One reason many bodybuilders fail to obtain results that satisfy them is a stubborn refusal to face a simple fact: Before you can LOOK like you're really strong, you've actually got to GET strong.
You've got to acquire, in other words, plain, raw POWER.
Only one way exists that this goal can be accomplished, and I readily concede that that way is far from easy. But, while the way is "hard," it certainly isn't as complex as many might have you believe.
Lift very heavy weights, regularly. Work hard on those exercises that you do -- brutally hard -- and don't let up for aches, pains, discouragement or setbacks.
That's it in a nutshell.
When you acquire a well shaped, powerful and bulky physique, then you can play around with exercises that are not so strenuous or demanding. You can pump your arms to your heart's content, or you can run through a "fun" program of isolation and "spinning" exercises. Once you're big and strong it won't matter too much. But ANY beginner or an less than naturally well-endowed trainee who tries to work out in such a manner before he's built up, is asking for trouble.
FIRST GET BIG AND STRONG. If you are looking for good, authentic and honest advice and guidance as a beginner or intermediate trainee, then I have just given it to you.
If a trainee employs those big, basic, heavy duty exercises in his schedule that build POWER, then the shape and size that he's after will follow as naturally as night follows day.
You cannot become three times stronger than you are today, in every major muscle group of your body, and still stay weak looking, skinny or poorly built by and standard. So stop scratching around for an easy out or a simplified method. There is no easy way to the physique you want -- but you can surely acquire it if you'll patiently follow the hard and PROVEN WAY.
Until you are very advanced, do BASIC EXERCISES ONLY, with barbells and dumbbells, and work into weights that you can be proud of.
I am herewith suggesting a very fine program for gains in overall body development and well shaped bulk. Do not let its brevity or simplicity fool you. I have found this routine effective with myself, and with many personal students.
Basic Press Behind Neck
Warm up with one set of moderately heavy repetitions (8-10). Do two very heavy sets, with all the weight you can possibly handle, for 5 to 7 repetitions. The poundage should REMAIN THE SAME for both sets.
Do a final set, after resting about five minutes, of 3 or 4 more reps -- this time employing an even heavier weight, and one that makes you fight hard for the final rep.
If you don't intend to really push yourself on this, and the other exercises, then you might as well forget about gaining anything.
This exercise is THE BEST for the shoulders. Reg Park's shoulders are, primarily, a product of this one basic exercise. He worked up to 300 lbs. for reps! Think of HIM when you feel the bar getting heavy!
I can offer one suggestion that will make your pressed (regular or behind neck) more convenient, though not easier, to do. Do your presses right off your squat racks. This will eliminate the need to clean a heavy bar up to your shoulders before each set. The press is a shoulder exercise, so there's no need to burn out energy in the rest of your body doing it.
The Standard Heavy Squat
Warm up with about 9 or 10 reps. Use a weight that feels comfortable, and breathe freely as you squat with it. This warmup set is crucially important when squatting heavy, and I am convinced that many men fail to derive maximum benefits from squat programs because their neglect of a warmup leaves them unprepared for a truly Herculean effort on the heavy stuff to come.
Your 2nd and 3rd sets should be between 6 and 9 repetitions, depending on your energy level at that particular workout. The weight must, let us be quite frank about it, be very, Very, VERY heavy. It's almost got to make the set "doubtful." Squat to slightly below parallel position, then come up. DON'T squat down and sit there for half an hour before rising!
Once every couple of weeks, try to squat with a new record poundage for 2 or 3 reps, one set only. Don't try this after every workout. Every two or three weeks for this little "event" is plenty. You will be absolutely amazed at how this periodic PUSHING will help you to work into massive poundages with your squatting -- and, of course, achieve wonderful results.
Most bodybuilders make the mistake of employing too many other exercises when they're after great gains. This, without doubt, retards progress or blocks it completely. In order to do REAL JUSTICE to heavy squatting, pressing, rowing, bench work, etc., you've got to cast aside the nonessential exercises that only drain your energy.
Devote yourself to hard work on the basics.
This month's program is based upon only FIVE exercises. They are plenty. In fact, for some really weak or thin fellows, they may be too much. If you find, after a month's trial on the full routine that you're simply not able to put your "all" into your workouts because they leave you too pooped, then cut the schedule down. Do only THREE exercises:
2) Bench Press
3) Bentover Barbell Row
QUALITY in your training is umpteen times as important as quantity in your exercises.
Heavy Bench Press
Two sets are enough in this exercise, but they must be worked properly. Do a warmup set with a moderately heavy poundage, and keep bench pressing until the bar won't budge! Use a weight that brings you to this point of failure after around 12 to 14 repetitions.
Now load on weight. Use every possible ounce that you can handle for 8 to 10 more reps. This last set must be so hard that your arms tremble when you set the weight down. I advise you to use a bench with catchers for the bar, or have a pair of strong spotters standing by, just in case.
Not too many people realize that, besides being the basic pectoral builder, and frontal deltoid thickener, bench presses will do more for your TRICEPS than practically any other exercise, including the triceps specialization movements.
When doing heavy bench presses, NEVER press and lower the bar to the neck. Press from the chest. Keep a tight, hard, solid grip on the bar, and DON'T raise your feet when pressing. Keep yourself secure under heavy bench presses. Don't bounce the bar off your chest. This is a favorite trick of certain oddballs who enjoy showing off by hoisting weights that they cannot properly lift.
Bentover Barbell Rowing
Warm up with a fairly heavy, but not limit weight and about 10-12 reps. Now go HEAVY. Do THREE sets with as much weight as you can handle-- with a moderate amount of cheating in the final reps of each set -- for 6-9 reps a set.
This is one of the best upper body bulkers there is. It will give you massive arms, a wide, thick back, and plenty of impressive strength. It is the finest upper back exercise in existence.
Go heavy with bent rowing. Try to go as heavy as you do in bench pressing. It will pay you well.
The Dead Lift
Do a set with a moderate poundage. Work rapidly. Do two extremely heavy sets -- at normal rhythm and speed -- for 5-6 reps a set. You should use a poundage in these two sets that makes the bar almost fall from your grip.
It always has been, and still is my opinion that the stiff leg deadlift is superior to the standard movement. However, the standard movement permits a much heavier weight for just about every bodybuilder, and for our purposes now, we've got to employ the heaviest possible resistance in our exercises.
Normally I would suggest that any trainee would do well to top off his program with a couple of sets of situps or leg raises. This is, even for those seeking gains, a very good health building and appearance building measure.
It will take about three weeks before you begin to see and feel results from this program. However, once the ball starts rolling, so to speak, progress should be continuous. No setbacks ought to occur unless you keep at this training for too long without periodic layoffs. A week off from training after every ten weeks of so is a very smart ideal for anyone.
Go at your workouts full blast. Eat well, use supplements and get adequate rest. Try this simple formula as watch what happens.
Enjoy Your Lifting!
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