Saturday, October 3, 2020

Charles A. Smith Letters, Part Seven - Dennis Weis 




1987 . . . 

No, I have not seen your book MASS . . . 


. . . but I have been getting some feedback on it, mainly about the so-called JETTISON TRAINING PRINCIPLE . . .

I have to tell you that this "principle" is as old as the hills. It was written about FORTY YEARS AGO ('47) in Henry Atkins British magazine VIGOUR. He called it the ATKINS MULTI-POUNDAGE SYSTEM. 

Original article here: 

Note: The approach to this method that Mr. Weis published includes the idea of using a cable with a handle to be let go of for the first drop. 

And it was in use way before then in the early '30s when Joe Assirati used it, but discarded it as a poor psychological method of training, since when we gradually worked down in the poundage to the lightest weight, we had done so many reps that the LIGHTEST WEIGHT SEEMED HEAVY. This of course stayed with us, and when we got back to our usual starting poundage we found that image in our minds of finding it hard to do reps with the lightest weight. 

Let's face it. Some people are constituted genetically that they are better at reps than they are at limit poundages. And the same applies for certain lifts. I was always much better, proportionately, at the bench press than I was at squatting or dead lifting, although in my day even the Woodland Hills Wonder thought me one of the strongest he had met up with. Even when I gained a lot of bodyweight I still didn't gain in proportion in my squats and dead lifts. True, I did gain a little on limit poundages and I guess I, having a family, didn't really try to up my limits to any great extent.
Swimming is an effort of relaxation. One can't swim stiffly or THRASH with all one's might and main. One must be relaxed as well as giving forth with what strength exertion the distance requires.
There are some people who find no trouble with straight arm pullovers, if that is the type of pullover you did - I know some keep the arms bent some. But a lot of people have arm or shoulder trouble with this lift  - strained deltoids or sore elbows. I have seen Bert Assirati do 10 reps with 140 absolutely stiff armed when that poundage was the British Heavyweight record. Arm ABSOLUTELY STRAIGHT and locked at the elbows. His limit was 200 lbs before strict British judges. Since he was a professional wrestler at the time, this lift didn't count as a record. But HIS ARMS WERE DEAD STRAIGHT, not bent at the elbows in the least. This lift is best done WITH bent arms and in conjunction with breathing squats . . . 

Now, let's get to breathing squats. You mention the following - that you did squats right to the floor with three or four deep breaths between each squat "a la PEARY RADER advice." Now, Rader didn't originate this type of squat at all. JOSEPH CURTIS HISE DID and wrote about it in IM and Roger Eells mag VIM. 

Hise also wrote to Joe Assirati and I in 1934 about the three or four deep breaths between each squat, the dropping down under the weight to rock bottom, rebounding to the starting position, taking those 3 or 4 deep breaths and continuing thus. 

As you will see, this is a combination of the so called Rest Pause system and the "cheating principle." The Rest Pause system was recently claimed as the brain child of the Woodland Hills Wonder in one of his recent mags. He SAYS he, cap that HE, discovered it in 1950 while at 16 Hopkins Avenue. The TRUTH is that he came up to the top floor of the building where we had some half assed gym HE called the "Research Clinic," saw me doing rep curls with 150, resting the bar for three deep breaths in the rests of the bench press support notches. He asked my why. I told him that I  could use a heavier weight and do as many reps as with a lighter poundage. He walked away and then we had another brand new wunderkind Training Principle given birth to. 
You also mention the "Larry Scott Curl." Scott has absolutely no right to give his name to this exercise - nor does Gironda. It was around years before either of them were well known. The guys at Abe Goldberg's gym were using it in the 1950s. Alan Stephan was using it in the 1940s. Joe Assirati and I were using it in the 1930s and it was being used way back in the 1920s by Bert Assirati, Joe's and my cousin. And it was beyond doubt being used way back at the turn of the century.
Your point is well taken re the problems that confront the beginner entering into weight training and the confusion that confronts him. A barbell is a barbell, purely utilitarian. Anything else on it like chrome is purely cosmetic and does little or nothing to enhance the gaining power and growing power of strength and muscle in those who use the chromed implement. Bodybuilding is so simple. All one has to do is get a good book on kinesiology, see what functions the muscles perform and then come up with an exercise that duplicates the muscles' actions. 
The trouble today is exactly the point I was trying to make in my article in IRONMAN. this article was originally entitled "LET'S HAVE HONESTY IN WEIGHT TRAINING," but Balik thought that the title "THE BASICS NEVER CHANGE" sounded better.
The sport has become so commercialized that honesty and fair play in it can no longer exist. Once there were some ideals in it. Once there was some comradeship, once you got fun and pleasure out of meeting your pals three times a week in some damp, dingy parish or church hall and working out. Money gained through weight training was foreign to your entire gamut of thought. Now it's ALL they think about. 
When people have to cheat and lie and steal to get ahead in the world, they reduce themselves to the level of pimps and prostitutes. These people also make money, but it's not the way I'd care to make mine. If you have no scruples, if you have no integrity, and are willing to STEAL the ideas of others, take the credit from those who really deserve it and have earned it, why sure, one can make a lot of money, b ut he is at the level of the pimps and prostitutes. 
The modern muscle mag moguls [update information delivery means here if you like] prey on the beginners insecurity and vanity. Most of the ads in the mags are deceptive and some downright dishonest, claiming the product will do wonders and work miracles when it does nothing of the kind. Look at some of the ads that promise you THE BODY YOU WANT in three months. They know full well that no outstanding physique can be built in three months or for that matter three years. It's a lifetime commitment, or one of 10 to 15 years to get where you want to go, and even then your prospects are greatly conditioned by genetic heritage. 
Just go into any modern gym today and see what's going on. Once, we all took our turns when it came to using this weight or that piece of equipment. We shared the gear and our knowledge of how to use it. All the old idealism that came in with MacFadden and went out with Hoffman and the Woodland Hills Wunder have vanished. Now it's money, money, money.












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