Thursday, January 30, 2020

Bill Starr on Training for Women (2011)

Abbye "Pudgy" Stockton

Natalie Hanson

Damn the Double Standard

I grew up in a farming community and observed that women did a great deal more work than the men and often helped with the milking, plowing, haying or any other task that needed to be done on the farm. I also knew that when the wagon trains headed west, the women walked while the men rode horses or drove the wagons. In addition, the women took care of the children, fixed the meals, cleaned up and washed clothes. They were never idle.

But the notion that females aren't physically equipped to do manual labor or participate in grueling sports prevailed. Looking back, it seems rather absurd now, but that's how things were until recent changes came about. 

For example, the International Olympic Committee rules that women could not compete in races that were longer than 10,000 meters simply because running longer distances would be harmful to them. That precept was quickly shot down in 1984, when women were allowed to run in marathons - something a great many had already been doing successfully for years. 

And look how long it took for women to be able to play by the same rules as men in basketball. When I was in high school, the women's game was tame - so tame that it was boring. The offensive players couldn't cross over the mid-court line, and the defensive players had to stay on their side of the court as well. 

Women compete in triathlon, soccer and softball; they have their own tackle football leagues; and female pole vaulters are soaring over the bar at heights that would have won the male version of the event in the '60s. In 2004, they even went to the mats in Olympic wrestling. And they rank higher in Olympic weightlifting worldwide than their male counterparts. 

Yet females had to scratch and claw to break through the male barrier in weightlifting. 

The administrators, naturally, were all men, up until when Mable Rader, wife of Peary Rader, who published IronMan magazine and Lifting News, got her card to judge meets.  

Mabel and Peary Rader

That opened the door a tad, and it wasn't long before the ladies wanted to take part in that hallowed sport. Powerlifting, being a newer sport, adopted the fairer sex more readily than Olympic lifting, but the barriers finally fell, and more and more females took to the sport enthusiastically - and many with great success. 

Women have always been more figure conscious than men, and they in fact supported the health club business for many years. But they didn't train at gyms. They went to the spa while the men did their lifting at the local YMCA or a black iron facility in someone's garage. Rarely did a place allow men and women to train together. If a fitness facility did cater to both sexes, it was usually on an every other day basis and never at the same time. 

In keeping with the concept that women can't handle extreme physical stress, the programs for women were always less demanding and usually built around very light weights and higher reps. Toning and shaping were the goals, and heavy weights weren't needed for that. Plus, who wants to look a a female with muscles? Obviously, as it turns out, a lot of people.

When I started training female athletes at the University of Hawaii in 1973, there was no information available on how to put together workouts for them. The routine that Tommy Suggs and I had devised and call the Big Three was created with males in mind. 


Yet I could not find a single reason why females shouldn't do that same program. The weight room at UH was small, with one pulling and one squatting station, an incline bench, and two flat benches. So if an athlete wanted to join a group at, say, the squat station, she had to take her turn just like everyone else. I showed no favoritism one way or the other. I treated men and women alike and pushed them both equally hard, and they never grumbled or complained. 

Differences - But Small Ones

I was well aware many authorities at that time believed very strongly that because the two sexes are physically different, there should be two approaches to strength training. I couldn't see the logic in that way of thinking. 

Male and female muscles, tendons and ligaments work exactly the same. Lung and heart action is the same, as are the rest of the ways in which the body functions in regards to getting stronger. If a certain exercise makes the legs stronger in a man, it will do the same for a woman.

There are, however, a few differences between the two groups at the beginning stage of training. The female is considerably weaker in her upper body than a male, but on the flip side, she is usually stronger than a male, relatively speaking, in her lower body. Yet that's no reason to alter a training program other than to spend more effort on the weaker area - which is the case for anyone starting out. One area of the body is always going to be lagging behind somewhat. 

I've also had sports coaches tell me that their athletes have special needs and should be doing a program specifically designed for that sport. They don't fully understand the concept of strength training. 

The first step in the process for any athlete is to make her total structure stronger and not worry about specific exercises for a certain sport. For until strength of the hips/legs, back and shoulder girdle has improved considerably, those specific movements will have little value. I've coached female athletes who participated in soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, swimming, fencing, volleyball, softball, basketball, and track and field events. Everyone did the basics until the foundation was solid, and then I added in some specific exercises that were pertinent to her chosen sport. To begin with, movements geared for a certain sport and much less effective. 

Given a choice, I would much rather train a female athlete than a male. 

There are several reasons. None of the ladies I started on a routine had ever lifted weights before. Nearly every male had and brought with him his own ideas of how a program should be assembled. The ladies followed my instructions to the letter and never entered into a debate over other exercises or sets and reps and so forth. Female athletes are much more flexible than men, so they can learn the movements that require a high degree of adaptability - such as the power clean and even the two Olympic lifts, the snatch, and clean and jerk - much more readily than men. I've also found that females have better foot speed and are more highly coordinated than men and, for the most part, are more intelligent, which enables them to make faster gains at the beginning of a strength program. And they smell a lot better, too. 

While my female athletes never argued with me, they did have some concerns about lifting heavy weights, relatively speaking. The most common worry is that weight training will cause them to add bodyweight, and they don't want that. I tell them that lifting weight little to do with how much a person weighs. That's a factor of diet. If a female athlete greatly increases her caloric intake, she will gain weight whether she's lifting or not. In fact, the exertions in the weight room are one of the best ways to maintain a certain body weight. 

What will occur, however, is that a female will gain muscle and, because muscle is heavier than fat, there may be a slight increase in body weight. But because that new muscle is distributed evenly, all that happens is the female ends up with a more athletic, pleasing physique to go along with her new strength. I suggest to them that they pay more attention to their body image in the mirror than what the scale indicates. 

Many have voiced their apprehensions about doing heavy squats, saying, "I don't want to end up with a big butt like those football players." My reply: "The only way you're going to get glutes like those guys is to eat like they do. And even if you weren't squatting, you would lay down lots of fatty tissue in your glutes. Just looki at all the obese women waddling around the supermarket, searching for more useless calories. They didn't get those huge dumpers from squatting but from overeating. What you will end up with if you watch what you eat is a firm, shapely derriere, which will greatly enhance your overall figure. End of discussion.  

The other concern is that they may injure their shoulders, back or legs by lifting heavy weights. Heavy, of course, is a relative term, and I explain that they will not start out with more weight then they can handle rather comfortably on all the exercises. Only after they learn the proper technique will they be allowed to add weight to the various movements in the program. And the set and rep sequence will further ensure that they are not overdoing it if they're unable to make the required number or reps on any exercise. They will stay with that same weight until they're successful. This slow but steady approach to getting stronger will ensure all the muscles of the body are improving at the same rate.

Weight training is one of the safest forms of exercising there is - when it's done correctly. There's certainly much less risk in squatting a weight than in driving to the basket for a layup with two or more defenders determined not to let you get the shot off. 

