Friday, July 31, 2020

Back Power - Buster McShane (1962)

Courtesy of Liam Tweed

What's Up, Buster? 

More and more bodybuilders are concentrating on power training and find this medium more interesting. Progress is of a more "definite" nature and, to the advanced trainer who has already developed an outstanding build, much more satisfying.

Possibly more important, it is a more constructive method of approach than plugging away aimlessly at schedule after schedule of approximately twelve exercises performed over 5 sets of 10-12 repetitions. The leading men in the physique world, in the main, now train steadily on POWER work, utilizing the more advanced split workouts and bodyweight reduction for a short period (5-6 weeks) before physique contests.

Even in France, where the theory that heavy resistance exercises spoiled the shape and contours of one's physique dominated, the logic of periodically incorporating POWER TRAINING TO OVERCOME LACK OF MUSCLE GROWTH is steadily gaining ground after practically a century of reactionary theories.

The tremendous growth in popularity of power training is not only due to the welcome variety it brings to workouts, but to the realization in recent years concerning the limited muscle growth attainable once the muscle structure (body metabolism etc.) have become accustomed to the blood-flushing sets of 10-12 reps. 

At some time or other, it becomes only too obvious to us that the usual body building program can't produce continuous growth in muscle size. For many years the illusion that muscle growth and one's potential development depended on one's bone size prevailed. Today it is recognized that the main factor governing the size of a muscle is the character of the ligament, tendon, etc. 

The knowledge that these muscle "attachments" can absorb from 10 to 14 times the amount of stress and strain the actual muscle itself can naturally influences one's trend of thought toward methods of utilizing much heavier weights than the normal bodybuilding type of schedule would allow.

Looking at the benefits of POWER TRAINING purely from a physique man's point of view, it is obvious that such heavy work develops a maturity of muscle density and shape unattainable from any other medium of training. 

However, to use power training for one's own particular needs doesn't necessarily warrant dropping some exercises in your present schedule, which you may feel are essential to your overall physical condition.

You can still continue with your regular schedule and incorporate a few power movements for certain body parts. 

Some fellows mistakenly consider that such a program must be devoid of pulley work, abdominal or calf work, etc. Of course this is not so; if one's physical condition requires specialization on the midsection or neck, for example, then this must be allowed for in your schedule. 

The standard practice is of course to pick out several basic movements to cover all the main muscle groups, such as press behind neck, bentover rowing, squat, deadlift, bench press and barbell curl, performing each for 5 sets of 5 reps. However, a more advanced method of application is to utilize power work for a particular body part; these two or three movements in low reps being performed AT THE BEGINNING of your regular training program. In this way you can include power building for a particular body part in a regular bodybuilding schedule.

For example, one workout may include power specialization on the deltoids, the next one being planned with power work for the thighs etc. 

In recognizing the tendency of including inadequate back work of a basically constructive nature (pulley work, etc.) in the average bodybuilding schedule, we have planned and illustrated a group of power exercises outlined to cover this particular area. From this example you should be able to see how power building can be applied to other muscle groups. 

Performed at the beginning of one's workout, a longer rest than usual should be allowed between sets. While the routine is adequate for basic back development, the incorporation of an upper back "stretcher" such as chins or pullups behind the head is a feasible proposition for the enthusiast.

Power Cleans

One of the most impressive backs the author observed while coaching at the last Empire and Commonwealth Games belonged to a fair-haired hammer thrower in action, stripped to the waist. Later that night he appeared at the gym and asked if he could work in with us. This he proceeded to do in no uncertain manner, concentrating on the power clean, working up to numerous sets of 3 reps with 270 lbs. with hardly any dipping of the knees. Incidentally, he won the gold medal for his event. 

However, the important thing was that this was the ONLY back exercise he performed. The writer has, on many occasions, noted the increase in muscle density obtained be even very advanced bodybuilders through including 5 sets of 2-3 reps of this movement in their workouts. 

Deadlift on Blocks 

While many fellows have concentrated on extremely heavy deadlifts, to the extent of utilizing hooked gadgets strapped to the wrists for poundages in excess of their gripping power, the writer believes the (deficit) deadlift on blocks to be a superior "assistance" exercise to the clean.    

Fundamentally, poundages in the deadlift are NO indication of an individual's cleaning power - in other words, the best deadlifter is NOT automatically the one who can hoist the biggest poundage to his shoulders. Incidentally, this is clarified further in the text of the next exercise.

