Courtesy of Liam Tweed
Henry J. Atkin, happy guy.
"You know what I did? Exactly the reverse . . ."
Norbert Schemansky, John Davis, Abraham Charite
London Olympics, 1948
Last fall (1948) an unknown heavyweight made a perfect curl with 235 pounds in an odd lift contest staged at the Boston Y.M.C.A. His name is Luther Rogers and he most certainly is one of the strongest men in the nation. Witnesses and officials declared the lift to be perfectly executed. Photo courtesy of John Corlett, taken from Strength & Health - Nov. 1960 issue.
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The five months - June, July, August, September and October of 1948 were particularly strenuous ones for me. Olympic athletes started arriving (London) early in June, and with their arrival began a tour of Olympic Villages, meeting old and new friends, discussing the Games, and bodybuilding, collecting material for future articles, photographing champions and celebrities training, relaxing or clowning, showing them as much of our country as possible in the limited time at our disposal; additionally, trying to run my own business, the Viking Gymnasium, and editorial work for VIGOUR magazine.
Late hours were the rule rather than the exception. Many foreigners seem to keep later hours than we. I remember friend Sayed Nosseir, the Director of Sport for all Egypt, particularly well. He can talk and talk and talk without any signs of tiring. It was past 3 a.m. one morning before he decided to return to his hotel. Even then, John Barrs (who drove him back) told me that he wanted to continue until daybreak. The Indian officials were actually aghast at the hours we normally retired. The manager of the Indian team, Mr. Kabasi, was in my office on one occasion when my two little daughters came in to say goodnight. The time was 7 p.m. He was amazed, and told me that Indian children seldom retired before 11 p.m. On another occasion John Davis, Joe De Pietro, Pete George, Frank Spellman, John Barrs and myself were sitting talking in the Viking Club until 1 a.m.
Ah, what wonderful days there were, but how terribly dissipating. Meals were irregular, sometimes forgotten completely in the excitement of events. Small wonder that I lost bodyweight. I promised myself that things would be more or less normal by the end of August and that I would be able to commence training again seriously early in September. Such things are okay in theory, but in fact it was not until the end of October that I had caught up on all my outstanding work and decided that once again I could really find time for serious training.
A checkup proved me to weigh 11 stones 2 lbs. (156 lbs.), 10 lbs. lighter than what was my approximate average bodyweight: 11 stones 12 lbs. I then made a promise to myself and the lads in the Club that I would double my losses before the end of the year. This meant that I intended to increase my weight to 176 lbs. by December 31st - a gain of 20 lbs. I succeeded, and it was on Christmas Eve that I found myself weighing exactly 176 and experiencing difficulty getting into my clothes.
I have weighed even more since that date, but an increased amount of work has reduced my training somewhat during the past few weeks. Nevertheless, I fluctuate between 173 and 176 lbs. and intend very shortly to push my bodyweight up still further to 182.
Now for my method of training . . . It will undoubtedly surprise many people who talk glibly but with little knowledge of the dangers of over-training . . .
I trained hard every day - yes, I mean it. I trained hard every day. I also did a wicked thing: I sent a picture (taken 12 years ago) of myself performing an abdominal retraction to a "type expert" for diagnosis. I was classified (ain't it wonderful!) as a Thoracic II, advised not to perform Squats but do Leg Presses, to train three or four times per week but not for lengthy periods and not with heavy weights.
You know what I did?
Exactly the reverse . . .
On Monday/Wednesday/Friday mornings of every week I performed Squats and light Straight Arm Pullovers alone for at least two hours each workout. I lost count of the number of sets I did. Quarter Squats, Half Squats, Full Squats, Squats on Toes, Squats with Knees Out [wide stance], Squats with Knees In [narrow stance] - in fact every conceivable way.
On Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Friday evenings I trained for from two to three hours each workout, performing Curls, Press on Back, Incline Press, all types of Lateral Raise, Flying Exercises, Dips, Chins, all types of Pullovers, Neck Exercises, Calf Raises - at least three sets of each exercise.
On Saturday/Sunday I fitted as much time in the gym as I could reasonably afford, concentrating on what I considered weak points.
From November 1st until December 24th not a day went by without my training with weights. I, of course, increased my food intake, especially of carbohydrates and proteins. I drank at least six pints of fluid each day, and I always (with the exception of the Straight Arm Pullovers) used heavy poundages, increasing them as often and by as much as possible.
I am not, dear Readers, suggesting that all of you work as hard and as much as this, but
I am suggesting that very few, if any of you, TRAIN AS HARD AS YOU COULD.
Why not give it a trial? Attempt to train twice as hard as ever before; your reaction will surprise you. For my part, although I confidently set myself a target, the result amazed me.
Not only am I more shapely than ever before - I am a heck of a lot stronger.
Enjoy Your Lifting!