Thursday, March 30, 2023

Once Strong, Twice Weak -- Jim Schmitz (2004)

Marcel Perron, 85, in the training room during the 2019 World Masters Weightlifting Championship in Montreal, 2019. 


When we were young, we were weak; then we built ourselves up and were strong, but as the years pass, we become weak again: Once Strong, Twice Weak. 

I don't want to depress anyone, but rather discuss how we can stretch out our strong years. 

Let's face it, if we are lucky we will get very old. George Burns, comedian, said that that since growing old was part of life, he was going to get as old as he could get. Our post-World War II generation is, I believe, the first generation that really got into fitness and sports after middle age and beyond. 

Those like Bernarr MacFadden ("weakness is a crime, don't be a criminal) 

 Physical Culture magazine archives:
Bob Hoffman of York Barbell and Strength & Health, and Jack LaLanne, the fitness guru, were rare exceptions. Now we have masters (+35 years old) competitions in almost all sports, including state, national and world championships and let me tell you, masters events are a very big deal. There is even a World Masters Games, a multi-sports event that takes place every four years based on the Olympic Games format. This means that there are millions training for sports and fitness, which raises a whole lot of new issues in strength and health.

There is very limited research on aging and strength, but there is and will be more and more in the future. In my discussion I will be relating what I've seen and experienced. I've read that we lose 1 to 2 percent of our strength each year after age 35 and that we lose our fast twitch fibers as we age. Also, we lose tendon and ligament elasticity. The most immediately noticeable change I see is how our recovery time from hard workouts takes longer and longer. 

I guess once strong, twice weak really means what goes up must come down! 

Life is just a bell curve. However, in strength and power I believe it is plateaus of progression and plateaus of regression. 

Remember when we were beginning our weightlifting, we made a lot of progress at first and never thought it would stop -- but it did and it then leveled off and plateaued. But then we persisted and progressed up to another plateau, and this process went on for years if we training hard and smart, and then we just couldn't make any progress any more, usually around age 30 to 35.

However, if we knew our bodies, with better training methods and proper nutrition and rest we could remain at a pretty high level. But sooner or later what went up begins to come down. And we come down in plateaus too. Fortunately, it's not a steady slide, you actually will maintain certain levels of strength for months and even years, but sooner or later you will drop to a lower-level plateau. At this time, there is no way to predict these drops to the next level, but through smart training and a healthy lifestyle, you can hang on longer.
In discussing strength and age, I would like to mention some men who maintained a high level of strength into their senior years. 
Note: Here Mr. Schmitz mentions Karl Norberg. You can find out a lot about him online, or just search here.
continuing . . . 
Another man who really impressed me was Clarence Johnson. 
Note: I looked around for a few photos and this one popped up out of nowhere. How cool is this! 

and this . . . 

Damn it, where were we? 
Clarence Johnson wasn't famous for weightlifting records, but rather weightlifting administration, having been president of AAU Weightlifting in the fifties and president of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) in the sixties, and he was still holding administrative positions with USA Weightlifting and the IWF until his death at 93. He told me that as a young man he deadlifted 600 pounds and did a bent press with 225 (!). He stopped heavy lifting after age 30 or so, but still lifted and jogged regularly for fitness. At 93 he could still jog, skip rope, do quarter squats and deadlifts with 135 pounds, and do cleans and presses with 45 pounds. He would do 1 to 10 reps and 1 to 3 sets, just whatever he felt like doing, but he would do something 3 to 5 days a week. He was still driving his car, flying his airplane, and going to work at his accounting firm until the day he died.
I consider John Grimek to be the best built, most muscular athlete of all time. 
John always kept himself in top shape right up to his death at age 88. I was very fortunate to meet him and know him a little in the 70s and 80s. In 1933 at John Terpak's funeral, I had the pleasure of talking with Mr. Grimek a little. He was 83, looked great, walked and talked great, and felt great. As I shook his hand, I felt his arm and back and he was solid. He said he still worked out regularly with the weights, and he and his wife Angela often went dancing.  
I previously wrote two articles on the older strength athlete: Power Training for the +35-year-old strength athlete, and Five, Four, Three, Two, One, Done. In those articles I mentioned three men who were going quite strong then. Dan Takeuchi, Mike Huszka, and Walter Imahara. Well, they are still doing quite well. 
They are examples of strength and age that I personally know of from over the years. I know there are many more examples of strong men in other endeavors of strength and sports. Also, I'm sure there are some remarkable strong women out there like Pudgy Stockton who have maintained strength and health into their eighties. 
You can maintain a fairly high level of strength as you age, but it is different from when you were young. As we get older, we absolutely can't cheat or try to take short cuts in our training and life style. When we were young we could miss workouts or take layoffs and come back fast and strong, and we could eat just about whatever we wanted. In fact, when I joined Alex's Gym in 1964, the nutritional program was to eat as much as possible and let your body sort out what it needed -- and our carb replacement drink was beer. We drank gallons of milk and ate kilos of meat and dozens of eggs. Cholesterol, high blood pressure -- we'd never heard of them. Now we all know how important proper nutrition is for top physical performance and health. The critical "B's" to be kept down . . . blood pressure, blood sugar, blood cholesterol, and body weight.