Commencing the deadlift with a 1 to 2 inch block below your feet, work out with pretty light poundages for the first couple of sessions. Once your reflex action has "settled in," increase the poundage until you are making near your limit weight for around 5 reps, increasing this until you can manage only 2 reps for 5 sets.

High Pull from Boxes 

Undoubtedly, the "second pull" is the influential factor governing one's cleaning power (i.e., of the dozen men in the world credited with handling over 700 lbs. in the deadlift, only two are included in the dozen cleaning 400 or over in this century), the main feature requiring attention in the first part of the "first pull" in the clean is the placing of the bar in the exact position with the minimum of effort, to allow precise timing and concentrated effort on the second pull which is the decisive factor. Much fewer lifts are lost in the recovery and very, very few on the initial pull to knee level, and these are generally psychological in origin. 

Beginning with a pretty comfortable poundage until your reflexes are familiar with the mechanics of the movement, progress onto heavier poundages. You should have little difficulty making 3 to 6 reps with your limit in the snatch. 

The height of the bar's movement is shown in the illustration; also observe the narrow foot (used by even the squat clean lifter who has a wide foot stance with the hands inside the knees), and the elbow position. 

If the last rep is always making the final height position illustrated YOU NEED MORE WEIGHT. 

4 to 6 sets can be used, according to your reps and additional exercises, and or course. how you feel that day.

Enjoy Your Lifting! 

Dan John - "Attempts" (2020)

In this collection of essays, Dan expands on some of his now famous one liners . . . 

How Many Rabbits Are You You Chasing? 

Enough is Enough, More is Just More.

Fit for What? Must Be Part of Your Language.

The Greatest Secret I Know in Every Field of Life is Always Obvious. 

Last Throw, Best Throw! 

No Fuzzy Maxes in the Weight Room.

Correct Your Weaknesses, But Compare Your Strengths. 

Peaking is Often Simply Staying On the Path. 

and more . . . More. . . MORE. 

Pick up a copy at the link above and start applying these ideas.
You'll be glad you did . . . I guarantee it.

Enjoy Your Lifting! 



Sunday, July 26, 2020

The Shrug - Joseph Horrigan

Any exercise, especially one that involves resistance, can lead to an injury if you perform it improperly or if is  biomechanically incorrect for what you want to do. The shrug, as simple as it may seem, falls into the category of movements that many people do inorrectly.

The shrug is intended primarily to develop the size and strength of your trapezius muscles. There is another muscle that lies underneath the trapezius that comes into play when you perform this exercise: the levator scapulae, which elevates the scapula (shoulder blade).     

It has other functions as well, but for this discussion you just need to know that it's there. 

Your traps have three anatomic and four kinesiologic components apiece, one set on each side. Anatomically, the trapezius is a large muscle that's divided into upper, middle and lower portions. As a unit the traps are the kite shaped muscles that run across the upper and middle back. They are easy to spot on a bodybuilder who's in contest shape. 

The trapezius originates on the vertebrae of the entire thoracic spine (midback and cervical spine (neck), and it inserts on the shoulder blade on a bony prominence that follows along the shoulder, the outer third of the clavicle (collar bone) and into the base of the skull. 

This discussion concerns the portion of the muscle that crosses over the acromiclavicular (AC) joint, which is located at the junction of the collar bone and the front of the shoulder blade.

The upper trapezius elevates the scapula, as in a shrug, and upwardly rotates it, as in an overhead press. The middle trapezius primarily retracts the scapula - that is, pulls it together, as in a rowing motion. The lower trapezius primarily rotates the scapula inward, as well as assisting in retraction. The upper trapezius also assists somewhat in retraction. 

In terms of the kinesiology, or the way the muscle moves, the trapezius is said to have four components because the upper trapezius is further divided into two portions where the angle of the fibers change. When you do shrugs, however, both portions of the upper traps perform the same action. The traps can assist in stabilizing the AC joint because it surrounds the superior (top) surface of the joint. 

There are a number of different ways to perform shrugs that have come into favor at some time or other. Some variations can cause shoulder pain or aggravate an existing problem. At the very least they may be biomechanically incorrect for what you're trying to do. 

This discussion addresses the common variety shrug in which you shrug your shoulders, or elevate them, and then roll them back and down to perform a complete rep.  

The upper trapezius does the initial work of shrugging. According to longtime training "wisdom," you roll the shoulders back after that to train the middle and lower traps, since these are the parts that pull the shoulder blades back. Once again a little truth and a lot of poorly planned effort can go a long way toward leaving you susceptible to injury.

