Thursday, December 1, 2022

Four-Day Training -- Major Donald V. Clerkin (1985)


No, it's not what you're thinking, it's a small audience inside joke. 

During a week, how many training periods should there be? 

For the beginner it is generally thought that three periods are conducive to progressive muscle growth and strength increases. Most compilers of professional course material on weight training offer systems consisting of ten to twelve barbell and dumbbell exercises, with variations of each schedule making up a three-day schedule. 

Such is the method by which I began my training thirty-one years ago. Over the years, however, there has developed a second school of bodybuilding thought and practice. It comes from the rage to build the greatest bodybuilding proportions in a minimum of time. In the gyms where the bodypart system of training will be employed, contrasted to the older, more traditional exercise system. 

The bodypart approach defines each separate muscle group and offers exercises to develop it. The purpose of the exercise approach is to build strength and muscle by becoming proficient in the performance of specific movements. 

In the one, the emphasis is on the body part. In the other, the emphasis on building up weight poundages in the exercises. Both build muscle, though by themselves they are incomplete training systems. 

From the bodypart system will come a more sculptured look, though there will be flaws in evidence due to a lack of compound movements. 

From the exercise system will come strength and a greater degree of general fitness than that which can be obtained by utilizing the bodypart system. The sculptured look will generally elude the exercise system trainee, even though he will possess the greater evidence of power in his physique.

The bodypart system, therefore, is vital, if the bodybuilder desires to mold the type of physique which can be competitive in bodybuilding. 

The problems arise when the beginner decides that he is going to train the way the champs train. He makes up a loose program consisting of too many exercises for this favorite bodypart or that, leaving the way most assuredly open for an unsymmetrical physique. 

When the bodypart system is employed to the total exclusion of the exercise system, the training becomes choppy and unbalanced, tending not to develop interconnecting sections with more general movements. We have all seen the young bodybuilder who goes through an entire two hour workout without ever breathing heavy or breaking a sweat. The first thing to be neglected by this form of isolated muscle training is the heart, a muscle of prime importance which without an aerobic effect will soon begin to atrophy. Short, cramping movements do not force the lungs to respirate or the heart to pump more blood about the body. 

Recently I saw a young man in the gym who required a "spot" for everything he was doing, even for seated triceps presses with one dumbbell! How the old lifting, hand-balancing body men like Klein and Grimek would sneer at this type of training. 

A bodybuilder should strive to be vital, fit and healthy looking, as well as merely big and ripped. Obviously the best way to obtain the optimum in gains and fitness is to combine the two systems, bodypart AND exercise. On a three-day system that is almost impossible, unless one trains more than once a day. In addition, most advocates of the bodypart system utilize some variation of the "split" system: certain sections of the body worked on alternate days, which would be fine were it not that what we in general see in the gyms among young fellows who use the split routines is 

 - too much emphasis on the upper body,
 - no real power or strength work, and
 - absolutely nothing in the way of aerobics. 

What should be put together, then, is a four-day schedule, during which both the exercise AND the bodypart system can each be used twice. Each muscle gets four days of work in a week, but in differing manners and on different levels of intensity. 

Keep in mind that there are general as well as specific body areas and parts to be worked, and whether one uses the bodypart system or the exercise system he must do a sufficient variety of exercises to get the desired results from his training. 

In my article for Iron Man last year [Note: Vol 42 No 5 - July '83] entitled, "Concentration Training," I offered a three-day program consisting of three courses of basic exercises. They were to be done in sets of 3 to 5, depending on the trainee's time and level of energy. What we shall do herein with a four-day schedule of compound training is to take the best of those exercises, using them on two days as a system by which we can build strength and performance technique, then take two days of alternate training on body parts, utilizing the SUPERSET, and for certain parts the TRI-SET. 

On the two alternate bodypart system days, you may use any of the prevalent bodybuilding principles, such as flushing, peak contraction, heavy and light, etc. But on the two days of the exercise system, use the PYRAMID method of adding weight and reducing repetitions, much like weightlifters and powerlifters do. Start light and work up in five or 10 pound increments. A sixth set may be used to decline the pyramid, that is, reduce the weight 20% or more from your peak of that day and work the exercise strictly to failure, thus giving your muscle a final pump.

Here is a four-day routine, giving you everything you seek, plus sufficient rest to recuperate and grow bigger and stronger. Each routine should take no more than an hour and a half, possibly two hours at the most.

MONDAY (exercise system)

Bench press
Calf raise (standing)
Situps - Side bends - Leg raises

Sets: 3 to 5 or 6 pyramiding weights upward and reducing repetitions. Begin at 12 for the upper body, 15 for the Squat and Deadlift. The calves will always have at least 15 strict repetitions. The abdominals, at least 20. 

TUESDAY (bodypart system) 

Arms: Reverse curl - French press
Shoulders: Upright row - Dumbbell laterals
Back: Pulldown, One DB row
Thighs: Hack squat - Leg curl - Leg extension
Chest: Wrestler's bridge and press - Flyes
Calves: Straddle hop - Seated calf raise
Situps - Side bends - Leg raises

Superset and tri-set to desired number. Keep reps moderate to high. Weights should be moderate. 

THURSDAY (exercise system)

Reverse curl
Press behind neck
Front squat
Incline press
Calf raise (standing)
Situps - Side bends - Leg Raises

Same agenda as Monday. 

FRIDAY (bodypart system)

Arms: Incline DB curl - Lying triceps press
Shoulders: Seated DB press - Forward raises
Back: Pulldown - Repetition cleans
Thighs: Hack squat - Leg curl - Leg extension
Chest: DB bench press - Wrestler's bridge and DB pullover
Calves: Straddle hop - Seated calf raise
Situp - Side bends - Leg raises

Same agenda as Tuesday.

It will be seen that even the forearms and neck are covered in these four courses. I would again advise everyone to practice and learn the wrestler's bridge, that is if you want a powerful neck to go with your other well-developed muscles. 

The important thing is NOT TO OVERDO THE BODYPART DAY

You will be properly tired after doing the heavy basic exercises in pyramid fashion on Monday and Thursday. Tuesday and Friday should be your muscle pumping days, the days on which you refine your muscle training, thus bringing out the highlights and shape. Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday you will rest completely, which you will have earned if you worked these courses as written.

I believe that here we may have helped a most pressing bodybuilding problem: how to train for greatest results [!!!]. 

These courses are not for the beginner. But the middle to advanced bodybuilder who has wondered which way was best may now see that he can benefit from the best of both bodybuilding worlds. 

Enjoy Your Lifting!   


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