Here, as well:
It is said that there are exceptions to every rule, but generally speaking nearly every weight-lifter who can perform an outstanding Olympic press is noted also for the excellence of his physique and top development.
Looked at from this angle, therefore, the study and intensive practice of as many Olympic pressing Techniques as possible becomes a major interest for both the lifting specialist and the body-builder alike.
In view of the fact that Great Britain lacks Olympic lifters of the same caliber as those possessed by some other nations, an examination of a few of the more "unusual" pressing methods may therefore not be without interest.
In many respects the PRESS is the key to Olympic success in my opinion, although some authorities argue otherwise.
THERE IS A "LIMIT" TO THE APPLICATION OF SCIENCE, SPEED AND STYLE, BUT STRENGTH IN SUFFICIENT QUANTITIES WILL CONQUER ANYTHING, and after seeing Davis, Kim, Touni, Stanczyk and Novak at close quarters I am convinced that the "Ultimate Possibilities of Strength" have not been exhausted by any means, in spite of the wonderful feats of power that have been presented to us of recent years.
Competitive weightlifting and pure body-building require great perseverance and patience if success is to be achieved. The body beautiful and the ability to perform a heavy Olympic press cannot be accomplished in one day . . . they have to be fought for repeatedly.
But the effort is worth it -- for once the shape of the physique has been remolded to the requisite degree, the athlete will find himself in possession of something that will stay with him for a very long time.
In both these spheres of weight training it is of paramount importance to examine the value of "new" ideas when they are presented, and at all costs the searcher for strength and development must strive not to get into a "rut" with his routine training.
DON'T give up easily . . . try to discover a way of removing the "obstacle" to your progress.
DON'T put yourself down as just another case of "bad leverage" . . . even the experts are none too sure of what constitutes good or bad "leverage."
Your limit Press may "stick" because you lack sufficient triceps strength when the arms are at a certain angle? Or the weak link may be your deltoids?
Concentrate upon the various pressing muscles separately and try to bring them to greater prominence and strength by special muscle exercise.
Most first class pressers possess wonderful Serratus Magnus and Deltoid muscles . . . remember that hand-balancing will strengthen these sections of the body to a remarkable degree -- if practiced regularly.
And remember that most gymnasts and hand-balancers are naturally good pressers.
Very heavy Trapezius and Scapulae development is often present in lifters able to perform a heavy Olympic press . . . exercises performed "face downward" with dumbbells upon an inclined board or supine bench will revolutionize these particular muscle groups . . . see that they are included in your pressing and body-building routine without fail if you wish to improve the shape and strength of your top development.
Nature so arranged things that the arms are able to move through the radius of of approximately a half-a-circle . . . and they are intended to be used vigorously from all possible "angles" if maximum strength and development is required.
The act of pressing routine weights overhead year after year will not secure maximum benefits for the athlete unless other and more varied ways of training are undertaken also.
Always remember that the practice of "reverse movements" are quite valuable training methods, when extra strength and development is required in some particular form.
Don't laugh . . . but some of the world's heaviest pressers can chin the bar with ONE hand. Doug Hepburn (I had never heard of this before) and John Davis have both done this. Davis made this movement some years ago -- holding additional weight with his disengaged hand.
People in the know were horrified at one time if they saw a competitive Olympic lifter "chin the bar" . . . it was regarded as an anti-lifting movement, and BAD.
When Pete George was a lightweight, I remember he once won a competition for chinning . . . I must say that is hasn't spoiled his arm-lock to any noticeable extent, since he has jerked nearly 400 pounds from the shoulders in training since then.
Undoubtedly there is much drudgery in repetition pressing systems, and this is only one more reason why the athlete should get out of the rut and make new and interesting experiments for himself in his constant endeavor to strengthen this Olympic lift.
The "standing" position is only ONE way of preparing for a championship appearance of course, and boredom and staleness are the chief enemies to guard against at all times . . . seek variations.
The Two Hands Olympic Press can be performed sitting on a bench, or, most difficult of all, in the deep knee bend position with the heels raised on blocks when repetitions sets are undertaken.
Robert Shealy (early 1950's) . . .
. . . the 19-year old body-building sensation, has discovered that by practicing the pressing movement whilst lying supine upon a bench considerable muscular development can be brought about, and the experts describe the movement as a "teaser."
The lifter or body-builder can lie face upwards or face downwards, and in either position the bar can be brought to the front or back of the neck, as desired.
Note: At first I figured this was just a description of a bench press. Then I got to the face down press while lying on a flat bench. Can't round up the right illustration right now, but it's lying on a flat bench, face up or face down, and pressing the bar over your head while lying. Not over your face as in a bench press. Pressing back, over your face (or the back of your head). Think of a pullover. Start with the bar in a lying "rack" position and "press" the bar. I would start with a very manageable weight at first and, prepare to be humbled. That damn illustration, where is it!
Of course I found it after poorly trying to explain the exercise.
Here's the face down version:
Here's the face down version:
Bench Deltoid Presses
Terrific "contraction" and "tension" is present during the whole movement, especially when the arms are fully extended beyond the head, and there is no doubt that this exercise is one that will produce heavy muscular growth around the shoulder blades, trapezius and deltoids.
