Monday, October 31, 2022

Sensible Weight Control for Bodybuilders -- Clarence Bass (1979)


 I have been surprised at the many letters, telephone calls, and face to face inquiries I have received since the results of my composition test were reported in the November, 1977, issue of Iron Man. The average, normal fat content for my age group (39 at the time) is 15.7%. Test performed at Lovelace Bataan Medical Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, using the water submission method, showed my body fat level to be 2.4%. 

To put my test result in further perspective, a fat level in excess of 20% is considered obese, and under 10% is considered good for an athlete. I am told that Bruce Jenner, the Olympic decathlon champion, proudly announced on a nationally televised talk show that his body fat level had been measured at 8%. So many people have asked me what methods I used to become so lean, that I thought readers would be interested in my answer.

Wheaties may be Bruce Jenner's secret but it certainly is not mine. In fact the method I use is so simple it probably should not be considered a secret at all. If there is a secret to successful long term weight control it is DIET WITHOUT PSYCHOLOGICAL DEPRIVATION.

Before I explain what I mean by diet without psychological deprivation, I should first interject that exercise is required to achieve lean body mass. Iron Man readers do not need to be convinced that progressive resistance exercise is the best way to build muscle and that it is not the purpose of this article. I do, however, want to make it clear that unless you want to look like a concentration camp victim, you cannot achieve an extreme degree of leanness without combining exercise and diet. 

In the minds of most people, the term "diet" itself is synonymous with hunger and deprivation. I have found that this need not be so. I can honestly say that I reduced my bodyfat level below 3% without hunger, and without feeling deprived in any way. If you do feel hungry and deprived on the diet that you are following, the odds are that you will not be successful in maintaining a lean body. The eating habits that I advocate can easily be followed for a lifetime. The conventional low calorie diet, or the low carbohydrate diet work, but except for a few exceptionally determined people, these crash diets do not work on a long term basis.

The diet that I followed before my first body composition test and which I advocate has two critical characteristics. First, it is filling and satisfying, and secondly, it is low in calories. You will see, however, that it is not a typical low calorie diet that your family doctor might prescribe. I do not believe it is sound advice to simply say, "Eat everything you want but just eat a little less than you are now and you will lose weight." By following that advice you will lose weight, but I believe that for most people that is not the best approach for maintaining a healthy lean body over a lifetime.

My cardinal rule to AVOID CONCENTRATED CALORIES. To give a simple example, sugar contains more calories in one of the most concentrated forms possible. On the other hand an apple has a lot of volume with few calories. It has a low concentration of calories. Eat all of the sugar or all of the sugar filled foods you want and you will take in more calories than your body can use and you will become fat. By contrast, eat all the apples you want, or even gorge yourself on apples and you will not take in more calories than your body can use and you will not become fat. Butter is another example of a concentrated calorie food. You can eat your fill of baked potatoes and not get fat. But if you drench the baked potato in butter and eat all you want you will get fat.

Another characteristic of the concentrated calorie foods is that they stimulate the appetite and encourage you to overeat. You will eat more baked potatoes if you add butter and you will eat more candy coated apples than you will apples alone. The food processors know exactly what they are doing when they add sugar to almost all processed foods. The more sugar they add, the more you eat and the more their cash registers jingle, and of course, the fatter you get. If you stick to the natural foods like the potato and the apple you will not overeat, you will not get fat, and best of all you will be comfortably full and satisfied.

I am not suggesting that you live on apples and potatoes. I simply use these two excellent foods as examples of natural foods that taste good, fill you up, make you feel satisfied, and still do not overload your body with calories and make you fat.

To further illustrate the method of eating I advocate, let me conclude by telling you what I ate during a typical day leading up to the body composition test that has aroused so much interest.

For breakfast I ate a cereal I made myself with the following ingredients: rolled oats, bran, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, fresh fruit for sweetening topped with Grade A raw whole milk. This cereal is nourishing, filling, it tastes good, and it is low in calories because it contains none of the concentrated calorie foods.

