - conventional raw deadlift off 6" blocks using squat bar, 495 x 2 sets of 1 rep.

Week 6:
Conventional deadlifts  - off 3" blocks, 445 x 2 sets of 5; assistance work.

Week 7:

Week 8:
Speed deadlifts - sumo off floor using deadlift bar and deadlift suit, 495 plus 80 lbs chains attached to bar, 10 sets of 1 rep; assistance work.

Week 9:
Max effort - sumo raw off floor using squat bar, 485 x 3 sets of 2 reps; assistance work.

Week 10:
Sumo deadlifts (full gear) from floor, 475 x 6 sets of 1 rep, concentrate on speed and form; no assistance work.

Week 11:

Week 12:
Meet - 560/605/620.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Purpose and Constant Evaluation - John Petruzzi


When I was younger I heard something that to this day has made the biggest impact on my life, and that was to have a purpose. At the time it was applied mostly to sports and training. When you're a teenage kid you don't have much of a life other than school and sports. I didn't really understand the full meaning of that until I was out of college and had to deal with being an adult. 

Having a purpose in life not only as a lifter, but also in every facet of your life, is key. Webster defines purpose as the reason why something is done or used. What is the purpose for what you are doing; not only what you are doing but more importantly HOW are you doing it? What is the quality of your effort? 

When you're passionate about something it is very easy to be motivated because it is something you love and care about. You want to know more about it. In 2008, when I started competing in powerlifting, I fell in love with the sport immediately and was "bitten by the iron bug." But I always come back to that question . . . "What is the purpose?" 

I see a lot of novice and intermediate  lifters hitting plateaus and getting stuck spinning their wheels. Instead of asking why or what is the purpose of my programming and training, or why is what I'm doing not working, they will search for something else. They will try a new program, the better program. 

Or their "goal" is very vague. "I just need to work on getting stronger." A vague goal will lead to a vaguer result. A specific goal produces a specific result. This is where purpose/education and constant evaluation comes into play. 

Powerlifting is just like any other sport. If you're a football coach and the opposing offense is crushing your team you better go in at halftime and make adjustments to figure out a way to stop them or it's going to be a long night. It's an evaluation process - what are they doing? There has to be a purpose for what you are doing or plan to do. The same goes for powerlifting. If you are spinning your wheels, not making progress or you think it should be better, then evaluate what you are doing.

Why are you doing 5x3, 5x5, 8x3, 6x4? What percentages are you using? How does Prilepen's chart of Mell Siff's more updated version apply? This is where average powerlifters turn into good and great powerlifters, by evaluating their program and successes and failures.

This involves the critical thinking process, not just program hopping from one template to the next. There is always an answer, there is always a "method to the madness." This is where I made many of my strength gains and successes, learning and understanding why I'm doing what I'm doing and also what works best for me. We've all heard the phrase "you have to find what works best for you." While that is true, for novice and intermediate lifters that doesn't mean a whole lot because they don't know how to evaluate what they're doing.  

Finding the purpose is one of the most important aspects of being successful in anything that you do. This is especially true in powerlifting. Ask any great powerlifter why he is training the way he is, or why he is doing a particular exercise, rep scheme, or percentage and he will tell you exactly why and what he expects it will do for him. Have a purpose as a lifter in your training and if you define those goals and purposes you will see your lifts and PRs take off! 

Constant Evaluation

When I first started powerlifting in 2008 I was competing in bench only and was using a very linear progressive bench template I found from Ryan Kennelly. I had one designated day of bench where I followed percentages and built up from volume to intensity over 8 weeks, but the rest of my schedule was what I was doing previous to 2008, which was a basic bodybuilding program. 

I was naturally somewhat strong, and at 157 lbs. in my first meet ever in North Carolina competing in the USAPL I benched 275. I won in my weight class, set some state records and felt pretty good. I thought this was fun, I love lifting and can be good at it. I continued with the way I was doing things, and competed in March 2009 and benched 282 at 159. That summer I competed in my last bench only meet and was looking to bench 300, but I missed two attempts at 300 and only made 275 at 163. I decided something needed to change so I started researching powerlifting programs and found Louie Simmons and the Westside Barbell template.