My view on nutrition is less is best. We really don't need that much food as long as its balanced. I believe you need to keep track of your calories. As we age we don't need the same number of calories that we did in our youth. Unfortunately, the general population and especially most strongmen and athletes gain weight with age, and it's okay for a few years if you are still training and competing at a high level, but after 50, maybe 40, you have to lower your "B's" down: if you control your body weight, your other "B's" will also be under control.

First, determining what are not too many calories and what are not too few depends on the individual, but you must be disciplined and a student of what you eat.    

Second, your calories must be balanced between carbohydrates (40-50%), protein (20-30%), and fats (20-30%) Read books on nutrition by experts and not be celebrities and don't get caught up in the latest fad. However, all popular diets do work if you follow them strictly. About alcohol, I remember drinking beer by the six-pack in my twenties, and wine by the bottle in my thirties and forties; now it's wine by the glass and mid-shelf whores by the dozen. I am in favor of vitamin and mineral supplements and maybe protein too, if it doesn't bulk you up. I am definitely AGAINST creatine supplements for older, strong men as taking them causes you to retain water and that can raise your blood pressure. If we want to live long and lift long, we must eat less, drink less, weigh less . . . and lift less.
When I say lift less, I don't mean pink dumbbells, I mean lift whatever you can, even though it's just going to be light weights in comparison to what you used to lift. In fact, "used to" will be a big part of your vocabulary when talking about your weightlifting. One hundred kilos may feel like 150 "used to" feel, and that's okay. Train as hard and as heavy as you can, but train by how you feel and how the weights feel and not by what you "used to" do! 
Learn to let go of your past and accept the present and the future.
If you are a real iron man, you will lift the iron "til ya die" because it still feels good and is very healthy in so many ways other than just being able to lift heavy objects. Being strong and muscular is good when you are older; besides the obvious, you just have a longer, higher-quality life. You are more functional, and you have more ability in movement and doing physical things. Resistance training has now been proven to enhance your physiological systems and psychological well-being.
I had an uncle who was in his eighties and told me with great pride that he had just had a physical and was in great health. His heart, lungs, and circulation were all perfect, and all he did was ride a stationary bike 30 minutes three times a week. A couple of months later while walking, he fell and broke his hip. His muscles and bones weren't in shape or strong enough because he didn't do resistance training. Resistance weight training has been proven to develop and strengthen one's bones as well as muscles,  no matter what age. Falls and broken bones are unfortunately very common among people aged 70 and over, and it becomes more of a problem with each passing year. 
The key to keeping your bones strong is you must do weight-bearing exercises that put stress on the bones. 
Now, I know how frustrating it is to work out and struggle with the weights that we used to handle with ease. I used to say I would quit Olympic lifting when I couldn't snatch my own bodyweight. I haven't done that for 10 years and don't know how much longer I will be able to clean & jerk my own bodyweight, but I am still snatching and clean & jerking because I enjoy it. 
Therefore, just do the best you can. 
It's almost impossible to follow a set program as you did when you were young, so you will just do what you feel like.  
When you finish your workout you will feel fantastic. So often when I begin my workout, I think it is about time for golf instead, but about a third of the way into it, I know the gold clubs and rocking chair are not on my program. 
Select your favorite exercises and just do them from workout to workout as best you can, and the weights, sets, and reps will vary from workout to workout. 

