Saturday, May 29, 2021

Progression - Bill Starr

You know what we used to do at York? What we’d do is we’d take a weight and hit it for as many reps as we could. You know something heavy, but something that we could hit for five or six. Then in the next session, we’d add a pound or two to the bar and do the same thing. When it got that we couldn’t do three or so, whatever the number was that was our ‘minimum’ that we were looking for, we’d drop about ten percent of the weight off the bar and start the process again. 
When we hit the lighter weight again we’d get it for lots more reps than we had when we’d hit that weight before you know, and that would keep you motivated while you worked back up, you know, hitting records along the way. 

 - Bill Starr

Saturday, May 22, 2021

The One-Hand Get-up - Tony Rose (1992)


Originally Published in Hardgainer No.19, July, 1992.
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The One-Hand Get-Up
by Tony Rose (1992)
A great favorite of the old-time strongmen, the one-hand get-up, was featured in many an impromptu test of mighty strength. Practiced in the early days of this century in the gyms of Paris, Austria, Germany, Copenhagen and right across Europe, many mighty men tested their strength with this vintage lift. 
I used this lift for many years to keep my abdominal corset hard and firm. In my opinion, it's far better to do three or four get-ups with alternate hands than spend valuable gym time doing countless situps. When using it, I always one-hand cleaned the weight to the shoulder first, then side-pressed it overhead. 
Although George Hackenschmidt used this lift, and talked to me about it, it was through another source that I discovered its great value, and started to use it. 
When I was 17 years old and running my gym in Sefton Park, Liverpool, my photographs were appearing in "Health and Strength" and "Superman" magazines. In those days there were regular physique contests, or posing contests as many were known, and I was a frequent entrant.
At that time I was taking one of my many postal courses and one of them contained advice on how to use the one-hand get-up. 
Stupidly, I ignored it. 
In desperation over my midsection lagging behind the rest of my physique, I wrote off for a book by Barton Horvath. It was called "Abdominal Power."
Horvath had a superb physique. Arms, neck and calves all 17", a near-46" chest and 25" thighs at a height of 5'8", and above all a classic midsection. At the time he and Tony Sansone were my favorite American weight-men. 
No doubt you've guessed it. The number one exercise in the course was the one-hand get-up. Barton really went to town on its virtues. 
Tired of letters from posing judges - Mr. D. Johnson (editor of Health and Strength), George Walsh and other hierarchy of the period - telling me that if only I could obtain the mid-section of the French stars I would be a cover man. I threw myself into Barton Horvath's course. 
Well, things like the war, five years in the army and six years of very little decent food put me back a bit. However, in 1947, six years on, I at least started to make front covers and inside covers of the bodybuilding press. It was the one-hand get-up that did it. 
Here's a detailed description of my way of doing this great exercise. The only rule for this lift states that the weight shall be held above the head at all times during the lift with the arm locked. 
Start with a light weight, say a 20-pound dumbbell, just to get the feel of the discipline. Build up the weight later. With your right hand, clean and press the weight to arm's length overhead. Use good style at all times. Now, look up at the dumbbell in your right hand, step back and slightly to one side some 10-12" with the left foot. Then, reaching towards the floor with the fingers of the left hand, slowly and carefully bend the legs until the left hand touches the floor. While doing this, allow the body to lean over to the left until it's supported by the flat of the left hand on the floor, with the arm kept straight. Keeping your eyes on the weight, start to move your left leg forward and allow the knee to slide to the floor.
You'll now be sitting sideways with the left thigh and buttock flat on the floor, supported by your left arm. The dumbbell is kept held above the head, of course with the right arm locked. Now, sink down onto the forearm of the supporting left arm, and very slowly, using the abdominals to control the descent, allow yourself to uncoil into a supine position, straightening the right leg. Take four deep breaths and try to relax with the bell held above your head with straight arm.
Now for the hard part. Roll over to the left and draw up the left leg, at the same time raising the body to a position supported by the left hand and elbow. Straighten the left arm and use the very slightly bent right leg to balance yourself. Now e have arrived at the most difficult part of the lift. 
Allow the balance of the overhead weight to lean towards the feet and slightly forward, getting into a position of being on the left knee with some 12" behind the bent front leg. Push with the left hand and, getting decent balance, lift the rear knee from the floor. You're now in the position of a split squat. Keep your balance and carefully raise up to the standing position with the weight still at arm's length above the head. Bring the feet together, hold for a count of two and the lift is complete. 
Now try with the left hand. 
Throughout the exercise, try not to hold your breath. Use the dumbbell [or keetlebell] to help you sit up and obtain positive balance, and don't forget to use a very light weight to start with.
When you're practicing this feat, just let your mind dwell for a moment on the far off days of 1903 and the fabulous lifter Emile Deriaz, and his amazing 189-pound one-hand get-up at an old gym in Paris. That was some evening in Paris. 
 Maurice Deriaz
Enjoy Your Lifting!