Lunch was more of a problem because I had to take it with me to the office, but I still avoided the concentrated calorie foods. I usually had a peanut butter sandwich with whole raw milk or yogurt and an apple or baked potato. You may be thinking, "Who is he trying to kid by telling us that peanut butter is not a concentrated calorie food?" You would be correct if you went to the supermarket and grabbed a jar of peanut butter from their shelves. Most supermarket peanut butter is like any other processed food, it is filled with sugar. The peanut butter that I use is made by my wife, Carol, using nothing but peanuts she roasts and blends herself. It contains no sugar and salt. The bread is whole grain which I secure from a health food store. It would be better still to make the bread yourself at home so that you could completely control the ingredients. I have found that even the whole grain bread that is sold in health food stores contains honey or other concentrated calories that I would prefer to avoid.

My evening meal was usually a salad made with assorted greens, fresh vegetables, eggs, and nuts. By using your imagination you can create a delicious, huge, nourishing and filling salad, but which is still low in calories. The danger here is the dressing you may be tempted to put on the salad. Dressing is just like the candy on the apple or the butter on the potato. It adds more calories and tends to make you eat more than you would ordinarily need to feel full and satisfied. I think you will be surprised to find that a salad of this type tastes delicious with no dressing at all. If you fell you have to have some dressing, try lemon juice or vinegar along, and if you must, go ahead and add oil, but keep it to a minimum.

If I was hungry later in the evening I would have a snack of fresh fruit, usually apples or pears. I eat everything but the stem, and I ate all I wanted because as I said earlier, you can literally gorge on this type of food and not become fat. I, however, found  that I was usually satisfied with one or two apples or pears.

If you make a lifetime habit to eat only natural unprocessed foods, you will avoid almost all of the concentrated calorie foods. You will never be overweight and you will never feel hungry or deprived. For those who wish to further explore this method of eating, I strongly recommend that you read the book, Did You Ever See A Fat Squirrel? by Ruth Adams. 

Enjoy Your Lifting! 

Explaining the Facts of "Lift" -- Carl Miller/Bruce Buck (1979)


Back Row, L to R: 
Dick Smith, Bob Bednarski, Tommy Suggs, Gord Venables and John Grimek.
Middle Row: 
Bob Hoffman, Johnny Terpak, Paul Anderson, John Terlazzo and Bill Starr.
Steve Stanko, Gerald Ferrelli, Tony Garcy and Joe Zagurski. 

                              Keith Gonnelly practicing turning elbows out to side before doing a snatch. 

I am relaxing. 
I am relaxing more and more.
It feels so good to just let go. 
Every muscle, every nerve is
relaxing more and more now.
I'm drifting deeper, deeper . . . down.

In a corner of the darkened gym two dozen shape lie scattered, as still as petrified tree trunks. The voice on the tape drones on . . . 

I am completely relaxed now, drifting even deeper, going down i into easy, relaxing sleep. I reject all negative thoughts, words and vibrations. Every day I am becoming more and more confident in my ability to perform . . . 

A faint sound of sawing wood hovers over the supine group as the tape nears its end. This may not be the best time to introduce its leaders to you, but there they are. That big log on the left is Lee Shorter, weightlifting coach from West Virginia, guest lecturer here on nutrition and training methods. The mossy trunk (would you believe kelp?) at the rear wall is South Carolinian John Garhammer, biomechanics teacher at UCLA and national research W-L coordinator.   

More here:  

And that figure seated cross-legged in the center, frowning impatiently in the darkness as he awaits the final awakening words, is Carl Miller . . . 

"One . . . two . . . three. Eyes wide open."

Slowly, like some enchanted forest coming to life, the prone shapes begin to move, sigh, groan and sit up. For the past twenty minutes the lifters have felt their bodies metamorphose into states of utter relaxation while their conscious minds -- those which managed to remain conscious -- were conditioned to thoughts of affirmation: "WEIGHTLIFTING" I am healthy, strong, young, powerful, loving, harmonious, successful and happy." 

Weightlifting is psyching. It's one of the tools Carl Miller demonstrates to his students to help them attain greater success. Affirmative mind conditioning through THINKING SUCCESS is a "high" athletes can enjoy in daily training right up through contest time. So far there's no known way to detect it in the blood or urine, but it's too good to remain legal for long. 