Even Olympic lifting, which places the athlete in many precarious positions, is a safe sport, just so long as the lifts are done correctly. Faulty form in any athletic activity is dangerous, so learning the proper technique on all the lifts is a must.  

Keep in mind that females have been lifting heavy objects throughout history. It is no more dangerous for a female to exert herself fully than it is for a male. If she has done the necessary work to prepare her body for the maximum effort and uses good form, she may not make that lift, but she will be fine. Keep in mind that the barbell doesn't know which sex is trying to lift it. Good form will be rewarded and sloppy technique will be penalized in a democratic fashion. 

Getting Women Started With Weights 

Now for the beginning program for the ladies. It consists of just three core movements, along with additional work for the abs and lumbars in the form of warmups. The three exercises I refer to as the Big Three are the power clean, back squat, and bench press. 

For those participating in sports that require a great deal of vertical action for the arms, such as basketball and volleyball, I substitute the incline press for the flat version. However, so many of the athletes insist on doing flat benches because they believe that exercise will help them increase their bust size, so I allow them to make the final decision. I do encourage them to do both of those upper body movements, stating that the two slightly different angles of those lifts will help develop the pecs more fully than just one. 

Three sessions a week in the weight room are sufficient in the beginning, and maybe for a long, long time. Those days off will allow your body to recover from the new form of stress and, after the first few weeks, should be spent improving the aerobic base, enhancing flexibility and practicing the skills needed to become more proficient in a chosen sport. 

The three exercises are aimed at improving strength in your three major muscle groups: hips/legs, back, and shoulder girdle (or upper body). Until you learn the form and have started to establish a solid strength base, you will only do those three movements, plus some ab and lower back work prior to lifting. But once you feel as if you're recovering from the load in the weight room, you should start adding in a few auxiliary movements for the smaller groups: calves, biceps, triceps, and deltoids. 

There are different set and rep formulas for the primary and secondary exercises. The primary, or core, movements will be done for 5 sets of 5 reps. Research has established that the very best formula for developing strength for beginners is 4-6 sets of 4-6 reps. I stay with 5 x 5 because it makes the math much easier to do and I often had as many as 40 athletes to deal with at one time. 

But should you prefer 4 sets of 6, or 6 sets of 4, fine. You'll still get the desired results.  

For the ancillary movements for the smaller muscle groups, I basically use the 40-rep rule using higher reps, which translates to 2 sets of 20 or 3 sets of 15 on exercises such as frontal and lateral raises with dumbbells, curls, straight arm pullovers or triceps pushdowns. I realize 3 sets of 15 adds up to more than 40, but it's close enough. 

The only exception to this rule is for the calves. In order for them to respond, they have to be brutalized. 3 sets of 30, and the final dozen reps should make your eyes water. Do no more than two auxiliary exercises a session even after you believe you are moving close to the intermediate level. 

Use your energy to improve the core exercises. As they get stronger, the smaller groups will improve as well.  

The Squat

I'll begin with the most important exercise in this routine: the full squat. All strength development originates in the center of your body where the hips, glutes, lumbars and legs join forces. So in the beginning you should prioritize the back squat by doing it first at every workout. But before I get into the form for this lift, I need to address the never-ending debate about the effect of full squats on the knees. I've been going over this since I first started training athletes in the '60s. 

When an athlete does a full squat - and by "full" I mean she goes way down below parallel so that she is sitting in the deep bottom position - she is working her lower back, hips, glutes, hamstrings, quads, adductors and abductors so that they are all receiving equal attention. This creates a balanced strength. However, when an athlete cuts off the squat so that she is only going to parallel or even higher than that, she is neglecting many of the groups I just mentioned, especially the adductors and hamstrings. In a partial squat, the quads do the bulk of the work, which means they get considerably stronger than the other groups that make up the hip girdle. This will eventually lead to weakness in those neglected muscles and end up halting progress in the hips and legs.  

Now for the knees. When partial squats are done, the burden of halting the downward stroke falls on the knees. However, once the thighs break the parallel position during the squat, the task of halting the descending bar is now transferred to the much larger and more powerful hips, glutes, hamstrings and adductors, along with the quads and abductors. Thus, the knees are relieved of the stress and there are no problems. if you want to see how a proper squat should be performed, watch an infant. You children do perfect squats over and over, and they go very, very low. That's how they build up their leg strength so that can walk. 

Full squats result in a more equal development of the power pack and are much less risky to the knee joints. In fact, when squats are done right, they greatly strengthen the knees, so going low is really a no-brainer.

Nearly all the female athletes I trained have been small or have had slight builds, which means they didn't have a lot of muscle in their traps. The first thing to learn is how to position the bar firmly on your traps. This can be irritating, and many want to use some type of padding around the bar to diminish the discomfort. Not a good idea. Eventually that towel or rubber matting will twist or roll up and will hurt much more than the bare bar. You need to get used to having the cold steel against your skin from the get-go, and it doesn't have to be painful.

While you may not have much in the way of traps, use what you have. Lift your traps, lock them into a contraction and hold them that way until you complete your set. After a short while, you will not even notice the bar on your back. 

Be sure to lock the bar tightly into your traps; if you merely lay it on the contracted muscle, it will move during the execution of the lift. This can be most disconcerting and can also affect the exercise because you may become more interested in what's happening with the bar than the movement itself. 

With the bar snug against your contracted traps, back out of the rack and set your feet at shoulder width with your toes pointed slightly outward. You may find that you can maintain your position better if your feet are a bit closer or wider, so do some trial and error until you discover the foot placement that suits your individual needs. Your eyes should be looking straight ahead, and every muscle in your body needs to be taut. Push your feet down into the floor. This will help you to tighten the rest of your body, from your toes to your neck.

With your back very flat and your chest up, lower yourself as low as you possibly can, but do so in a controlled manner. In other words, don't drop into the bottom. Stay extremely tight as you descend, and when you are at the low point, hesitate for a 1-second count, then recover. That slight pause at the bottom is to keep you from getting in the habit of rebounding out of the hole. Constant rebounding, even with light weights is risky to your knees, so never do it. Rebounding also causes you to move out of the ideal positioning when coming up out of the squat.

While learning the form for the squat, do each rep as perfectly as you can and don't hurry through the set. At the finish, take a moment to make certain everything is as it should be before commencing the next rep. The two biggest mistakes beginners make are rebounding from the bottom, and allowing their backs to round. 

Some rounding is okay, but it it becomes excessive take some weight off the bar and practice better technique. Constant rounding of the back will eventually cause problems in your middle and lower back. It also means that your lower and middle back are relatively weak and need more direct attention. At this stage of training back hyperextensions and reverse hypers will be enough to remedy the situation. Do one of these prior to lifting and another at the end. 