Personalization: The Surest Path to Gains - Kevin Dye (2002)

When I think of the sources of information trainees seek to help them in their pursuit of becoming bigger and stronger, I can't help but feel a twinge of sadness as the information often used is from sources that are next to worthless. Trainees either follow what the biggest guy in the gym does, without questioning its worth or practicality to their own individual needs, or what the champs recommend in the glossy muscle magazines, or is that glorified supplement catalogs. Sure, these might seem admirable role models, if only because they possess the kind of muscle mass the trainee seeks, but the answers they so desperately desire reside in better places, more reliable sources closer to the heart. 
Personalization is by far the best source of training information any trainee can use when designing their routine. Forget the glossy muscle magazines and what the champs do, the only person capable of designing a routine suitable to your needs is YOU! No two trainees are exactly alike, and individual variation dictates your own routine. While benches may suit your training partner because he possesses short arms and a barrel chest, you might receive little to no chest stimulation because you're built differently, making it useless for you. Never use an exercise just because others enjoy it or because of legend surrounding its reputation. If benches aren't suited to your body then something better is, and your mission is to find that exercise. 
One of the best moves I've made in my lifelong pursuit of reaching my genetic potential has been listening to what my body tells me. Possessing such knowledge dictates exactly what exercises I perform and how often I train. I don't care if others train more often or use movements that are the opposite from mine, that is their prerogative based on their needs. I'm my own instructor, only I know what I need to use for me. This type of understanding doesn't happen overnight, it's the accumulation of many years of lifting and becoming in tune with my body. Some people are born with this instinct while others have to hone it over years of careful listening; either way it's an invaluable trait worth its weight in gold when designing a routine suitable to achieve your goals. 
If you settle for a LOT less than what you are truly capable of then you only have yourself to blame, as progress can be a regular occurrence. Genetics aside, why accept less when a little trial and error can take you that much further? It usually takes a while to become in tune with your body, knowing which movements suit you, but that discovery is well worth the effort and dedication as you eventually possess your most powerful guidance, personalization. Weight training is as much about the journey as it is about the destination, so concentrate on gradually building up your poundages, enjoy the small steps of progress, as these are the steps that will eventually accumulate to provide the results you are training for.
Four factors determine whether the routine we presently use is right for us; these factors are based on our individual need. So while there might be similarities between two trainees' routines, there's often enough variation to make each one unique. These differences dictate, (1) exercise choice, (2) rep allotment, (3) workout volume, and (4) workout frequency. Let's examine each one to see how personalization shapes our individual needs. Let's examine each one.    
Exercise Choice  
The first step in designing your own routine is discovering which movements suit you. Some exercises deliver better results than others and without dispute, the foundation of every exercise routine revolves around the basics. The basics are the "beasts" of exercises, as they require the heaviest poundages demanding the most amount of effort to perform. These factors alone explain why they provide the best stimulation, but even within the handful of basic movements there's enough variation to choose from to personalize your routine. The basics deliver worthwhile and noticeable results, and trainees could easily forego isolation movements the whole of their training career safe in the knowledge that they never missed a thing. 
Keep in mind that we all possess personal differences, which is why each trainee needs to use only those basic movements that suit them. That is an ongoing process, as movement suitability changes as one grows older and stronger. For example, I was able to perform presses behind neck for most of my training life' this was THE exercise of choice for coconut delts and I wanted those jutting caps as much as anything. But as I grew bigger, pressing behind my neck was no longer practical. The joints in my delts began to suffer more strain and stress than stimulation, and my neck also began to feel the effects. I promptly dropped them rather than continue out of habit or because of the champs' endorsements. I tried a myriad of exercises in search of something better, requiring a lot of trial and effort before I eventually settled on front presses. I knew my body well enough to detect what didn't feel right and wisely avoided injury, which was inevitable had I persisted with presses behind neck just because "The Barbarians" swore to its worth. 
Rep Allotment