Like most lifters, I got it. It made sense! I read Louie's articles and bought his earlier videos. I set up my basic template and began to train Westside. I did not pretend I was as strong, experienced or conditioned as the lifters at Westside, and I had dialed back some of the work. I did not do any sort of near max work, and my routine consisted of rotating different maximal effort lifts and incorporating speed work twice a week. I was seeing good progress and trained this way for 3 years. I went from 1175@181 to 1625@198. 

I remember carrying my box into commercial gyms and hooking dumbbells up with bands to squat and bench! Being young and just starting to get into strength training, I made good progress and then decided to modify the Westside template because I was getting beat up and my pecs were really giving me issues. Floor press hurt along with speed bench with bands. I have to say that Louie is a great coach, because I emailed him a few times and he took time to answer my emails and helped me out with how to adapt some of the training to raw lifting. 

I noticed that I could box squat 404 with double green bands on each side at 190 bodyweight, but when I took the bands off and did a free squat I wasn't getting much carryover. I began to think what was the purpose? Why were my pecs killing me? 

I videotaped my form and critiqued it as much as possible, but what I found was the fast eccentric portion of the lift, especially for bench, really strained the pecs. Over the course of 3 years I had 4-5 pec strains and I'll admit that I was not doing the GPP or "extra" workouts that Westside does. That was a contributing factor to some of my injuries and pec issues. My bench and squat were stalling and I just wasn't getting a lot of carryover.

I began to look at some of the top raw lifters in the world and how they were training, looking for consistent correlations between all their programs, specifically exercises or rep schemes. Some things I noticed were: 

1) There was not a lot of variance between types of bars.

2) There wasn't much box squatting. 

3) There were much longer strength phases of 3-5s for sets at particular percentages.

Why were they doing this? Why was this so different from Westside? As I mentioned earlier, I think most people do not realize the amount of GPP, conditioning and extra workouts Westside incorporates into their volume work. Most people see the template, see how to rotate max lifts and incorporate the speed work and that's it. That will quickly put a ceiling on your potential. 

One thing I learned was that work capacity was a huge component for seeing consistent progress. Work capacity was your ceiling. If you could increase your work capacity you were also increasing your potential of strength. I began to look into the basic 5/3/1 template and Jim Wendler's program. Working in a particular range of percents/rep and what is optimal in the 3-5 rep range did wonders for me at this point. My lifts started to shoot through the roof because my work capacity of handling more reps went up and my ceiling of strength started to increase. I did this template for about 2.5 years and went from 1625@198 to 1800@220. I made my own adjustments in terms of the percents and prescribed sets. 

What I changed was in getting ready for a meet I would not do the usual three prescribed working sets but instead only do one all out rep max for that particular rep scheme. Preparing for a meet I would put on 5-10 lbs. each month and each cycle, really working on a maximal effort rep max. After the meet I would back off and do the prescribed three working sets. 

One thing I started to notice was adaptation. I found the rotation of 5/3/1 was starting to come too quickly. I was seeing better results staying in a particular rep range for a longer period of time. This is where I started to look at quality of reps and not just only getting them done. I was noticing I was grinding a 5 rep max PR but failing a single rep max PR. Why? Wasn't I becoming stronger? I was hitting 5 and 3 rep max PRs and grinders but when competing it was not translating to a meet PR. The speed of the weight was not increasing, it was not feeling lighter. One (single) rep is power and power is not defined by a number but the rate at which work is done. The correlation between speed, strength, and force development is not just making the muscle stronger but also getting the muscle to fire quicker to develop force and power.

I started researching CAT (compensatory acceleration training). Fred Hatfield had made this popular in the early 1980s by simply producing force through the entire range of motion in a particular rep range and completing an optimal amount of reps, sets and volume while also incorporating maximal force to the bar. It was similar to Westside and the dynamic method but without an accommodating resistance (bands and chains). One the the greatest raw squatters, Sam Byrd, also used this by working on his conditioning and work capacity with volume, but also increasing power and force development with the CAT principle of applying maximal force to a sub max weight. It has become VITAL and extremely important for my training. 

In the past four months I have been using Paul Carter's Base Building template and found that I was doing very similar training, i.e. staying in a certain rep range or "phase" for a bit longer to increase work capacity but also feeling the weight getting faster and lighter and the moving up from there. I made some changes of my own to the template in terms of sets and reps but I give credit where credit is due and it is a very solid program that I like. 