Take a deep breath and hold it during the squat. Whenever your breathe during the execution of a lift, your diaphragm is forced to relax, and this diminishes your power base. There's no risk of blacking out because the up and down move only takes a few seconds. The very first time you squat only do 3 sets of 5 reps. It doesn't sound like much, but I guarantee you'll get sore. At your second workout, add a set, and at the final one for the week, do 5 sets of 5.

Stay with light to moderate weights while learning the squat, but tonce you feel confident that you're doing them right, don't be afraid to put more weight on the bar. The worst thing that can happen is you fail and - trust me - if you stay with the discipline for any length of time, you will learn that failure is necessary and a vital part of strength training. 

The Power Clean

My exercise of choice for the back is the power clean because this is aimed at female lifters. The power clean is known as the "athlete's exercise" because it requires that the lifter utilize a great many attributes which are beneficial in any sports activity: coordination, timing, flexibility, quickness, balance and, of course, strength.

There are two pieces of equipment that are invaluable when teaching females this exercise: a short Olympic bar, which weighs 30 pounds, and training plates. There are several types of training plates, but the ones I prefer have a steel center and a bonded rubber edge. These are the same diameter as the 45-lb. metal plates and allow the lifter to get in the correct starting position for any pulling exercise. They come in 5 and 10 pounders. With the shorter bar and five pounders, a beginner can learn to power clean with as little as 40 lb. 

However, before I teach a female how to do this high skill movement, I first have her deadlift, for two reasons. The deadlift mimics the start of the power clean, and I also believe it's important for everyone, male or female, to know how to lift a heavy object off the floor. This is an act every person will do countless times throughout his or her life, and knowing how to do it correctly can save a great deal of suffering.

Your feet should be at shoulder width or slightly more narrow. Grip the bar just outside your legs, flatten your back, lower your hips, and with your eyes directly ahead, think about pushing your feet down through the floor. The bar will glide up your body. The key points for the deadlift are keeping your back rigidly tight and making sure the bar stays very close to your body from start to finish. 

Learning the correct technique for the deadlift can usually be accomplished with 2 or 3 sets, then the athlete can move right to the power clean. Same foot placement, same grip, same starting posture of the body - but now the bar is going to be moved from the floor all the way to your shoulders, where you will end up securing it across your frontal deltoids. 

Just before you start the power clean, check two things: your frontal deltoids need to be out in front of the bar. Not much, just a bit. And the bar has to be against your shins. If it's even an inch away, that will adversely affect the finish of the lift.  

With your arms straight, pull the bar off the floor. Do not jerk it upward, for that will cause your arms to bend and your back to round. When the bar reaches mid-thigh, drive your hips forward, contract your traps, bend your arms, and climb high on your toes. This final sequence is critical to moving heavy weight in this lift. If you bend your arms before bringing your traps into play, you will not have a strong finish. The combination of traps, arms, and calves will make the bar jump, and that's when you dip under it and rack it across your shoulders.

Try not to let it crash on your collarbones. Your triceps should be parallel to the floor when you rack the weight. 

Lower the bar in two stages: first to your waist, then on to the floor. If you lower it in one motion, more often than not you will end up rounding your back, and you can sustain a ding if you do this too often. 

Reset to make sure your starting position is correct, then proceed to the next rep.

The keys to keep in mind when power cleaning are pulling the bar very close to your body from start to finish, waiting till you have shrugged your traps before bending your arms, driving your elbows up and out rather than back when you do involve your arms, and keeping your torso erect when you rack the weight. Leaning back during the rack can also be troublesome to your lower back.

A power clean should resemble a whip: slow off the floor, picking up speed in the middle, and a blur at the top. This is a high-skill lift, so it takes time to perfect the form. 

As with the squats, do 5 sets of 5 and stay with light to moderate weights until you get the rhythm of the movement. The great thing about this exercise is once you master the technique, you will not only become stronger, but you will also greatly enhance many other athletic attributes.

Typically, females are weaker in their upper bodies, so as soon as they have learned correct form on the three primary lifts, I quickly insert several auxiliary movements for the shoulder girdle, which includes the arms. 

Flat or Incline Press

The core exercise that you decide to use for your shoulder girdle can be either flat or incline bench presses. Or, you can alternate those two lifts. Most want to flat bench because that is the current gauge for strength in the athletic community. Here are some guidelines that apply to both forms of bench pressing: 

Make the bench a part of your body. 

Squeeze down into it and plant your feet solidly on the floor. These two things will help you create a firm base for when the bar hesitates through the sticking point. 

Grip the bar so you forearms are always vertical, and make sure you use a secure grip, one that has your thumbs around the bar. 

Use a spotter. While this may seem like a tame exercise, it's really the most dangerous in all of strength training for the simple reason that the bar is directly over your face. Have a spotter assist you in taking the bar off the rack, take a moment to steady the weight, then take a deep breath and lower the bar in a controlled manner to that point where your breastbone ends. 

Pause the bar on your chest for a 1-second count, then press it to lockout. As you're learning the form, the upward thrust doesn't have to be fast, but once you feel confident in your technique, explode upward. Do all your breathing while the bar is at the locked out position. 

The main difference between the flat bench and the incline is the incline will touch higher, right where your collarbones meet your breastbone. If it touches lower than this, it will run forward and there's really no way for you to bring it back into the proper line. Two things not to do on either form of benching are rebounding the bar off the chest and bridging to bring it through the sticking point. 

One of the reasons I like the incline over the flat bench is that it's much harder to bridge or rebound the bar on that version of the press. Learn to do both lifts cleanly from the very beginning and you'll maintain that form all your life. 

The primary movements will once again be done for 5 sets of 5, and the same rules apply as with the power cleans and squats. Stay with light weights until you have the form down pat, then start running the numbers up. After a couple of weeks, add in one or two auxiliary exercises for your upper body. There are several to select from, and you can alternate them every few weeks. 

The ones I like are dumbbell presses, either seated or standing; incline dumbbell presses; straight-arm pullovers; and lateral and frontal raises. I don't encourage strength athletes to do curls because their biceps are getting plenty of work with the power cleans, but it you want to do curls, that's okay too. I've found that female athletes are just as enamored with their biceps as their male counterparts.

Start Slow, Get Strong

Use this basic routine for two or three months, which is usually the time a sports team spends in off-season training. It will serve as a good foundation for future weight work. Then the next time you do a strength cycle, you will be able to add in other exercises, such as good mornings, deadlifts, lunges and perhaps even one or more of the Olympic lifts.

But the very first step is to get started. There is no doubt that a stronger athlete has a great advantage in any sport, if for no other reason than that it allows her to practice longer and harder and to recover faster.   






Sunday, January 26, 2020

Off Season Conditioning Program for Athletes - Charles West (1969)

Article Courtesy of Liam Tweed

Note: Charles West is a Bill Starr pen name. 