The psychological approach was only one of the methods stressed this summer in Miller's camps at Santa Fe. Training programs based on physiological research, and training techniques developed through the study of body mechanics were also stressed.

The group on the gym floor now fully awake, Miller strides ahead up the stairs toward the lecture room where the lifters seat themselves. He surveys them with a grin. It isn't every day he sees 24 athletes in mid-afternoon wearing clean socks. 

The reason? A nurse is coming to measure the degree of ankle flexibility of the lifters. Ankle flexibility and body proportion will be used during this camp to help determine each lifter's most appropriate style and training technique. 

The importance of the physiological approach to weight training, stressed in the 1978 camps, is best indicated by the esoteric message printed in large, black letters across the front of Carl Miller's orange T-shirt: READ BULGARIA 3. LInks worth checking above if you're interested. It refers to an article in the Olympic Lifting Manual composed by Miller for use in his camps. In "Bulgaria 3" written on his return from the W-L championships in that country, Miller explains the meaning and usefulness of "training phases" in an athlete's preparation for a series of contests.

Briefly, this method is based on studies made by Hans Selye on stress and the adrenal glands, and parallels three stages of adrenal activity described by the CANADIAN doctor: 

1) an alarm stage which is the phase of adaptation during which training is initiated and progress made toward peak performance, 4-12 weeks;

2) a resistance stage which is the complete achievement of the peak, 3-6 weeks; and 

3) an exhaustion stage which is readaption to the loss of peak condition. 

These physiological realities, Miller explains, mean that a preliminary phase, a contest phase, and a post contest or readaption phase for lifters, particularly higher class lifters who are more under stress, are definitely indicated.

Beginning lifters, who make progress simply because they are new, will make better progress later if trained from the start under a system based on correct stress cycles. Therefore, applying these phases to different classes of lifters and individual lifters, including hours per workout per week, and number of reps  and exercises, is an important part of Miller's training method.

With the Mexican border just a javelin's throw away [oh-oh], John Garhammer's lecture the next day on anabolic steroids achieves a certain immediacy, keeping the lifters on the edges of their chairs. For Carl Miller, who prides himself on coaching athletes to their best performances by providing them with constantly improving training methods, it's a downer knowing that in international competition pharmaceutical factors often determine who wins or loses.

His desire to train world champions notwithstanding, Miller won't encourage his lifters to endanger their health or break the law. He feels these are moral decisions each athlete must make for himself. On the other hand, recognizing that steroids can't be wished (or washed) away, Coach Miller makes every effort to provide his students with the available facts. 

These include information on training with steroids gleaned in discussions and through observations during his extensive professional travels (double and triple checked when possible), plus information drawn from experiments he made on himself over a two year period when not competing. 

Note: Good old IronMan, and bless Peary and Mabel Rader for providing different information openly. If you're familiar with the Rader mags, that runs through their long term mission statement. Bless 'Em. 

While interest in steroids runs high, reaction to Garhammer's next lecture demonstrates that athletes take an avid interest in other areas as well. Although Carl has managed to load all Garhammer's slides into the projector upside down and/or backwards, the information they contain on bio-mechanic analysis is so fascinating that within seconds 24 pairs of eyes have adjusted to watching John's pointer follow the graph line upwards from right to left to pinpoint where a drop-off in power output during one lifter's clean & jerk has affect the result but can be remedied by a style change. Then they watch the downward-moving pointer show where Sam Walker and Bruce Wilhelm are generating more power at certain moments in their lifting that Sultan Rakhmanov.  

One axiom of isokinetics is that you have to train with speed to have speed, a fact of lift which separates the lifters from the power people and bodybuilders across the gym. Moving on to his next lecture, Garhammer switches to a beautifully drawn, delicately tinted, backward slide showing neurons and cross sectioned muscle fibers looking somewhat like corn fritters and macaroni. Mmmmmm, yummy. Muscles, he explains, are made up in part of fast twitch (FT) and slow twitch (ST) fibers. Develop the FT fibers and you'll have speed for the mile dash. Train the ST fibers and you'll have endurance to run the marathon. Weightlifters would expected to resemble sprinters, with a high ration of FT development. 

