Thursday, March 31, 2022

Effective Training Principles -- Anthony Ditillo (1978)

Phil Grippaldi, one of America's greatest all time Olympic lifters, started out as a great bodybuilder, and as you can see in this photo, still possesses a very great arm which could be the envy of many bodybuilders. That 18 inch plus arm has great shape and definition. 

Note: I can't believe I am still finding more of Tony Ditillo's articles! Here's a very rare item, courtesy of the late Reuben Weaver, a truly wonderful guy and great supporter of the Iron Game. He was a storehouse of knowledge carried and some of his contributions are still available to us at Joe Roark's IronHistory forum.

First is a letter sent by Anthony Ditillo to Muscle Training Illustrated magazine. \

Next are two photos that he sent with the letter: 

Thank You, Reuben! 

Editor's Note (Peary Rader): 

The author is a longtime contributor to Iron Man but has in the past year or two been too busy with his business to make much in the way of contribution of articles. He has not ceased his training or his study of the game. No matter how much we know about the sport, we never know everything we need to know and so training and study is a continuing growth both physically and mentally. The advice given in this article is the result of many years of training and study of others' training routines. In a nut shell, we could say that each man is an individual with different needs and responses than anyone else and he cannot make progress by "blind" training. He must study himself and experiment with available systems and programs in an intelligent and logical manner. No matter how advanced you are, there is still a lot to learn about effective training. The author asks you to study yourself, use and intelligent approach and develop systems that work best for you based on known and proven principles. If you do this, you will continue to improve. Here at Iron Man we try to bring you a varied quantity of material from different authors and athletes to help you in your own experiments and efforts. 

Note: And there, there's Mr. Rader's mission statement behind his publication of Iron Man magazine. 

The author is quite a strong man himself and his own routine at present included a standing press with 335 for reps and sets; a press from behind neck with 305; a seated press with 315; a shoulder shrug with 705; bentover rowing with 405 and partial presses from the shoulders with 555. All of these are done for about 10 sets of 3 to 5 repetitions. All this has given his a 60 inch chest and 21 inch arms. His advice will help you succeed also. 

The Article . . . 

After fourteen years of study and theoretical application, along with much valuable information passed on to me from my coach Dezso Ban, I have come to the following conclusions concerning physical exercises: 

An increase in your training intensity, an increase in the volume of work done within a given time, and proper exercise style are the main ingredients for assuring continued progress past the beginners stage. 

And along with all this hard work, you must also possess a determination to succeed coupled with great patience. Many years spent properly on correct exercise movements using correct exercises, style, and many hours of sweat and blood will eventually result in success. Indeed, you must SUFFER to gain and without a deep desire to do better and a true love of our sport you are not going to be able to go very far. 

Continually changing your physical goals to emulate or gratify the feelings or others is not the way to go. Nor is it feasible to expect much in the way of results from all this moving around. Just as in geometry, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, so in weightlifting, a straight, clean-cut goal is of paramount importance.

By increasing your training intensity, I mean increasing your work output. This can be done by either increasing your repetitions while NOT decreasing the poundage, or increasing the poundage weekly, but keeping the same number of sets and repetitions. An example of both kinds of stimulation would be the following: 

Using 225 for 10 sets of 3 repetitions, until you can perform 10 sets for FIVE repetitions per set. Then you would increase weight. 

The other alternative would be to keep the repetitions at 3 and try to slowly increase the weight of the bar, 5 pounds at a time while keeping the sets and repetitions the same. 

Both are very effective. 

You can also increase your training intensity by fighting against time, thereby performing the same amount of work with less and less rest between sets, and finally . . .  

you can increase the exercise intensity by either slowing down or speeding up the repetitions performed while decreasing your rest time between sets. 

Increasing your training intensity means making your work harder to do and training intensity is necessary for continued progress. If you are ever to advance from beginner to intermediate and perhaps someday to advanced trainee, you will HAVE to learn to intensify your efforts. 

Increasing your volume of work involves either additional sets per exercise or additional movements to work the same area from perhaps a different angle. in my opinion, different mental capabilities are necessary to succeed in either endeavor. 

Some men are able to work quite hard using maximum poundages without much warmup and these men would do quite well using 2 or perhaps 3 different movements for each area with sets ranging between 5 and 7 and repetitions between 3 and 5. 

On the other hand, there are some who have the ability to concentrate intently for many, many sets of the same movement using good style, heavy weight and great exertion. An example would be Dezzi, who can easily perform 25 sets of shrugs using extremely heavy weights with no ill effects such as tiredness, lethargy, irrecuperability, loss of muscle tone or strength. Yet this same man when trying various partial movements within a power rack could not properly recuperate. This, I believe was due to the difference in the grinding movements in the rack as compared to the intense, explosive nature of shrug pulls and high pulls. This is not to say that he could not learn to recuperate on the rack had he the time and desire. 

