Monday, June 10, 2019

An Early Dinosaur Training Article by Brooks Kubik

Horrors of the Chrome & Fern

This one's from the May '98 issue of IronMan magazine.
A few decades ago, a mindset crying out in the wilderness, and

look how it has grown and flourished to today! 

For much, much more, go here: 

For nearly 30 years Bradley J. Steiner has been saying in this magazine that the old-time methods of building muscle and strength have much to offer modern trainees. I happen to agree with that 100%. That's one reason I wrote a book called Dinosaur Training: Lost Secrets of Strength and Development. Sales have been extremely good, so, apparently, lots of other people are at least curious about how the old-timers training might benefit modern lifters. 

Others, however, aren't convinced that the old-timers actually knew much about training. After all, today's bodybuilders are so much bigger and so much more cut than their counterparts of yesteryear. Why would aspiring trainees in the late 1990s want to check out their training methods? 

Scan the following paragraphs and ask yourself if you know anyone who can match the feats described. 

Hermann Goerner

On October 8, 1928, in Leipzig, Germany, at a bodyweight of 220 pounds Goerner did a one-arm deadlift with 727.5 pounds. At a relatively modest size compared to today's superheavyweights, Goerner could do a one-arm barbell clean with 297.62 pounds, a strict barbell curl with 220.46, a right hand snatch with 254.55, a right hand swing with two kettlebells (held in one hand) weighing a total of 220.46 pounds, a continental style clean of 440.92, a two hand clean and jrek of 390.22 and a two arm snatch with his arms crossed (one arm over the other) with 231 pounds. 

Arthur Saxon

At a bodyweight of around 210 pounds he could juggle 119-pound kettlebells, bent press 370, lift 448 in the two hands anyhow, and bent press a 300 pound barbell, stand erect with the weight, then toss it from one hand to the other. On one occasion he bent pressed 297.6 pounds using only his little finger (the weight was suspended from a strong leather loop around his finger). Saxon could snatch with one hand a rough wooden plank that was 10 inches wide, 3 inches thick and 15 feet long that weighed 90 pounds. He could lift overhead a 300 pound bag of flour, a feat he dared all challengers throughout his career as a circus and music hall strongman to beat. Not surprisingly, no one ever did. 

Otto Arco

Arco weighed between 135 and 138 pounds, but he could continental clean and jerk 278.5 - more than double his bodyweight - and jerk 305 when the weight was handed to him at his shoulders. His physique was so impressive that he posed for the world famous sculptor August Rodin. In 1913, in Paris, he won the title of World's Most Perfectly Developed Man. In his specialty, Herculean handbalancing, Arco was unrivaled. He could hold his partner overhead in a hand-to-hand balance, kneel down, lie on his back, roll over and then work his way back to his feet, holding the hand-to-hand balance through the entire movement. 


Maxick was born on June 28, 1882, stood 5' 3.25" and weighed 145 to 147 pounds in his prime. At that bodyweight he performed the following lifts: right hand snatch, 165 pounds; right hand swing, 150; right hand jerk - after shouldering the barbell with two hands - 240; two hand military press, 230; two hand clean and jerk with barbell, 272; two hand continental clean and jerk, 340. He pressed a 185-pound man (Tromp van Diggelen)  overhead 16 times with one arm while holding in his left hand a full glass of beer from which he did not spill a drop. On another occasion, he held the apparently fearless van Diggelen overhead with one hand and ran up and down two flights of stairs. 

Is it possible that these feats performed long ago could aid you in your quest for greater muscular size and strength? If your answer to that leans toward the affirmative - and I would submit that there's no other reasonable answer - keep reading. 

Dinosaur Exercises 

Have you noticed how many tried and true weight exercises are falling into oblivion? Many of the best movements ever developed are not only no longer practiced, but they're fast becoming unknown. The bent press, of course, and virtually all the rest of the old-time one arm lifts: the one arm clean, one arm press, one arm snatch, one arm swing, and one arm deadlift. 

It's not just the obscure old-style exercises that are in danger of becoming extinct, however. How many men do deadlifts anymore? Not counting powerlifters, the answer is damned few. Nowadays you can to to almost any commercial gym and train deadlifts and guys will come up and ask what you're doing. They'll think it's some kind of cheating bentover row, and some will even tell you that seated cable rows work better and are a much safer exercise for your lats. 

