Wednesday, January 16, 2019

More Questions & Answers - John McCallum

Originally Published in This Issue (May 1970)

Ollie came over the other night to get me to have a beer with him.

"Can't," I said ."I'm trying to answer a batch of letters." 

"How many you got to go?" he asked me.

"How many?" I said. "About two hundred, that's how many." 

"Good grief," he groaned. "You'll never make it." 

"I'll try," I said.

"How come you got so many letters?" 

"I invited them," I said. "I mentioned in a 'Keys' article that I'd try to help anyone with a special problem. Only I didn't expect so bloody many. I'm running about three months behind on them."

"Listen," Ollie said, "you're going about it the wrong way." 

"Am I?" I asked him. "That's awfully decent of you to tell me." 

"Think nothing of it," he said. "You need me for a business agent. He paused a moment. "Look," he said. "How many bodybuilders are there in the world?" 

"Three million," I said. "Three million, four hundred and sixty two thousand, eight hundred and seventeen." 

Ollie blinked. "Really?"

"How the heck would I know how many bodybuilders there are?" I snarled at him. "And what difference does it make anyway?" 

"Listen," Ollie said. "There's a lot of bodybuilders, eh?" 

"Sure, sure," I said. "Rapidly growing sport and all. So what?" 

"So this," Ollie said. "A problem that's bothering one guy is probably bothering hundreds of others as well." 

"That's nice," I told him. "But how does it affect me?" 

"Simple," Ollie said. "You just group questions together that are related, and answer them in Strength & Health."

I glared at him. "Ollie, you idiot, I did that six months ago." 


"Fine," he said. "Do it again. If people want questions answered, answer them in style." 

"You really think it would be of value" I asked him.

"Certainly," he said. "If the advice is any good, everyone might as well get it. No telling how many it would help." 

"What would I call it?" 

He thought it over. "Well," he said. "You might call it advice to the lovelorn." 

"Sure," I said. "Or 'Dear Abby'." 

"Right," he said. "You could change your name to Loretta Pinkpants or something. It'd be sensational." 

"Okay," I agreed. "Gimme a hand grouping some letters." 

"Right," he said. "And then we'll go out for a beer." 

One question that a lot of guys ask is: 

Q: I train my midsection daily. My waist is hard and muscular. There's no fat on it, yet it measures 34". How do the fellows in the muscle magazines keep their waistlines down to 30"? 

A: They don't. At least, most of them don't. They lie about it instead.

People lie about a lot of things. Some people lie about their fuel bill and their gas mileage. Most people lie about their income tax. Everyone lies about their love life. Bodybuilders, unfortunately, lie about their measurements. 

The cold, hard fact of the matter is that very, very few top bodybuilders have 30" waists. And, unless you're a rather small person, the chances are that you won't either. If you're a normal size man, you'd be wasting your time and energy trying to get your gut down to 30:. Actually, you'll do more damage to your appearance than you'd gain. 

A good friend of mine once asked me the secret of waistline reduction

"There's no secret," I told him. "It's just a matter of exercise and diet." 

"I'm gonna have to get at it," he said. "Gotta whip off a couple of inches." 

"What are you talking about?" I said. "You're in terrific shape now. You don't need anything off your waist." 

"It's too big" 

"What does it measure?" I asked him.


"How small do you want it?" 

He patted his stomach. "About thirty." 

"You'll never make it," I told him. "You got too much muscle there." 

"That's what a lot of the big names measure."

"No, they don't," I said. "Somebody just claims it for them." 

"Well I'm gonna try, anyway," he said. "I know I can do it." 

He came around a couple months later. His clothing hung on him and he had big dark circles under both eyes.

"You look like you been hit by a gravel truck. What happened?" 

"I been specializing on my gut," he told me. "And dieting." 

"Oh yeah," I said. "I'd forgotten. Did you get it down to thirty?" 

He shook his head. "Thirty-two." 

"Well, that's more than I expected," I said. "It came down an inch, eh?" 

He nodded. "So did my arms and legs, and my chest came down five." 

Let's take a quick look at the midsection. You got the abdominal wall on the front, the external obliques at each side, and the spinal erectors at the back. The important thing to remember is that the tape's gotta go around the whole gig unless you bore a hole through your middle. If you develop your front, sides, and back like you should, then your waist has got to measure more than an undeveloped one.

Suppose, for example, that you're of a decent height and rather skinny to start. Your waist, correctly measured, would go about 30" or so.

Now, let's suppose that you're lucky enough to hear about weight training and wise enough to do it. A year or two of sensible training will alter your appearance drastically. All your muscles will be tremendously developed from when you started, but that also includes the muscles that strap your gut.

If you've done the proper amount of dead lifts and cleans and so on, you'll have a nice set of spinal erectors that'll add impressive depth to your back and an inch or more to your waist measurement. Your obliques will have thickened a bit to give you that herculean look. Unfortunately, they'll also add another inch or thereabouts to your waist. Finally, your abdominal muscles will have shaped up into a thick, impregnable washboard that'll require another inch or so of tape.

Your original 30" waistline will now measure at least 33" without an ounce of fat on it. It'll have increased about three inches. The thing to remember, though, is that it'll look smaller because your chest will have increased about a foot. In fact, you'll now be in the fortunate position of being able to claim a 30" waist and make all the other bodybuilders jealous because their waists measure 33".

The thing to consider is how do you go about getting your waist as small as possible without hurting your other measurements or reducing your strength in the process. The routine you should follow will depend on whether your waist is fat or muscular.

If your waist is fat, your course is pretty straightforward. You won't need to worry about thickening your waist with muscle. All the muscle you'll ever develop won't measure anything near what a thick layer of lard will.

If your waist is fat, you should figure on working it pretty hard. A half an hour per day isn't too much. If you're really sincere about training your gut, try the following on a daily basis:

Incline situp: 3 x 50 superset with
Seated twist: 3 x 100

Cuddle situp: 3 x 25 superset with
Side bend: 3 x 50

Leg raise: 3 x 50 superset with
Bent forward twist: 3 x 100.

Include some work for the rest of your body about three times per week, and get in at least three sessions per week of jogging.

You should keep a diet of about 1,500 calories per day. Eat mostly protein, take supplements, and stick to it until your waist is hard and your whole body is free from fat.

If your waist is hard, but you still think it is too big, try the following:

Start by giving it a good think. Make sure your waist is really large and that you're not just being influenced by someone else's dishonest measurements. If your waistline is hard and muscular it would be most unwise of you to try to reduce it very much. If nature gave you a thick abdominal structure, you're way better off just to accept it and attempt to perfect it. The Farnese Hercules has a lot thicker waist than Apollo, but he looks just as good.

If you must have your gut a bit smaller, then lay off side bends, bent presses, one-arm military presses, or any other exercise that activates the obliques. Cut out squats, cleans, and dead lifts. Substitute front squats and prone hyperextensions. Don't do any heavy abdominal exercise. Use one set of situps only in reps of 100 or more each workout.

You should also work in some jogging. Get in three or four sessions of five miles per week. Watch your diet carefully. You don't need to count calories, but stick to salads and proteins and take all the appropriate supplements.

Your appearance and ability depend on a variety of things more important than a 30" waistline. Don't worry too much about it. Live the strength and health life. Train hard, eat well, and be cheerful. Develop your body - all of it - to the maximum you are capable of. Build your gut into a wall of armor plate. In the final analysis it's a heck of a lot more important than how much tape it takes to go around it. 




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