How to make sure you're training mainly the FT fibers? In his lifting manual, Carl Miller sums it up in two words: THINK SPEED.


 As the slide showed, the wider diameter macaroni, and the narrower macaroni, were each associated with its own particular fritter, thereby illustrating the recent finding that FT and ST muscle fibers each have their own distinctive nerve supply.

This tells us that training muscle fiber selectively isn't totally a matter of which exercise or how many reps, but of mental approach to the training. What the athlete must stimulate isn't the FT muscle fiber itself, but that fiber's particular nerve supply. Those nerves in turn will activate the appropriate type of fiber. For this reason it's of utmost importance that the athlete think speed while training for the snatch and the clean & jerk.

Lee Shorter, whose expertise on nutrition includes ti ability to evaluate school cafeteria food quantitatively, gave Santa Fe College, where the camps were held, straight A's for Abundance. Thus amply fortified he was able to expound at length on the Russian system of max reps and max volume. Breaking down reps and tonnage into periods of weeks, months and years, Lee showed how to coax the body to greater effort, without blasting, through graduation of training intensity.

The weekend long camps ended as they began, with open house at Carl's place and volleyball in the garden. The general consensus of the lifters? That they'd be busy for weeks to come just absorbing and putting into practice all that they'd learned. 

Enjoy Your Lifting!   


Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Bench Routine -- Norman Zale (1981)

Pat Casey 

Well, I finally up and started going through my die-in, er, walk-in closet in search of bloggy substance to reincarnate for a while. The two dead wives' stuff gots to be gone now I guess, unless they're expecting me to bring it with me when I goes to heaven. Not quite sure how this works . . . what's the allowable luggage? And if I goes the other way, will everything catch fire? I mean, why the eff worry about this stuff if it's all gonna just burn up and vaporize in the end, he queried existentially in a terribly blunt metaphor. 

Anyhow, a nice couple-a shit-tons of schtuff in there waiting to get gotten on this blog. And MAN! Wasn't Rader's IronMan, Balik's too, just bloody great? So many things hiding in those. 
And now, right here on our stage . . . 
Norm Zale and his dancing bench layout! 

When using special routines such as this one, it is of utmost importance that they are not used regularly, but alternated with lighter training systems that do not burn you out. A month of extra heavy training cycled with five or six weeks of medium and medium heavy work should prove effective for most lifters. To train extra heavy continuously is an invitation to overwork, possibly injury, and a loss of strength.

Here is a bench routine that has proven successful time and time again. Many lifters who have been at a standstill for months have made what they considered excellent progress when on this type of training system.

Bodybuilders, powerlifters, Olympic lifters, athletes and the stay-in-shape group can all use this type of training with equal success. 

Use this routine twice a week and do it at the beginning of your session. Because of the type of work you will be doing you will require a good training partner.

Note: If you train alone, you may have to settle for only the negative portion of the overload singles, and slightly unload and rerack the bar up top after each single. Don't panic over it. Just use all you have access to and work hard at it. 

Spend a few minutes stretching, rotating your arms, doing pushups, and a  two to three minute routine of five or six different barbell exercises with a very light weight. You know, empty bar drills and such. 

Rest a few minutes, get your bar set and look over your training log so that you know exactly how much weight to use for each set of benches. 

When you are ready, perform two sets of benches with a progressively heavier weight. One set of 10 and another set of 6. 

After a short rest perform 3 sets of 3 reps using heavier weights with each succeeding set. 

Next, perform singles up to your maximum for the day.

Here is where your training partner will prove himself. Do 5 sets of only one rep. 5 singles, increasing the weight of the bar by 20 pounds with each set so that on your last (5th) set you are using 100 pounds above your maximum. With each of these five, one-rep sets, your training partner will assist you ever so slightly for a forced rep on the way up. On lowering the bar to your chest, your training partner should hold on to the bar but allow you to lower it under control so that you are doing negative reps. After your last set of negatives, reduce the weight of the bar and again do 3 sets of 3 with as heavy a weight as you can handle properly. 