Let's look at this shrugging and rolling idea a little more clearly. The effect of gravity on the weight provides the vertical resistance to work the upper trapezius. Your upper traps contract, and the resistance is constant due to the constant pull of gravity. When you draw back your shoulders, the effect of gravity is still vertical, but because you are rolling your shoulders back, you're now creating an opposing contraction on a more horizontal plane. In other words, the resistance for the second part of the movement, rolling your shoulders, is only minimally effective. If you want to work your middle and lower traps with the maximum resistance, the movement must come from somewhere in front of your body, as in cable rows or barbell rows.

It makes very little sense biomechanically to bother with the "rolling back" part of the shrug. In the very best case it is simply an inefficient effort. With respect to potential for injury - and what you can do to prevent injuries and keep training - the rolled back shrug puts a lot of stress on the AC joint.

If you have a previous injury in that area, the joint is likely less stable and more mobile. Retracting, or rolling back your shoulders, tends to "open" the joint, thus reinforcing its instability. The result can be pain when you do shrugs or, even worse, when you do other exercises, which makes it difficult to identify what's causing the pain, even for an experienced clinical sleuth.  

The bottom line is simple: If you know that you had some form of AC joint separation also known as shoulder separation, don't roll your shoulders back when you do shrugs. If you don't know for sure what happened to you and you experience pain on top of your shoulder, or if you have noticed that the top of one shoulder seems more prominent than the other, you may very well have separated an AC joint at some time. Another possible sign is if you feel pain on top of your shoulder when you perform dips.

These are only a couple of the possible indicators of this problem, however. Don't attempt to diagnose yourself. 

You can still do shrugs if yo8u have had some form of shoulder separation in the past; in fact, you can use them to help stabilize the AC joint. Just perform shrugs with a straight up-and-down movement, without rolling your shoulders. Also, do not relax in the bottom position of the movement. Relaxing at the bottom of a shrug places a lot of traction - that is, it has a stretching effect - on the entire shoulder. It aggravates the rotator cuff, as well as the unstable AC.

Do use as full a range of motion as possible - but keep the bottom position under complete control. Strengthening the upper trapezius will help keep the AC joint more approximated (closer) and will make it more stable over time. It will not, however, restore the joint to its original strength and stability.

All the above applies to dumbbell shrugs as well. Because of the greater freedom of movement when using dumbbells, many lifters tend to "roll" their dumbbell shrugs.

The shrug can lend itself to a great deal of weight. Increase your poundages progressively, or you could suffer tendinitis over the top of your shoulder blades (spine of the scapula) at the insertion of the trapezius. If this happens, reduce the weight substantially or take a brief layoff. Place an ice pack over the sore area for 20 minutes twice each day for one week. Never use heat, as this will increase the inflammation. Start doing shrugs again with light weight and gradually increase the poundage.

The shrug is not the only exercise in which the retraction of the scapula can aggravate the AC joi9nt. The pec deck, for example, causes a similar effect. I'll discuss the other movements that can lead to AC problems in a future article. 

Enjoy Your Lifting!  


Saturday, July 25, 2020

Mental Barriers to Progress / Body Power - Doug Hepburn (1961)

Both Articles Courtesy of Liam Tweed
Thanks, Brother! 

Tommy Kono

Mental Barriers to Progress

Most people are inclined to minimize the importance of the mental attitude in the athlete. Weightlifting is one of the few sports where the entire athletic effort takes place in a matter of seconds. For this reason the concentration, whether in training or in an actual lifting meet, must be developed to an extremely high pitch. 

I discovered quite some time ago the immediate effects that concentration has on the body. 

You have no doubt noticed that during any form of emotional stress the pulse is accelerated. This is nature's way of preparing you for immediate action, whether it be physical combat, or if you are incapable of handling the situation, flight. This speeding up of the pulse actuates and increases the flow of a powerful stimulant, adrenalin, in the blood stream. When adrenalin is present in the blood in large quantities the speed of muscular reflex and the strength of contractile tissue of the muscle itself is measurably increased. From this fact alone the reader will readily see why lifting efficiency is increased through correct concentration prior to making a limit attempt.

Realizing the unusual effects that concentrating has on the body when it it applied to weightlifting, I performed an interesting experiment. During my training routine I loaded my bar to heavy poundage while it was resting on the squat stands. I then stood away from the bar, remained motionless for a minute or so and then carefully counted my pulse just as a nurse or doctor would do. My pulse beat at this time was 85 per minute. 