Other examples of terrific exercises that are all but forgotten include the snatch, the clean & jerk, the power clean, the high pull, the halting deadlift. When was the last time you saw a guy do halting deadlifts? 

Even the stiff-legged deadlift is in danger. That was one of the great exercises covered in the old Milo barbell courses - just check out Bill Hinbern's reprints of the course if you don't believe me. 


There's a 382 pages titled "Building Strength: Alan Calvert, the Milo Barbell Company, and the Modernization of American Weight Training" downloadable here: 

It's one of the movements that made John Grimek immortal (he could handle more than 400 lbs. for reps. Maurice Jones of Canada . . . 

Go Canada!

. . . was another old-time iron monster who handled huge poundages on stiff-legged deadlifts and got as big and strong as a horse. Dr. Ken Leistner used to rave about them. So did John McCallum, among others. Who today besides Bradley Steiner champions this exercise? Hardly anyone. If the deadlift is included in a routine it's supposed to be performed with baby weights as part of a 30 to 40 set "back blitz" or part of a superset with leg curls to pump those little thigh biceps. 

Note: 21 years later . . . things have changed. I firmly believe for the better. And they didn't just change themselves without the push of authors who revisited, recycled and rejuvenated the old-time truths. Beautiful! 

How about the military press? When did you last see someone at a commercial gym or college weight room do overhead presses with a barbell? Nowadays any overhead presses are performed with dumbbells, usually while seated, or else done seated on a machine. There was a time - and it wasn't too long ago - when the question, "What can you press?" referred to your military press. 

Today, the only thing anyone asks about is the bench press. Most guys have no idea how heavy they can go in the military press. They have no idea of the terrific benefits to be gained from heavy standing presses.

No one ever does standing straight-bar curls either. People think they're too basic, so they replace them with cable curls, dumbbell concentration curls, seated dumbbell curls or machine curls. 

Note: The strict barbell curl was at one time part of a huge number of powerlifting contests. Strict curl comps still exist and are going strong. Training for a max strict barbell curl is something worth looking into at some point in your lifting life. 

Doug Hepburn's booklet on The Two Hands Curl is here:

Mac Batchelor, Bert Elliot

Mac Batchelor on curling heavy weights, here:

Jim Halliday on training the Barbell Curl, here:

Charles A. Smith on the two hands slow curl, here:

The good morning. 
The wrestler's bridge. 
Neck work with a head strap.
Leg Raises.
Side bends with a heavy dumbbell.

All practically on the point of extinction.

That goes for the parallel squat too. Aside from the lifters, you can go to many gyms and never see anyone do real squats. If people do get under a squat bar, they're careful to keep the movement to four inches - often with 150 pounds on their shoulders. Can you imagine? The single most productive exercise in existence, and the percentage of weight trainers who perform it is ridiculously low. 

Couldn't resist this pic, shared by Liam Tweed. 
John Grimek, deep knee bend, low position. 
Check out that form! 
And the photo . . . them shadows! 
Outstanding camera work. 

Doug Hepburn's original booklet on The Squat is here:

As a Dinosaur trainer you owe it to the greats of yesterday - the pioneers of the Iron Game - to keep the grand old exercises alive. Continue the tradition - and you'll find yourself reaping benefits of historic proportions. 

While I don't have room to detail specialization programs for building all your bodyparts to monster proportions, the following Arm Routine will give you an idea of how Dinosaur Training works. 

Note: There have been many Arm Training updates and materials written since this article. You can find more at Brooks's website and Amazon. 

Dinosaur Training Unleashed:

 Do you want enormous arms that pulsate with strength and power - arms that not only look strong but are strong? Get ready to work harder than you've ever worked in your life. 

Follow this program religiously - exactly as written - for the next 12 weeks, and your arms will swell with increased power and size. You should also make good gains in overall development, total-body strength and muscular bodyweight.

Train 3 Days Per Week using a Monday/Wednesday/Friday or Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday schedule. 

I know that doesn't sound like much, but believe me, if you work as hard as this program requires, you won't want to hit the iron any more frequently.   

Workout 1

Start with any kind of general aerobic warmup - skip rope, jog in place, do a couple of quick sets of light cleans or snatches, or use a stationary bike or stair machine for 5-10 minutes. Don't kill yourself on the warmup - just do enough to get your heart and lungs working, your blood circulating and a little bit of a sweat going. 