The summer months can be either a time of retrogression or a time for physical progress for the fledgling athlete. Some fellows spend the bulk of June, July, and August getting ready for the upcoming sports season while others seem content to rest on past laurels and wait till the season actually starts before they round themselves into shape. 

It has been shown, both through research and testimonial that the groundwork laid in the summer makes the difference between mediocrity and excellence in the late fall and early winter. Summertime is the time to build that strong physical foundation. A foundation so packed with reserve strength and endurance that it can carry an athlete through the months when strength training is nearly impossible. 

Most athletes attempt to achieve two goals during the off-season: 

1) to gain functional bodyweight, and
2) to gain strength, agility, and endurance. 

The following program is designed to fulfill these two requiements. 

Let's take a look at the first objective. It is a sound, simple physiological fact that in order to gain bodyweight one has to take in more calories than his body is utilizing. So, in order to gain weight one must up his caloric intake. 

For example, if an athlete burns off 5,000 calories a day working, training, and studying, then he must begin taking in 7,000 to 8,000 calories a day in order to add any bodyweight. Another important point in this respect is that the more nutritional the added calories, the more useful the new bodyweight. Ten additional pounds of muscle serves an athlete much better than ten additional pounds of fat. It is far better to take in protein calories than it is to absorb carbohydrate calories. 

Since very few people can afford steak, cottage cheese, and large quantities of milk, a protein supplement is in order. A protein supplement is more economical and more convenient. The fellows I work with on the high school and college levels, when not inserting ads for Hoffman products into their articles

Okay then . . . They contend, also, that 4-5 smaller meals a day works better than 3 large meals when on a gaining regimen. 

A weight training program for the summer should be kept simple. A minimum of exercises and higher poundage is the key to success for off season training. When one tries to incorporate 8-12 exercises into a program he actually spreads himself too thin and doesn't make gains in any of the exercises. 

I recommend 3 basic power movements with a few auxiliary exercises for specific body parts. The 3 basics have been proven throughout the years by athletes from all sports: 

 - Power Clean
 - Bench Press
 - Back Squat

Notice how his arms remain straight until the bar reaches almost waist height; his back remains flat throughout the entire movement. 

Power Clean - A most basic exercise for all sports, whether it be swimming or football. It builds the explosive strength in the legs, arms, and back. Basketball players believe in it. Footballers find it to be the greatest single movement, as do swimmers, baseball players, and track men. 

You will be working in sets of 5 with 5 repetitions. Start with a relatively light poundage and add weight for each set until you reach your maximum of 5 reps. It is important to do these rapidly. Pull the weight to the chest, remember to keep the back flat and the head up, take it back to the starting position and, without any hesitation, clean the weight again. It will do wonders for the cardiovascular system as you will soon discover. 

A sample workout, assuming that 200 x 5 is your maximum: 

135 x 5
155 x 5
175 x 5
190 x 5
200 x 5.

If you haven't ever done power cleans, you will discover muscles in your arms and back that you never knew existed. 

He does not allow the bar to sink into his chest, but
maintains pressure on it with his shoulders and arms
all the way through. 

Bench Press - The best single exercise for the shoulder girdle is the bench press. As in the power clean the emphasis is on heavier and heavier weight as soon as possible. You can experiment with your grip to find the best position for your needs, but as a rule of thumb you can remember that the wider the grip the more the outside of the pectorals will be worked. 

Follow the same program as outlined in the power cleans. Think of exploding the weight off the chest. This will build a quick reacting muscle. As soon as you successfully handle 5 sets of 5 reps, move the top poundage even higher. Move through these rapidly, as soon as you are sufficiently rested from the last set move on to the next. 

He goes down slowly, but comes up as explosively as he can
without bouncing. 

Back Squat - Strong legs are the key to success in any sport and squats build strong legs better than any other single exercise. Since the leg muscles are the largest of the body they must be worked harder in order to make them respond. 

It is easy to fool yourself when working the legs. 200 pounds will often feel like the ultimate limit, whereas adding another 25 pounds sometimes feels exactly the same. 

I am a firm believer in full squats. The knee injury theory has been refuted in many pieces of research and it has been proven that the fuller the range of movement, the more total development for the muscle. 

The only danger to the knees, it has been found, is when the trainee bounces at the bottom of the squat. This is to be avoided. Place the weight on the back of the neck, tighten the muscles of the legs and hips and go to the bottom position slowly and come up rapidly. Use as much speed as possible when coming out of the squat. This builds a springy, responsive muscle. Great for going off the blocks, going after rebounds, or coming off the line. 

Again, 5 sets of 5 are in order. When you are ready for more weight, add it on. Don't hold back on the leg work.

Now you will want to add some auxiliary exercises to supplement these basic three. 

The football players will want to do some additional work on their neck, forearms, and midsection. This can be accomplished in a small amount of time at the end of the power work. The basketball players will want to incorporate calf raises and perhaps jump squats for additional leg spring. The wrestlers need to work the lower back and the neck muscles a little extra.

Each sport obviously has a specific set of muscles that need specialized exercises, but these can be worked in smoothly and will consume little training time. 

The bulk of the time spent in the weight room should be spent on the basic 3 movements. 

There are two methods whereby an athlete can work this program and either method works equally well. 

The first is to go through all the power cleans (5 sets), then all the bench presses (5 sets), and finally all five sets of squats. Then do the auxiliary exercises that you feel are necessary for your particular sport. 

The second routine is to do 1 set of power cleans, 1 set of bench presses, and 1 set of squats. Then start over and do the second set of each and so on until all 5 sets of all 3 movements are completed. The auxiliary exercises are then done. 

As I said earlier, either method works fine. The variation depends entirely on the individual. Some like one way and some like the other. Either will work if you apply yourself

Work this program 3 days a week, for example, Monday/Wednesday/Friday. 

It is recommended that you go up in poundage when you are ready, but when things are not clicking on a given day drop back and handle a lesser poundage. For example, if your previous high for 5 reps in the bench press is 200 pounds and you are noticeably fatigued on this day, settle for a 185-190 lb. top set on that day. You will need to differentiate between fatigue and laziness, but this only you can do.

On the non-weight training days do agility drills or some running. The cardiovascular work provided by running is essential for the long season ahead and it is a proven fact that agility can only be gained if one practices agility movements. 

A well-rounded program, then, would consist of Monday/Wednesday/Friday weight training; Tuesday, running and agility drills; Thursday, handball, basketball, or some running-type sport. 

This well-balanced routine coupled with a high protein diet will pay rich dividends on the gridiron, basketball court, wrestling mat, swimming pool, or track next season.  





Saturday, January 25, 2020

Chest Training Tips and Tricks - Greg Zulak

In the first two installments of this series I discussed a number of exercise performance tips for the delts and traps, tips I learned from various bodybuilders during the 24 years I've been involved with lifting weights. I made the point that bodybuilding is a continuous education - if you can keep your eyes, ears and mind open, you can and should learn new things every year. 