For my percent work or rep ranges where I am hitting 60-75%, my sets and reps are all done with the CAT principle with focus on form and force development. Anything at 80% and greater I'm doing pause reps and using a belt for the lifts. I'm also doing a little more volume work to not only increase work capacity but also muscular development to correct imbalances. I've found this to be crucial for injury prevention because as powerlifters we need to be muscular to be a well balanced athlete. Imbalances can be created and wreak havoc on lift progression. I have recently suffered a compression fracture in my t-9 vertebra and while it's a mild compression, there's not a whole lot to do other than give it time to heal. Preventing this issue from happening again will involve incorporating more smaller exercises to help balance out my muscular development and strength. 

Everyone hears "work on your weaknesses". Look at that as a muscular development issue as well, not just from an exercise weakness standpoint.

Think of powerlifting like any other sport. In track and field not everyone is a sprinter and not everyone is a long distance runner; therefore training is much different for each sport. I was a long jumper and sprinter in college and I have always been a quick explosive athlete. I find that CAT helps me a lot and has great transfer and keeps me at a high rate of force development. ave the volume to increase my work capacity and to raise my ceiling of strength. A good balance of both help me constantly make progress. For someone who is not as quick or explosive or responds to that style of training, more volume and work is going to be more beneficial to you. 

You have to go through a little trial and error to find that sweet spot for yourself.     


Thursday, September 27, 2018

Blaster Bar Training

Those Egyptian Kafka-esque authors I mentioned in the previous post? Here's an early go-to guy who laid some of the groundwork for novelists of yer existentialist type: Andrey Platonov, pen name used by Andrei Platonovich Klimentov, 1899-1951.

Interesting to note that once you've heard cars in traffic described as "gleaming rats" . . . 
they'll never look the same to you again. If you're like that. 
Note: Interesting that you've heard rats in traffic described as "once gleaming" ain't it? 
New Word Order, Brudder! 
Okay, the weights . . . 

Our lifters are encouraged to stick with the basics. We squat, deadlift in various forms, bench press, do some rack work, and perform specific rehabilitative movements. This accurately reflects the philosophy of the gym, and our equipment is needless to say, well made, well maintained, but designed to allow the performance of the basic movements. Rocket science this isn't.

We also use thick bars, and our newest addition to the family, the Blaster Bar. When one does the bench press, technique is extremely important. This is often downplayed in word or in deed. I've seen numerous lifters, some quite accomplished, who stated that bench technique was in fact, important, but they performed all their top work sets in sloppy, incomplete, non-competitive style. They bounced their warmup weights, did not lock out any but the first or last rep of a set, had their feet haphazardly placed, shifted on the bench, and even to the most inexperienced observer, failed to perform what could be termed any legally passable bench presses.

We have all of our lifters do every repetition properly and this includes warmup sets. I have spent over twenty-eight years in the competitive arena and I know from my acquaintances and my own experience that one goes onto "automatic pilot" once they get onto the platform. One rarely thinks about doing everything correctly once the lift begins, but rather, they do what they have been trained to do. This applies to any sport. One does not come out of the football stance and actively think, "I have to parry the offensive blow, pull, and swim." By that time, they're on their butt watching the opposing team moving downfield. The lineman just "does" what he does because of so much repetitive practice.

The bench press does not differ from this. If you bounce your bench presses or fail to make a legal pause in training, fail to stay still on the bench, fail to fully lock out, you cannot assume that you will, under the severest of competitive situations, do everything correctly. You might if the thousands of bench presses you do in training are done properly and legally.

 As an adjunct to the bench, we have used thick bars in training. These fatter-than-usual bars do not allow one to bench in the competitive groove. They demand that one just "shove" and build strength in the deltoids, triceps, and pecs. In the past, many of our lifters and football players have gotten a lot of benefit from thick bars.

We now have the Blaster Bar. This was designed by Chip Kell originally, to help football players strengthen the pressing musculature while giving additional overload work to the wrists and forearms. The Blaster Bar weighs 55 lbs. and has angled hand grips. These grips place the hands in a stronger pressing position as they are slightly supinated relative to a standard power bar. The design of the bar, however, demands that one lock the wrists and stabilize the bar, a feat more difficult than one can imagine.