I am only trying to show the physical and emotional differences of lifters and how different types of training require different capabilities. 

Compound or multiple sets are also useful when trying to increase your volume of work within a given time and while most lifters feel such work is necessary only for bodybuilders, I beg to differ.

The more correctly performed work you can do within a given time, the more progress you should make. It's as simple as that. What MAY be the biggest problem is the necessary reduction in poundages in the beginning until your body becomes accustomed to the stress. There should come a time, however, when you can use just about the same poundages for multiple sets that you once used for the usual single sets. It would then be time to rest for a few days and collect yourself both mentally and physically and for a few weeks perform regular (non-multiple) sets of doubles and singles, to test yourself as to just how your strength has increased through the increased volume and intensity you have coaxed your body to become accustomed to.

I'm sure you'll be pleasantly surprised as to your progress provided you refrain from excessive cheating to lift heavier poundages and provided you don't stay on the heavy single attempts too long and thereby go stale prematurely. For although singles require very little physical energy as compared to 3's and 5's, they do tax the nervous system to the utmost due to the mental psyching necessary for success. But it IS necessary to register lifts heavy enough to equal your true strength level. Many times a lifter will press 225 for 5 yet fail to ever press 275 for a single and mainly, this is due to not being able to muster up enough nerve force to compensate for the heavier weight. 

It is one thing to squat 500 for 5.
It is another to squat 600 for 1.
Both require concentration; both, practice to perfect. 

Finally, we come to exercise style. It is my opinion that excessive cheating is mostly wasted effort or at best, misdirected stress. 

It is one thing to cheat out a last few repetitions in a set to make the continued performance possible, and another to make every repetition a HIDEOUS spectacle of extreme egoism just to impress nearby youngsters or uninitiated friends. 

To jerk 325 behind the neck is a fine feat of strength but it is NOT a press behind neck! Nor will it build as much muscle or strength as pressing the weight without using your legs. It would be different if you were trying to perform one set of as many reps as possible. Then the last repetitions would help ADD to the intensity of the set, thereby aiding your progress. But to cheat out single attempts until they no longer appear to be the recognized lift is ridiculous!  

If "muscle overload" is needed, there is always the power rack. There you can move enormous weights from awkward positions and work your lifts from sticking points to thereby strengthen your entire lift. We shall get into THIS phase of training at another time. 

For now, all you need to remember is that the stronger you get -- the HARDER it is to get stronger. The more advanced you become -- the more you must specialize to continue to advance and through it all, there is nothing more important than intelligent application of hard, intense work.

Note: Here's an Intermediate Mass routine from Anthony. Note the inclusion of 20 rep squatting, bodyweight movements, and the use of slightly higher repetitions to build mass efficiently. 

Enjoy Your Lifting! 


Wednesday, March 30, 2022

More Blood - More Muscle - Dennis DuBreuil


As the title indicates, it is becoming evident in weight training that the more blood that can be transported through a muscle, the more it will respond to weight training, other things being equal. 

It if receives more blood, it is served with more nutrients, and waste removal is speeded, greatly enhancing conditions for growth. 

Several articles have recently been published concerning routines in which a muscle is frequently pumped, say once an hour. Fast gains have been reported for short periods of time. Peary has mentioned that in a week, he succeeded in increasing his arm size about one inch by pumping his arms every hour or so. This was no mere pumping of capillaries, because his gain was permanent, negating any argument for pumped tissue.

I have been aware of a related phenomenon for some time, and I have touched upon it in my articles, but until now, I have not given it the emphasis it deserves.

First, we must agree that in order to grow, a muscle basically needs two things. First, it must have the STIMULATION to grow, and second, it must have the ABILITY to grow. 

In a healthy muscle, the stimulation is given by any sort of heavy training, but this is not enough by itself. Unless the muscle can recover and rebuild before the next workout, it will not, of course, be stronger. The recovery ability is almost as important as the exercise. It is aided by a healthy body, good general conditioning, a good diet containing plenty of material to build muscle, as well as a fairly fast metabolism, for those who are blessed with it. But most important, the blood is the only means of transporting materials to the muscle and removing waste. So almost anything that will increase the blood supply to the muscle will result in faster muscle gains.

The kind of high intensity workouts I have been discussing in my articles will give the muscle the STIMULATION to grow, but it is not intended to increase the ABILITY of the muscle to grow except for increasing local endurance.

In my opinion, the frequent pumping mentioned earlier affects the ability of the muscle to grow, by greatly increasing circulation for a short time. 

Thus we arrive at an axiom in muscle building -- if the circulation to a muscle is increased, the muscle will grow faster and larger, other things being equal.

We have had reports of runners who tried weight training before they started their running program, and after they ran for some months, being pleasantly surprised to find that they were stronger in the upper body muscles. Admittedly, they were quite weak to start with, and this is not the recommended way to build great muscle size, but the point is that increased circulation apparently was responsible for the increase in muscle size. 