This month I'm going to discuss techniques for the chest. If these tips help you half as much as they did me, you're in for a real treat. 

After biceps curls the bench press is probably the most popular exercise among bodybuilders. Often called the "king of upper body movements," the bench press is considered to be essential for building big pectoral muscles. 

If you look back in history, you'll note that the guys who had the biggest chests were all bench press advocates, from Reg Park in the '50s to Sergio Oliva, Serge Nubret, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Columbu in the '60s and '70s, to Bertil Fox and Lee Haney in the '80s and '90s. It's hard to think of a single champion in the past 40 years who had a big chest and didn't consider the bench press his number one chest exercise.

Ironically, despite the fact that the top men find them highly effective, many bodybuilders find that bench presses do little for their pecs. I should know. I was one of them. All I seemed to get out of bench pressing was big front delts, some triceps development and  large lower pecs. I just couldn't build my middle and upper pecs that way. 

It wasn't until I met master trainer John Parrillo in 1990 that I learned how to bench press properly for full pec development. When I met John, I was what he calls a "delt bench presser" instead of a "pec bench presser." John explained that the reason I got little pec development from my benches was because I relied on the strength of my front delts to push the weight up. He showed me that at the top of the movement I was dropping my chest - flattening it out at the time when I should have been arching it - and pushing up with my delts and triceps. That's why I had flat, underdeveloped pecs and full, thick front delts.

At the time I'd been training for more than 22 years and had written several articles on how to bench press properly. In these articles I'd warned about excessive arching of the back, which shortens the range of motion the bar has to travel; about bouncing the weight off your chest, using momentum to get the bar up instead of pec power; and about keeping your elbows from drifting forward, as that keeps the pecs from getting the proper stretch. I emphasized using strict form and deep concentration and trying to feel the pecs working during both the concentric and eccentric portions of the exercise.

None of this information was wrong or bad, but it wasn't the whole story. Even when I used what I considered to be strict form, my pecs didn't grow as they should have. I was perplexed and frustrated. 

I wondered if perhaps bench presses just didn't - or couldn't - work for me because of my structure. I wasn't sure though; I know something was wrong, but I couldn't figure out what it was. Parrillo finally filled in the missing piece of the puzzle.

In order to become a pec bench presser and build full, thick pectoral muscles, including my middle and upper pecs (yes, believe it or not, the bench press is an excellent upper pec exercise if you perform it properly), John said I first had to learn how to set up my pectoral girdle correctly so I could place the mechanical advantage squarely on the pecs. Once I learned how to do this, my chest became noticeably thicker and fuller in a matter of months. In fact, I noticed some difference after a few weeks.  

Here's how: 

 - Lie back on the bench and take a tight grip on the bar, placing the hands an inch or two wider than a shoulder width grip apart seems best for most people. Next- and this is absolutely vital - roll and work your shoulders under your body. You do this by pushing them hard down toward your waist and back into the bench. This sets up your pectoral girdle correctly. You must maintain this position on each and every rep. Keep pushing your shoulders down and back at all times! 

 - Next, thrust your chest forward and begin the exercise. At the top of the movement lock your elbows out while you push your sternum up. This is the opposite of what most experts say to do. Most trainers will instruct you to push the bar up only 2/3 of the way to keep constant tension on the pecs, but if you don't lock out, you won't activate the upper pecs. At the same time you're locking out your elbows and arching your sternum, try to squeeze your shoulders down with your lower lats and pectoralis minor. 

 - There's one more very important point. The bar should not - I repeat, not - travel up and down in a straight, vertical line. You should move it in an arc, sort of a modified S. The overall plane in which the bar travels should tilt backward toward your head, but initially, as it leaves your chest, you should push it up and out toward your feet. That's the bottom of the S. After several inches the bar naturally starts curving back, which is the halfway point of the S. Continue pushing it up on a backward-tilted plane, then right at the top as you lock out, move it forward a bit, which forms the top part of the S

Try this technique with a light weight at first until you get the action down correctly. if you do your presses this way, you should even feel your upper pecs working, not just the lower or middle-lower pecs, as you normally would. You won't believe how much your chest will thicken up after some time spent benching this way, especially if you're someone who never got much out of this movement before.   

Many gyms have benches welded at angles that are 60 to 70 degrees or more. This is too steep. Pressing at this angle involves too much deltoid. The ideal angle for building pecs with incline or decline work is 25 to 30 degrees. If the benches in your gym are too steep, use an incline/decline bench and press from the power rack.

You can also try placing a few boards or plates under a flat bench to create your own low incline or decline bench. Mohamed Makkawy used to do his benches that way. He called them "20 degree bench presses," and he preferred them to regular flat bench presses.

I had the opportunity to observe Paul Jean-Guillaume doing an unusual version of cable crossovers that work the upper pecs. Instead of taking the high handles and pulling them down in front of his crotch, Paul faced away from the machine, stepped slightly out from it and grabbed the low handles. He pulled them up from behind his body, creating pull on his pecs, then brought his arms up over his face and crossed them at the top. This isolates the upper pecs and also works the difficult to build inner-upper pecs. 

Larry Scott, the first Mr. Olympia, recently gave me a good tip on bench pressing to the neck for building the upper pecs. Larry says that when you lower the bar to your throat, you should concentrate on keeping your elbows high and wide at all times, which greatly increases the upper pec stretch. Then you maintain this position as you press the bar up to the starting position.

It's easier to achieve this elbows out, high and wide position by twisting your palms so the bar runs diagonally across them. This puts your little finger on the top of the bar and your thumb underneath. If you lose your focus for even an instant, you'll feel less stress on your upper pecs, so really concentrate on keeping your elbows high and wide at all times, and those upper pecs will burn. 

I've found that holding the bar diagonally across my palms also works well on flat or incline presses on the Smith machine. You really feel more stretch in the pecs. Try it and you'll see what I mean. 

The inner upper pecs are indeed tough to develop, but my good friend Negrita Jayde told me about an excellent exercise that really seems to hit them hard - narrow grip incline presses on the Smith machine. 

Hold the bar with your hands 12-15 inches apart - that is, narrower than shoulder width. Do the reps smoothly, strictly and with concentration,  trying to isolate the upper pecs and feel the action in the inner-upper pec area. Setting up your pec girdle as Parrillo recommends and twisting the bar in your hands a la Scott seems to help isolate the upper pecs. Experiment and see what works best for you. 

For working the outer pecs, nothing beats wide grip dips on the V-shaped bars. This movement is often called the "Gironda dip," after the man who perfected it. Vince claims it's the best pec exercise he knows of because it really works the lower and outer portions hard, giving the chest a wide, flaring look. 