I then fixed my eyes on the heavily loaded barbell and began to concentrate on the fact that I was going to press the bar overhead, after removing it from the racks, with such speed that it would fly out of my hands at the consummation of the press and go right through the roof. 

While still concentrating with all my power on this thought I slowly approached the bar and placed my hands on it just as I would if I was actually going to press it. At this point I again took my pulse and to my surprise MY PULSE WAS NOW 105 PER MINUTE. 

Here then is the physical proof of what sufficient concentration can do. In other words, if one person can take full advantage of his powers of concentration when training or in competition he definitely has an advantage over those who don't. 

Usually this stepping up of the pulse will take place naturally when lifting competitively. The degree of the excitement will, of course, depend on the temperament of the individual. Those who experience difficultly attaining sufficient stimulation, even in a contest, will benefit greatly by applying this method of self imposed stimulation via concentration. 

It is important, however, that when sufficient stimulation is attained the trainee or lifter controls this potential force so that it can be properly applied. The stimulation will cause tenseness and this can hamper lifting coordination. The actions of a hysterical person will bear out this fact, for although these persons re capable of unusual strength they have no faculty of control, and because of this usually injure themselves in some manner. 

Bear this in mind when lifting and make sure that you have HARNESSED this power. 

High stimulation will usually manifest itself in a person by fidgeting, unnecessary movement, etc. The experienced lifter, although he might feel the desire for such actions. will control this and to all outward appearances will appear calm and relaxed and in this state will conserve and focus his energy for the all otu effort when the time comes to lift. 

Few persons realize the value of this conserving of energy and the application of such to weightlifting, bodybuilding, or for that matter any endeavor. Avoid over-excitement, as this can cause tension which in turn will deplete one's store of potential nervous energy. 

Many authorities believe that tension is one of the greatest killers and causes of sickness that exist today. Inability to sleep, poor appetite, loss of weight, fatigue, etc., can be traced to nervous tension. Overtraining, improper diet, insufficient rest and relaxation will inevitably result in muscular staleness. If this condition is not removed and is allowed to continue, serious complications will arise. 

You have no doubt heard the expression used, "I am afraid that poor John has burned himself out." This term is commonly used when referring to athletes, especially those who are involved with extra-strenuous activities like boxing, running, rowing, etc. Luckily, weightlifting is a sport where the athlete undergoes physical effort for spaced short periods of time. For example, the clean and jerk is performed in a matter of seconds after which the lifter is given time to rest and allow the bodily functions to return to normal. 

Correct mental attitude and training procedure will eliminate the occurrence of muscular staleness. The trainee must know himself in regard to temperament, capacity for training, etc. During the training routine, especially when preparing for a contest, the lifter must know when to increase his poundages, the use of the correct amount of sets and repetitions, and most important of all, WHEN HE IS TRAINING ON HIS "NERVE." 

Time and time again I have seen experienced lifters make the fatal mistake of pushing their training poundage too hard. The result is always the same. Their progress is fine for three or four weeks and then they experience a letdown. When this occurs they have to reduce their training poundages, sometimes to a point that is less than when they first began their preparatory routine. This will have a detrimental effect on their psychological outlook. They lose confidence in themselves and their lifting ability. To make matters worse, valuable time is lost; usually the lifter is incapable of attaining the desired degree of strength and condition when the contest arrives. 

Generally speaking, the utilization of higher repetitions counteracts muscular staleness. Also, there is less chance of injury as a lighter poundage is lifted. When first commencing a concentrated training routine and preparing for a weightlifting contest comparatively higher repetitions should be used. Later, the repetitions are reduced and heavier poundages are used so that a few weeks before the competition peak two or even one repetition will be performed in training. 

The trainee's confidence will be given an extra boost when lifting poundages in training that are comparable to what is desired in the actual contest. Lighter poundages serve their purpose in improving lifting form, coordination and condition. Heavy, near limit training poundages will strengthen and prepare the body for the eventual all out effort.

I am convinced that the single repetition system combined with near limit poundages will develop the greatest lifting efficiency. 

Also, every weightlifter must face the fact that during competition, if he desires to become a champion, he must force himself to the absolute limit. It is a bad practice to train with poundages that are far under one's limit and then go all out in competition as this could result in a serious injury.

The mind constitutes the driving force behind athletic endeavor. Without this power of mind or the lack of control of it the athlete has no purpose or direction. To reap the full benefits psychologically when weight training, the mind must be focused on the day by day training, living habits, etc., AT ALL TIMES AND NOT ONLY WHEN TRAINING. 