Remember that when one demonstrates strength, they want things to be as "easy" and advantageous as possible. This is how one bench presses as much as possible. When one is training, however, they should want things to be as difficult as possible so that the intensity so that the intensity of the movement is enhanced, causing as much muscular involvement as possible. The Blaster Bar allows for a much higher order of work for all of the involved benching musculature. Although it is more difficult to "control" than a standard power bar, the degree of hand rotation reduces stress on the elbow and shoulder joints.    

As a modality to do "backoff" sets with, off season training, the "other day of bench work" during the week, or as a means to finish the triceps with close grip bench presses that are much more comfortable and effective than a regular bar, the Blaster Bar will serve as a welcome addition to any home or commercial gym.

Lifting Article by Ken Leistner (1993)

Monday, September 24, 2018

For a Big Chest, Part One - John McCallum (1969)

Originally Published in This Issue (May, 1969)

Once, not long ago, there was a very skinny young man who lived in a little town on the West Coast. At regular intervals, the young man went to a small commercial gym where he did pushups with religious intensity, gazed for hours into the full length mirror, and dreamed of owning a chest like John Grimek.

Click Pic to Enlarge and 
try to name these men. 

A J.C.G. Odyssey (No.1) or Merely a Mini-Iliad?

The skinny young man stood 5' 9", and weighed 145; and while he, himself, detected a definite resemblance between his chest and John Grimek's, the resemblance was not particularly noticeable to other people. A friend, in fact, had once observed that the young man looked more like Grimek's cat.

The skinny young man was aghast. "His cat!" he cried. "Surely you jest."

"No," his friend said. "Not at all. Actually, I have never seen Grimek or his cat. But," he added, "if there is any resemblance among the group, it is certainly between you and the cat."

Hey, as long as I have your limited and intermittent internet attention, might as well mention a few books. Two Middle Eastern Kafka-esque deals first. Now available in English translations.

Book the first is "The Committee" by Sun' Allah Ibrahim.

Book B is "The Queue" by Basma Abdel Aziz.

This isn't all that well known, isn't Middle Eastern, but some types might like it . . .

"A Happy Death" by Albert Camus. It was discovered in his papers posthumously, written when he was in his twenties, published in '71, and laid some of the foundation for "The Stranger". He realized, upon reading, that A Happy Death was written in the third person. I remember the first person writing of  L'Étranger having a great impact on me as a teenager. 

The skinny young man was very disturbed by his friend's observation. He worried about it all night, and the next day, up tight and practically out of sight, he sent in search of further counsel.

He slipped into his cleanest York T-shirt, rattled off eight sets of pushups, and hurried downtown before the pump went away. The young man went to the gym, which was practically deserted this time of day. He gave himself a careful check in the mirror, flexed his lats to their utmost, roared through the office door without knocking, and pounded on the owner's desk.

The gym owner gave a strangled cry and leaped to his feat. His hands clutched convulsively and his fingers shredded the newspaper he was reading. "What? What? What!" he stammered.

Actually, the gym owner's nerves were quite good as a rule, but his wife had just totaled his new Impala and he was having trouble convincing himself that grown men don't cry.

He stood for a moment with his heart hammering in his chest, and then, very gradually, he eased himself back down to his chair and laid his head on the desk. Dear Lord, he thought, preserve us from dingdongs that haven't enough sense to knock on a door.

"Listen!" said the skinny young man. "Do I or do I not have a chest like John Grimek?"

The gym owner closed his eyes. Ooh, he thought, Consolidated Copper's off four cents, my car's wiped out, Mao's massing troops on the border, and this nut's coming on like Twenty Questions. He opened his eyes again and looked at the young man.

"I don't mean exactly like Grimek's," said the young man.

The gym owner cleared his throat. "Well," he said. "There is a resemblance of sorts. You know, bones on the inside, skin on the outside, a certain amount . . ."

"Stop!" said the skinny young man. "Let me ask you a question. Think carefully before you answer." The young man paused dramatically and the gym owner waited. "Who," said the skinny young man, "in your opinion, has the world's shapeliest chest?"

"Sophia Loren," the gym owner said.

"No, no, no," said the skinny young man. "I'm talking about men."

