Monday, January 11, 2021

Two Articles on the Press - John Barrs (1946)


Both Articles Courtesy of Liam Tweed




 Article From This Issue



With demobilization going ahead, clubs reforming, and the prospects of regular championships again, lifters in all parts of the Empire are getting settled down to regular training. We have the matches in France, the likelihood of the World's Weight-Lifting Championships being held in Paris this year, and preparations being made for the 1948 Olympic Games in London. It seems probable that many of the weight-lifting leagues which flourished so encouragingly before the war will be started again this year. Every lifter is anxious to make rapid progress. This series is written specially for those who need instruction in the technique and training methods of the Three Olympic Lifts.
B.A.W.L.A. Definition of The Two Hands Press
"The barbell shall be taken clean to to the shoulders in one continuous movement to come to rest at the sternum bone where the collar bones meet. The recovery from the pull-in, preparatory for the press, must be speedy and continuous. At the commencement of the press the bar shall be held not higher than the position indicated, and the heels if separated must be on a plane parallel to the lifter's front held not wider apart then 15-3/4 inches, with knees firmly braced and the body held in an upright position. During the press from the shoulders, no sagging of the trunk, movement of the feet or bending of the legs shall be permitted, and the movement must be a steady press to arms' length with the shoulders kept level throughout. 
"The referee shall insist upon a pause of two seconds at the shoulders, and again at the conclusion of the lift. In both cases he shall indicate the conclusion of the compulsory pause by a sharp clap with both hands. Lifters who are unable to rest the bar upon their chests must inform the referee of that fact before beginning to lift. For this class of lifter the commencing position for the press shall be a point in front of the lifter at the top of the sternum where it meets the collar bones." 
No "Setting" of the Shoulders Allowed
With such a popular feat as the Press being practiced all over the country on every day of every week of the year, one might feel entitled to assume that everyone understands the rules and practices the feat correctly. Unfortunately that is not so. Some men app0ear to always be trying to get away with slack styles, hunching the shoulders, arching the back, and even jerking slightly from the knees. In some localities even the referees do not correctly understand the regulations, passing some presses which should be ruled out. 
Note: We know what happened with Press judging and the rules not long after. You might say that a little later Bench Press judging and rules followed the same pattern. You might even say that a study of history will lead us to realize (if not accept) that, when seen with the bigger picture view, humanity is completely predictable, repetitive in behavior, and by golly-boy howdy pretty much redundant when it comes to any non-superficial progress being made in our little earthly experiment. Or not, you might say. 

The first point which must be made clear is that, after the barbell has been taken in to the shoulders (cleaned), the lifter must stand erect - the body and head must be held in an upright position. There are some who believe that it is permissible to "set" the shoulders back slightly. They day, "The Americans do it, and they consider it is okay. But the Americans do not lift according to B.A.W.L.A. rules, and it is almost certain that they will never get their presses passed in international contests unless they avoid the exaggerated styles at present used in many parts of the States. Under present British rules no leaning back or "setting" of the shoulders is permitted preparatory to the press or at any time after the referee's clap. During the pressing movement the whole body, with the exception of the arms, must remain quite motionless. 
Variations in Technique
There are three variable factors in pressing technique. These are: 
1) Method of gripping the bar.
2) The hand spacing.
3) The position of the feet. 
Gripping the Bar
Men with small hands usually prefer to grasp the bar in the ordinary manner, but those with flexible wrists should try the "thumbless" style of grip, placing the thumb alongside the fingers. The purpose of the thumbless method is to ensure that the weight is supported on the heel of the hand directly over the bones of the forearm. 
Width of Grip

The spacing of the hands is quite important and may affect your best lift by five or even 10 pounds. If the hands are placed too close together, the bar will "stick" at forehead level and there will be a strong tendency to lean back. If the hands are too wide the start of the press will be sluggish. Approximate shoulder-width is best for most people, but it is advisable to test slight variations for yourself. Remember that if the forearms incline outwards from the elbows at the commencing position the hands are certainly placed too wide apart. Another point: the longer your upper arms are in proportion to your forearms the wider the grip you may take.
Position of the Feet
Most lifters adopt the feet-astride position, mainly, I believe, because they consider that it looks better. Standing with the feet astride is all right for thickset and stocky individuals, but for others the heels together stance is preferable. Almost everyone whose main problem is to fight a tendency to lean backwards during the lift will do better with a narrow foot spacing. By locking the thighs, a rigid "column" effect is obtained. This can be best achieved when the heels are together. 

 Article From This Issue 

 El Sayed Nosseir, Khadr El Touni, Ibrahim Shams, El Fayad, El Mahgoub.
Fifteen years ago (1931), El Sayed Nosseir was heavyweight weightlifting champion of the world. At the championships held at Luxembourg in in October, 1931, this great Egyptian lifter made the highest total of all the competitors. Nosseir held the World's amateur Snatch record with 281 pounds, and the World's amateur Clean & Jerk record with 368. But Nosseir could Press only about 240 pounds.   

Charles Rigoulot of France, one-time World's champion, set the professional records at 314.5 Snatch and 402.5 Clean & Jerk. At the quick lifts he was unbeatable. But Rigoulot's best Press was around only the 250 mark. 