Again, I guess I just gotta mention that, if you train alone, drink alone, get high alone, have sex alone, eat alone, dream alone, live alone and more than likely will die alone (humor's very subjective, ain't it) . . . you won't be doing any of the "forced" rep up-part of the singles on the concentric unless you have an extra pair or two of arms comin' out of your torso. Genetics matter! Just ask a flying pig who speaks English. Yeah, so just do the negative part and do it with oomph. You'll have to get the bar back up and onto the rack hooks after each one, so it's that deal with removing some plates and just getting it back there. If you make sure the collars are on nice and tight, well then you can lift one end of the loaded bar onto the hook and then the other. But hey, if it's too much hassle this routine ain't for you.  Others . . . continue . . . 

After completing your benches perform a couple of assistance exercises. Incline barbell press, weighted dips, and dumbbell bench done for 5 x 3 reps are the suggested exercises. Select two of these movements each workout and alternate them from day to day to maintain overall pec, delt and triceps power.

The forced reps and the negative rep sets are the key sets in this routine so work extra hard on them and make sure your training partner [now married to a flying pig that speaks English] understands that he is only to assist you slightly, that you want to do as much of the work as possible short of squirming around on the bench. A fish outta water suffocatin' on air. A snake with he's tail painfully nailed to the bench. A guy havin' a fatal heart attack while benching. That last one I'd definitely pay to see. "One time only performance! sunday, Sunday . . .  SUNDAY at BLUTO'S GYM!!!

This is a tough routine and takes a good man [or a strong and determined evil one] to complete with heavy poundages, but heavy poundages and hard work is, oops, are the only way that you can increase your size and strength. After a month on this routine return to more conventional training and you will notice that your chest has thickened and your maximum has increased. A 20-30 pound increase is not unusual so don't be surprised at your progress, just lie back, gloat, and plan your next assault on the king of upper body exercises. 

Your routine should look like this: 

Stretching and warmup, light barbell exercises. 

Bench Press:

1x10, increase weight

3x3, increase weight with each set

Singles up to your max for the day, increase weight each set
5x1 [five singles], increase weight by 20 pounds with each set. Do forced reps as the weight is raised and negative reps as the weight is lowered. 

Reduce weight and do 3x3 with as heavy as weight as possible.

A. Incline barbell press, 5x3 reps.

B. Weighted dips, 5x3 

C. DB bench, 5x3

Alternate these last three exercises doing two of them each workout. How would that work . . . A and B . . . A and C . . . B and C . . . repeat. 

Now stop screwing your training partner's flying pig wife on the sly and

Enjoy Your Lifting! 


Monday, October 24, 2022

Bulking: How to Do It Properly -- Jerry O'Melveny (1986)


I used to flip on by articles on bulking up while reading my weightlifting magazines, for fear that I'd follow the advice therein and consequently get fat. Yes, believe it or not, there are many body types which gain weight much too readily, and should they follow the average advice on bulking up they would get fat very rapidly. 

Every time I tried to bulk up, I would inevitably accumulate ugly fat around my midsection. I have learned from this mistake, and would like to share with you a way which I hope will help you to beat the big belly blues while bulking.

First of all, most of the advice in these articles is very good. However, I would like to add a couple of very crucial points to the list. Now, it is true, that to gain weight, you must, very simply, eat more and more and more . . . 

Protein supplements and blender drinks help a great deal here. I find that most thin fellows with the endomorphic type of body have a hard tome gaining since their body chemistry seems to burn up everything they consume. 

Yet almost always, I have found that the average thin person isn't really eating as much as he thinks he is, and should force himself over time to eat more high calorie foods, along with high calorie, weight gain drinks. Gaining weight for some people can be as hard, in forcing down the food, as losing weight is for others.

However, those of us who tend towards the fat type of body must be wary. For those of us who find it too easy to gain the wrong kind of weight, bulking can be a trap IF IT IS DONE TOO RAPIDLY. This is the key for the type just mentioned. If you tend to gain the wrong kind of weight too rapidly, then be sure to gain weight very, very slowly -- purposely hold it back if you have to, but keep on eating well. 


