Saturday, September 8, 2018

Why Three Times a Week - Mark Berry

Okay. You've answered that little riddle so let's get to this 1947 article by Mark Berry. Writings by this author can prove hard to come by, so once more I'd like to heartily thank Liam T for his contributions to this blog.

Introduction by Peary Rader:

It is with the greatest of pleasure that we bring you something from the pen of a man who is almost a legendary figure in the barbell game. As most of you know, Mark H. Berry was once the editor of the old "Strength" magazine which pioneered the Iron Game in this country. Also editor of the "Strong Man" -- "Physical Training Notes" as well as several other magazines and a large number of books.

Here's a few other Mark Berry articles. Two are from Physical Training Notes.

Here's a sweet deal on some of Berry's training books:

You can find sections of the book "Physical Training Simplified" at Bob Whelan's site:
if you dig around through Google.

And here's the bare bones of the Berry Courses:

Three Times a Week training. 
Before each workout - warm up with situps, toe touches, side bends, etc.

Course One

1) Barbell Curl
2) Lying Press
3) Bentover Row
4) Press Behind Neck
5) Pullover
6) Full Squat
7) Shrug
8) Straddle Squat
9) Leg Raise
10) One Arm Press
11) Kettlebell Swing
12) Wrist Roller
13) Wrestler's Bridge
14) Reverse Curl
15) Two Arm Press

One set of 6-12. Add reps progressively and add weight when you get 12. 

Course Two

1) Alternating Dumbbell Press
2) Barbell Front Raise
3) Squat Press, press the bar as you descend into a squat
4) Barbell Step Up
5) Leg Press
6) Side Bend
7) Regular Deadlift
8) Alternate Dumbbell Curl
9) One Arm Side Lateral
10) Standing Calf Raise
11) Stiff Legged Deadlift
12) Abs

Same set/rep deal as Course One.

Course Three

1) Two Hands Clean and Press
2) Two Hands Snatch
3) Two Hands Clean and Jerk
4) One Arm Snatch (these one arm lifts are done with a barbell)
5) One Hand Clean
6) One Arm Jerk
7) One Arm Press
8) Bent Press
9) Side Press
10) One Swing, catch in front with the other hand. Alternate swings with a catch in front.
11) Two Hands Clean and Push Press (continental)

Do the first three exercises for 5 x 5. After that, do one or two of any of the one arm exercises and the sets and reps are up to you.

Once you've progressed enough, you can do a different course each of your three workout days of the week. Its pretty easy to see how you could adapt and vary Course Three to suit your aims. 

Mr. Berry is considered by many as the foremost authority in the world on bodybuilding and weightlifting. The high esteem in which his books are held is attested to by the fact that they presently bring as much as $40 per copy on the market (1947. Current equivalent app. $450).

For many years Mark has not been actively connected with the bodybuilding game. He is now engaged in work with a large rubber company in Philadelphia. While in Philadelphia for the World Championships we met Mark at the Arch St. YMCA where he goes two or three times a week for a swim in the big pol there. He is much interested in swimming the mile and is making it in a very fast time. In spite of his present interest in swimming he is still intensely interested in the weight lifting game and expressed regret that his work consumed so much of his time that he so seldom had time for writing of any kind. In fact, this is the first article he has written in several years. Under any circumstances we would deem it a great honor to receive a contribution from Mr. Berry but under his present busy conditions we are doubly appreciative.

We had long ago asked Mark to write for us but knowing how busy he was had not pressed him for articles. The Sunday after the meet we went out to his home for a few minutes visit and found that he had been writing the article below. We also were happy to meet his charming wife and two fine children.

The Article . . .

I have just come from the World Weight Lifting Championships of 1947. While there it was my pleasure to meet Peary Rader for the first time.

To begin with let me explain that this is absolutely the first manuscript that I have written in several years in spite of numerous requests and imploring from various sources that I resume my scribbling of previous years.

You can believe me that there is no one for whom I would rather write than your editor and as a matter of fact I owe it to him more than to anyone else, for he has carried me on his free list since the very first Iron Man was published. Many times I wanted to repay this courtesy by penning at least a small article, but it always seems as though something comes up to interrupt my good intentions.

Without having met your Editor, my estimation of him has been very high, but after this first personal contact of three or four days I can assure you there is no one for whom I would rather write. You may also be further reassured he didn't in any sense attempt to sell himself to me, but I have fairly good ears and while walking around during the running of this interesting meet I would sort of eavesdrop upon his conversations with the many fans who contacted him -- and what impressed me most was his determination to remain an idealist and steer clear of all commercialism as much as possible.

Therefore, this brief article with at least one more to follow in future.

The above title happens to be the heading of a chapter in one of the books I wrote a number of years ago, and I use it here for a very definite reason. I am a stickler for exactitude for proper understanding and it grieves me greatly when there is misunderstanding about anything I have said.