If this is not done the lifter's "drive" - his ability to sacrifice so as to attain the desired goals - will decrease proportionately. 

A wise weightlifter is one who does not complicate his life with superfluous obligations, material possessions and imagined necessities, and takes from his existence only what is needed to attain his ultimate goals in the sport of his choice.       

 Doug Hepburn

Body Power: How to Develop It

When the technique has been perfected in all three Olympic lifts the acquisition of bodypower becomes all important. Lifting technique and bodypower are the inseparable components that make a champion weightlifter. One is useless without the other. 

Many weightlifters achieve a moderate degree of pressing, snatching, and clean and jerking ability within a comparatively short period of time after first commencing training on the Olympic lifts. Unfortunately these lifters improve slowly, sometimes not at all, after the primary gains are made. This can prove highly distressful and discouraging, especially so as long hours of intensive training have been devoted to improving the Olympic total.

The solution to this common problem is obvious to the individual who has had the opportunity of associating with lifters of world championship caliber. However, not everyone has this opportunity and consequently many are in the dark as to how to develop the strength so that weightlifting efficiency of a very high degree can be attained. 

Of all the exercises used to develop bodypower one stands alone. I am referring to the Deep Knee Bend or Squat. No other single exercise can give the trainee greater overall strength in return for the time and effort involved. The portion of the body from the waist down constitutes the foundation. Regardless of shoulder and arm strength one must have the underpinnings so that full utilization of pressing, jerking, curling power can be attained. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. This adage is applicable to the human body regardless of the exercise. 

When pressing overhead the strength in the hips and thighs is just as important as that of the shoulders. If the trainee is desirous of incorporating the popular lay back pressing stance of the upper body into his Olympic lifts he must possess sufficient strength in the lower back, thighs and abdominal areas.

When squatting to build bodypower for the Olympic lifts, the feet should be positioned exactly the same as when cleaning or snatching. This applies to both the split or squat style of lifting. By placing the legs in this position when squatting, full utilization of the leg drive at the primary phase of the clean or snatch is attained. There is no purpose in squatting or deadlifting for that matter with the legs in a position that is foreign to that used when lifting. 

During the actual squatting movement the trainee should strive to control the legs and maintain them in the same groove so that their position at any point of the upward movement is identical to that of the straightening of the legs (leg drive) in the commencing position of the clean or snatch. This also applies when performing the deadlift movement and high pull for this purpose. 

When squatting to develop bodypower for split style lifting the feet will be placed closer together than that of the squat style lifter. The actual position of the feet is such that they are turned outward only slightly. In the majority of cases when the full squat is assumed the heels tend to raise off the floor making the balance difficult. To overcome this it is necessary to wear a shoe with a slightly elevated heel, or to place a short board under the heels prior to squatting. This board should be approximately one inch to one inch and a half in thickness. Place this four or five feet in front of the squat stands. 

After removing the bar off the stands step backward and then position the heels on the board (Good Grief, get some weightlifting shoes already). When this is accomplished inhale and then assume the low squat position. When the extreme low position is attained commence to arise to the erect position. Do not exhale until the three quarter point of the erect position is attained.  

The squatting movement should not be performed slowly but rather in a snappy manner, especially so during its upward motion. Squatting in this manner tends to develop spring in the legs so that when lifting the speed of the leg action is increased measurably. Do not, however, attempt to bounce from the extreme low squat position. This will exert undue strain on the knees and could cause a serious impairment in these regions. 

It is my opinion that the squat should be discontinued six to eight days before a competitive meet. This practice allows the muscles of the legs to throw off a fatigue or deadness caused by squatting. Although the legs can be quite strong due to the concentrated squatting there will be a loss of resiliency and speed of reflex. This in turn hampers lifting efficiency. After the meet normal training on the squat can be resumed. 

The squat should be performed two to three times per week with at least one rest day between workouts. If possible this exercise should accompany the Deadlift and High Pull exercises. 

Sets and Repetitions

Warm up for five reps then perform 3 to 5 single reps with a substantial poundage. Do not use a weight too close to the absolute limit as this would be courting staleness. It is a better policy to exercise with a poundage well within one's capabilities and take lesser weight increases. Otherwise, especially when utilizing the heavy singles, the trainee will be forced to either fall back and take less weight, or lay off training completely for a time. This latter necessity can prove highly discouraging and frustrating to a gain-impatient lifter.

After the single reps have been performed decrease the training weight and do 3 to 5 sets of 3 to 5 consecutive repetitions. The combination of the single and the consecutive reps will give the trainee both a high degree of muscular strength AND bulk.

