Sunday, January 31, 2021

A New Training Theory - Harry B. Paschall (1946)

Article Courtesy of Liam Tweed
 . . . but we are interested in this perennial problem of athletic staleness. We believe that bodybuilders and weightlifters can make a great deal of progress by accepting this condition as inevitable, and then doing something about it. We have seen athlete after athlete, in all sorts of competition, deliberately train themselves into this stale condition.
One of the problems of the bodybuilder, like that of an artist making a drawing, is to know when to stop. Too often we continue lifting and exercising long after we should stop. Some years ago I discovered this in my own training, and it helped me to lift more weight after I had passed the age of 40 than ever before. I found that it was not so much a question of how MUCH training, but how LITTLE training was conducive to gaining in strength.

I was very enthusiastic about this theory at the time and wrote a 50,000 word book on the subject, which is now gathering dust in my desk drawer. Perhaps I can give you the gist of it in 500 words instead of 50,000. 

The idea is very simple, a branch of the cyclic theory. We all know that we go through cycles, periods in which we gain very rapidly and periods in which we seem to deteriorate in spite of our best efforts. I have an idea that this may be in some way connected with the remaking of the blood. 

Medicos say that the content of the blood changes approximately every six weeks. In other words, we get new blood about every 40 days. This is a building and rebuilding process, which is important to the bodybuilder. At one stage in this cycle the body is at its weakest ebb. If we persist in training and straining at this time we go stale and become weaker.
I have on several occasions watched boxers train, and noted that if they train hard for more than five weeks they leave their fight in the gymnasium. So why don't we simply train for five weeks and take no chances . . . then rest a week or 10 days and begin training again to take advantage of the upsurge? I have found this solution to staying in good competitive condition. 

But there is one precaution the trainee should observe in order to take full advantage of this law of nature. He should never start again with the same weights he was using when he left off training. Instead, he should drop back to the weight he was using in the 2nd week of the previous 5-week training period, and gradually increase so that at the end of the current training schedule he will be lifting a weight one week in excess of the weight he used at the end of the first 5-week session. 

Thus, with each 5-week training period, the lifter goes one week (or perhaps 5 or 10 pounds) ahead of his previous best. This makes continuous progress possible and avoids the dead end periods of staleness which are unavoidable if one keeps steadily training. 
This will work just as well for the bodybuilder as for the man training for strength. It also eliminates the so-called sticking points, when it seems that the exerciser can neither add weight to the bar nor increase repetitions.
I would be interested to have some of you lads try this "Paschall Pause" and see how it works for you, as I have never made a control study outside of myself. And    

when you start your workouts again after a pause, because this is the key to the success of the whole system. Make sure you go back to the weight and repetitions schedule of the SECOND week, each time. 
Incidentally, this gives you a sort of double-progression system, and I believe that, if you are exercising (bodybuilding) instead of lifting, increasing the number of reps, say from 5 to 10, and then adding weight, is the best system for the beginning bodybuilder to follow. After six months of solid training one may try the "series" system, but 3 sets of each movement should be the absolute limit, and certainly not more than 6 different exercises should be used in this sort of concentrated program.

In a previous article I mentioned the "muscle-spinning" exercises employed by some musclemen to induce big "lumps" in the belly of the muscle. Not much to my surprise, I received several requests from the customers to tell them just what these exercises were. They didn't care HOW they got the "lumps," they just wanted 'em! 
I am very much afraid that the vast majority of bodybuilders are a great deal interested in LOOKING strong rather than BEING strong.  

Enjoy Your Lifting!


Blog Archive