At the other extreme for increased muscle mass is the great Paul Anderson. Although many people believe Anderson did very low reps, actually he did a lot of high rep work, especially to start and end his routines. Sometimes he di high reps during the routine at intervals in order to maintain a large flow of blood. 

When he started training, he found that his legs increased in size and strength rapidly, but his upper body muscles did not. He reasoned that the blood could drop to his legs, but did not have as good a circulation to the upper body muscles. 

So Anderson developed a number of upside-down movements to pump blood into the upper body, letting it simply drop to the upper body as the muscles were pumped with high reps. 

As an example, he would rig up a pulley on the top of a special decline board, and then he would lie with his head at the bottom of the board and his feet at the top. Then he would, using the pulley and a handle, do some high pulls to pump the shoulder area, and some upside-down deadlifts to pump the lower back. All at once, his upper body muscles began to grow to match his lower body strength. 

Note, also, Anderson: "By now I had not only discovered the importance of more than one exercise to advance in a lift, but also found the great value of getting the greater amount of blood into the muscles that I was trying to develop. Armed with this valuable knowledge I started seeking an exercise to get the maximum amount of blood into the pressing muscles. Through common horse sense I knew the best way to do this was in an upside down position. The first movement I used was the handstand press which did not quite do the job. Carrying out the same idea, I developed an apparatus that proved to be the greatest assistance exercise I have ever used for the press.

"This apparatus is very simple. It is made of two bicycle wheels connected by a three foot axle. This axle is covered by a small, float platform about 2 ½ ft. by 3 ft. The way I use this machine is to put my feet and lower legs on the platform and pull it along by walking on my hands. By using this I can stay in the position as long as I want to, getting an abundance of blood into the pressing muscles as well as receiving the benefits of the exercise."

In my opinion Paul Anderson did not require a great deal of stimulation to build great size and strength, as much as he needed more recovery ability. His upper body just could not remove wastes and bring in nutrients fast enough to keep up with his heavy training programs. In fact, Anderson had the ability that few men do to carry a lot of muscle mass with very little stimulation. He was a big strong man when he started weight training

and he rapidly got bigger when he started. But it was actually his recovery ability that kept him from getting bigger, rather than a lack of hard work. It is quite possible that if he had only done some light pumping at first, he would have gotten bigger and stronger anyway, even without heavy training, just because of an increase in circulation. There are other men like this, and some are top bodybuilders who train with light weights and lots of reps, and wonder why everyone else does not do the same thing. Unfortunately for us, our hormone level and inheritance does not stimulate great muscle mass to be built without very heavy training. 

So while the frequent pumping does not stimulate the muscle growth in the way that heavy training does, by making the body believe such increase is necessary, it does increase the ability of the muscle to respond to the stimulation that may be present. Thus the muscular growth of the routines spoken of only lasts for a short time, in my opinion, because the stimulation for growth came not from pumping, but from whatever heavy training the trainee did before that kind of program. After a short time, the frequent pumping had allowed him to completely recover from the amount of stimulation toward building muscle, so the increases stopped, and there was no more heavy training. More on this later. 

But how much can the blood flow be increased to the muscles? 
Is it enough to make great changes? 


Perform miracles? 
Just about! 

How much do you think the circulation increases when a muscle is pumped? Twice normal? Three times the normal flow of blood? 

It may sound bizarre, but the circulation is capable of increasing to a whopping FIFTY TIMES NORMAL! So what pumping a muscle really does is increase the recovery ability some 25 to 50 times normal, depending on the pump! 

From reading the above facts stated in the order and manner they are presented here, I know some of you are one jump ahead, and getting some ideas for your own training. What would happen if you did some heavy to promote growth from great stimulation, and then did some light, high rep pumping to increase blood flow. Would you get the best of both worlds?

Well, yes and no.

Much depends on WHEN and HOW you do the light and heavy training. If you do the heavy training first, as I have steadily been pointing out in my articles, fatigue products are produced in the muscles that are what actually stimulate growth. Then if you do your light training, you flush the fatigue products out of the muscle before they have had time to do their job of stimulating muscle growth. So doing a few sets of five reps with a heavy weight, for example, and then doing a high rep pump set, may or may not be the best idea. Some people will make less gains from the pump set, rather than more. 

Most of us have a limited amount of time, and I am as guilty as anyone of watching my training become nearly nonexistent because of business pressures, although I hope to be in very heavy training again soon. 

But for those who can do it, better results will be had if the body is flushed at a different time by pumping routines than when the heavy training is done. 

This leads to the next important point. When the muscles are being pumped just to increase circulation, the weight should be so light that no effort at all is being made to tax the muscles, as that should have been done in the regular workout. You simply want to increase the blood flow. So you do light, quick, movements, or whatever will increase blood flow without taxing the muscle.  You should feel refreshed when you finish rather than tired, if you're doing this right. 