"Well, everyone to their own taste,j I suppose," said the gym owner. "However, it has been my . . ."

"Listen!" said the skinny young man. "You're wasting my time. I want a chest like John Grimek, and I want to know how long it'll take."

"How big is your chest now?" the gym owner asked him.

"Thirty-eight inches."

The gym owner cleared his throat. "Look," he said. "Couldn't you be satisfied with a mustache like Peter Yarrow's? Or maybe a haircut like Mason Williams?"

"No," said the the skinny young man. "I want a chest like John Grimek's, and if I haven't got one I want to know why."

"Perhaps you're doing something wrong," the gym owner said. "What exercises do you use?"

"Pushups," said the skinny young man.

"Pushups?" said the gym owner. "Is that all?"

"Certainly not," said the skinny young man. "I also do bench presses and the flying exercise."

"What about your fib box?" said the gym owner.

"Rib box, schmib box," said the skinny young man. "I want muscle, not bones."

The gym owner put on his most sincere expression. "Look," he said. "Your rib box is vital if you want a chest like Grimek." He racked his brain for a moment. "Suppose you're building a skyscraper," he said. "You put up the steel girders first, don't you? You don't start in on the paint and plaster. You build the framework."

The skinny young man looked at him coldly. "What's that got to do with Grimek's chest?"

The gym owner thought about it for a minute and his face brightened. "Nothing," he said. "It's amazing, isn't it. I've heard that argument a hundred million times and I've never thought about it before. It hasn't a thing to do with Grimek's chest or anybody else's."

"Listen," said the skinny young man. "I'm getting tired of this.
Can you or can you not guarantee me a chest like John Grimek's?"

Good God, Shoot this kid already.

"No," said the gym owner. I shall not shoot the skinny young man and eat him with green eggs and ham. No not with a nice Chianti and fava beans neither, no way-sir. Nobody can guarantee you a chest like Grimek's. I couldn't guarantee you tomorrow will be Thursday." 

"Tomorrow's Wednesday," said the skinny young man. 

"Is it?" said the gym owner. "No wonder I can't guarantee you anything." 
The skinny young man started to deflate and his face got longer.

"There is one thing I can almost guarantee you," the gym owner said. "And that's a big increase in chest size if you want to work at it."

"How much?" said Sam-I-Am, the skinny young man.

"About six inches," said the gym owner. "About six inches in three months if you specialize properly."

"Truly?" said the skinny young man.

"Indubitably. True. Through and through," said the gym owner. "And look that up in your Funk and Wagnall."

The skinny young man brightened a little. "Tell me about it."

"It's a dictionary," said the gym owner. "What's to tell?"

"No, no," said the skinny young man. "I mean about the chest program."

"Oh." The gym owner straightened up in his chair. "Well, it's just a matter of taking things in their proper order," he said. "Grimek's chest is about two feet bigger than yours. You couldn't possibly look like him.

"You've gotta add a lot of size," he said. "And the way to do it is with a progressively graduated program paying special attention to your rib box. You can't build a big chest otherwise. It's impossible."

"Furthermore," he added, "this program will help you gain weight. Grimek weighs around two hundred pounds, you know. You can't expect to look like him if you weigh fifty pounds less."

He got a pencil and paper out of the desk drawer and handed them to the young man. "Here," he said. "Write it down."

"The thing'll take three months," he said, "and you'll change the routine every month. You'll start out basic and end up with a very advanced specialization routine.

For the first month," he said, "you start off with seated presses behind the neck. You do three sets of ten reps with a wide grip in very strict style.

"The second exercise," he said, "is incline dumbbell curls. Three sets of ten and don't work too hard at it.

"Now," he said. "We come to the start of the chest stuff. Take a short rest, and then do one set of breathing squats. Twenty reps and all the weight you can handle.

"Squats are the key to a really big chest," he said "Give it the works. You gotta work up to about one and a half times body weight sooner or later and it might as well be sooner.

Here, McCallum-style 20-reps squatting:
Yes, our McCallum aberration. The act of deviating from the ordinary, usual, or normal type.

A little more about that youthful Camus novel. A Happy Death. There are sections that contain the IT lesser writers spend their lives trying to find . . .

Mersault was leaning against a bookshelf, staring at the sky and the landscape through the white silk curtains . . .

