Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Marvin Eder's Upper Back Training - Barton Horvath (1951)

The bodybuilder is not interested in just good shape. His goal is MAXIMUM development of the body. He wants a GREAT upper back. In bodybuilding, nothing comes by accident! A certain amount of what can be termed all around good development comes from the practicing of any scientific barbell routine, but sooner or later every bodybuilder must specialize on the various parts of his body, to take them out of the "good" class and put them in the great group. It works both ways. For the first six months or so or training, the bodybuilder needs no specialized work, his regular routine taking care of all around development nicely. It is after this preliminary period that specialization can begin.

In speaking to Marvin Eder while gathering material for this article I asked him about this. In his opinion, because the upper back is used so much in a general routine and makes such fast gains at the start, many bodybuilders fail to specialize on this part, figuring that it will continue to develop at the same speed without special attention with continued training of a general nature. This is not so, and any of you who do not put in some real specialized work on your upper backs will never realize your maximum development, power, or impressiveness of this body part. 

With the great popularity given to the bench press and other movements performed on either a flat or incline exercise bench in which the weight if generally handed to the lifter or taken from supports, one type of developmental exercise is greatly overlooked by the average bodybuilder today - Cleaning Weights to the Shoulders. While many consider cleaning weights mainly a lower back movement, it is the upper back which in reality makes possible that final pull-in to the shoulder. This action is essential for unusual upper back development.     

If you will take a look at the upper backs of any of our present weightlifting champions you will notice a sweep of back muscle which is outstanding in all of them. And if you investigate the training practices of those bodybuilders whose upper backs are most impressive you will find out that in each case they are devoted to at least a certain amount of heavy cleaning to the shoulders. Take a great bodybuilder like Melvin Wells, for example. 

Melvin is reported as being able to standing press 285 pounds. To gain that ability in the Press it is certain that Melvin has cleaned at least that amount of weight or close to it, many, many times during his training career. And that's a lot of weight in anyone's language.

Armand Tanny is another good example. 

Armand can clean nearly 300 pounds to his shoulder with ONE ARM 

and makes a good clean & jerk with 360 pounds with two arms. 

Clancy Ross

 also clean & jerks about this same amount and can Press 280, while 

John Grimek 

 was a champion lifter for years, earlier in his career, and only recently was reported as being in training for a new record in the Continental Press. Apparently he still includes some lifting movements in his program. 

I could go on right down the list of famous bodybuilders who do HEAVY CLEANS in their training and whose backs are among the very best. Marvin Eder is no exception and one of his favorite back exercises is sets of the Repetition Clean to Shoulders which will be included in the program I'm about about to describe for you.

I am bringing out this point so strongly for I feel that there is too much of an inclination on the part of the average bodybuilder to stay away from these CLEANING MOVEMENTS in his training, and Marvin agrees with me here. Therefore, of only this one point is put over in this article both Marvin and myself will feel that we have done a good job. 

From this point on, it will be Marvin's article and anything I put down will be his viewpoint entirely. 

He feels that it takes HEAVY work to fully develop the upper back. You can't play around with light poundages and build really thick, massive muscle. The reason for this is that the full development of any single part of the body depends upon the strength and development of the body as a whole. 

Worth repeating . . . 


Okay then. 

You must work the full chain of body muscles to make them all, as well as individual parts, outstanding. Local movements are needed to be sure, but other heavier movements must be followed as well for complete size and power. A ROUTINE SHOULD CONTAIN BOTH TYPES. 

I am sure that all the readers will be interested in this next question I asked Marvin. I wanted to know if he thought that heavy bench presses developed the upper back. As you all know, Marvin is one of the greatest bench pressers in the world, making well over 400 pounds in the lift, so if anyone knew the answer, he would. According to Marvin, the bench press does not particularly develop the upper back. However, because of the heavy weights used, if there is a distinct weakness in the upper back it will show up in this lift. He does not believe that the practice of the exercise will do much for the back, though.

How about dipping and chinning? What are their reactions on the upper back? Marvin says that dipping is more a front deltoid and pectoral movement than a back exercise. Chinning, however, is one of the very best upper back exercises for developing a lot of deep musculature in the area. 

Cables are very good. Marvin, as well and many other top level bodybuilders, uses them. Marvin feels that if he were in the sport where he could not use weights, he could stay in very fine form just through the use of cables. 

Now, here are the exercises Marvin recommends. Train 3 times a week on them, including them in your regular workout, in about the middle of your program, after you have done your arm and chest exercises. Follow them in the order listed. 

Begin with one set of each and gradually work up to the limit number of sets, except in the last exercise, which is the two arm repetition clean to the shoulders. 

Use the same weight in all the sets, even if the 2nd and 3rd sets find you unable to skerweez out quite the full number of repetitions. 

Judge the weight you  can use by the first set and select a poundage which makes you work to complete this one. Then let the next two sets take care of themselves with that same weight. 

Increase the poundage each time the first set feels easy. 

In the repetition cleans, warm up with a rather light weight, increasing the poundage for the next two sets, and then reduce the weight a bit on each of the final two sets. In this exercise you will do 5 sets, as described. In all the rest, 3 will be enough if you use a heavy enough weight. 

Exercise No. 1: One Arm Rowing.
Warm up the back muscles with this exercise. Do not cheat, pull the weight up in strict style, holding it for a fraction of a moment at the should, and then lower. 3 x 8 repetitions with each arm

Exercise No. 2: Behind the Neck Pulldown.
Pull the weight from arms fully extended position to behind the neck. 3 x 8.

Exercise No. 3: Seated Row with Pulley.
Pull the bar down and into the chest and get a full stretch at the extended position. 3 x 8.

Exercise No. 4: Wide Arm Chin Behind Neck.
At first your body weight will be a challenge in itself, but with consistent practice over time you will reach the full 3 sets of 8 repetitions. Then, proceed to attach weights to your body

Exercise No. 5: Close Grip Stiff Arm Barbell Pullover.
3 x 8 on this one. 

Exercise No. 6: Repetition Clean From the Hang Position. 
Last but certainly far from least is this great exercise. If you have never done these before you're in for a real treat, though it is a tough one. You'll feel it in every inch of your back. The way to perform the movement is to clean the weight from the ground to the shoulders. Do not split the legs, jump, or squat to get to your shoulders Then, lower the weight only as far as the knees and immediately pull it up to the shoulders again. You only touch the weight to the ground at the beginning of the first rep and after the final repetition is completed. All other reps are from what is called the "hang" position, at about knee height. Perform 5 sets of this exercise, 3 repetitions each. Use a rather light weight to warm up, a heavier one for the next set, and your limit poundage for the third set. Then reduce the weight a bit for the fourth set, and a bit more for the final one. In all sets after the first, however, make sure that you use enough weight to make you WORK HARD. 



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