Saturday, June 22, 2019

Combining Bodybuilding and Olympic Lifting, Part One - Charles Coster (1953)

Originally Published in This Issue (July 1953) 
Rare! Thanks to LIAM TWEED.

An increasing number of people are becoming interested in the possibilities of combined Olympic training and body-building nowadays, and the Editor, Reg Park, has asked me to write a special two-part article upon the subject. 

Is it possible or practical for an Olympic lifter to practice body-building routines in his training that would favorably influence his Olympic weightlifting total?

Is if possible for people primarily concerned with bodybuilding to include the three Olympic lifts in their training beneficially? 

The answer in my opinion is definitely - YES, and I feel that there is a very large and interesting field for experimentation here, with the possibility of rich rewards as the incentive to work for.

Obviously, the professional of full-time body-builder would have better chances of success than anyone else, since extra weight-training means greater demands on the time and energy of the individual, and we must never forget that really first class food is very important. 

Note: Following the Second World War, food rationing in Great Britain lasted until midnight on July 4th, 1954, when restrictions on meat and bacon were finally ended. 

From the amateur's point of view opportunities for athletic endeavor are of necessity limited by the necessity to work for one's living, and the time and energy available for training are in most cases considerably less.

A modified, streamlined, economically planned system of DUAL weight-training must therefore be devised and planned if the best possible results are to be achieved

Over-expenditure of energy in wasteful and unnecessary duplication of certain movements is the first thing that will have to be eliminated . . . otherwise the program will prove to be too exhausting, and failure may result. 

I have often felt that body-builders could benefit themselves by practicing fast, leg-moving movements like the Snatch and Two Hands Clean to the Shoulders. Heavy poundages need not necessarily be used all the time, but by performing very fast sets of repetitions from the Full Hang, the Half Hang, and the Upright or Dead Hang position, a wonderful sense of well being, stimulation and exhilaration can be obtained

Most muscle-making routines are performed with the person's body immobilized whilst certain specialized movements are made. This has a tendency to make some musclemen a trifle "stodgy" or stiff in their movements. Lithe, elastic, graceful and free deportment are vital aspects of complete physical development, and let's face facts, so few people have them. 

Note: apply those qualities to the mind, and the numbers narrow even more. Yes. Stodgy thought. Ofttimes dodgy. Mental dullards going toe-to-toe with the entire universe and seeing it as a noble human struggle. Anyhoo . . . 

It is good to possess a fine physique and it gives one a sense of satisfaction to have certain "measurements" . . . but the body-builder should "feel" as good as he "looks" . . . and there is no better way of acquiring a sense of glowing well being than by the use of fast repetition snatching and cleaning with suitable poundages

Just give it a try, if you are a 100% body-builder, and you will be amazed at the things it does to your lungs and stamina.

This type of training can be worked in with your heavy leg session of you like. Use these leg-splitting movements "in between" each set of Deep Knee Bends . . . or whatever leg work you happen to be doing . . . and you will be amazed at the amount of "ache" you will experience as a consequence. 

Many years ago Bob Hoffman took a poll of opinion among American lifters for the Best Lift of All

The Two Hands Snatch won easily, and the reasons given were the same as those I have set forth in this article. Additionally, it was selected as the Most Health-Giving Lift, since most of them agreed that it had a beneficial effect upon the entire system.

Providing plenty of respiration is available if "light" poundages are used. It is possible for a tired and dejected man to re-energize and greatly stimulate himself in a very short space of time by performing repetition Snatch movements. 

Note: Experiment with alternating split and squat snatches rep-for-rep with lighter weights. Or not. 

Its effect seems to stimulate the entire body, and when this stage is reached of course - it is reflected in the mind also. 

I know these things to be true from actual experience, and on numerable occasions in the past I have nullified the effects of a long day's toil by performing 10 sets of 5 snatches . . . and felt myself rejuvenated in next to no time. 