The day was dark, and even without hearing the wind, Mersault could see the trees and branches writhing silently in the little valley. The silence was broken by a milk wagon which trundled down the street past the villa in a tremendous racket of metal cans. Almost immediately the rain turned into a downpour, flooding the windowpanes. All the water like some thick oil on the panes, the faint hollow noise of the horse's hoofs - more audible now than the cart's uproar - the persistent hiss of the rain, this basket case beside the fire, and the silence of the room - everything seemed to have happened before, a dim melancholy past that flooded Mersault's heart the way the  rain had soaked his shoes and the wind had pierced the thin material of his trousers. A few moments before, the falling vapor - neither a mist nor a rain - had washed his face like a light hand and laid bare his dark-circled eyes. Now he stared at the black clouds that kept pouring out of the sky, no sooner blurred than replaced. The creases in his trousers had vanished, and with them the warmth and confidence of a world made for ordinary men .  .

How's 'bout that. Just a kid then, in his early twenties.
It's all there, and at a level very rarely reached by others.

"As soon as you finish the squats," he said, "get a copy of that book, er, NOT YET . . . "do a set of twenty pullovers with a light weight. Stretch your ribs till they hurt.

"Now," he said "take a five minute rest. If you don't need it, then you ain't been working hard enough.

"The next exercise is parallel bar dips. Drop as low as you can and do three sets of twelve reps.

"Then," he said, "you do another set of twenty breathing squats. Only this time you use a lighter weight and concentrate on the breathing.  If body weight on the bar doesn't feel light, you're not ready for a big chest."

This article might give you a clearer idea of the whys and wherefores of lighter, breath-centric squatting:
And here, Roger Eells goes deeper into the subject:
J.C. Hise and T. Bruno get into it here:

"Finish the squats and do another twenty light and stretchy pullovers.

"The next exercise," he continued, "is the one legged power snatch while standing on a balance board. Actually, scratch that and for that matter assassinate the idiot who came up with anything even remotely close to it. Do chins to the back of the neck. Take a wide grip and do three sets of fifteen reps.

"Next," he said, "one set of stiff-legged deadlifts. Use all the weight you can for fifteen reps. Do them standing on a block so you can lower the bar right down to your toes.

"As soon as you finish the deadlifts," he said, "do another set of twenty light pullovers.

"And that," he said, "finishes the program. What do you think of it?"

The skinny young man studied his notes. "I think it looks like a lot of work."

"So what?" said the gym owner. "I never said it'd be easy."

"But it'll give me a chest like Grimek," persisted the skinny young man.

"I didn't say that, either," said the gym owner. "I said you'll gain weight and about six inches in chest size in three months. You still won't look like Grimek. Don't forget," he added, "you've got to learn to walk before you learn to run."

"What," said the skinny young man, "has that got to do with Grimek's chest?"

The gym owner coughed nervously. "Nothing, I guess. Sorry." He took the young man's arm and steered him to the door. "Next month I'll give you step two in the program."

"Why not now?" asked the skinny young man.

The gym owner shook his head. "Too soon," he said. "Remember - Rome wasn't built in a day."

the skinny young man gave him a fishy stare. "And what exactly . . ."

"Forget it," said the gym owner, and he pushed the young man through the door and closed it firmly.

This looks like it could be a real good view around two in the morning,
once the world dies down and goes to sleep. After the noisy hustle/bustle of light-time hacks and all their point-centered endeavors come to a temporary halt.
I really liked this fifteen-episode series, narrated by Mark Cousins. His voice, the way he stresses sounds in his sentences . . . for me that was heaven, eh.
But that's just the icing on the Christmas Eve frost, isn't it . . .
The Story of Film: An Odyssey (Odyssey No. 2!)