Start the workout with 6 sets of 5 reps on the Parallel Squat. Do 3 progressively heavier warmup sets, then do 3 work sets with your top poundage. For example, let's say you can do 5 reps with 300 lbs. You might do 150 x 5, 200 x 5 and 250 x 5 on your warmup sets . . . and then shoot for 3 sets of 5 with 300 lbs. If you  can't get all 5 reps on each of your 3 work sets, that's okay - as long as you work hard and get a total of at least 12 reps - stay with that poundage and build up over time. Once you can get 3 sets of 5 with a certain weight, add 5 or 10 pounds to the bar the next time you squat. 

After the squats do Bench Presses. Use the 6 x 5 system on them as well, as explained above. 

Lat Pulldowns of Chins (preferably with weight tied around your waist) are next. Use the grip that lets you handle the most weight. For me a parallel grip is best, but some people do better with other variations. Do the pulldowns to your chest, as the behind the neck version can cause shoulder problems in many people. If you're chinning, pull to the chest as well.

Now it's time for some arm training, Dinosaur style. 

You begin with a classic triceps bulker - Close Grip Bench Presses, but you do them with a special technique. For starters, use a three inch diameter bar instead of a standard bar. 

Note: if you can't afford or don't have access to a thick bar currently, check out these. They come in 3 sizes and I tell ya, are well worth owning - 

And there's Grenadier Gripz as well as Globe Gripz for something different.
But a thick bar is, well, A THICK BAR

A thick-handled bar is enormously more difficult to lift than a regular size bar. The secret of successful training is HARD WORK. No matter how hard you can train with a regular bar, you can train harder if you use a thick-handled one. You'll trigger stronger and more numerous nerve impulses and contract more muscle fibers which add up to big gains in strength and development. 

Use a power rack for your close grip benches. Set the pins so that the bar brushes against your chest at the bottom position and START EACH REP AT THE BOTTOM. That makes it a far more difficult movement than the traditional style of bench pressing, in which you begin with your arms locked and lower the bar to your chest. 

The power rack is for safety. A thick-handles barbell is as hard to handle as a telephone pole. It's very easy for it to slip out of your hands. Consequently, you'd be insane to lift one over your head unless you were using a power rack. You don't want to take any chance of having the bar drop on your face. 

Okay then. Let's continue . . . 

Use the same 6 x 5 system on the close grips that you used on the other exercises. Take a shoulder width grip. Doing the movement with your hands any closer than that will limit your training poundages tremendously. In addition, it's a great way to injure a wrist or elbow. 

After the close grips you do some Dinosaur-style arm curls. These call for a heavy sandbag. That's right - a sandbag. They're easy to make. Buy an old Army surplus duffel bag

 and two or three 50-pound sandbags, and you're in business. The total cost for a 150-pound sandbag is around $25, so don't wimp out and try to get by with concentration curls or similar nonsense just because you want to save a couple of bucks. In a pinch you can substitute the thick handled barbell when the program calls for the sandbag, but if you're serious about training - and I assume you are or you wouldn't be reading this - the cost of a heavy sandbag or a thick handled barbell is not going to be a big deal. 

And now . . . owing to the increased popularity of this style of training, IronMind and other companies offer all kinds of cool stuff: 

Sandbags -

Check out these two bars from Rogue! -

Note: don't worry if you're funds are currently malnourished. It's a tough ole world out there and gettin' money-tougher by the month. Wrap towels around a damn bar if you have to while saving shekels for some specialty gear. Or find a gym that has a full selection, one that's run by people who love the game of lifting so much their dues aren't sick, twisted, and money hungry. That hole's never full for some folks.

Okay . . . 

Sandbag curls are a brutal exercise for the entire arm. They work you from shoulder to fingertips. The leverage of a heavy sandbag is much different from that of a barbell. The last couple of inches of a sandbag curl are extremely difficult because the bulk of the bag isn't close to your body. Instead of encountering a sticking point at the middle of the movement and having the exercise easier at the end, which is what happens with a barbell, you hit a hard sticking point when your forearms are parallel to the floor, and it gets worse with every inch you go. 

Of course, your grip and forearms get a tremendous workout because of the difficulty of grabbing the bag and digging in for the entire set. You won't need to do anything extra for your forearms and grip if you work HARD on sandbag curls. 