Gironda dips are nothing like parallel bar dips, which make a better triceps exercise than a pec movement. Vince specifies that the bar should be 32 inches apart - a minimum of 28 inches. You want to keep your elbows wide and in line with your body, not back and behind the body, as you'd place them when dipping for triceps. In order to achieve this elbows wide position, it's necessary to dip with your wrists reversed so your palms face out instead of in. Then, as you lower your body, hold your chest in a concave position, with your chin pinched to the chest instead of held high, and your feet in front of your body, not back and behind. Your body should look like a quarter moon, or C

The key to placing the stress on the outer sections of your pecs is to keep your elbows as wide as possible at all times. Imagine that you are trying to make your elbows touch in front of your body - obviously, a physical impossibility, but a useful mental image - and use the pulling power of your pecs to ascend, not the power of your triceps. Just remain in that concave position, and don't let your elbows drift. Another important point is to go as low as you can to fully stretch the pecs but come up 3/4 of the way to maintain constant tension. 

This movement is hard on the wrists and takes some getting used to, but if you can learn to do it properly, it's fabulous for the pecs. Don't give up on it just because your wrists hurt or you can't get the feel in your pecs during the first few sets, because when you eventually master this exercise your pec problems will be over and your shoulder problems will be just beginning. No, wait. Check this out: 

For those of you who simply cannot do the Gironda dip because you lack the necessary flexibility in your wrists or your dipping bars are too narrow (you just can't do reverse grip dips on narrow bars), try this variation. Use a wide grip on the straight or V-shaped bars. As you lower your body as far as you can, you want to feel as though it's traveling slightly down and back. Then, as you start to ascend, arch your chest and come up and out at the same time. When you get to the top, arch your chest hard and squeeze. 

As with the bar in the bench press, the body doesn't travel on a straight plane. It's actually a big arc, sort of a mirror image of a C. The bigger the arc, the more stretch your pecs get and the harder they work. Experiment with this movement until you achieve the proper arc, and you'll see what I mean. 


In his heyday Arnold Schwarzenegger was famous for his wide, thick, flaring pecs and was considered an expert at dumbbell flye movements. In an article in the old Muscle Builder/Power magazine he revealed one of his favorite variations for working the outer pecs - constant tension dumbbell flyes. Instead of touching the bells together at the top, he stopped when the weights were 12 to 15 inches apart, about 2/3 of the way up. Then, as soon as he felt the pressure coming off his outer pecs, he'd immediately lower the dumbbells again, going as deep as possible to really stretch his pecs. If you need more muscle on your outer pecs, this movement will help you build it. 

Another unusual dipping variation works the pec minor of the chest hard. I learned this one from John Parrillo, and I call it, appropriately, the "Parrillo dip." This movement is great after you've gone to failure on regular or Gironda dips. To perform it get into the top position of a regular dip. Keeping your arms locked, lower your body as far as possible, then press your body up, thrusting your chest up and out and squeezing hard at the top. Make sure that you don't bounce and that your elbows don't bend at all. It's an odd exercise and the fatigue you experience is vague and hard to pinpoint, but hard work on the Parrillo dip will lead to improvements in your chest. 

Note: Paul Kelso on what he calls"Shrug Dips":
 - Warm up with several sets of parallel bar dips. Resume the position but this time raise and lower the body on straight arms using only the action of the shoulder girdle. This is the direct negative of the common standing shrug. Lower the body by allowing the shoulders to raise toward the ears. Raise the body by forcing the shoulders down. Varying the angle of the body activates or stresses different muscles. Leaning forward Gironda-style will make the lats, serratus and pectorals scream and will promote mid-chest pectoral cleavage. A dip belt makes this one a winner. 

Gironda and his disciples favored an unusual and little known exercise for the outer pecs that's called the 30 degree decline cable flye. Position a 30 degree decline bench in the center and several feet in front of a cable crossover machine. With your head at the low end reach back behind your head to grab the low cable handles at approximately 45 degree angles. You should be far enough away to feel some pull and tension on your pecs.

Pull the cables in wide, sweeping arcs so they finish above your body at crotch level. Tense the pecs hard and then slowly return to the starting position. High reps work best on this movement, so aim for at least 12 per set; 15-20 might bring you even better results. 

If you have a difficult time getting the right action on decline cable flyes, picture the exercise as a cable crossover while you're lying on a decline bench.  

Parrillo also gave me a good tip for doing dumbbell flyes. As with bench pressing you start out by properly setting up your pectoral girdle, working your shoulders under your body and keeping them pressed down and back into the bench. As you raise the bells try to touch your elbows together, not the dumbbells. This isolates the pecs better and provided more inner pec stimulation.

Mike Christian gave me a helpful tip on chest training. When doing both dumbbell flyes and presses, you turn your wrists in at the top of the movement so your palms face each other and try to touch your elbows together instead of the bells. It's almost the same as Parrillo's technique - you just add the twist of the wrists - but that twist definitely gives the inner pecs an even harder contraction. This technique works on both flat and incline movements. 

If you need more cleavage and inner pec development, pec deck flyes are a good exercise for it. I have two tips to help you get the most out of this exercise. One comes from Rick Valente, who advises that you not push with your hands as you bring the pads together. Instead, push only with your elbows. Let your palms come off the pads and concentrate on pushing only with your elbows while you squeeze your pecs hard. It's a bit like the Parrillo dip for flyes. Just focus on touching your elbows together, not the pads. 

I've also found that you can isolate your inner pecs more if you keep your shoulders down and back and your chest arched throughout the set. Rather than trying to touch the pads together, aim for squeezing your pecs together. When you perform pec deck flyes this way, your inner pecs contract harder and receive much greater stimulation, but don't hunch forward and flatten your chest, as this will lessen the tension on the inner pecs. 


Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Modern Weightlifting Programs [complete] - Carl Miller (1971)

Article Courtesy of Liam Tweed
Thanks BIG! 

Serge Reding, Clean & Press

Part One
May 1971

Whenever one goes on clinics one of the first questions the lifters ask is what routines can you give me. Below are listed three skeletal routines. 

The first, which is very popular in some parts of the U.S. now, is designed to ensure plenty of training time for the building of power and the development of form. The form days are very light.

The second routine, by its splitting up of work loads, is designed to work hard various parts of the body and at the same time offer some time for recuperation of a body part before working it again. For example, the press is performed twice in one workouts as is the pulling motion (clean, and high pull), but the press and pulling movements are intermixed. Vorobiev [potato potahto goes on] of Russia was an advocate of some form of this. 

More on Arkady Vorobyev, here:

The third routine, which is popular in Russia now, has been copied to a great degree with success. It is designed to give equal time to all parts of the three lifts. The lifters sometimes go very light for form and sometimes very heavy for power. 

The following are the three skeletal routines:

Five Day Power-Form Routine 

Monday, Wednesday, Friday are power days. 

Monday - 
Pull Exercise
Leg Exercise

Wednesday - 
Pull Exercise
Leg Exercise

Friday - 
Pull Exercise
Leg Exercise etc.