Okay, as they say, you can take the ape out of the darkness but
you can't take the darkness outta the ape. Or something equally witty and unrelated.
Here's a great pair of Always Sunny in Philadelphia episodes.
They're from different seasons but I got heap big plenty laughs when I watched them back to back.
Yes. The Wade Boggs record of 70 beers on a cross country flight. It must be beat! Yesh!
Pair it with this episode from Sept. 19th . . . The Gang Beats Boggs: Ladies Reboot:

There's a film out now, you call these action ones "movies" I think . . . as opposed to "film" I suppose.
Duh. Give it a name.
Now, I thought Jodie Foster retired. No matter. Hotel Artemis. That's it. No big deal, really, but Charlie Day, writer/producer/actor in Always Sunny is in this one. There's a strange idea threaded into it, not sure if this has already been done repeatedly in other sorta sci-fi things. A woman makes her big money through killing important people. She is commissioned by the very wealthy to assassinate select folks. gazing into the panicked then fading important type's eyes as they die while she's wearing a pair of implanted recording 'eyes'. That way, the richer-than-simply-rich guys and/or gals can watch and re-watch the life leaving their selected important victims and masturbate to it. Not sure if that's been used in other sci-fi much before.

Here's a book by Bill Cosby that's missing a comma in the title.
Comedy, eh.









Sunday, September 23, 2018

John Davis on Body-Building (1951)


The Arthur in Axtion.

Some time ago I wrote an article in which I mentioned slim waists, physiques and weight-lifting. That article seems to have set off a chain reaction series of articles by other writers dealing with the subject of body-building versus weight-lifting. Why did I write this article?

It very well might be this article:

One of the experts felt it necessary to take it upon himself to explain in writing why I had failed to Clean and Jerk 360 lbs. on two attempts. He said, among other things, that I was fat, particularly around the waist, and out of condition, etc. I, in turn explained in my article why I carried 20 lbs. of excess. In doing so, I unwittingly stepped on somebody's toes by saying that certain body builders sports 18 inch arms and 28 inch waists, but despite their powerful looking physiques, couldn't press their body weight in proper style (if at all), or jerk a substantial poundage because of their slender waists.

Misunderstandings are all we seem to have in America these days, and because of this article someone got the idea I had become old and cynical, that at one time I was the proud possessor of a fair physique - as physiques go - and that now, since I am fat, over-weight and no longer display the trim symmetrical lines I once had, I have become very critical of everyone else's body merely to fake an excuse for my appearance. This is not true! I still uphold my opinion expressed in that article and am very much satisfied with my condition as it is today - considering, of course, the results produced.

I think that today we have the finest physiques in the history of our sport. I would not want to be a judge in any of the physique contests; the choice of a winner would be too difficult to make. However, I do feel there is something missing from our modern body building activities. I believe entirely too much emphasis is placed on the building of a particular muscle or muscle-group or just big muscles, rather than on the general all-round improvement of appearance, gaining or reduction of body weight, and strength, to some degree, as an end.

The idea of using heavy weights to acquire size and bulk has been pounded into the heads of body-builders to such a great extent that men quite often lose sight of the proper method of doing exercise. In many cases it has gone past this point to where men cut down their repetitions so they may say, "I use 300 pounds in the bench press," or "I use 400 in the squat," and so on. It is true that if one employs low repetitions it stimulates the demand for bulk but you must do your exercise properly to get any benefit. This applies also to lifting movements.

However, as I mentioned in my talks with John Barrs, the Press proved to be the one exception. As I see it - the Press is the most unpredictable movement of all.

At one time, many years ago, when progressive exercise was in its infancy and the Milo Barbell Company, headed by Mark Berry, was the sole advocate of this form of health-building, training ideas were often a great deal different from what they are today. Sets of exercises employing repetitions as high as 40 were not only advised but actually practiced. Many fine physiques were the result of this form of training. However, over the years new ideas, the results of experimentation and study, changed all this. Ideas advocated today bear this out.

But somehow, for some reason, so many men still have problems. No one would think of using such a high number of repetitions today and the number of fine physiques prevalent today are definitely at a higher ratio. But the quality of the physique, i.e., what can be produced considering the amount of work that has gone into acquiring these physiques, has not advanced along with other factors.

Why? I can't say for sure. I not only believe but I positively state that training ideas by certain writers are not what they should be. This in turn confuses the athletes and makes a greater problem. Beginners (and I have witnessed this) start out by specializing or by laying out their training programs similar to that of a finished performer. I suppose the idea behind this move is that he will look like a Park or a Grimek in a hurry - men who have reached the top of the heap, pick of the litter status, cream of the crop characters, top shelf crème de la crème types - and who now more or less specialize. When the beginner tries these methods and fails, he often gives up in disgust.