Let go, don't worry about it. If you used to do 225 in a lift and now can only do 135, DO IT, ENJOY IT, AND BE GLAD YOU CAN STILL DO IT. If you used to do 15 chinups and now can only do 3 to 5, DO THEM AND BE HAPPY YOU CAN. 

As important as weightlifting/weight training is and even though it is our absolutely most famous thing to do, it too isn't enough. We must stretch to keep our tendons and ligaments as flexible and elastic as we can. Also, cardiovascular training must be done. Take your choice: running, bicycling, swimming, rowing, walking or cardio machines. I think a good way for us 50-plus weightlifters to do cardio is via interval training. That is where you run, cycle, swim, row, or walk fairly hard for a time or distance, then take it easy for a time or distance, then go hard again, and so forth. 

A great cardio method for weightlifters is walking up inclines with a weighted backpack. Talk about your heart and lungs getting a workout as well as you glutes, thighs and calves. 

Note: I like going uphill with a weighted backpack on a trail or off-path that's not too level, bumpy and such, so it layers some nice balance stuff on. Old farts and balance, eh. Kind of an important thing to work on and maintain. The weaker we get, and you will get there if you live long enough, the more our balance suffers. Also, remember that, once you get to your natural, older and weaker state, you won't be able to just hoist whatever non-lifting items outside of the gym you want to as easily, so brace, take an assessment of what you're doing first, and have at 'er with a little more care than when you were a pup. 

Finally, it is very important to do exercises that maintain and develop your balance. [Ah-ha!] You can do lunges, step-ups, and standing dumbbell and barbell exercises. Practice standing on one leg, walking on a 4 x 4 piece of wood, or standing on your toes. Working on your balance requires a lot of patience and concentration. 

Also, you can combine your weights and cardio by doing circuit training, a series of 10 or so exercises that work different body parts, and you do them with light weights and minimal-to-no rest between exercises and sets. 

Note: If you're reading this and are familiar with Mr. Schmitz, chances are you know some Oly-style lifting moves and have the technique down nicely. I like using the dynamic type of lifting on Oly-based movements for cardio . . . mainly because it feels roughly 1,000 times more involving and forces concentration much more than the standard aerobic stuff. People will warn you of not going high-rep with dynamic lifts and Oly-based things-with-der-barbell. "Your technique will falter and fail in the higher reps and you'll poke off an ear." Nonsense. Pick the appropriate weight, and immediately put the bar down when your form starts to deteriorate into the mushy pablum of a newb. Once you know how to select poundages for this, you'll be able to get your heart rate way in the hell up there right quick. And, to implement something of the "interval training" idea in quite simply, just do a set of your chosen Oly-style thing to the ticker-rate point you aim to reach, put down the bar and do something less taxing, free squats, bike that goes nowhere no matter how fast you peddle, some kind of light carrry, whatever, take it easier for a spell, Chill Breezy, and let your heart rate return to the mundane, often monotonous lower rate. Then, back to the bar. Interval training. Big thing, eh. Highly scientific. All you're doing is driving your heart rate up high with a kickstart, then easing it down with a kiss or two of something less taxing. Back and forth. Edging closer to that heart rate you're after, then easing back on the heart-throttle. Back and forth. Get artistic on it, Life-Soldier!

Continuing . . . 

Aches and pains are part of life and sports, especially as we age. You really need to KNOW YOUR BODY AND LISTEN TO IT. Know your aches and pains, which ones are no problem, which could become a problem, and which ones are already a problem. 

The best treatments for aches and pains are ice, heat, alcohol, analgesic creams, weed, massage, hot baths, hot showers, saunas, steam baths, aspirin, ibuprofen, glucosamine chondroitin, and rezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzt. These are treatments for which you need no medical prescriptions or supervision, just your own good sense [or lack of it]. If you overdo any of these treatments, it can create problems as well. Too much ice can give you frostbite, too much aspirin and/or ibuprofen can create stomach and kidney problems, too much weed can make you laugh at the banal stupidity surrounding all of it including us, and too much rest can make you fat and weak. 