I could, at my best, press 260 pounds behind the neck, but when I do these flushing movements I include a dumbbell press with 20 pound bells, etc. 

How many times should this flushing be done? If you are doing heavy training, I rather favor adding flushing movements three times a day. It is not a time consuming thing, as it takes about five to 10 minutes for the whole body. However, twice a day works well, and even once a day after your heavy training will make a big difference. 

Regular readers will recall we have talked a great deal about the careful use of fatigue products produced from a working muscle to build more muscle. We have mentioned on several occasions that if fatigue products are left in the muscles for 20 minutes or so after a muscle has been worked by very intensive training, the result in muscle growth is better in most individuals. Thus we suggested that anything that increased the circulation during this time be discouraged. We argued against going immediately to the next muscle group after working a small area of the body because this flushes the body part just worked of the fatigue products you have worked so hard for, before they have had time to do their job. We advised against running right after training for the same reason. We even pointed out that in any kind of split routine, a small area of the body can be saturated with fatigue products and thus stimulated to grow, but that the entire body can never be filled to the same level with fatigue products, so there is an argument that splitting your workout allows the muscles to be stimulated to a higher degree.

So it may seem contradictory when I am now postulating that increasing the circulation will build more muscle. In actuality, there is not a contradiction at all. There is simply the problem that it is not possible to do both at once and generate results! 

It is probably now obvious that some people do not need much stimulation to build muscle, but need to increase the recovery ability with flushing systems. And some people need great stimulation, but have recovery system that is more than adequate. But if you are a hard gainer in the same way I am, YOU NEED BOTH! You need to have the very intensive training, and you need to augment your recovery system.

I have purposely abstained from giving reps and sets for the flushing techniques, as you will want to experiment with what works the best for you. We are NOT talking about another workout, we are talking about a quick, fast technique that will leave you feeling better, rather than worse. It could consist of some freehand squats a superset for the arms with a 15 pound dumbbell, and some partial bench presses and rowing with a 20 pound bell. I say partial bench press because I find that the first 1/2 of the bench press pumps the muscle without tiring me. You may find something that works better for you.

I hope this gives you some ideas for your own training. Just remember, if you try light flushing to augment your recovery system: 

1) Use very light weights, and do not tax the muscles more than necessary for increased circulation.     

2) Do it at a separate time from your heavy training -- at least 20 minutes after.

Make it a quick refreshing adjunct to your regular training. Do not make it another training session in itself. 

Enjoy Your Lifting!



Monday, March 28, 2022

The Phenomenal Bulking Exercise -- Philip Salisbury (1978)

Peary Rader's Note: Many years ago a man by the name of Roger Eells in Columbus, Ohio who was suffering with TB and not given long to live decided to do something about his condition. 

Long study and search led him to barbell exercise and subsequently, he developed what we call the breathing squat. 

In a short time, by use of this system, he was able to transform his thin, sickly physique into a really great body and erase the damages of tuberculosis. He subsequently operated a health studio on Columbus and later went into the ministry. Basically, the following article by Mr. Salisbury is a similar system with some modifications he has found useful, but don't go into it unless you want hard work and people with organic disorders should not attempt it. 

Several variations of this system have been developed, and we may bring you others at a later date. 

The article: 

Assuming that 10 hours of weight training will produce X amount of muscle, 
then surely 20 hours will produce 2X. 


This is just a theory and only one thing is certain for the genuine hard gainer,

If your deepest desire is to build for yourself a Herculean physique that oozes power and granite toughness, and so far all the workouts you have done haven't produced any worthwhile gains, then ask yourself this question: 


If you continue to sweat blood training in a way that does not yield the results you desire, then you as a hard gainer will probably suffer the frustration of not achieving anything remotely like your goal. 

As a hard gainer, you can take heart in one fact: you're different from the average bodybuilder. This means, you won't be following the crowd, you can experiment and think for yourself. Determine to discover a personalized system of training which will produce the maximum gains possible for you and then stick with it.

The late George F. Jowett spent his childhood as a frail weakling. Unfortunately, in those days, any vigorous form of physical activity was frowned upon for people in his condition Nevertheless, despite the general consensus of opinion, young Jowett threw caution to the wind and spurred on by the determination to develop a robust body, he exercised in secrecy. Perseverance always succeeds. Eventually he became one of the strongest men of this time and was acknowledged as a leading authority on the subject of bodybuilding. In his writings, Jowett stressed an extremely important fact: "Build your chest from the inside out. Herein lies the secret of phenomenal gains for hard gainers, therefore let us analyze the mechanics behind this training philosophy, once you grasp the deeper meaning behind it, it will be like dynamite in your hands, you'll be on the road to the greatest gains of your life.

The development you will eventually achieve is determined to a great degree by the strength of your legs. From these facts, a picture emerges. When you work your legs really hard, not only your legs but your rib box also is affected. When your rib box starts to grow, everything starts to grow. You gain fantastically all over. In a nutshell, when you increase the size of your rib box, you increase your overall size.