The method of snatching can be made from many "angles," and all of them are beneficial. The very wide, moderate, or very narrow hand spacings can all be employed, and as already stated, the various hang positions can also all be used. 

The Dead Hang is not often seen nowadays, but it calls for great speed and timing in the arms and legs and is a most valuable method of lifting. 

When a Dead Hang Clean or Snatch is attempted, the lifter (or body-builder) must stand in the "erect" position at the commencement. [Not from the floor. Begin the movement in the standing erect position.] From here, the bar is pulled upwards as high as possible before a violent and lightning fast leg split (or squat) is made. 

The object of dead hang lifting is to improve speed and timing . . . and the ideal to work for in the Snatch is to be able to "lock"the elbows overhead before the feet come in contact with the platform . . . which is quite a difficult feat, I can tell you! 

Repetition Squat Snatches for the body-builder make a strenuous muscle-building exercise for the entire back area. Not everyone can fall into the squat position of course, but those who find it difficult can practice repetition movements in the Half Squat position. 

Combined Exercises 

One of the best combined body-building and Olympic lifting exercises I ever heard of was used by the great John Grimek some years ago. 

It calls for good balance, flexibility and control throughout the entire movement, and this is something that may take a little time.

However, the movement is so valuable that it is well worth persevering with until competence has been achieved. 

First of all the bar (make it light to start with) is taken to arms' length overhead. From the position the legs are bent until the body is in the full deep knee bend position. With the weight still held on locked arms overhead, the legs are straightened out until the complete return journey has been accomplished. 

Note: Overhead Squat into a full, deep squat position. If difficulty is encountered in bending the legs completely, check your shoes. Olympic lifting shoes make a huge difference. 

The amount of muscular ache that occurs in the back and lumbar regions is considerable and the shoulders are also strongly affected. 

Grimek, I am told, could perform repetition presses whilst in the act of raising and lowering his body . . . and if you haven't tried anything like this already, you have a few surprises in store I can tell you. 

Note: The Stotts Press is similar to what's described, although the bar is pressed while in the low snatch position, not while going up and down. 

Olympic lifters who use the Squat technique sometimes perform a movement somewhat similar to this for strengthening and confidence purposes.

Using the very wide hand spacing in the overhead position . . . they make "half leg bends and occasionally full depth squats with heavier weights than they can hope to handle in actual competition. Work of this type is terrific for the thighs and back, and the amount of contraction that takes place is something to experience. 

There's a full 1966 article on using the Overhead Squat to improve The Snatch
by Charles Coster, here:

Some years ago there was an American middleweight (rejoicing in the name of Bob Hope) who made considerable progress with his physique development and lifting ability by the extensive use of this particular weight exercise. 

He persevered with such good effect that on one occasion he succeeded in holding 340 pounds aloft whilst he made a full deep knee bend, and the feat was considered so meritorious and unusual that he was mentioned in Ripley's "Believe It Or Not." 

Unusual methods of approach, ingenuity and perseverance surely deserve rich rewards, and just as I recommend that all body-builders include some fast leg work in their schedule I also advocate that the Olympic lifting specialist should launch out in other forms of weight training and strengthening procedures in order to enlarge and speed up his Olympic weight lifting possibilities.

The "risk" of combining bodybuilding exercises with his Olympic lifting preparation may in reality be a shortcut to the thing he wants more than anything else - increased Olympic poundages. 

As I have done my best to point out in recent articles


there is a considerable amount of evidence on hand which goes to show that SHEER STRENGTH can do more to win world titles than any other factor. 

It must be obvious to many that the exclusive use of just the three Olympic lifts by themselves is not necessarily any guarantee that the person concerned will gain the "ultimate" in physical power of which he is capable. 

And it should be noted . . . that unless he does succeed in bringing his fundamental basic power to the greatest possible pitch of development - he is unnecessarily handicapping his Olympic lifting gains. 