Knowing your exercise suitability is only part of the battle, as without knowing how many reps you should do on each one, you can't proceed confidently in designing an effective routine. Your muscle fibre make-up determines your rep allotment, and like your choice of exercises, it's something you have to decide on by listening to your body. Certain people excel at different sports for a variety of reasons, most related to genetic heredity. Long distance runners possess a different muscle fibre make-up than do sprinters, which is why they excel in their chosen sport. I knew early in my training that medium and high reps didn't suit me. I'm made for short bursts of effort, which is why my rep allotment rarely exceeds 5 reps of any movement. 
In the 80's I tested this theory on two separate occasions using Ellington Darden's methods from one of his books. As predicted, I failed on a handful of reps using 80% of my maximal weight. This confirmed my feeling that low reps suited me best. That isn't too say I've never used high reps for variety or to see what they could do, but each time they never felt right and I lost size and strength. I know I possess a high proportion of fast twitch muscle fibres, where my former training partner had a higher proportion of slow twitch fibres. He once accused me of being "lazy," as I would only do a handful of reps and I was spent. What he overlooked was that was how I HAD to train for my body; his required many more reps than mine did. Knowing my muscle fibre make-up determines my rep allotment. I'm a low repper, so that's what I use. High reps aren't my style.  

Workout Volume

Having a solid grasp of which exercises and reps suit you leads to the task of deciding how much exercise should be included in each workout. Like your muscle fibre make-up, your personal tolerance levels determine how much volume you can take each trip to the gym, and this has to be carefully monitored to avoid over-training. Over-training is by far the worst mistake I see trainees repeatedly make in their haste to become bigger and stronger, as when weight-training is overdone it hampers gains at best, ceasing gains altogether at worst, so it's always a precarious balancing act to get it just right. This becomes more probable the stronger you become; as strength levels increase, so does the toll it takes on the whole body. Advanced trainees are capable of generating extremely high levels of intensity, which is why their workout volume is only a fraction of what it is for the beginner. Even intermediate trainees generate enough intensity to cause enough depletion to warrant a severe reduction on what they used in their initial stages of training. If in doubt, it is always better to err on the side of being conservative, as that way you will be able to get bigger and stronger without fear of over-training.
Beginners tolerate greater exercise volumes than advanced trainees can, because they can't generate enough levels of intensity to cause substantial damage and depletion to their system. But as a trainee advances, growing larger and lifting increasingly heavier poundages, something has to be adjusted to compensate. With each progressive workout the trainee's system becomes less tolerable to the volume of workload it endures, which is why it's paramount that adjustments are made to compensate. This is a fact of nature, along with strength and size increases the strain on the system increases also, so to accommodate for these increases workout volume and frequency have to be adjusted in accordance, requiring careful monitoring. 
No one is a single entity, as we all possess the same human traits we need to obey for optimal progress. For our bodies to continue progressing at the fastest rate, we must closely monitor what our bodies tell us, as they are our most reliable sources of training information we could have. This feedback is invaluable, and if we choose to ignore it or never bother to pay attention at all then progress will never be what we hoped it would be. Our energy stores aren't indefinite, neither are our tolerance levels for exercise, so the smart trainee is continually monitoring his frequency as required.
Possessing a 22-year training history, I know my limits, which is why I use a handful of exercises each workout, and stop just short of failure. I love training, which is evident by by stable training history, and would dearly love to be able to train more often than three times every two weeks, but that wouldn't be practical for my body's needs. My weights are so heavy and my ability to apply myself to each exercise at a regularity that I would otherwise like. Regardless, I'm progressing every week, so that satisfies the criteria of why I train in the first place, as progress is where gains are at, not training for the sake of training. It's these small steps that add up to long term gains. 