I am convinced that this is, without a doubt, the most common mistake made by the person seeking additional muscular size. In fact, I would go so far as to say that you should DOUBLE or TRIPLE the amount of abdominal work you are doing while pursuing a bulk program. By doing this you can avoid getting fat around the middle, while gaining solid, gorilla-like bulk. But be careful, because you are still going to have to judge, on the basis of knowing your particular type of body chemistry, just how rapidly you can afford to gain weight. Don't fall into the "it's easy to gain 20 pounds of solid weight in two weeks" trap. Sure, you can gain 20 pounds of FAT in two weeks, but who needs that? 

Let me prove my point to you. Just observe the top stars whom you admire. How much have their photographs taught you? If you watch present and past magazine issues carefully, you'll notice that even the top stars are lucky if they can gain a quarter inch on their arms in a year's time, or six pounds of solid muscle in three months. You see, the top men in the iron game aren't interested in gaining fat weight -- they want solid, granite-like muscle. That's the name of the game. But how often do you see a top star gain, e.g., 20 pounds of "solid muscle" in two weeks! So don't be fooled by this kind of false advertising. 

Gaining solid muscle fiber is hard, hard work. Brad Steiner's articles on how to gain solid muscular bodyweight are the best references for advice which you'll find anywhere. 

He's absolutely right about doing three solid sets of BASIC work to THE LIMIT and hard, hard work. This is the way to build up, without a doubt. Avoid the trap of overtraining. Just because three sets are "good" doesn't mean that 20 sets are better! You may want to do 20 sets while preparing for a contest or peak to get cut up and veiny, but NOT WHILE YOU'RE TRYING TO BULK UP.

Just to divert from the subject for a moment -- have you ever observed the more muscular animals in nature? Did you know that some animals have a natural "instinct" about how much to eat, and that other animals, such as a horse or dog, will eat so much that it could die of bloating or excess eating? And it is interesting to study the most muscular animals, such as the gorilla. I'm serious! I used to go down to the zoo in Honolulu and spend hours observing these giant apes. The strength of one of these huge beasts would probably make the strongest weightlifter look like Don Knotts.    

It would be interesting to measure the arms of some of these larger animals, but I seriously doubt whether a measurement of, say, thirty or thirty-five inches in the arms is unusual! The thing which struck me about the gorillas was the amazing way they could relax all the muscles except the one which they were using. Observe these animals and you might learn something from them. Seriously, did you know that all of man's inventions such as radar, the bear trap, etc., were already existing in nature? 

Getting back to the main topic of my article, what I ate while watching the apes at the Honolulu zoo, I'd like to summarize the most important points for you. I feel that certain of these points are critical if you are to bulk up properly, without getting too fat. 

Here is the summary of the main points to remember when bulking up: 

1) Gain weight SLOWLY. Resist the urge to gain "20 pounds of fat in two weeks". 

2) DOUBLE your abdominal work DURING your bulking routine. This will decrease the danger of accumulating fat around the middle, while gaining solid muscle bulk.

3) Follow the excellent advice of people like Brad Steiner in doing only 2 or 3 sets per body part, but lifting extremely HEAVY and max-out on reps. If you're a beginner, be sure to build up to this slowly. 

4) Know your body type. If you tend to burn up everything you eat, then force your food and use high calorie weight gaining drinks. But if you tend to gain fat easily, be careful and go slowly. 

In summation, remember the timeworn but excellent advice that in order to build huge, solid, hard muscle, you must train brutally HARD. 

Avoid training too much. 

Eat plenty, but whatever you do don't neglect that belly work.

Enjoy Your Lifting! 

The Shrug for Power and Development -- Bill Starr (1986)

Dezso Ban

Maurice Jones

Anthony Ditillo

As I sat on the bench to pull on my shoes and socks, I looked out the windows of the gym and saw huge, dark clouds lingering over the tops of the mountains in Ioa Valley, suggesting incoming rain. The high humidity made the air thick and muggy and I knew this was going to be one of those days where training is rough. One of those days where even chalk doesn't help in gripping the bar. The sweat runs off your hands and turns the chalk into a white much, making it even more difficult to secure your grip.