Also, you don't want to "mask" your aches and pains because they are your yellow blinking caution light so that you don't create a truly serious injury. 

Note: Let pain be your guide. 
Let pain be your guide to a deeper experience of pleasure.
Let pleasure be your guide to a deeper experience of pain.
The sadomasochist ages and engages life with a slightly different perspective. 

Also, it is perfectly okay to use belts and wraps if that gets you through the workout with no ill effects.

A VERY BIG WARNING and word of caution here is that if you are on any medications for some reason, be very careful and sure to consult with your doctor about your training and whatever questions you may have about what you can and cannot do or what you are feeling. And if you have any artificial joints or parts, be careful, but be mobile. 


Now, I'm a big believer in squats, full squats preferably, but any type of squat is good: half, quarter, eighth, whatever you can do. And if you can't squat, then do leg presses. Besides squats being so good for your legs and back, they are extremely important for your bones and your heart and lungs. Bones get stronger and stay strong by bearing weight, and squats are the best weight-bearing exercise. However, do what feels right for you: if you can't lift barbells, then use dumbbells; if you can't do dumbbells, then use machines, if you can't use machines, then just use your bodyweight. 

Note: Higher rep squats with forced breathing can be good for us daft, daffy, and often dodgy old cunts. Pardon me . . . elder farts. One of my favorite ways to use 'em say, thrice weekly, without burning out after a couple weeks is: 

Monday - Squat, 10 reps.
Wednesday - Squat, 15 reps
Friday - Squat, 20 reps. 
Same weight for all three days. 
Up the weight when Friday's 20 ain't too-too scary. 
But don't get all soft and soggy on this. 
Keep upping the weight. 

This layout enforces light/medium/heavy nicely. Monday should be something not all that tough. A nice deep breathing walk up to those 10 good reps [with plenty of big breaths right from the first one. Wednesday is challenging but only to 15, you can do this! Breathe deep and in multiples for the last 10 or so. Friday is just get them damnable 20 reps, breathing will take care of itself, just get them 20 strong but iffy reps from 16 to 20. Add a bit of weight for Monday, and the "only 10" reps will make it doable no worries. I wish I was more respected in the "community" sometimes. Had a real name, eh. Then my somewhat strangely related but valid ideas hidden under the odd delivery, those couple hundred training articles in a file I have, would be seen as useable info then! Hey, I have a few written in various poetic forms to boot! Pity the average lifter's such a boob, 'cause this stuff can be way more fun than what a double-digit I.Q. newb sees all around him. It's fun! Not the end of the world. It's just lifting. Fun. With a goal or three. And if you can't realize that, well, I sorely pity you when you're an elder lifter. 

Okay, gotta get that leaning out deal started soon, the soapbox just broke. 

Continued, a couple paragraphs left, from here. 

Enjoy Your Lifting! 



Sunday, March 26, 2023

The Hoffman Exposé -- Barton Horvath (1956)


Thanks to Jarett Hulse over at - 

Oh, those pesky capitalist shenanigans and the battles between bodybuilding and weightlifting promotion that went on. They got slimy. The back-and-forths grew into lawsuits, court cases, the works. This one's a little taste. There's much worse.  "There's money in them posin' trunks!"    Hoffman was not a big fan of pure bodybuilding. Weider saw its potential and set out to build his own empire. Quite similar to the modern YouTube slagging and battles, but with mag subscriptions and equipment sales, as opposed to channel subscribers and supplement sponsors. Setting . . . Physique contest, near Naked City. Only the games have been changed to protect the redundant . . .  

Check this. Pumped up or what! This Joe fella and a bunch of the others sure got the big head at birth! Musta been all them spinning moves in the womb.

"Not only did the Weider System continue to rank supreme, but Joe Weider as well added to his fame. For the past year he has been personally supervising Jack Delinger's training. And, for the first time in the history of the Mr. Universe contests, all seven judges voted first place to one man. Jack Delinger, trained personally be Joe Weider, received this unprecedented honor!"   

Okay . . . to the article, in all its shameless glory.