There seems to be very little doubt that great muscular fatigue and "ache" would be caused by this novel exercise, but Robert Shealy seems to have obtained remarkable results . . . so why worry about "ache" providing you can keep your fundamental basic power steadily increasing.
"Ache" cannot be divorced from muscular growth it seems, and I am sometimes tempted to say that when an exercise or routine produces no "aches" -- then it has lost its value.
If I am correct in this assumption then one of the best and most thorough "ache-producing" routines for the Press can be performed as follows:
Select a poundage that can be presses aloft 10 times, and, instead of loading the plates ON the bar, TIE THEM TOGETHER WITH STOUT CORD SO THAT THEY DANGLE FROM UNDERNEATH AT A DISTANCE OF ABOUT 18 INCHES.
The "SWINGING MOTION" which will be imparted as the bar is raised and lowered will cause great muscular contraction to take place, which of course is beneficial, and you can be sure of plenty of "ache" [DOMS] the next day.
Note: Try using bands to attach the plates for even more of this swinging motion. Oddly enough, this was 1957 and the Sun still had the same things singing and swinging under its cynical, all-knowing glow.
Or a bar similar to this . . .
Now, make the first 10 presses with a VERY NARROW hand spacing, rest, then make the following 10 repetitions from the BACK OF THE NECK, and, after another rest interval, make another 10 presses from the FRONT OF THE NECK WITH A VERY WIDE hand grip.
When you feel able to carry on after another rest, try to perform another 3 sets of 10 from a sitting position, after having taken 10 pounds off the weight of the bar.
One of the best ways to get the pressing muscles to develop in stubborn cases is for the lifter to go into a handstand, with his toes against a wall . . . and to perform as many repetition Press-Ups from this position.
After a little experience has been obtained, the hands can be raised about three or four inches upon something suitable so that a complete raising and lowering range is employed. When 10 or 15 press-ups have been accomplished after a little while . . . tie a 5 or 10 pound plate around the waist and try to work up to a similar number of movements. Add further weight whenever possible.
I experimented with this system myself some years ago, and I found it very tough going. After I had conditioned myself to the severity of the muscular task involved I began to reap the benefit I hopes for -- increased Pressing Power.
I persevered for four or five months, working out four times a week for ONE HOUR EACH TIME. I performed a total of 50 to 70 press-ups per workout . . . and in the end I was making single press-ups with a 56 pound block weight tied to my waist.
I worked very hard, and did not spare myself as far as fatigue and "ache" was concerned. The entire, rib-cage, deltoids, triceps and back muscles get severe exercise, and contraction and muscular tension is present from the time the feet are thrown aloft until they are lowered to the floor again.
I was about 33 years of age when I tried this experiment and my pressing power had been stationary for years and years.
I thought the idea up myself as the result of seeing J.W. Hunt, the gymnast and herculean hand-balancer. J.W.H. was at one time a competitive lifter, but he owed his pressing power to his hand-balancing ability. His musculature was exceptionally powerful as a consequence, and I saw him break the British Press Record very easily at the Battersea Club one night.
I am told that he once pressed 237 pounds when weighing 11 stone 3 pounds [157 pounds]. He gave a balancing act after breaking the press record and it was when studying this "act" that I suddenly began to understand how he had steadily and surely built up his power.
There have been numerous examples in the weightlifting game of lifters who owed their pressing ability to their hand-balancing accomplishments.
Reuben Martin center . . .
. . . is one of them, and Bobby Higgins . . .
. . . an American featherweight is another. Although he was connected with competitive weightlifting for only a short time, Higgins won the Featherweight World Title in 1947 . . . and pressed 231 pounds on that occasion.
Of course gymnasts and hand-balancers spend hours and hours perfecting their act, and it is this heavy and concentrated type of muscle work for long periods of time . . . which builds unusual pressing power.
Not many Olympic lifters take the trouble to perform 100 Presses per week . . . in spite of the fact that the time involved in actually making these repetitions would not amount to much more than TEN MINUTES.
Unless one is lucky enough to be blessed with that "rare" type of physique which responds by giving maximum results for a minimum of energy expended . . . 10 minutes is not a sufficient period of time to accomplish the desired result.
Lifters like the great Anthony Terlazzo and Ron Walker got to the top because they were not afraid of undertaking plenty of hard work when training. Both these lifters are reputed to have performed more than 150 Presses in the course of one day -- during certain phases of their careers.
Compared with the intensity of this type of work . . . most of our lifters do not get past the warming up phase.
If muscles and tendons are to be made to grow, training must be made more strenuous . . . the parts affected must be gorged with blood from vigorous and prolonged exercise, and they should have that "rubbery" feeling before the session is concluded.
Only by these and similar methods can a medium or ordinary performer enlarge upon his previous limits.
There are, as I have said before, a fortunate few who seem to get generous results without much effort . . . but they are very "rare" instances indeed, and the vast majority will have to make the grade the hard way . . . but don't let that stop YOU.
There is so much material and evidence available about this subject that it would be possible to write many articles -- without risk of running out of ideas, and as the development of pressing power forms the strongest natural link between both the bodybuilder and the Olympic lifter I may continue along the same lines next month . . .
to be continued in Part Two to follow.
Enjoy Your Lifting!