In the next article I will deal with the High Pull and Deadlift exercises and their contribution to maximum Olympic lifting efficiency. 

Enjoy Your Lifting!  



Friday, July 24, 2020

George Jowett: Strength Pioneer - John Grimek (1988)

George Jowett: Strength Pioneer
by John C. Grimek (1988)

Exercising with weights to improve one's physical development, or to demonstrate one's prowess in a weightlifting competition was a low key activity in the States during the early part of this century. In Europe, however, weightlifting was accepted and recognized as a major sport. 

The general consensus was that if a person had a powerful looking body, he should make use of it by putting his muscles against another in some form of physical combat. On the other hand, there was total disagreement about developing big muscles for "showy" displays. 

Nevertheless, it was the British and French who first began matching muscles and physiques against one another in contests, as was first produced in America by Bernarr Macfadden in 1901 and 1903. Those staged in Europe by the French and English were low key and lacked public interest. But when the first Mr. America events made their appearance in 1938 and 1939, interest grew, and muscular physiques became an accepted display, surpassing even the ancient Grecians who were the first to recognize and propound the "sound mind in a sound body" principle which ultimately caused physique displays to flourish.

It's true, physique displays and competition have hit a new high today. But earlier, when Milo Barbell Company, the first manufacturer of weights, began making barbells for exercising and lifting, only a handful of men were gutsy enough to adopt them for improving themselves. They invariably denied it. Those who publicly admitted using them to build up and get stronger were imports from abroad.

It was Sandow who gave weight training the first big push when he arrived in America around 1910 and performed a number of strength demonstrations. His displays and performances definitely encouraged others to begin weight training as a way of improving their physiques . . . and many did. 

It was a start. 

Because Milo Barbell Company wanted to sell more weight training equipment the company began publishing a small magazine called STRENGTH in 1903. It featured stories about strongmen and provided weight training instructions for the beginner and for those who needed more advanced training. 

About this time, Bernarr Macfadden, who was known then as the "Father of Physical Culture," was also publishing a magazine bearing that name. His magazine featured mostly calisthenics, diet and a healthful living approach. Advertisements began appearing in the publications offering "Train-By-Mail" courses. However, only STRENGTH magazine, which was now enlarged to bigger format, contained muscle building instruction along with advice for the avid lifter. 

The muscle-building scene was on its way.

STRENGTH publishers needed a good man to manage their magazine and offered the position to one Ottley Coulter, then a powerful all-around lifter. Coulter, however, was busy with other matters and could not accept but he did recommend another person: George F. Jowett, who was living in the Pittsburgh area and working as a meat cutter. Jowett was a rugged, husky-looking individual, interested in all aspects of the iron game. He readily accepted the position. 

The magazine seemed to flourish because of its weight training features. Jowett's influence had an impact on all weight training devotees, and he came up with a number of training ideas for developing rugged bodies and packing power into the muscles. In fact, he even founded an original association (long before the AAU was affiliated with weightlifting) which he called the American Continental Weight Lifting Association (ACWLA). It was the first organization of its kind which sponsored lifting contests and other demonstrations of power. Those who joined received a small lapel pin showing a figure (of Henry Hall) doing a dumbbell press with the ACWLA etched underneath. This pin identified the men who used weights. There were no more denials. Jowett succeeded in banding this group together. 

Jowett was now the "man of the hour" an began demanding more and more money for his services. His demands, however, were denied. He threatened to give up his position, but the publishers weren't moved. They secretly offered the job to his assistant, one Mark Berry, a young, enthusiastic lifter, who accepted. Because of his interest and dedication, Berry was eventually nominated as coach for the 1932 Olympic team and again in 1936. 

Jowett went on to other successful business ventures. He started publishing his own magazine, called MAN POWER. It was similar to the smaller size that Milo Barbell Company first used for STRENGTH. It wasn't published regularly and dealt mainly with exercise and strength. He was selling various types of muscle building items and some courses that he compiled for those who needed such instructions. He also wrote several books that were beautifully bound. His first volume, The Key to Might & Muscle, written while still with the Milo company in 1926, was considered his best.

It was during this time, in the late '20s, that I communicated with him by mail that I got to know him. He always sent a personal answer. Naturally, I appreciated whatever advice he offered and at his request, I submitted some snapshots for his evaluation. The best advice he ever gave me was his strength building supporting exercises. This principal, which I believe was revealed when he edited STRENGTH magazine during the mid-20s, was THE TRUE FORERUNNER OF ISOMETRICS. 