When I allow my mind to range back over a long period of time, there are numerous lifters I can remember who possessed polished styles and plenty of speed . . . and yet year after year they turned in the same approximate total.

Occasionally people would say, "I wonder why so-and-so doesn't press more weight?" The answer to this was quite clear really. "So-and-So" was already pressing his maximum in relation to the amount of muscle and tendon at his command. The reason he could not make progress with his Press past a certain point was possibly due to the fact that the lifter was not persevering with the best type of work to develop the muscles of the body for PRESSING

There are athletes I can remember who regularly thrilled us with their Snatch and Clean & Jerk techniques . . . but with small variations their poundages remained stationary for some mysterious reason.

However mystified others were, it seemed quite clear that the problem could only be solved by an increase in the lifter's Fundamental Basic Power. It was crystal clear to me that certain lifters were already getting the absolute limit they could possibly hope to achieve from the flashing scientific styles, and it another 20 or 30 pounds was to be added to their peak Olympic lifts there was only one medium that could possibly help them, and that was TO GAIN A 20% INCREASE IN BASIC MUSCULAR POWER AT ALL COSTS. 

I feel convinced this is where the great knowledge of body-building experts could help the Olympic enthusiast a great deal. Unlike the competitive lifer . . . the science of modern body-building has been built around hundreds and hundreds of searching experiments during recent years, and the knowledge that has accrued is most remarkable.

It is said from time to time that there is nothing new in the world of weight training. This may be true, but believe me, plenty of things have been "re-discovered" nad improved upon during recent years, and it is now possible to concentrate upon any part of the human frame when special "effects" are required.

John Carl Grimek took part in International weightlifting events on more than one occasion, but he had to reduce to the 181-lb. division each time and did not record the lifts he might otherwise have done. It is not generally known, but this great body-builder pressed more than 300 pounds at his normal bodyweight on many occasions, and during the war he recorded a Continental Press of 340 pounds. 

This Monarch of Muscledom conducted innumerable strength experiments during his lifting career, and his shoulder and arm strength amply illustrate the importance of grit, perseverance and the developing of basic body power to increase the Olympic lifts . . . providing one does not get into a fatal rut with unimaginative training habits. 

If one happened to talk about the Deep Knee Bend, the Dead Lift, or the Press on Back a few years ago in relation to Olympic training one was looked upon as an imbecile.

Today, there are many outstanding top-flight Olympic athletes who have at one time or other used these movements . . . and many are still doing so.

The incline board, and the supine bench are proving remarkable methods for building superior shoulder strength, both with barbells and dumbbells. 

The D.K.B. and the Dead Lift have been analyzed and "experimented" with exhaustively, and there are many, many different ways they can now be used.   

The world's most remarkable Olympic lifter at the present time is Tommy Kono, who incidentally is the living embodiment of basic muscular power.   

At 155 pounds Kono once made 35 deep knee bends with 365. Early this year, during a visit to London, Tommy performed a "front" squat for 2 reps with 420. 

Tommy Kono, like Dave Sheppard and Stan Stanczyk, combines Olympic training and body-building . . . and as you will have observed, his Olympic progress is not at a standstill by any means. 

Rowing motion exercises, both with wide and narrow hand spacing, and from both the bent over and upright positions form very useful "foundation" work for the competitive lifter . . . and there are countless other body-building movements that can surely help the Olympic specialist to get past certain sticking points

If you pulling power is insufficient in certain areas . . . it is possible to devise special weight-lifting exercises to strength the weak spot. 

If your Press "sticks" because of possible deltoid or triceps deficiency . . . who is better placed to tell you how to surmount the weakness than your editor, Reg Park? 

It is a curious thing, but a goodly proportion of the present day Olympic World champions rank among the world's most muscular physiques. 

It looks very much as though "the hard way" may in the long run be "the shortest cut." So remember Tommy Kono and 

Make up your mind to develop sufficient Muscular Power to do the things you so much desire. 

Part Two Continues From Here . . . 





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