Each of us has our own tolerance to exercise and recuperation periods we have to abide by to allow weekly progress. It's your mission to analyze each workout,  writing down every aspect in a training diary, so you have tangible evidence to draw upon when deciding your workout volume and frequency. In my opinion, the equation is quite simple: you either perform a single set to failure, or perform two sets just shy of failure, the effect achieved is virtually the same. Which ever you choose is based upon your own unique traits, as some trainees progress better (if only for a limited period) training at maximum intensity, while others progress better by avoiding the last rep of each set. This isn't a mystery, and as you become better at knowing your body, you will be aware of which suits you better. You must become your own trainer to know how to proceed, compare the effects of sub-maximal sets versus sets taken to failure. Try both, monitoring their effects, before you decide.
Workout Frequency
As mentioned above, workout frequency shouldn't be chosen out of the blue. It's much more complex than that, but when you have it right progress should be an expected weekly occurrence. When training is first commenced, most get away with daily training training if we choose, due to the low poundages we handled and the minor effects placed upon our recuperative abilities. But as we become stronger, able to handle heavier poundages and train harder, deeper inroads are made, taxing our precious recuperative abilities much more. These greater demands require extended periods of rest to rebound from. It's a two-part process, which most overlook and at best they only pay attention to the initial process of recuperating from the workout. In addition to the initial recuperation time to repair the damage we inflicted in our workouts, there's extra time to overcompensate (which is where gains are produced). This two-part process dictates what we get out of our workouts, but it's here where most trainees go off tangent, training when the mood hits them, which severely short-circuits the gains they were capable of had they rested a little longer. 
If possible, I would love to train at least three times a week, but know that isn't practical due to the drain on my energy levels to complete and recover from each workout. In addition to this, the mental drain involved to psyche up for such high levels of output is monumental, which is why I have little option than to abide by my personal needs and rest 3-4 days between workouts. This frequency is appropriate for my needs, as I am able to add 1-2 pounds to most exercises every time I train, and without progress why bother to train in the first place? I expect progress at least every second workout, and if it isn't forthcoming then I know it's time to make another adjustment to compensate for my continual strength improvements. My first adjustment is usually the volume of each workout, or the frequency when needed, whatever it takes to ensure continual progress.
Once a trainee passes the beginner stage they need to rest according to personal needs, allowing at least 2-3 days or longer between workouts. If progress is sporadic then lengthen the rest days until you see regular progress at least every second workout. Don't fall into the trap that just because Monday is your normal training day, you have to be in the gym, as maybe Tuesday or Wednesday would have been more appropriate. Far too many trainees fear that if they rest for more than a day or two between workouts they will shrink and become weaker. This is pure fallacy, as the body takes a long time to acquire size and strength it isn't logical that it would lose something in a matter of days that takes so long to rebuild. Recuperation is a complex process requiring periods of complete rest to complete according to lifestyle influxes. No week is the same, so be prepared to adjust your rest periods in accordance. Overcompensation (size and strength increases) takes even longer, so never fear resting as long as your body needs, as both your body and mind deserve time off so that the next time around it can push that much harder.
Train in accordance to your own needs, and never train to someone else's. You have your own criteria for choosing the exercises you perform, based on your unique body structure, which is arrived at after periods of trial and error. As with all other aspects of your workouts, either reps, volume or frequency, each has to be assessed against the other to ensure optimum progress. We must be patient in our journey of discovery, as very few people possess the traits to make their best decisions overnight. The rewards you will receive will be well worth the effort though, as you you will be saved the frustration of searching endlessly for answers, you will know exactly what to do at every stage of your training life. There will be no need to frantically search the internet or magazines in the desperate hope the answers to all your training queries will be revealed. Because your body possesses all the knowledge you'll need if you are simply willing to listen. 
Enjoy Your Lifting!          