In one of his letters, he described a series of strength exercises that I put into practice immediately There were 8 to 10 various holds, but for my particular purpose I elected to do about 3 or 4. These were: holding a weight off the chest, holding a weight overhead with straight arms, and doing a one arm support alternating with the right and left arms - but handling a much heavier weight than I was capable of lifting. True, I didn't nor was I told to begin with such impossible weights, but to gradually increase the load and to sustain holding the weight until I was forced to rest. Yes, the weight was suspended from rafters by heavy, strong chains. 

I liked this style - holding weights that I never dreamed of handling. However, one day while I was demonstrating this method to some friends, I allowed the weight to come down rather hard on the chains, causing the whole house to rattle as if it were having an earthquake. In fact, my friends were quite startled! I was concerned as well because the next day I purchased a heavier chain and made some safety loops. Just in case something happened, I would have enough time to get away before the weights crushed me . . . I'm talking about real HEAVY weights . . . slightly over 1,000 pounds. It was that kind of weight that shook the house. 

After that, I was always more careful.

I must admit that such training did produce strength. However, as I got stronger all over, and as a result my lifting technique, such as it was, suffered even more, I began muscling up the weights instead of relying on speed and skill - a habit difficult to overcome after years of lifting weights without much form.

Although I was fairly well acquainted with Jowett over the years, I never met him personally until one weekend in 1934. I had come to the Philadelphia area to pose for some exercise pictures Mark Berry wanted for the new book, "Your Physique - And Its Culture." I participated in the lifting contests to gain some experience. It was here that I met Jowett one evening while lifting at the YMCA in Philly. I had just made a new light-heavyweight military press record. I didn't even know Jowett was present. But as I walked towards the back of the auditorium, Jowett, who was showing his impressive forearms to some admirers, grabbed me by my arm and congratulated me. I was surprised to see him but thanked him for his compliment. 

Later that evening we talked, and I found myself apologizing for my lack of lifting style. He still complimented me on my display of power and said he was sure my technique would improve with practice. I told him that my power came by following those heavy support loads that he had recommended when we exchanged letters. He smiled broadly and said, "That will do it!" 

Bob Hoffman had told me that Jowett was powerful. Hoffman had trained with him during the early time Jowett was in York. Jowett did not do much Olympic lifting, but he did swings and a continental style of lifting - a style which I developed for getting weights to my chest instead of the "clean" method. It's done in this manner: Wearing a belt, the weight is pulled up to the abdomen and placed on the belt. But if the weight is super-heavy, you first lift it to your thighs, from there up to the abdomen, with a combination pull and swing you then get it to the chest and you're ready to get it overhead. 

More here: 

It was the only way I could get a heavier weight to my chest,and I often thought that maybe it was this tedious style of lifting that hindered my cleaning ability. There was a time when I could clean with one arm nearly as much as I could with both arms, indicating my lack of style. yet many times I would continental 335 to 350. An in those days a lift of 300 pounds was considered a super lift. So with the 1936 Olympics coming up, I knew I had to improve my lifting style if I was going to make the team. I did, winning the Nationals that year.

I was asked to try out for the 1932 Olympics but refused because I didn't have the slightest idea of how to lift. Jowett offered only power building ideas at that time, and up to that point I never even witnessed a lifting event. But I vowed to try in 1936, and the time was approaching. In 1934, I lifted in the New Jersey championships. I had no trouble winning them even without knowing how to lift. Later that year, it was the Nationals in Brooklyn where Hoffman saw me and suggested I come to York and train with the champions.  

Bob had decided to push lifting after the '32 Games and publish a magazine dedicated to exercise and lifting. He app-roached Jowett about it, knowing George had some experience when he was the editor of STRENGTH and felt that such an alliance would be good. Jowett was already linked with a large correspondence school in Scranton, Pennsylvania that was selling training courses. He also had a business in Philadelphia selling his training system and exercise equipment. 

Nevertheless, he apparently could not turn down Hoffman's opportunity, so the very first issue of STRENGTH & HEALTH was launched in late 1932. 

The magazine was smaller than the standard format but looked interesting. Jowett's articles and advertisements dominated the pages and for the next several issues, Jowett's business boomed. He outsold York by more than double. This could have precipitated a rift. 