The Importance of the Press

No longer is it possible to become a top level champion weight-lifter with a low poundage in the Two Hands Press. Today superlative ability on all three of the Olympic lifts is essential. The man who is poor at pressing doesn't stand a chance. 
The Two Hands Press is not a perfect test of all-round strength; it is not even a true test of upper body power. But it is a key lift, and the advanced lifter must give more time to its practice than to either the Snatch or the Clean & Jerk. 
The interpretation of the rules governing the performance of this feat has always been a source of international argument. At every world's championships meeting there have been expressions of dissatisfaction at the degree of strictness or laxity displayed by the officials of opposing nations. Ten years ago (1936) there was an attempt made by the French to remove the Press from world's contests and they proposed to the International Federation that this lift be replaced by the two single-handed Snatches. But the motion was defeated by a large vote and the Press has remained an Olympic lift ever since. It will probably continue to be so for many, many years. Aw. Damn it! 
The argument about the Press related to the difficulties of refereeing, not to any fault in the lift itself. For the Press is the basis of overhead strength and helps the other lifts. Many lifters have found that by specializing on pressing for a month or so they have improved on all the competition feats.
The Press requires more frequent attention than the quick lifts. Most strength athletes train twice or three times each week on the Snatch and the Clean & Jerk. This is not sufficient work for Press improvement; 4, 5 or even 6 training sessions are necessary each week. Fortunately this lift does not make such heavy demands on energy as do the others.
There is an old-fashioned idea still persisting in some quarters provide the best means of increasing one's pressing poundage. "Enabling" (another word for assistance) lifts were supposed to be better than the lift itself. This theory is now known to be false. World's champions such as Terlazzo and Davis devote little time to "enabling lifts." To improve your Press you simply must press and keep pressing regularly.
Secret Methods? 
Is there a magic schedule which will make continued improvement certain Is there a secret method by which you can be sure of still further rapid gains? Unfortunately not. But there are certain principles which must be observed if progress is to be expected. 
Training poundages should never be less than 70%; lighter poundages are simply a waste of energy. More than 3 consecutive repetitions are likewise useless. The poundage range should be fairly narrow - in fact, it is often an effective plan to confine yourself to one weight only for training. A fair quantity or work must be performed at each session; routines which take less than 20 minutes are unlikely to be of any value and there should be at least four workouts each week. Regularity and persistence are positively essential.
No, there is no such thing as a magic schedule. There is no secret that the world's champions have kept hidden from you, the average lifter. Provided the fundamentals of a routine are correct, only steady work will provide continued improvement.
However, a proper schedule is indispensable. Here are four of the very best training programs for putting power into your Press. Choose the one which appeals to you most, adjust number or groups of repetitions (sets) to suit your type and your energy reserve. Then get to work. Results are certain. 
Choose Your Schedule
To save the space that would be taken up if I made a full explanation of these training routines, I shall instead give the poundages that should be used by a lifter of average constitution who is capable of a maximum press in competition with 150 pounds. It will be necessary for you to adjust the figures according to your strength. The repetitions (from the shoulders) should be followed as given, but the number of sets may be amended if the work is honestly found to be too much or too little. 
Note that in none these schedules does the lifter attempt his competition limit on a training night; in ordinary circumstances tryouts on the Press should be made not more often than once each week. Note also that each program should be practiced not less than 4 and not more than 6 days each week.   
Schedule No. 1. (Standard or 3-3-2-1 Method)
Competition Max = 150
110 x 3, 3, 3
120 x 3, 3, 3
130 x 2, 2, 2
140 x 1, 1, 1
Extra groups at each poundage may be performed if desired. 
Schedule No. 2 (Descending Poundage Method). This method was taught in Germany before the war. It has been practiced by many lifters in this country also. The advantage of this routine lies in the fact that the bulk of the work is performed after the heaviest training poundage has been lifted. 
125 x 1
135 x 1
140 x 1
135 x 2, 2
130 x 2, 2
125 x 3, 3
120 x 3, 3 
Extra sets at each poundage-stage may be perform3ed if desired.
Schedule No. 3. (The 3-3-3 System) This splendid scheme makes weight changes unnecessary. Heavy trials may be made twice each week when Schedule No. 3 is employed. 
120 x 8 to 15 sets of 3 reps. 
The number of total sets varies between individuals. 
Schedule No. 4. (The Miniature Disc System). This is my own particular favorite and one which I recommend when progress by other methods has come to a standstill, or in those cases where the lifter is unable to tolerate a long series of sets of 2 or 3 repetitions from the shoulders. 
First it is necessary to procure a set of iron washers (or fractional weight plates if you can find small enough ones) to fit the barbell. The total supply of washers or mini-discs (16 to 20) should weight 2.5 lbs. 

135  - 10 to 25 complete lifts with a rest between each. A miniature disc is added to each end of the bar at the end of each session. When, after 10 to 14 days, all the washers have been put on the ends of the bar they are replaced by a 1-1/4 lb. disc each side. The adding of one washer at each end per session then continues from this new and slightly heavier poundage.  

Enjoy Your Lifting!






















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