Monday, May 17, 2021

Gaining Weight With the Squat - Peary Rader (late 1930's)

Originally Published in This Issue (Vol 2, No. 4)
 Courtesy of Michael Murphy



Because of the continual reference to the squat some may think we believe the squat to be the only means of gaining weight. This is not true as we know that many gain by various other methods than the squat. However, there are cases where it seems that nothing but the squat will get results.

I have had men gain only on heavy lifting, others on very heavy programs of many exercises. Some gain fine on clean and jerks. Others gain on mixed programs. However, most stubborn cases respond to the squat. That is the reason we give it considerable space. 

We also find that the squat can be used for various other things with variations of performance: high reps with emphasis on puff and pants and about bodyweight poundage used for the chest; with heavy weights for reap power; another variation for leg development; another for back development, etc. 

We herewith give in brief outline a weight gaining program. Some may disagree with us but we believe that it is best if one forces added poundage on the bell after a conditioning period has passed. You need not worry about whether you should squat with round of flat back as either is okay for weight gaining, you aren't doing them for development of certain muscles but to stimulate metabolism and all the functions of the body and its organs. I might say the squat makes you grow rather than that it develops you. 
First you do a military press and use what you can handle for 10 reps correctly. Then do rowing motion 15 times. Now before you wear out do the squat. Put the bar on standards and load it up. Get under it and back up and do 20 squats. The first five with one breath to each squat and from there on use 3 to 6 or more breaths. Then replace weight and breathe hard while resting. Add 10 lbs. to weight per week. Do three workouts per week if you can. If not, two will do. 
After resting do the prone press, curl, and press behind neck, each 10 reps. Do no situps. 
Eat plenty of good food and drink two quarts of milk a day. 
Sleep and rest all you can. 
Sorry I must be so brief but more another time. Try this and report to me. I gained 75 lbs. on this program. It will work if properly applied. Work hard and you will succeed. 
Enjoy Your Lifting!  



Saturday, May 15, 2021

Take the Blame If You Want to Gain - Randall Strossen (1998) 

To build the body, utilize the mind.


What makes one person succeed, no matter what? 

Why do some people fold in the face of the slightest opposition?