The heavy training area of the Valley Isle Fitness Center is situated at the far back of the gym and provided the poorest circulation of air in the entire facility. This area at this hour of the day, was the only portion of the gym being utilized as Kelei, an aspiring powerlifter and Milton, an Olympic lifter with one meet under his belt, were doing their stretching in preparation for the upcoming workout. 

I had promised to show the two lifters an exercise to improve the top of their pull: the finish of the deadlift for the powerlifter and the topmost pull for the Olympic athlete. But before we got to the pulling segment of today's session, we all did squats, followed by shoulder work.

Kalei finished his bench presses and came over and stood quietly as I rummaged through my gym bag looking for my straps. After a few frustrating moments, I found them hiding under my chalk container. 

"Are you going to show us the exercise to help my deadlift today?" 

"Sure, you want something for the finish, right?"

"Right. I can pull 595 to mid-thigh, but can't bring it on home. It's really frustrating." 

"Well go find Milton. I'm about to show him how to shrug and you can join us." 

"I thought Milton was doing those for the Olympic lifts?" 

"He is, but they are equally as valuable to powerlifters. There are very few ways to really overload the traps and shrugs are the absolute best." 

We set the pins in the rack so that the bar would be positioned about two inches above our knees. We put a 45 on each side and I demonstrated as I talked. 

"The important thing to learn as you are doing the shrug is to keep proper body mechanics throughout the movement. Should you rotate your shoulders too quickly and pull backward rather than upward, then your results will be minimal at best." 

I did five reps and handed Milton my straps, which happened to be ten-year old ex-seat belts. 

"Phew, when did these things get washed last?" he asked as he held them away from his body as far as possible.

I laughed. "They're a bit ripe, aren't they? They get lost in my gym bag and I forget to pull them out and wash them. They work just as well anyway." 

Milton strapped on the bar and began his set, but he was not getting the height I wanted. 

"Go ahead and just power clean this first set. It will help to set up a proper line for the heavier ones. Try to pull longer and keep pressure on the bar throughout the lift and especially at the very topmost part. That's what you are after." 

Kalei stepped in and attempted to emulate what he had just seen. He, like Milton, wasn't fully extending. 

"Pull longer. The idea is to get a lot of height on these lighter weights so that you have the pattern down when it gets heavy. You can never pull the bar 'too high.' " 

We loaded two more 45's and each took our turn. I could see both lifters were rotating through too early and were pulling the bar back, rather than up.

"Stop just a minute. Move the bar up against the front of the rack. Now try to slide the bar right up against the metal post. You'll be able to tell quickly if you're pulling in the right line."  

Which is what they did and the results were most predictable. The bar jumped back off the uprights, throwing them off balance and backward.

"You must lean out over the bar. When your front deltoids rotate back behind the bar, then you have no more upward thrust. In other words, once your shoulders get behind the bar, you're finished pulling."   

Two more 45's and another set of five. Both lifters were getting the idea a bit better, but they were not SNAPPING! at the very top end of the movement. 

"Much better, but try to get more explosive at the top. Don't think about simply lifting the weight, but do as my friend Tommy Suggs advises . . . punch the bar at the very top of the pull. In order to do this effectively, you need to drive your elbows up and out, not back." 

The bar was still not jumping as it should, but both were improving on each set. The shrug, being a short range movement, is a difficult one to master quickly. It generally takes five or six times to get the mechanics down.

We moved on to 405. 

"This will be your final set for your first workout. "These will get your traps extremely sore so I don't want you to overdo it this first workout." 

"Boy, that's a switch. Usually it's bring on the deep soreness," Milton chuckled. 

"This is true," I replied, "but in this particular lift, it is best to move up cautiously. I do want to put enough on the bar, however, to see just what kind of errors you are making." 

Kalei stepped in, strapped onto the 405 and pulled. I could see that he was making the most common mistake in the shrug, bending his arms prematurely. As a result, there was no final snap and the bar was hardly coming off the pin.

"Step out of the rack. The mechanics of the muscle groups involved in the lift go like this: 

First the hip drives the bar off the pins, then the big muscles of the back come into play, and finally, the arms give it the very last upward lift. If you use your arms before you fully activate your traps, you won't get the bar as high. Hyperextend your arms and don't let your elbows bend until you feel your traps contract fully." 