Workout 2

Begin with a light aerobic warmup for 5 to 10 minutes - just like you did at Workout 1. 

The first exercise is the dead stop, from the bottom, thick bar close grip benches described above - performed in a power rack with with the thick handled barbell, starting from your chest and pushing up to arms' length. The big change this time around is that you do SINGLES on the movement. 

That's right - only one rep per set. Start light and work up to a weight that's around 90 to 95 percent of your top weight. Do five of six sets, starting with progressively heavier warmups and working up to your final set, the heaviest effort of the day. 

Note: There's some great stuff on training with singles in the free PDF from Eric Troy . . . 

wait for it . . . 


It's all good, but check out pages 9 to 25, "The Singles Scene: How to Train Maximally with Single Reps."

Dinosaurs love single-rep training. Heavy singles enable you to work your muscles, tendons and ligaments with the heaviest possible weight - 

Anthony Ditillo on The Single Repetition Principle, here:

I stumbled onto a way cool variation on Ditillo's Leg and Back Bulking layout a while ago, but can't for the life of me find the site again. Damn! Here's Tony Ditillo's layout: 

And here's the variation: 

Floor Press
Rack Dead
5 singles for the lot. 

Seated Press
Half Press
Half Squat
5 singles

5 x 5-7

Seated Press
Bentover Row
5 x5-7

Sorry, I get all lost in it sometimes, eh . . . 

'Father, father, where are you going?
Oh do not walk so fast!
Speak, father, speak to your little boy.
Or else I shall be lost.'

The night was dark, no father was there,
The child was wet with dew;
The mire was deep, and the child did weep,
And away the vapour flew. 

"Yes, William Blake, he is gone and I am lost." 

The article continues . . . 

and no matter what you may have heard to the contrary, it takes heavy weight to build big muscles. Forget about the pumping and feeling stuff. You'll be surprised at how much weight you can use on your exercises if you pay your dues and sweat blood for a couple of years. I'm o 400 pounds on this form of close grip bench press with a three inch thick bar, and I'm probably old enough to be your father, if not your grandfather. 

Note: I sometimes wish I was everyone's grandmother.
Then they'd treat me a whole lot nicer.  

Not a bad way to look at people . . . see your grandmother in 'em.
Some of 'em. Not all of 'em. Some are a wee bit bad and evil. 
It would be awesome! Think about it. 

Evil. Great book here. I can't stop reading it. 

And this one, the newest edition of it.
Straight out evil recorded in here.  

We will continue from here later . . . 

It's later and it's now, both at the same time

The next exercise is single rep barbell curls performed with a thick handled barbell. Do 4-5 progressively heavier singles and work up to your top weight for the day - close to 90-95% of your top weight on the curl.

You may find that a 3-inch thick bar is too thick for heavy curls. (If you have small hands, that will definitely be the case). The solution is to use a 2-inch bar, which means you may have to buy or make two thick handled bars, one for benches and one for curls. Remember, though, that you're after some serious results from your weight-playing, and your results can only be as good as your toys, er, equipment. Train with ordinary toys and . . . you know this I'm sure. If necessary, if your funds dictate it right now, get creative with the thick bar problem. 

To use a word that's perfect here, and courtesy of Wolf Hasenmaier . . . be a Wegefinder - 
A Person Who Finds A Way! Do it

Follow the curls with heavy overhead presses performed with your sandbag or with a barbell. Use the same weight on each set and do 5 sets of as many reps as possible. Try to pick a weight that lets you get 8-10 reps on the first set, and work like heck to get at least five reps on each ensuing set. That may not sound like much, but if you take the first set to total muscular failure, the weight will feel as if it weighs a ton on each of the following sets, especially if you use a dirtbag. The overhead press performed with a heavy sandbag is a real man maker and will give your delts and triceps a hammering that's so hard, you can't imagine it. 

What is that

After the overhead presses do sandbag curls - or regular bar curls - for 5 sets of as many reps as possible. Use a weight that lets you get 8-10 reps on the first set, just as you did with the presses, and try to get at least 5 reps on each of the following sets. That will be really tough to do as you get tired, and believe me, this baby will make you tired very quickly. 