Why do some people make excuses for everything that goes wrong, while others simply go about trying to make things right? 
What can you do to develop the ability to forge forward, through any and all  appear in your path? 
More times than I can remember, I've watched a world-class lifter, back to the wall, pull off a lift that nobody would have believed possible. Maybe the lifter missed his first two attempts and down to his last shot at staying in the contest, he makes the lift. I've even seen people in this situation ask for an increase and then make a good lift. We're talking big time contests here: world championships, the Olympics and the like. These people know how to dig deep, how to not only keep going in the face of adversity but also go a little harder when things get tough. Consider, for example, Olympic gold medalist in weightlifting Naim Suleymanoglu, who was doing snatches in the training hall at the Atlanta Olympics and before too long had the bar loaded to more than the world record . . . 
He missed it. 
He tried it again and missed again. 
He took it a third time and missed it yet again.
He took it an unbelievable fourth time and made the weight. 
A few days later, in one of the highlights of the '96 Olympics, Naim went lift-for-lift with arch rival Valerios Leonidas, held him off and won a historic third gold medal.
Or there was the time when a guy named Marin Shikov, at the end of his second tough workout of that day of heavy snatches and clean & jerks, worked up to a heavy single in the squat. The single was so heavy that he missed it, and, since he wasn't surrounded by an army of spotters or the security of a power rack, he dumped the bar on the lifting platform. Obviously, when you've gone through a tough leg and back workout and miss a limit squat, you call it a day. 
But nobody told Marin this. 
He stripped the bar down, power cleaned it, put it back on the racks, reloaded it, tried the squat again, and just as in his first attempt, when he couldn't stand up with the weight, he dumped it. Surely anyone with any sense would know that it was time to call it a day, but once again Marin must have been clueless because he stripped the bar down yet again, power cleaned it, put it in the racks, reloaded it and, voila, ground out a very tough, successful lift. 
You might not know Naim Suleymanoglu or Marin Shikov from Salvatore Ferragamo or care a about picking up an Olympic gold medal in weightlifting, but if you're serious about making progress in your training and your life as a whole, developing a bit of their drive can open the door to a lot of really good things. Let's take a look at one aspect of how THE WAY YOU THINK and act controls your ability to generate outstanding results. 
Once upon a time, if you were walking down a sidewalk, tripped and fell, you would quickly get up, brush yourself off and hope that you were spared the embarrassment of anybody's noticing what had happened. Now, when the same thing happens a lot of people look around for somebody to sue, someone to blame for their accident. They might try to claim that the sidewalk was poorly maintained, with anthills sprouting up here and there, or that there should have been signs warning pedestrians that walking is a potentially hazardous activity, or that, perhaps, the sidewalk contractor was insufficiently schooled in the chemistry of sidewalk composition and the physics of sidewalk design. We've come so far in our attempts to avoid personal responsibility that even if a dead-drunk driver goes several times the speed limit and has an accident that kills everyone in his car who wasn't wearing a seatbelt, there's a massive movement to blame the whole thing on a bunch of guys waving cameras in the distance. Examples in bodybuilding and lifting are no less ludicrous and, more important, no less likely to obscure the path to progress.
For instance, it's amazing how many people blame others for misleading them about everything from training routines to diet -- with straight faces they describe in exquisite detail how they were led astray, often for years at a crack, before they saw the light. Or they excuse their lack of progress by noting that they have this or that genetic deficiency that keeps them from becoming world champions -- ignoring the fact that five years into training they're still squatting with no more than a couple of plates. 
And let's not forget the drug line, either -- that everyone who outperforms them is on some drug, even though they themselves have not made a lot of progress in the past year and their own accomplishments would have been insignificant decades before anabolic steroids were ever invented. Excuses like these shift responsibility to external sources, psychologists explain. Let's see how this works, putting the whole thing into the context of helping your lifting move forward. 
When we look to external sources for explanations of our failures, it bolsters our self esteem. This, of course, is a good thing a lot of the time, but it can also lead to some very unproductive behavior. Consider, for example, the lifter who has made virtually no gains since starting to train. If the lifter lays the whole affair at the feet of an unproductive routine he was duped into following, he feels good about himself. After all, he was the innocent victim who was defrauded by a villain. Consider the challenge to his self-esteem if he says, instead:
1) "Maybe I didn't do such a good job at evaluating the training program in the first place," and
2) "Maybe I didn't really train as hard as I should/could have." 
This second approach, which gives what psychologists call an internal focus to your failures, is a little rough on your self-esteem, but it also creates a tremendous advantage: It provides the opportunity to do better in the future by taking direct responsibility for your progress. I know a general contractor who has little sympathy for anyone who is swindled on a building project. "It's their fault for not checking references before they started the project." It's a tough one to swallow if you prefer to play the victim's role, but it's hard to fault the logic of his stance: Take some responsibility for how things turn out.
The same thing applies in the world of weights. What sort of idiot follows lame advice for week after week, month after month, year after year, and then tries to pin the blame on anyone but himself? When you've been squatting with the same weight for so long that the plates are practically rusted in place on your bar, how can you blame anyone but yourself for your lack of gains? If you've missed more workouts than you can count in the last year, do you really have to look outside yourself for the causes of your failure? 
Foster the belief that your future, for better or for worse, lies largely within your control, and cultivate a belief that your ability to mold your destiny comes from your control of what you do RIGHT HERE AND NOW.
And remember that sometimes when things go wrong, if you take the blame, it will only help you gain.     
Note: If you have enjoyed this article be sure to pick up 
"IronMind: Stronger Minds, Stronger Bodies" and 
"Winning Ways: How to Succeed in the Gym and Out."  

Great cover photo of a supremely confident Lurich.
Walk through a brick wall and rip ya in half! 
Here's two authors I've been reading for the last several weeks . . . 
Thomas Sowell . . . and John McWhorter. 

Good Stuff with none of the bullshit.

Enjoy Your Lifting!
























Thursday, May 6, 2021

Arms, Arms, Arms and the Exercise Bench - Charles A. Smith (1951)


Park, Ross, Eder.

Thank You, L.T.!