As a beginner you must practice the basic fundamentals of progressive training in order to lay your foundation. You must employ the proper number of repetitions and herein lies the answer to success or mediocre advance. The result of repetitions varies with different men for too many reasons. The human body will adjust itself to almost anything.   

I realize this sounds like a leading statement and embraces a great deal, but it is a very definite fact. If you perform the proper number of repetitions for body-building, during your days off from training more tissue is replaced, muscle tendons become thicker and take on individual lives of their own, often talking to the trainer while he is deep in sleep and occasionally in the waking hours during the gradual completion of other tasks. These messages, memos, these 'intelligence directives' from the thickened tendons can be the source of some consternation, befuddlement and even dread. Don't sweat it, Bro. You're just mad, insane. Shouldn't really affect your lifting all that much so long as you keep it under wraps, on the Q.T. and work around the muddlement of said thick tendon voices, short of a complete psychotic break. Bra, it's merely a BLIP: a brief limited intermittent psychotic symptom. But you knew that already, didn't ya. To continue, some fellows are of the opinion that the number of tendons increase but this is not the case. If you are doing too many repetition, tearing down more muscle tissue than the body can replace (this is one example of bodily adjustment), the body in turn starts to work on the breaking down of muscle tissue. The results are obvious: You either come to a standstill or you begin to lose weight. This is generally the case when tearing down muscle tissue.

I once had a beginner ask me why he was not gaining weight. He informed me that he was doing squats as well as several other exercises. I asked how many squats he was doing. He answered, "seven sets of 20 repetitions." There is no need to discuss this here, because an idiot who thinks a barbel is a set of chimes used in a symphony orchestra could tell you that seven sets of even half that many repetitions is too much. Even if this young man were trying to acquire definition it would still be too much.

To summarize:

If you tire the muscles sufficiently that the last 3 or 4 repetitions are difficult to perform in 2 to 4 sets, then you are going about your work properly. Results shouldn't be too long in coming. If from the very first set of movements you are fighting to complete the last half of repetitions used and cheating comes into the bargain to the extent you are a nervous wreck - you are wrong.

Strength-building and bulk gains require much more difficult work. However, the ego is constantly being fed, because although you may not be making steady gains, you do use heavier weights in your exercises. Next to gaining body-weight, bulk and strength, this adding of weight to exercises does more to pacify the individual and maintain interest than any other factor. But here again, as in weight-gaining, we encounter stumbling blocks, flies in the ointment and even the shuddersome stones in one's path that hinder progress to a great extent. You may not be progressing as well as you think you should.

To correct this, you might cheat a little in some exercises and add a little more weight, or do fewer total repetitions - even skip a few workouts. In do doing you only fool yourself and no one suffers in the end but you. If you approach your workouts with the proper attitude then there should be no problem.

"What is the proper attitude?" you ask. Work, hard work. No amount of scheming ways of getting around work will serve the cause. Muscles such as those of Jones, Reeves, Ross, Grimek and much in the future of Phil Heath came (will come?) about only through sweat and the most difficult kind of work.

I notice some experts advocate Parallel Squats (?) as well as a particular kind of Curl and a certain way of doing Bench Presses - in fact, a particular way of doing every exercise known. Most of these movements are incorrect and, I for one, had never heard of them before. The average weight-man in America who claims 10 Squats with 400 lbs. or more, a Supine of 380, a Curl of 200 or more and other such fantastic lifts, in most cases fall miserably short of the mark when asked to produce. Of course this does not apply to Clarence Ross, for I have witnessed him with my own eyes make 10 good complete curls with 180 lbs. Some of the fellows are capable of these claims but for the most part they perform only half movements or cheat in some manner to such a degree that none of their claims could be termed legitimate. All of the foregoing information originates from the idea that there is a shorter, quicker way to reach the goal, that there is an easier way of acquiring a muscular physique.

Basic exercises such as SQUATS, SUPINE PRESSES, DEAD LIFTS, and ab work must be done and performed in no uncertain manner. Later, the use of heavy poundage must be employed if you hope to reach your best. After you have reached a quite high level of development, specialization can be considered.

Severe work with heavy poundages not using more than 8 reps seems to build bulk.
Hard work with anything over 8 repetitions is standard body-building.          

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