Also, about this time, Bob Hoffman had pictures taken of some of the better York lifters, singly and in groups. Bob later learned that Jowett used the same photos in his own advertisements, and had some sent to the Scranton correspondence school to be used in the flyers they mailed out to potential clients. Bob became upset over this and felt Jowett was taking advantage of the situation. Shortly after that, Jowett left York. However, they parted as friends an remained friends to the very end. 

Jowett continued doing business out of Philadelphia an in 1936 launched the first bodybuilding magazine with a full color cover - the first of its kind. It was an attractive issue and better than anything published up to that time. He got together a number of well-qualified writers and Ph.D. authors and the magazine looked like a real winner. And for a time it was. Then just as it started, it folded just as fast after only a dozen or so issues. Obviously there were some money problems. Jowett's bodybuilding magazine went the way that STRENGTH and PHYSICAL CULTURE went only a year or two before - out of existence.

I lost contact with Jowett after the magazine went defunct. The Scranton school still sold his training courses, but he seemed to have closed his business in Philadelphia. Later I learned that he returned to Canada from which he immigrated, and though his interest in exercise continued, it was in a very low key manner. He got involved in other jobs, including the St. Lawrence Waterway project, but mostly he spent time writing. He wrote a number of books, some dealing with body development, others that had a religious accent, and some on other subjects. During this time he was involved with another competitor that he felt was trying to exploit him, so he simply refused to do much of anything after that. 

Nevertheless, Bob Hoffman called upon him during the early '60s to testify in his behalf in a court case. Jowett accepted and came to York. We gave him a cordial welcome, and he truly enjoyed his stay. The litigation Hoffman was involved in didn't amount to much, and I can't even remember if Jowett was called as a witness. But he stayed around, watched the fellows train and while we enjoyed his company, he seemed to enjoy the environment. A group of us took him out to dinner one evening, and we all had a ball. Jowett seemed genuinely happy. We'd collect around him to listen to his tales. Everyone seemed to enjoy these get-togethers. 

One afternoon after some training, I asked if he was doing anything that night. He said he wasn't doing anything, other than going to the hotel and resting. I asked if he'd like to join us at home for dinner. An when I told him my wife was cooking spaghetti for the kids (their favorite), he gladly accepted. The kids ate early and were doing homework, so by the time we got there, everything was quiet. I forgot to buy some wine for dinner but offered George some fine Canadian whiskey. He hesitated, then nodded his head in acceptance. I poured us both a straight shot. He downed his in one gulp, in a he-man's style. I babied mine. He had a few more before my wife called us to dinner.

Quietly she asked me how much she should serve him. I admitted I didn't know but told her to fill up his plate. She did. I felt that he could always leave what he didn't eat. But he finished it all. then my wife asked if he wanted more. "Just a little more," he said. She disregarded that and served another heaping amount. Again he finished the plate. I must admit I admired his capacity. He was amazing. Either he was starved or he enjoyed what he was eating, not to mention a salad and rich desert.

After dinner we sat together in the living room. I was eager to know more about the man. He related many stories but I had to coax him to talk about himself. He admitted that he was not quite as active the last few years but did a little dumbbell training, generally of a light nature. Sometimes he would put a weight across his shoulders and walk around some of the rough terrain where he lived. Nothing serious but enough to make him breathe a little deeper.

Once again I brought up the idea of supporting heavy weights which he had recommended to me years before. He said he believed that supporting heavy weights was the only way to get strong. It strengthened the tendons, ligaments and the the joints, and I agreed with him. Like so many of us, he lamented abo9ut giving up regular training. When I asked whaat sort of treining he did when he and Bob (Hoffman) used to work out together, he just said all the standard, regular exercises: the exercises he had in the courses that the Scranton School sold and sometimes the old Milo courses. He stressed the fact that one should do enough to produce a tingling, relaxed sensation of the muscles and finish off with several deep breaths. It sounded good to me. I often finish in that manner.

I zeroed in on his mighty forearms, asking if he did anything special to augment their development. Somewhat nonchalantly, he took another sip from his glass and said, "No, nothing special, but I did do a lot of gripping exercises, mostly thick-handled bells, block weights and various forms of wrist work." He added, "I always had fairly good forearms. I only made the best of what I had." And believe me, when he flexed his right forearm in the gooseneck position, it was inspiring. After all, the man was in his 60s, and when I think of the great appetite he had, and how he could still handle his drinks, one had to admire him.

I found George Jowett a very likable personality, and when I heard of his passing, I felt like I had lost a longtime friend and advisor. 

We might postpone it for a time but eventually we must succumb to that eternal sleep. 

So, let's make the best of the present, today and NOW! 

Enjoy Your Lifting!    


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