Note: This was part of a continuing series of Mr. Smith's on bodybuilding uses of the Exercise Bench. He also focused on the use of Super Sets here as well. The adjustable benches on the market back then were, well, let's just say not like now.

Freddy Ortiz
Albert Beckles


We would like to prove to you, just what we can accomplish with Super Sets. We want to show You just what kind of results can be produced. We make no claims that we can put an inch on your arms in a day. We realize you have jobs, social duties which have to be considered at least as fully as your weight training programs, that you have a set time for school and/or work, and a set time for your workouts. But we do promise you that you'll increase the measurement of your arms in two to three months if you follow our instructions, and we do promise you that what gains you make will be lasting gains.

The desire to make fast progress is just as strong in the man who has been training for years as it is in the beginner. The more he gains in bulk, muscularity and strength, and the faster these advances come, the greater and more prolonged is his training enthusiasm, and the more he is inspired to work even harder than before. These are the physique qualities, apart from health factors, that every bodybuilder demands, and when he doesn't get them he wants to know why . . . what he must do . . . where he has gone wrong . . . how others have made gains when he can't. 
There are, of course, a thousand and one minor reasons why he fails to make progress, but only three or four main reasons. Diet enters into the picture, so do daily habits of Life [if ever a word warranted capitalization, eh], as well as rest and relaxation. 

But it is my personal opinion that the chief cause is LACK OF INTEREST. In other words, sticking to a set routine, which at first may produce some initial results, but rapidly becomes dull and boring. It is well known in industry that the moment a man loses interest in any task, he will work less and less efficiently, and produce material which gradually increases in poor qualities. But any task a man enjoys, he'll work at with enthusiasm and manufacture good quality material. 
The same rule applies in bodybuilding. 
Exercises can provide the necessary interest, and help maintain enthusiasm with the results they bring, but these results depend in the main on the type of training methods employed, and the type of apparatus, apart from the actual weights, which are used. 
Take the training methods used. The Set System [performing multiple sets of a single exercise consecutively, as opposed to doing one set of an exercise and moving on to another single set of another exercise] concentrates the effort, enabling the bodybuilder to work twice as hard and obtain results twice as quickly as with the old system of one exercise for each body part. 
Here's an interesting article by Clarence Ross that explains the predominant non-Set System method used in the past very clearly: 
The Flushing Method steps up results even further, particularly in a specialization routine when each body part, say for instance the triceps, must be thoroughly flushed and pumped up. 
But the Super Set method carries the flushing method a step further. 
As you all know each muscle has another opposing it, called an "antagonist" muscle.  

The Super Set employs the method of working both, thus doubling the effects sought. 

Now, in this program for the arms, you are going to exercise both the the biceps muscle and its opposing muscle, the triceps. By working one after the other with the minimum of rest in between sets, additional blood is brought to the area, supplying more muscle cell building material, resulting in a more pumped up, fuller feeling through a complete and thorough workout of the entire upper arm. Thus not only is the biceps enlarged, but the triceps too, with faster recovery from exercise efforts.
Now we come to another important factor in successful bodybuilding . . . the choice of apparatus. You are well aware that outstanding strength, proportionate development and muscularity can only be built with barbells and dumbbells. But how can these be employed to the best possible advantage? The answer to this is . . . By performing your upper arm movements on the adjustable exercise bench, a bench designed specifically for your purposes. 
Why should you do this? Because you will be eliminating all unnecessary body motion, concentrating every effort in the area you are striving to bring to superbly developed form . . . the upper arms. 
In standing barbell and dumbbell motions, other muscle groups are brought into play through efforts to maintain balance and position; there is a tendency to depart from correct exercise form. While a looser exercise style is good for general gains, specialization demands a localized muscle effect, and this is provided by performing movements on an exercise bench, so that your entire mental concentration and physical effort can be devoted to the task of building larger and stronger arms.
Here is how the Super Set method works. Read through the list of exercises to below. Notice that first a biceps movement is performed, then a triceps exercise; also, these are alternated between flat and incline bench movements. You will have no trouble following the program just as it is laid out for you. Just keep to the exercises listed, the first week performing one set of each movement; the second week two sets, and the third week three sets. But always alternate the exercises, first a biceps movement and then a triceps exercise, then back to the biceps, then the triceps, a short rest and another biceps, then a triceps exercise.  
This means that the first week, along with a normal "three times a week" workout, you will perform eight sets in all, one for each exercise. The second week you will use 16 sets, two for each exercise. The third week, 24 sets, three for each exercise. Place this arm specialization routine FIRST in your workout program, then follow through with the rest of your workout after. Another plan is to devote one day to the arms, and the next day to the rest of your physique.   