On every set you do in this program be sure you're well rested before you begin your next set. Your goal is not to race the clock. You're training for strength, so take it slow. Two or Three minutes between sets is about right for most exercises. On extremely demanding ones - squats, for example - you may need a five minute rest between work sets. 

Finish the session by hanging from a chinning bar for as long as possible. Just shy of losing consciousness and soiling your drawers with all manner of stuff that starts with S. No, wait, hang by your hands. It's a great exercise for the hands, fingers and forearms. As you get stronger tie extra weight around your waist - or better yet, switch to a thicker chinning bar. Hanging from a two inch chinning bar is sheer torture (find out more about that in the book above - "The New Evil"), but it will build a world class grip in short order. 

Workout 3

Once again you begin with a short aerobic warmup. 

The first movement is 6 sets of 5 reps on one of the following exercises: 

Stiff-legged Deadlifts
Rack (or off boxes) Deadlifts From Knee Height
Power Cleans
Power (High) Pulls

There are many good exercises for the back, and most people have a definite preference for one or the other, due largely to inherited structural characteristics. Find a heavy back exercise that works well for you and stick to it. a.k.a. non conjugate method I dunno. 

If there's a trap bar available, use it for your deadlifts. The trap bar makes deadlifts much more productive, more efficient, and safer for almost everyone.

Next do one of the following: 

Dumbbell Bench Presses
Dumbell Bench Presses
Regular Grip Bench Presses with a Thick Bar

If you choose the thick bar benches, do them in the power rack, starting from your chest, with the pins set to catch the bar if necessary. Continue with the 6 x 5 system that you used throughout the week.

Follow the presses with hammer curls using two heavy dumbbells. Again, do 6 sets of 5 reps. For best results use thick handled dumbbells, or make your own. Fat Gripz (of similar from other companies), or wrap tape around the handles of ordinary dumbbells and then slide a small length of 2 inch pipe over the tape. Check online for DIY versions. They're some very creative types out there who also happen to lift weights. Amazing, ain't it! 

After the hammer curls do bench press lockouts in the power rack using the 3 inch bar. Set the pins so you lift the bar about 4-5 inches on each rep to lockout. Do 6 sets of 5, working slowly and carefully. Do not bounce the bar off the pins (or boxes if you choose to do these on the floor) so you can get more reps or handle more weight. It will move you out of the groove,diminish your results and quite possibly lead to injury. Bouncing the bar is a form of cheating, which is not what we are doing in this particular case. It makes the exercise easier, and that's exactly what you don't want. 

Note: The "Groove" is very important when doing partials. You want to be in the same position and use the same leverages as when doing full range movements. It can be useful to take the bar off the top pins and lower it to the partial position chosen, onto the bottom pins. That way you can come as close as possible to mimicking your normal position. Lower to the bottom pins for the first rep. pause fully, and blast up explosively. Just a thought. 

Finish the workout with the farmer's walk. Grab a pair of heavy dumbbells, hold them at your sides with straight arms and walk as far as possible. If you can do it outside, go for distance. If you do it indoors, walk back and forth and go for time. Do one or two sets of these and your forearms will ache and swell beyond belief. 

Note: Do I really need to mention thick handles?

As an alternative grab a heavy sandbag, hold it in a bear hug and walk as far as possible. Do that for 2 to 3 sets and you'll discover a new meaning to the phrase HARD WORK. You'll also get a great arm, shoulder, forearm and grip workout. 

 - For those with the I Got the Music in Me genetics, dancing while bear hugging a heavy sandbag may prove useful. Imagine you're back in the depression, times are so dang tough you find yourself in a dance marathon and are striving to be the champion, elite, most bestest person in that sweat-smelly room! You can do it. Find a way. It's either that or you, the misses and the kids will be sleeping rough on the street and starving worse than some-a them Plains Injuns that was genocided in that book up yonder, Pardner!  


 It's a simple program, but don't let that fool you. Work hard on it, and you'll be tired and sore. You'll also grow like corn in Iowa. Use your head and break in the Dinosaur routine slowly and steadily. Take a couple of weeks to work up to weights that make you sweat, then train hard and heavy for 10-12 weeks. Get plenty of rest and eat lots of good food - especially protein and complex carbs. 

Dinosaur training is all about using heavy poundages and working hard. In general, you want to make your training progressive, that is, add weight to the implement whenever possible. Always maintain good form but don't be afraid to add weight to the bar. 








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