Thursday, October 4, 2018

Single Door Garage Training: Early Westside - Gary Benford (1980)

The author. 
Here's more from Benford, the first article on this blog.

This article deals with the environment and training methods used by some individuals I have recently come into contact with. Oftentimes a change in scenery from one locale of the country causes difficulty in adjusting to new faces and even more difficulty in maintaining or even improving one's lifting total. Well, I experienced both upon moving from the Pittsburgh area to Columbus, Ohio this past June (1979). This was the result of job and professional advancement. Irregardless, I was immediately in search of capable training partners and environment to supplement my "other" interest.

In September I met Lou Simmons. Having never seen him before, I was somewhat startled at his appearance as I was also by the training methods used by him and his lifters. This is the topic of the article.

Before going any further, it is necessary to define the title. We train in a single door garage. It has, in some parts, a floor. The holes within supply us with an access to view the outside world from inside and the cobwebs serve notice to the length of time unnecessities have gone unnoticed to further the primary search for strength.

The garage comes complete with two dogs. Two lights that identify each of us from one another and an array of characters who participate. The first person to mention, Louie Simmons, has already been identified. I thought my knowledge in the area of strength was capable to others, till I met him. His prowess in lifting is already known. However, the methods in which this occurs is altogether unknown.

Each of us, who number 12 in all, have used these methods, and have all increased significantly. Other members of the garage include a lifter whose facial appearance and sometimes verbal exchanges parallels extreme youth, individuals of extreme academic intelligence whose actions do not merit such reward, individuals expert in probing the mind those of the aesthetic outward appearance, one with a flair for his hair which sometimes stops progress in the garage, shotputters, women athletes, and just a lot of STRONG PEOPLE. Being that there is no heat outside of that supplied by an inside fuel heater, a heave upwards of the garage door sometimes resembles the primitive caveman huddling around an open fire.


The method used to squat is termed as BOX SQUATS. To box squat, the individual lowers himself to a box height of approximately two inches above parallel and sits down on the box. It is almost a complete stop, except for arch in the lower back which enables one to rock backwards and immediately thrust the hips and buttocks forward to an upward position again. Upon using singles only to work up to, one can handle tremendous amounts of weight.

After this is complete, another box height of approximately 1/2 inch below parallel is used and the procedure repeats itself.

All weights are taken with a wide stance to utilize the powerful muscles of the hip extensors.

Another box approximately two inches below parallel may be used occasionally to supplement depth strength.

Box squatting is performed once per week, attempting to best personal records every week.

Bench Pressing
Bench presses are performed once per week in a power rack utilizing singles both 2 and 4 inches off the chest. The second day of benching is performed using a wide grip working up to one set of five repetitions, increasing 10 pounds per week back-tracking up to a contest. Four weeks before a contest an individual increases up to 20 pounds for a one week jump followed by three consecutive weeks of 10 pound jumps utilizing 3 reps per set. On this same day of wide grip benching, the lifter performs close grip benches for a maximal set of 5 reps, trying to push arm strength ahead of bench press strength.


Deadlifting is performed once per week. This is done in a power rack by pulling heavy weights for singles at various pin heights off the floor on a rotating basis. Week one would be pin four and three, week two would be pin two and one, week three would be off the floor and standing on a box of 4 inches.

However, the most unnoticed exercise is the Reverse Hyperextension. This is done by lifting the upper body over a leg extension machine, or better yet by lying boards approximately 3 feet off the ground in the power rack and using it. The body is bent at the waist and the legs dangle on the floor. The lifter then raises his legs and hips up behind him as high as possible contracting the lower back and gluteal muscles, performing as many reps as possible. Weights are usually attached to the ankles and provide resistance. We use on of our precision dog collars.

A sample week routine would look like this:

Monday -
Pin DL, singles from 4/3 pin, or 2/1 pin, or floor and 4" deficit.
Reverse Hyperextensions.

Wednesday -
Power Rack BP singles.

Friday -
Box Squat, singles, box 2 and 1.
Reverse Hyperextensions.

Sunday -
Wide Grip BP
Close Grip BP

Let me emphatically say that this routine does work.

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