Tuesday, Thursday are form days.

Tuesday - 

Thursday - 

Tuesday - 
Snatch etc.

Three Day Split Routine 

Monday - 
Pull Exercise
Leg Exercise

Wednesday - 
Pull Exercise
Leg Exercise

Friday - 
Leg Exercise
Pull Exercise
Leg Exercise

Russian Routine

Monday - 
Pull Exercise
Leg Exercise

Tuesday - 
Pull Exercise
Leg Exercise

Thursday - 
Pull Exercise

Saturday - 
Leg Exercise

NOTE: "Clean" in the above routines stands for CLEAN AND JERK. 

As stated above, these are only skeleton routines. 

What about the meat: repetitions, sets, weights, exercises? 

The following are my ideas on this subject. Every attempt has been made to go on available scientific facts where possible. 

Repetitions and Series (sets)  -
The number of repetitions and series that a lifter does is an individual matter. We should never forget that. Many trainers put all their lifters on the same number of series [from here I'll use the word "sets"] and repetitions, and this is wrong because each lifter differs in body leverage, muscle quality, coordination, recovery rate and fatigue rate. Each of these factors plays a part in determining the answers that will give us the routine that each individual lifter should use.

In view of the above, it would seem difficult to find the right routine for each lifter. This is the case, because we are not advanced far enough in our knowledge of the body to know all the factors needed to choose the right routine for each lifter. But we are making progress and there is a lot that we have found out to eliminate guess work. The things that we don't know we will find out in the future. 

The following are the things we do know to help us in selecting the number of sets and repetitions.

One, the strength of a muscle is directly proportion to the size of the muscle and the density of the muscle. That is to say, a muscle that is big but not dense is not as strong as a muscle that is big and dense. We know from investigations done at various universities that repetitions of 4-10 are best for building size, with the majority of people making best results on 6 repetitions. We also know from investigations that 2 and 3 repetitions produce the most density in a muscle.

Two, in order to obtain form we know that we must practice the correct form a certain amount of times. Psychologists tell us that to learn a muscular response so that it becomes automatic requires reinforcing (practicing) the desired thing at least 6 times daily. Psychologists also tell us that when trying to reinforce the desired thing, if done more than 3 times in succession fatigue sets in or loss of attention results, and the resulting repetitions involve a learning of incorrect movements and not the exact thing that one had originally desired to learn.

Three, physiological examinations indicate that it takes two minutes of constant exercise of a certain body part after a general warmup in order to adequately warm up that bodypart. This would correspond to 2 or 3 sets of 10 repetitions done slowly and done after a general warmup. The effects of this warmup are: 

 - increase the amount of cartilage cells to maximum at the joints (this helps greatly in preventing joint injuries). 

 - increase the blood flow to maximum to the muscles and joints of the body. 

 - increase the temperature of the muscle to the optimum, making it more elastic and able to contract to the maximum. 

Four, physiological examinations tell us that we need 3 sets of near maximum weight for the desired amount of repetitions in order to increase strength the most. 

Five, similar examinations tell us that a period of cooling down is needed. This involves a reduction in the work load which has the effect of getting rid of waste products produced by the heavy exercise. This ensures a faster recuperation time and less soreness of the muscles the day after training. Investigations done with beginning weight training students indicate  that 2 or possibly 3 sets of decreasing weight are needed to achieve this cooling off process. 

What conclusions can we make as to the number of sets and repetitions in light of the above statements? 

First, we know that in order to gain size we must do the exercises between 4 and 10 times, and to make the muscle dense we must do the exercise between 2 and 3 times (reps). And because we know that we need 2 to 3 sets to warm up, 3 sets of near maximum weight for the desired amount of repetitions to increase strength the most, and 2 to 3 sets to cool down, we know that we will be doing between 7 and 9 sets of an exercise for either 4-10 repetitions or 2-3 repetitions to gain size or density, depending on what we may want. The cooling off sets of one exercise may be eliminated to gain size or density if one is going to immediately work the same part of the body with a different exercise. 

Second, we know that we must practice a movement at least 6 times daily to learn it so that it becomes automatic, and if done more than 3 times in a row we have a loss in what we are trying to accomplish. Since we don't know the maximum number of times we can do an exercise effectively if done in a set of 3 repetitions or less, I would recommend doing exercises for technique in sets of 1, 2, or 3 repetitions, until it is noticed that the lifter is no longer doing the movement right, or is bored and his attention wanders. Since we must warm up 2 sets and we are going to practice the movement at least 6 times in sets of 1, 2, or 3, we well be doing at least 4 sets and possibly 8 sets (to total at least 6 repetitions), and our maximum will depend on the rate of fatigue set in, or the attention span of the lifter. Sets for cooling down are not needed since we will be using light weights, which will be discussed later. If our routine does not include the Olympic lift movements, then we will do these movements at least 6 times daily with no weight.     

Weights Used

Like the number of repetitions and sets, the weight used is an individual matter. In order to eliminate a lot of guess work, we have some information that will help us.

Experimental investigations done on university weightlifting students tell us that trying a maximum weight for 1 repetition more often than once every 14 days if done continually accounts for a reduction in nerve energy. At the same time, similar investigations say trying for a maximum for 1 repetition less than every 28 days does not result in nerve channel development (this means less muscle fibers are being stimulated. Because these are the figures for the majority of the people and not for all of the people, we know that this is an individual matter and that the ideal for trying maximums for 1 repetition lies somewhere between 2 to 4 weeks. 

Chester Teegarden Photos From His Trip to Russia:
Korinsov, Alexeev, Korinsov, Ivanchenko

 Part Two
July 1971

Again, similar investigations tell us that the trying for maximum for more than 1 repetition has less of an effect on nerve energy, and that we can try our maximum for repetitions as often as once every 5-10 days, depending on the individual.


Now to discuss exercises. Recent research in physical education gives us information that can be of benefit to us. 

First, it is strongly thought by now by physiological researchers in physical education that for each individual movement there is a neuro-muscular pattern and anything developed in this neuro-muscular pattern is specific to it. This includes, strength, power, coordination, balance, and speed. This means that developing strength through some other movement, even though it is working the muscles we want to improve, is not going to give as much benefit as working the muscles in the movement we want to improve. 

Second, because for each individual movement there is thought to be a neuro-muscular pattern, this explanation is used to explain investigations that show there is more transfer of strength from exercise that incorporates as many muscles as possible that are used in the actual event that we are training for. 

All this puts into second rating exercises that work muscles in a different motion than we want (bench, press, french press, etc.) and exercises that work only a few of the muscles that are used in the actual event. So when Hoffman has always answered the question "what should I do for my press" by the answer "press," he is physiologically in the same line of thought as modern research.

We can follow the above theory by doing some form of the 3 lifts and adding some leg and some pulling motions. The following are what I think are the best exercises concerning various parts of the 3 lifts going by the theory as stated above. 