Exercise 1 - Bench End Curls. 

Lie on your tummy along the bench so you can place your arms over the end and keep the upper arms tight against it. Hold a Weider Multi-Muscle Bar (EZ) in your hands, fairly narrow grip, and curl the bar up as high as you can; lower it steadily and repeat. Don't move the upper arms.    

Exercise #2 - Supine French Press. 

Immediately after your curls take a brief rest to allow your breathing to return to normal, then lie on your back along the bench with a barbell held at arms' length, fairly narrow grip, above your chest. The same grip must be used as in the curl, so that the palms of your hands are facing your head. Keeping the upper arms still, elbows pointing up during the exercise, lower the barbell down steadily by bending the arms at the elbows, until the bar is an inch or two above the head. Return to commencing position and repeat. Don't move those upper arms.
Exercise 3 - Incline Dumbbell Curls

Set your bench to an incline, then sit on the bench and rest your back against the inclined position (you in the photo, pay attention!) while holding a dumbbell in each hand. Keep the palms of your hands facing to the front at the start of the exercise. Curl the dumbbells steadily up to the shoulders, lower steadily and repeat. Don't let your body come off the incline and DO keep those palms facing front throughout.     

Exercise 4 - Dumbbell French Press

When your breathing comes back to normal again, take up the same position as in the previous exercise, but with the dumbbells held at arms' length above the head. Note their position and that of the hands, the palms of which are facing IN. From here, lower the bells down by bending the arms at the elbows, until your forearms are in a level position. Return to commencing position and repeat. DON'T move your upper arms. Keep them still with the elbows pointing straight up.
Exercise 5 - Seated Half Curl
Sit on the end of a bench with a barbell held in your hands, regular curl grip, and resting across the upper thighs. Keeping the body upright, curl the bar up to the shoulders, lower steadily to commencing position and repeat. Don't allow the body to sway back. Your training partner can place his knee in your upper back for support. 

Exercise 6 - Seated Press Behind Neck

 Clean a barbell across your neck and sit down across the exercise bench. Again, your partner can keep your steady by placing his knee in your upper back. Using a shoulder width grip, press the bar to arms' length, lower steadily to commencing position and repeat. Apart from a good triceps workout, your deltoids will get plenty of work too.


Exercise 7 - Lat Machine Curls

 Set your bench to an incline and place it in front of a lat machine. Grasp the bar with palms of the hands turned up, then sit down on the bench with back placed against the incline. At this stage the arms are outstretched in front of you, grasping the lat machine bar. Keeping the upper arms still, curl the bar towards you until the knuckles touch the upper chest, then return to commencing position and repeat. Don't forget to keep those upper arms still. 
Exercise 8 - Narrow Grip Press
Sit on the exercise bench, your back against the incline, and get your training partners to hand you a barbell. Using a grip a little less than shoulder width, press the weight to arms' length overhead, lower and repeat. Your elbows should point OUT TO THE SIDES. In this way the triceps will get the major portion of the work. The upper section of the pecs and the lateral deltoids will also be influenced.

This completes your super set, exercise bench arm routine. Use your regular combination of sets and reps. I will not attempt to give you any system of sets and repetitions here. All the top bodybuilders have personal preferences since the question of high or low reps and sets is an individual one. Len Peters keeps to 5 sets of 5 reps. Joe Weider uses 4-5 sets of 9 reps. Barton Horvath prefers 3 x 10 reps, while I like to start off with 3 x 7 and work up to 3 x 12 before increasing the exercise poundage. 
Rep and set combinations aren't so important. It is the exercises and the training principles applied that are. That old saying, "It ain't what you do . . . it's the way that you do it" is particularly applicable here.  



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