Wednesday, September 15, 2021

How to Succeed with Your Bodybuilding - John Barrs (1947)


Courtesy of Liam Tweed. 

Success in body-building for large muscular measurements, increased strength and improved condition, depends more upon a willingness to work hard and persistently than any other factor. Any normal man may secure really pleasing results if he is prepared to devote three or four evenings each week to vigorous barbell training and to obtaining an ample diet and plenty of sleep and relaxation.  

There is no mystery about gaining muscular bulk. 
There are no "secret" exercises. 

Ask any successful barbell man how he "got that way" and he will tell you that he specialized upon a few vigorous weight-exercises, those which involve large muscle groups. Nearly every present day (1947) "perfect man" has given special attention to the Press on Back, Pullover, Rowing Motion, Curl - and the Deep Knee Bend. The formula is always similar, varying only as necessary for the physical type and personal preferences of the individual.

There are men who have tried the Deep Knee Bend or Squat method and have failed to achieve noteworthy results. But in nearly every case the reason for failure has been the same: they have been too impatient, in far too much of a hurry. They have practiced the recommended few large-muscle-group exercises for two or perhaps three weeks - and then, just because they have not gained half a stone in body-weight or have not made large muscular increases, have given it up for some easier form of program that they fancy.

Yes, this method is certainly hard work, but it gives the results.

The student who has passed his probationary period (through performing a standard beginner's 12 to 13 exercise routine for a few months) and who wishes to work on the specialized scheme, should make up his mind at the outset that he is going to persist religiously with the course according to instructions for a minimum of six weeks. Any shorter duration provides insufficient testing time.

A short while ago I wrote to Don Dorans, asking him to let me have details of this experiences in training himself and others. As every reader knows, Don has a really outstanding physique, and, as may be judged from those of his schedules which have appeared in VIGOUR, he has really worked for it. His remarks are sure to be of very real interest and value to enthusiastic weight-users, so I am including almost the whole of it in this article. 

Don Dorans writes, "Sorry for the delay in answering your welcome letter, but, like yourself, I am kept very busy answering training problems from body-builders around the country. Everybody seems to have the same idea - to win a physical excellence competition. They want someone to tell them how good or bad they are - either will do to give them extra encouragement. I am pleased to say that they all subscribe to VIGOUR and are as proud as I am about it. 

"Well, John, it is easy for me to write about successful body-building systems, as I have only to look back over the last four years and to realize that it was during those years that I made my quickest gains.

"Being a newcomer to the "squatting bug," I made great gains in strength and development with my first Deep Knee Bend course - which I found in my own particular case to be the answer to the body-builder's prayer. I am sure that the majority of readers will find this first many-repeats [sets] system of squatting too tiring. Let me state that this course wasn't intended to be a weight gaining system; I particularly wanted to strengthen my legs, as I employ the squat style in the snatch.

"I worked out about six times a week at least, as I very often found time for a quick session in the morning and again in the evening. The course was as follow: 

1) Upright Rowing Motion (narrow grip) - 3 sets of 10 repetitions
2) Two Hands Curl - 3 x 10
3) Pullover - 4 x 10
4) Deep Knee Bend - 5 x 10.

The poundage in the D.K.B. varied between 200 and 230 lbs. to start with. After the first month I could handle 270 lbs., and had increased my bodyweight 10 lbs. My poundages on the three Olympic lifts also showed an increase from a total of 580 to 620 lbs. The added leg strength was all I needed to make the above gains, as I had worked hard beforehand on a light system of cleaning and snatching.

"At the same period another member of the Luton Barbell Club, Eric Daniels, was bitten by the "squatting bug." He had the type of physique which Joe Hise terms "the slow gainer." After two months of hard squatting (breathing style - 3 or 4 breaths to EACH squat), he gained one stone in body-weight from 8 stone to 9 stone. He performed some upper body exercises, Rowing Motion, Curl, and Press on Box, but the Deep Knee Bend took up most of his time - 5 sets of 20, making 100 squats every workout, three nights a week.

"He then dropped the squat for several months, but still carrying on with his upper body work - with little success. He then made another start on the squat, using the same number of reps, and making full use of the Pullover at Arms' Length. Within another two months he had gained 17 lbs. He now weighed 10 stone 3 lbs. at 5 feet 5 inches. His physique was something to be proud of, for he was very light boned. 

"It it had not been for circumstances beyond his control, I am convinced that he would be in the 12-stone class. He was one of the hardest workers on the squat that I have had the pleasure to train with.

"I myself had a rest from the squat while still working hard on my upper body with some success in measurements, but not in body-weight. So I made another start. I found that by adding the squat in one of its forms to any three or four exercises it is easy to make gains in bodyweight. I tried working on the same course as before, but the reps proved to be too high in the squat - resulting in no gains in body-weight but further increases in leg strength. After two months I found that I could go into a full squat with 320 lbs. This helped to increase my poundage on the snatch. At this time Perry Hunt was offering a cup to the first club member to snatch 200. I made the attempt and succeeded, Perry Hunt passing the lift. 

"My ambition was still to gain more body-weight, but at the same time to try to keep my waist below the 30 mark. This made progress slow, as I couldn't resist the homemade abdominal board.

"Having tried the heavy squats, I now looked to the light, body-weight "breathing" D.K.B.s, to see what they had to offer. I still used the same upper body exercises - Rowing Motion, Curl, and Press on box or Pullover. The squat was performed in 2 sets of 20. Maybe I made a mistake in repeating the squats [doing a second set], but somehow I don't feel content with 20 reps and throw in another 20 for luck. Right or wrong, I managed to gain another eight pounds after a few months. I admit the gains are nothing compared with those reported from other countries, but living and eating conditions are against us at present. I also had little chance to increase my hours of rest; readers should take this into account.  

Note: Food was still being rationed in England after W.W.II up until 1954, with meat and bacon being the final items to be de-rationed. The quantity allowed up till then was very small. 

"As an example of what can be done when all the rules are followed, take the case of a friend of mine from St. Helens, Lancs - Bob Price. Bob stands about five-five or six in height and weighed 11 st. 6 lbs. You will agree that he was already carrying plenty of weight [160 lbs.], but Bob didn't think so, as he had been at a sticking point for a year or more. We got together and planned a new way of life for him, also cutting down his activities. 

"In the past he worked out four or five evenings a week, using about 12 exercises. He could boast only a 15.5 inch neck, 14 inch biceps, 43 inch chest, 23 inch thighs and 13 inch calves. 

"We agreed that three nights a week (only) be set aside for his new course. This didn't please Bob, as he enjoys his evenings at the Club, but he remarked, "I can stick to anything for three months." 

"He used the same upper body movements as above, but used a total of 50 to 55 repetitions on the squat made up of 2 sets of 20 Breathing Squats with 150 lbs. and then finished with 2 sets of 5 reps with 300 lbs. (ordinary breathing). The additional squats served only to maintain his strength, as he intended going on a heavier system later." 

Enjoy Your Lifting! 



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