Most exercises and training routines don't really cater to the internal needs of the hard gainer's body. The breathing squat is an exercise that works the body brutally hard both inside and out. Besides being an excellent leg exercise, it is responsible for more genuine 50 inch chests than all other exercises put together. Squats will adjust the metabolism, increase the appetite and improve the assimilation.

If any well-meaning bodybuilder tells you he's tried breathing squats and didn't gain, don't listen. Everyone who uses them will gain if he eats right and works hard enough. If he doesn't, there is something wrong with him, and anyone who isn't in good health won't be capable of doing breathing squats correctly anyway. 

The following chest specialization program utilizes this amazing exercise to full advantage. The sooner your make a start the sooner you can wave goodbye to your skinny body.

(a) Warm up the knees and lower back with light squats, stretching and bending. 

(b) Position a well padded barbell across the back of your shoulders. Use a light weight which you are capable of handling for 10-12 repetitions. Start to squat, keep your back flat and use a controlled fluid movement. Parallel is as low as you need to descend. DON'T crash to the bottom and bounce back -- your knees won't thank you for it. Important, BREATHE THREE TIMES BETWEEN REPETITIONS. Descend on full lungs and breathe out whilst rising to the starting position. Simply taking deep breaths isn't good enough. You should forcibly inhale to stretch those ribs, make them real lung busters. As the reps proceed, increase the inhalations to six or more. When you reach the twelfth rep, don't stop; it's imperative that you continue . . . you're going all the way to twenty. Each repetition may seem like your last. Your grip is starting to give out, your shoulders ache and you feel drained. Only sheer will power and determination can keep you going when your body is ready to quit. Hang on -- grit your teeth -- force out those reps. You must realize that it is essential to complete the twenty repetitions with at least three to six huge breaths between each one. Make no mistake, it is grueling work, but if your desire for big muscles is the kind that burns inside, you will complete the set and each week add a further five pounds to the bar.

(c) When you're finished, don't collapse. Instead, lie supine across a flat bench and execute twenty perfect strait arm pullovers. Breathe in while lowering the weight to arms length behind you and out as it is returned to the starting position above the face. Only use a light weight, twenty pounds is plenty and don't forget, put the emphasis on the breathing

"To get big -- enlarge your rib box!" urged John McCallum, a staunch advocate of the breathing squat. 

"As your rib box grows, your chest deepens, your shoulders widen, your whole upper body potential increases fantastically."

(d) Finally, perform three sets of seated calf raises. Place the same barbell you used for the squats across your knees (make sure it's padded), and use a sturdy block under your toes. Full contractions and full extensions. Work you calves until they ache right down to the bone.

These three exercises will work miracles if you apply yourself correctly. In three or four weeks time, when you have developed sufficient stamina, you can add a further set of squats followed by another set of pullovers. Utilize this second set in exactly the same way as the previous one, but reduce the weight of the bar by 20%

Here is the complete leg-chest specialization routine: 

Breathing squats, 20 reps
Straight arm pullovers, 20 reps
Breathing squats (20% reduction), 20 reps
Straight arm pullovers, 20 reps
Seated calf raises, 3 x max

It must be stressed that this is extremely intense work, so do not on any account attempt more than two sets of these special squats (in some cases one set may be more than efficient). These two sets should drain your energy levels completely. If you are capable of doing more. then you haven't been working anywhere near hard enough.

It would be madness to embark on a program like this without paying careful attention to your diet. You need three square meals a day with plenty of protein. Develop a taste for milk, build up slowly to a minimum intake of two quarts per day. 

Use this specialization program three times a week. Stick with it for three months if you can. When you go back to regular training you'll be surprised at how fast your muscles will grow. This is because your new bulk will soon make the old poundages seem light, consequently, you'll be able to handle heavier weights. Also, your internal processes will be much more efficient therefore your muscles will grow at an unbelievable rate. This, of course, is the aftereffect of working so hard on the breathing squat. 

A good way to train if you need to gain a lot of weight (say 80 or 90 pounds) is to alternate this specialization routine with normal training -- three months special squat program, three months normal routine, then back to the squat program, etc. 

If you possess the capacity to train in this way for two or more years, the inevitable transformation would be phenomenal; not only would you be the proud owner of a deep, powerful chest which would give your vital organs plenty of room to function, but you would also be extremely muscular and incredibly strong. 

They say a thousand mile journey starts with the first step.

This journey starts with the first set of breathing squats. 

Enjoy Your Lifting!   


Supersets - Hitting the Growth Zone -- Greg Zulak (1985)


This month I'd like to discuss a favorite training method of mine, super-setting, along with its many variations and different applications. 