Pressing Exercises - 

It is assumed that the lifter is using some form of the Russian or Garcy style of press. 

1) Barbell press using the same grip and style as press used in competition. 

2) Modified Bradford press - This is to help the drive in our style of press. Assume start position. Throw the bar to the top of the head and then let it fall to shoulders. There are two choices now. Jerk the bar to just above the head and let it fall to chest or jerk to arms' length and let it fall to chest. The latter is very good practice by teaching to have the bar back.

3) Ike Berger Handstand Press - The best way to do this exercise according to our theory is to put a plate on either side of an Olympic barbell and put the barbell near a wall. How near the wall depends on the lifter's style. The barbell can be sustained in this position by putting a plate in back and front of each plate that is on the barbell. Take the exact press grip and kick feet until they are on the wall. Lower yourself and press up. Try and approximate press style as near as possible.

4) Incline press - Do this exercise with a lot of chest. This is done by lowering the weight to the chest and dropping the chin and hunching the shoulders a bit forward. This is the start of the Russian press [we now call this an Olympic Press] done on an incline. 

5) Rack press from head - Assume position of press after the heave from the chest, which is somewhere around the top of the head. Press weight over head in same form as you would in regular press. 

Pulling Exercises - can use clean or snatch grip - 

1) High pull all from platform. Pull to 2-3 inches above belt for clean and to bottom of neck for snatch. 

2) High pull, first from platform, the rest from knees. Pull 2-3 inches above belt for clean and to bottom of neck for snatch.

3) Second pull with straight back - This is an amazing exercise that was taught to me by Frank Spellman and I later taught it when I became coach.

Frank Spellman, back row third from left, is pictured here 
with the 1948 U.S. Olympic weightlifting team.
The team included some of the best lifters in the nation's history. 
York Barbell owner Bob Hoffman is on the far left. 

As coach, I first used it on lifters that were recovering from bad backs, who found it too painful to lift the bar off the floor for high pulls, but yet wanted to work their pull, and found upright rows and bent over rows of no use. 

Take bar off a bench and, standing straight, pull as fast as possible, throwing head back as far as possible and rising on toes. Length of pull is stated above, depending on whether you want to work the clean or the snatch. 

One fellow who had a bad back did 1/4 squats and this exercise for 4 months and did no high pulls. His best snatch went from 230 to 245 and clean from 280 to 300. At the end of this time his back was well and he could return to high pulls. 

Since then I have used this exercise in combination with heavy squats on people with no back trouble. I feel when one does squats there is an inclination and extension of the back which is very similar to the same movement when one pulls for the clean or snatch. Heavy squats when combined with this exercise have produced some wonderful results. One man, for example, was stuck at 220 in the snatch for 2 years aand after 3 months of this exercise and heavy 1/4 squats, and the exercise mentioned next, did 240.

4) We call this exercise flip pull of 3rd pull if done with clean grip. In doing with snatch grip, hold bar at chest level with elbows naturally bent. Then pull the bar to neck, throwing the head back and rising on toes. I have used this exercise with wonderful results with lifters that have had good 1st and 2nd pull in the snatch, but then die when it is time to flip the bar over. 

In doing it with the clean grip, the bar is at the top of the thighs with the arms bent. Head is then thrown back, rise on toes and pull the bar to 2 inches above the belt. 

In both clean and snatch grip, start with back straight and never lean forward. When bar is returned for repetitions in the snatch, the bar is returned to chest height and in the clean to top of thighs. Arms are still bent in both cases and the BAR DOES NOT TOUCH THE BODY. 
You'll find this pulls tremendously on traps, biceps and delts in the snatch grip, and biceps and traps in clean grip. 

[Bodybuilders might take note. Or not.]

Leg Exercises 

1) Squats - Do either back squats or front squats. Front squats are more similar to actual movement of a squat clean, but back squats serve a good purpose as they work the glutes more, which is many times what a squat cleaner needs to get up from a heavy clean. 

There are two theories as to the depth of the squats. By out discussion we know that going all the way down would come close to the actual movement of the lift. But we have some people who say we needn't go all the way to the bottom because we get a bounce up to about parallel in the clean. Besides, these people say heavy squats spread the lower back and put too much tension on the knees, thus enhancing injury. If full squats are performed these people say they should be done with light weight and just to practice form. 

My opinion is to practice heavy full squats if possible. If a lifter is prone to injuries in the lower back and knees he should do light full squats and heavy parallel squats. 

2) Split squat with bar on front of shoulders or back - Go down as far as possible and keep same position as in split clean.

3) Split squat with bar between legs - Same exercise Baszanowski used as described in Sept. issue of Strength & Health. [That's different!]

4) 1/4 squats - Do either with bar on back or on shoulders.

5) 3/4 squats from rack - Have the bar resting on pins that are in the rack at a height so that the legs are a little below parallel. This is a common position where lifters get stuck in rising from the clean. Do either with bar on back or on shoulders.    

6) I'd like to add one other exercise that is not truly a leg exercise because we don't use enough weight. This exercise we have found indispensable for teaching position in the squat snatch. The exercise is overhead squats as taught by Larry Barnholth. 

More from Mr. Barnholth on this, here: 

Go to the paragraph that begins "When you have limbered up enough to pass the 45 inch or less qualification . . ."

You might also find this article by Charles Coster useful, here: 

Larry says when a lifter can do 10 repetitions [overhead squat] with bodyweight going all the way down and all the way up, he is ready for the squat snatch. We have not only found this to be true, but through continual months and years of doing this exercise, lifters with tight shoulders find their shoulders rotating into position and thus become free of having to hold the weight overhead by muscular force. 

Jerk Exercises 

1) Overhead split squat - Go down to parallel and keep the bar back and completely locked. Head should be looking slightly down as this brings shoulders under the bar. Looking up at the bar usually brings shoulders back and not under the bar. 

2) Jerk from rack - This can be done by jerking the weight from the back of the neck for lifters who have trouble getting the bar back.

3) Jerk squat - Take bar off rack and dip as for a regular jerk, and throw the weight as high as possible. Catch the bar by giving in with the legs as the bar comes down. We have experienced gain as much as 20 lbs. in one month in jerk with this exercise. 

4) Push jerk - Dip for jerk and throw bar as high as possible and lock out. No moving of feet. Teaches lifter to push longer and harder. Many lifters push with little force, drop, and expect to catch the weight. 

5) Lock outs - Bar is 2 to 3 inches from top on a rack or chain. Assume split position and lock out. 

This then brings us to the end of this article. As has been stated before, every attempt has been made to combing the teachings of experience with the scientific knowledge we have today. 

In the future there is a great need to delve deeper into the physiological and psychological of body and mind if we want to elevate the art and sport of lifting. 

This article has only been an attempt to organize what we do know.  


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