MIlton started getting a good snap at the top of his shrug, but Kalei was still utilizing his arms a bit too early.

"That's okay, Kalei. Milton has a slight advantage in that he has been doing power cleans and high pulls. It will come to you with a bit more practice. We'll stop there today. Where do you feel it?" 

"My traps are already tightening up, so I guess that's where they hit," said Milton. "How often should we do these?" 

"Once a week, at the end of the week when you have a  couple of days of rest in behind them. They are very condensed work and are somewhat deceiving in just how sore you will get from doing them." 

"How many sets and reps," asked Kalei.

"Today, you did 4 x 5. Add one set each week until you're doing 6 x 5. Then keep that set and rep figure and move the top-end weight up each week." 

"What should be my end goal?" said Miltion.

"For Olympic lifters, 200 pounds over what they plan to clean & jerk. And moved with authority. This means you will be seeking lots of top-end action. The bar should be jumping and you should be fully extended on your toes and the bar should be sitting in the exact same position as it is when you are cleaning it." 

Kalei handed me my smelly straps and asked, "Is that the rule for powerlifters too?' 

"No. A powerlifter should be handling at least 100 pounds over his projected deadlift, for 5 reps. Again, the bar should be moving with some degree of action and with perfect body mechanics. It does little good to move a heavy weight if you are merely hitching it backward with your hip. This does not correlate with the finish of the deadlift." 

"Are we finished?" asked Milton.

"Sure, till Monday." 

"You want me to take those straps and wash them?" he asked with a grin.

"No, I got the message. I never leave my trusty straps so I'll make it a point to wash them over the weekend." 

Since it was Aloha Friday on Maui, both lifters were showered and long gone by the time I did my remaining sets. I enjoyed the solitude and pushed my own shrugs up another 90 pounds over the previous week. I wanted to gain a bit of soreness myself. 

I enjoy the feel of trap soreness for some strange reason.

The following Monday, as i walked into the lobby, I saw that both lifters were waiting for me at the front desk. Milton had his back turned to the door as his full attention was riveted on Peggy. Or to be more exact, on Peggy's most revealing tank top. So I took this opportunity to give his traps a nice squeeze. It was my way of testing, scientifically speaking, to see if the shrugs had, in fact, done this job.

His response indicated that they had. He let out a scream, scaring poor Peggy, and dropped to his knees.

"Got a tad sore?" I asked. 

"Sore isn't the proper word. My entire back is like a giant boil. I've been applying ice, getting massages, even sitting in the sauna, but nothing seems to help. My traps still hurt to the touch." 

"We'll get rid of that with a few pulls today. Aren't you happy you found out about the shrug?" I teased.

"I'm not sure today. Will I get this sore every week?" 

"Nay, just for the first month," I reassured him. "Where did Kalei go? I want to see if he's as sore are you are." 

Kalei peeped around the corner and said, "You don't have to test my traps. I can assure you that today they are just as sore as Milton's. Please don't squeeze them. They hurt just sitting on my shoulders." 

"So we do them every Friday, just like we did last week?" asked Milton, who had moved in front of me to make sure I didn't get behind him again.

"After about six weeks of doing them just as we did Friday, you can begin moving the pins up and down a hole so that you are not always pulling from the same position. For my powerlifters, I eventually have them alternate the shrug with another pulling exercise in the power rack that is most useful. 

"I have them place the pins just below the knees and have them pull through as if they were finishing the deadlift. In this exercise there is no snappy motion. The primary concern is keeping the shoulders out over the bar so that it follows a line similar to the finish of the deadlift." 

"So, one week shrug, one week pull from the pins below the knees," said Kalei. 

"That's correct. By alternating the two lifts, you will avoid getting stale on either. And they influence each other rather positively." 

"What's on the program for today?" asked Milton.

"Squats, presses, and hi-pulls," I replied. 

"Oh NO, not more pulls!" they both said in unison.

"Hey, you're the guys that wanted to get strong, remember?" I said as I checked out Peggy on the lat machine. 

"No one ever said that it was going to be easy." 

Enjoy Your Lifting! 

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