There has been much controversy about how often one should exercise and many times have I endeavored to thrash out this particular problem in books and magazine articles. And, in spite of everything I may have heard or read since then it still remains my considered opinion that to exercise three times per week is the ideal arrangement for the average enthusiast. [What a wonderful time it must have been, back when people were clearheaded and rational enough to realize they were average. Now, the lie-for-profit pull of the media beast's gross exaggeration online tugs us toward thinking we all are special, able to reach near elite levels in anything that strikes our temporary fancy. What can one say, other than grow up, wake up, and get your sieve of a head on straight.) After all, when I was writing for the original "Strength" magazine and laying out courses for the one and only Milo Barbell Company, the primary consideration was that of the average user and not of the exceptional, let us say, one in a thousand.

Let us assume that you are one of the average readers of this mag, a fellow who desires most of all to acquire a physique of noticeably nice proportions and all year-round good health, exceptional strength and that buoyant feeling that only the unusually healthy are acquainted with. You have to work for a living at something or other. You have some social obligations, even it it only amounts to taking the girlfriend out once or twice a week.

You can take my word for it the average family now has more to consider than that. Yes, vastly so. In other words, you can't give too much of your time to exercise, but on the other hand you want to realize a maximum of benefit -- and I can assure you from my storehouse of experience that all this can be realized on a program of three exercise periods per week.

Of course you have to begin exercising, for there is no use in only reading about it, or thinking about it if your desires are not put into action. [Decision making is the easy part, putting the decision into practice is the real challenge.] Of next importance is the regular continuation of whatever you may start. To be sure, we are assuming you have decided on a standard barbell course, for there can be no controversy at that point so far as we are concerned. Definitely there is no better, no superior means of  exercising and improving the muscular development of the masculine body. And so far as concerns good health, I have yet to meet the serious minded barbell man who fails to possess this quality. [How things have changed since then!]

I have never assumed, much less to have stated that everyone had to train three times per week. It actually isn't necessary to eat three square meals per day, for some people can get along on two meals and many eat more than three times a day without detriment to themselves. But on the other hand the great majority of us do justice to the old tried and true "three squares" per day.

I am most willing to concede that the fellow who doesn't have to work for a living can exercise every day providing he is so inclined. Likewise, he who has progressed to the advanced class after a considerable length of time devoted to proper training and has the time and energy available. There is not the slightest question in my mind but that it is possible to benefit from daily training when one has been properly conditioned and has both the time and energy to spare. But, what of Mr. Average? He who has a job to hold down some forty or more hours per week, who has at least some and family obligations and who wants to have some time in which he can relax and occasionally do nothing.

I do not question that he who desires can train daily, and perhaps benefit thereby. But it is at least my opinion that he who does so shall have to arrange for a maximum of sleep and relaxation. [There was a great article by R. Strossen in one of the earlier Hardgainer mags and I'm not sure if I put it up on this blog or not. Likely not, 'cause he's a real stickler when it comes to copyright of his material. Anyhow, it was part of a series he did on the 'early' barbell fellers. Can't recall who it was, but he went right nuts in the deep end back then. You gotta remember this was way before the drug crutch came along. So, all he had was his genetics, rest, and sleep to work with. He'd wake up and lift some hefty weights on pretty basic exercises as well as a very small amount of 'isolation' stuff for the biceps. Then he would eat himself into a stupor and fall out on the bed for a long deep sleep. When he woke up he'd do it again. No life outside of lifting, basically. Anyhow the second, yeah, things were different for the extremists pre-steroids.]The fellow who can lay around all day and sleep long hours at night in order to concentrate his energies upon training is indeed in the minority and this sort of plan could never be forced upon the average American male.

On the other hand, I am convinced that the great majority of enthusiasts will benefit every bit as much by exercising on alternate days. We have just so much energy and the certain way to add to our abilities is to allow for proper recuperation. Exercise uses up more energy than the ordinary routine of life and the body becomes pretty well accustomed to those things we do daily, week in and out, which call for not too much expenditure of the vital powers.

Being so well acquainted with so many of the outstanding examples of muscular excellence I can point to some extraordinary models of masculine perfection who have at times trained only once or so each week. Some few of these exceptional men may at times train two or three days in succession and then lay off for several days, following a similar routine for months at a time. It all resolves into a matter of the amount of energy one has to expend -- a balance let us say of energy and recuperation.

Should there be any possibility of reiteration of what has been previously written by myself on this particular subject the reader can be assured no actual copying of material is involved for I have seen none of my previous writings in a very long time. So, if the wording or phraseology appears similar it is just as much a part of myself as the shape of my nose or hands.

Moreover, there is a further explanation of any apparent overemphasis of this thrice weekly plan, which is that when writing for the perusal of a general cross-section of the public the expert or authority must concentrate upon information which will be of greatest value to the greatest number of readers.  

Great Photo!
Makes you feel like Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day
all wrapped up into one.



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