There is a lot of talk by many muscle authors about super-setting (doing two exercises together, usually with little or no rest time between them) being an efficient way to train, as they allow you to do more overall sets in a workout, in less time while greatly increasing the intensity of your workout, and that super-sets allow for a lot of creative experimentation and thus are a great way to shock the muscles into new growth. And while all of these things are certainly true, the reason I like super-sets is because they make me GROW! 

Plenty more on supersetting at that site! Right from a break-in introduction to 'em all the way up to some very beautifully constructed and very creative super- and tri-set strategies.  

Many feel super-setting is only for shaping and for hardening up for a peak and don't promote any muscle growth. I strongly disagree. Some of the biggest, most massive bodybuilders of all time have employed super-setting in their training, including [fill in the usual list from this era]. Obviously, supersets worked for them.

In fact it is my strongly held belief that if you are training a muscle group hard via the traditional method of straight sets, heavy weights, moderate to low reps (4-8) and 60-90 second rest periods between sets and the muscle is not responding the way you want, then you probably have poorly established neuro-pathways (poor never force and neurological efficiency and poor blood supply to the muscle and the only way you'll get that muscle to respond is through the use of supersets. 

This is because you need to do higher reps for such poorly responding muscle groups, with shorter rest periods between sets to force a lot of blood into the muscle and keep it there long enough to get a good pump. This keeping the muscle pumped or flushed with blood is absolutely essential to growth. Straight sets, with long rest periods just don't allow you to get enough blood into the muscle and then sustain it long enough to maintain a good pump. 

Supersets not only force blood into the working muscle giving a deep burn and a super-satisfying pump, all the while increasing capillary size (thus improving blood flow), but the short rest periods between supersets keep the blood in the muscle for a longer time. This gets more nutrition into the muscle, feeding it if you will. At the same time, neuro-pathways are improved too. All of these things jolt the muscle into new growth.

Some of you may be asking, "Couldn't I just do high rep straight sets, with short rest periods and get the same effect?" And it's true, you probably could. But if you're like me, you get bored and lose concentration on high rep straight sets (15-20 reps or more). I find supersets a great way to get high reps without getting bored and I do it with more intensity than a regular high rep set. Why? 

A typical straight set has only 1 to perhaps 3 productive reps in the pain zone (maybe better called the growth zone), that take place at the end of a set. Obviously the more reps in the pain zone, the more productive the set if going to be. All the other reps are just preparation and a necessary evil to get to those final productive reps.

By supersetting, you double your productivity -- instead of getting onl 1-3 result producing reps from one exercise, you get 2-6 result producing reps from doing two exercises in a superset. And I find it more enjoyable to do two exercises of 8-10 reps from doing two exercises together than one exercise of 15-20 reps. For example, I'd rather superset Preacher Curls, 10 reps, with Barbell Curls, 10 reps, than do a straight set of barbell curls for 20 reps.

Allow me to sidetrack from the topic of supersets for just a moment. Probably the biggest fallacy in bodybuilding is that only heavy weights make your muscles grow bigger. That's

 . . . Your muscles don't know how heavy a weight they are lifting. If it feels heavy to them, they grow. Always remember, it's not how heavy the weight is, it's how hard your muscles have to work to lift the weight. 

Obviously this depends upon the style in which you lift it. Which is why 125 pound presses, using super-strict form and deep concentration (concentrating on making your delt muscles work as hard as possible, not to see how much weight your can ram overhead and to hell with whether your delts work or not) work the delts a lot harder than 200 pound presses done with knee kicks, backbend and wildly throwing the weight up in any way you can.

I've dealt with this topic before in a previous article but it's so important I think it's worth going over again. Do you know the difference between being a bodybuilder and a weightlifter? Of course, bodybuilders train to develop their muscles and weightlifters train to see how much weight they can lift, that is obvious. Both lift weights but it is HOW they lift the weight that makes them different. A bodybuilder tries to lift the weight through pure muscle action, the hardest way he can, and the weightlifter, using speed and momentum, tries to lift the weight the easiest way he can.

Both use intense concentration, but the bodybuilder concentrates on the muscles he is trying to work and not the weight he is lifting, while the weightlifter focuses his concentration on the weight he is trying to lift and not the muscles involved. 

For example, if a bodybuilder is doing a set of barbell curls, he focuses his attention on his biceps muscle and not the barbell in his hands, and he does everything to make his biceps work as hard as possible, no matter how much the barbell weighs.

But is a weightlifter did a set of barbell curls, he wouldn't care how hard his biceps worked, as long as the weight got up. All his concentration would be on the barbell in his hands, not his bicep muscles. 

Arthur Jones has correctly pointed out that for muscle building purposes the weight is insignificant, as long as it's as heavy as you can lift in correct style, for a reasonable number of reps (6-12) and is done to muscular failure (or close to it). To repeat myself, using strict form, deep concentration and a continuous tension style of training, a 35 pound dumbbell can be made to feel like a 50 pounder. 

