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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