Jones says you go to the gym to build strength, not to demonstrate it and by using weights that are too heavy to be handled in good form, inevitably cheating and sloppy form is encouraged, and the trainee becomes too concerned with performance (lifting a heavy weight) and not on working his muscles hard. 

So remember, any time you use a weight so heavy that you transfer all of your attention and concentration to the weight and lose touch with your muscles, you are probably lifting too heavy and not bodybuilding as effectively as you could. 

The reason I went off on a tangent is that a lot of guys complain, Yeah, but when superset, I have to use lighter weights." Now you know how ridiculous their argument is for not using supersets. The weights may be lighter when supersetting (it isn't in all cases) but the intensity is greater, the pump is bigger and the muscles work harder. Maybe supersetting isn't as easy of fun as doing slow, heavy sets and it isn't a macho but it works and that's what ultimately counts: results, right? 

Still, after all I've just said about heavy weights and their not necessarily being needed to build size, a lot of guys still have their doubts, so let's talk about it. Put those fears to rest once and for all. It's not always true that supersets force you to use lighters weights than straight sets. Sometime supersets allow you to use even heavier than normal weights than straight sets! 

For example, when supersetting antagonistic or opposing muscle groups (i.e. pecs-lats, biceps-triceps, leg biceps-quadriceps), by resting 30-60 seconds between exercises you can actually use heavier weights than if you were doing straight sets for one muscle group. This is because the muscles recover better when trained antagonistically. For example, when supersetting biceps and triceps, training the biceps also both warms up the triceps and helps it to recuperate. Likewise, when training the triceps, the biceps is rested better and recovers faster than if trained alone and merely rested as in straight sets. When trained antagonistically, the muscles don't burn out. 

I myself find I can do more wide grip chins and more total reps of chins when I precede my chins with sets of bench presses or inclines. This is because the benching involves a lot of triceps work, which recuperates the biceps muscles by supplying antagonistic work. 

Likewise, many find they can squat or leg press more when supersetted with leg curls first. The pumped leg biceps cushions and stabilizes the legs while helping the quads to recover. 

Training antagonistically need not just be used with supersets. They can be used on tri-sets too. Trisets (especially those without hyphens), that is, training 3 exercises together, and an extension of supersets but when training 3 exercises together with little rest between them for the same muscle group, one tends to find that after only 1 or 2 cycles the muscle is so burnt out that light weights become a necessity. A way around this is to add an antagonistic movement to the triset. 

Note: have another look at the Draper website, dig around there, and you'll find some great examples of this. 

For example, when doing a triset for your pecs involving bench presses, flyes, and dips, after one cycle you triceps are so burnt out that you have to drastically reduce the weight or fest for so long to allow the muscles to recuperate that you lose your pump, which is why did the triset in the first place, to get a pump, not lose it. But if instead, you did bench presses, flyes, and as a third exercise, chins, rows or pulldowns, the antagonistic work would allow your triceps to recover and you could train faster and still use heavier weights.     

If you're one of those guys who just has to do some heavy sets every workout, then use the heavy-light principle in your training.     

Here, from Greg Zulak on heavy-light training: 

Do one very heavy exercise per bodypart, using straight sets and low reps, and then follow it up with your supersets to really make the muscles burn, ache and pump up. For example, for the pecs bench presses, warmup then 2x6, 2x4, 2x2, 1-2x1, followed by incline presses supersetted with incline flyes, or Gironda pec dips supersetted with low incline flyes Use the same format for every other bodypart. Heavy presses behind neck, followed by side raises supersetted with seated dumbbell presses. Heavy barbell curls, followed by preacher curls supersetted with seated barbell curls. Heavy squats, followed by leg extensions supersetted with 45-degree leg presses. You get the idea.

Another way to use heavy weights while supersetting is to do compounds or supersets for the same bodypart but the first exercise is done heavy for low reps while the second is done lighter for higher reps. For example, using a very heavy dumbbell, do 6 one-half reps in the dumbbell concentration curl followed immediately by 6-8 full reps of concentration curls with a lighter dumbbell.  

There are some very effective methods of training that ensure you hit the muscle in different ways, ending the controversy as to whether to use havey weights and low reps or more moderate weights and high reps. 

Do it both ways and you can't go wrong! 

Let's talk about some variations of supersets that are very effective and can be used to good effect in your training. I've already touched on the topic of trisets but obviously you can do more than three exercises. Anything over 3 exercises is generally called a giant set. Personally, except when training abs, I find doing more than three exercises in a cycle ineffective for size building, as it becomes more of an aerobic exercise than a muscle building one. But I find it great for abs. Take 4 or 5 of your favorite ab exercises and just max out on each. One or two cycles and your abs have had a great workout and in half the time of a regular ab workout.

Trisets, on the other hand, can be very effective. Larry Scott used a lot of trisets in his arm training and few had arms to match his. When doing trisets for the same muscle group, pick exercises that work different parts of the same muscle. For example, if you want to do a triset for your biceps, pick one exercise that works lower biceps, one for the middle bicep and one that works peak. Preacher curls, barbell curls, and lying lat machine curls fit the bill perfectly. Trisets will definitely  

your muscles, so I don't recommend more than two cycles, done twice a week, unless you are very advanced. 

The next variation of supersets are compounds, or supersetting two exercises for the same bodypart. Technically, supersets are meant for two exercises of opposing muscle groups but over the years the term has come to mean any two exercises training together. Compounds fall under two categories -- supersets, and pre-exhausts. Compound supersets are any two exercises for the same bodypart, no matter in which order they are trained. For example, for chest, incline presses supersetted with dips; for thighs, squats supersetted with leg presses. The idea here is to do two exercises and just go for the burn and pump. 

Pre-exhausts, a principle invented by MuscleMag's own Bob Kennedy and then later made popular by Arthur Jones and later Mike Mentzer, are a little more scientific. 

This principle makes it possible to work a particular muscle structure harder than normally possible. This is done by performing an isolation type of exercise first and then immediately following it up with a compound exercise that works the same muscle group as the isolation exercise. By performing the isolation exercise first you remove the "weak link" of ordinary compound exercises. That is, in almost all conventional exercises involving the function of two or more muscular structures, a point of failure occurs when the weakest involved muscles are no longer able to perform and this often occurs before the stronger or desired working muscle is stimulated enough to produce growth. 

For example, when doing presses for the deltoids, the triceps give out before the delts have been worked hard enough. But by performing an isolation type of exercise that involves mostly the delts, with no triceps involvement, like strict side laterals, the deltoids are momentarily "pre-exhausted" so that when you start your presses, the triceps are fresh and you can train the delts much harder than normal. If cone correctly, you fail because your delts have been exhausted, not because the triceps fail.

Remember when I talked earlier about weight not being important as long as it feels heavy to your muscles? Well, this is especially true in pre-exhausts. You'll definitely have to use lighter weights on the compound exercise of your pre-exhausts than normal, but the muscle will definitely be worked harder than ever. A properly performed pre-exhaust is brutally hard, especially of both exercises are taken to failure, as they should be.

When performing pre-exhausts for the thighs, sometimes it's possible to run out of breath or having to terminate the exercise because of cardiovascular failure rather than muscular failure. If you run into this problem in your training you can try a modified pre-exhaust, a la Clarence Bass. When training legs, Bass will rest up to 60 seconds  between exercises which allows him to get his wind before starting the second exercise of the pre-exhaust. Some argue that this reduces the effectiveness of the pre-exhaust, as according to some, resting even as long as 10 seconds between exercises allows the muscles to recover almost 80%. But Bass, as many others, still claims excellent results with the modified pre-exhaust and you may want to try them too. Bob Kennedy made a great contribution to bodybuilding when he thought up the pre-exhaust system.  

Here's his original article for Peary Rader's Ironman mag:

The last method of supersetting I'd like to discuss isn't really supersetting, but because it involves doing 2 or more "sets" of the same exercise without rest I've decided to include it in the discussion. 

Triple drop training involves doing an exercise till failure, then immediately with rest removing some plates and continuing on again till failure, and immediately removing more weight and going to failure again. More than three drops and you'll find yourself getting into cardiovascular failure again. It helps if you have your training partner remove the plates so you can go faster. 

A variation of this involving dumbbells is called "down the rack training," a favorite of Larry Scott [and George Hackenschmidt among many others along the chain of time]. This method is good for exercises like laterals, concentration curls, etc. Simply stand by the dumbbell rack and work your way "down the rack." For example, on dumbbell curls, you may start with the 50's, rep out with them, then immediately grab the 40's, rep out, and finally go to the 30's and rep out with them.

Triple dropping is one of the most brutally hard and demanding types of training around. But they can be made even more intense by doing your triple drops with supersets or even trisets. And this can be done as compounds, pre-exhausts or antagonistic supersets. Believe me, now you're talking intensity! For example, here is a routine for the arms using triple drops and antagonistic supersets. 

Barbell curl superset close grip bench press. 
Preacher curl superset triceps pressdown.
Reverse curl superset wrist curl.
All exercises 2 sets with 3 drops. 

It doesn't sound lime a lot of work [!?] but counting each drop as a set you're doing 16 sets each for the biceps and triceps and forearms. Increase to 3 sets and you're doing 24 intense, demanding set per bodypart. 

Because supersets are so demanding they should be used with discretion. It's very easy to overwork on them, so I wouldn't get carried away with too much enthusiasm. Supersets can be too much of a good thing.

For beginners, I advise doing only 2 or 3 supersets on your most stubborn muscle groups once a week. Intermediates could do 3 supersets per muscle group once or twice a week. But if you find yourself not recuperating from your workouts, then back off on the sets or only do the supersets once a week.

Give supersets a try. 

You may find their just the ticket to a larger, more muscular body.

Enjoy Your Lifting!      

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