Lineup of contestants. Compare Chuck Vinci, (named on left), with Klinsmann (named, center) with Schaefer (named, right). Hoffman engineered to have judges changed in the middle of a contest when Schaefer was decisively ahead to establish Klisanin as winner. More visual evidence on following pages. 

The putrid stench stirred up by Bob Hoffman's questionable actions at the American Mr. Universe contest held at Virginia Beach on June 9 and 10 has created a bodybuilding rebellion. Buck Cowling, director of the event has refused to accept the decision of the judges and he brands Hoffman a "liar" and a "fraud." 

When the facts were presented to Don Parker, America's favorite sport's columnist, Don was moved to blast Hoffman in his Daily Mirror column. Hoffman was put on the spot by reporters after the contest and when asked to explain his irregular actions, sneered . . . "I'm interested in getting rid of these physique contests anyway. They are sissified things . . . " 

For the full facts of Hoffman's flagrant violations of AAU rules and for the details concerning his conduct unbecoming an AAU official, read this exclusive expose now! 

For too long a period of time one Robert C. Hoffman of York, Pa., has bellowed his way into the limelight of AAU bodybuilding contests, usurping powers never officially delegated to him in a series of ludicrous attempts to establish himself as the czar of the muscle world. 

His latest faux pas, committed at the two day American Mr. Universe Contest last June 9 and 10 at Virginia Beach, raised a tidal wave of indignation that may sweep him completely out of AAU and Olympic committee affiliation. 

When the first night's balloting showed a decisive first place victory for Ray Schaefer, Mr. America 1956, Hoffman's pride and dignity were hurt. He alone, from a panel of seven duly accredited judges had voted first place to his protégé Steve Klisanin, who ranked no better than fourth in the general consensus. 

Hoffman, who has become quite a controversial figure among bodybuilding enthusiasts because of his annoying tendency to take irregular steps to assure contest victories for his favorites, after realizing that Klisanin would not win in a fair contest, flaunted self-assumed authority and contrived to have the first night's balloting declared merely a trial run. 

They, by deftly maneuvering the replacement of two duly delegated AAU officials with judges of his own liking, and convincing another that his original scoring had been in error, Hoffman rigged the event and manipulated a new score on the second night, with an astounding reversal that gave fourth place Klisanin the winner's trophy and Schaefer the No. 2 spot.   

An early, out of date photo of Chuck Vinci used to compare with a full-blown and bloomed Schaefer. There's a page of score cards and such, but we don't need 'em here really. 

Before reporting on the irregular acts committed by Hoffman which have culminated in these serious charges, I would like to give the reader some background information of the American Mr. Universe contest so that he will have the story in full.

The first Mr. Universe contest was held in Philadelphia in 1947 and was won by Steve Stanko . . . 

Here is an article from The Roark Report on that contest: 

In 1948 the contest moved across the Atlantic to England and has been a major event there each year since, with the exception of 1948 when no contest was held. 

Virginia Beach, in commemoration of its Golden Jubilee, felt it would be patriotic to bring the Mr. Universe contest back to American soil. Buck Cowling was assigned by the Junior Chamber of Commerce of Virginia Beach to direct and promote the event. Cowling contacted the office early in 1956, asked us to publicize the contest and to help him to line up contestants. This we did. Buck Cowling also invited any members of our staff who desired to cover the event to do so, as guests of the Chamber of Commerce of Virginia Beach. 
I was assigned to the affair and ran into the biggest rhubarb [biggest rhubarb!] of my almost 30 years of association with the iron game. 
Virginia Beach, spared no expense, time, nor effort to assure the success of the Mr. Universe event. $5,000 was spent in erecting a platform and decorating a huge outdoor stadium where the contest was held. Many more thousands of dollars were spent in paying the full living expenses of all contestants and reporters during their stay at the beach. 
The actual Mr. Universe festivities opened Friday night, June 8th, with a Grand Mal, er, Ball and the elaborate Surf Club where the public was afforded an opportunity of meeting the important contestants and officials. 
Saturday afternoon, an hour long parade around the streets lined with spectators who obtained a good view of the contestants who rode past stripped down to bathing suits.
Note: Here in Canada this does not happen often. The cold weather creates gyno-looking pecs and all the speedos look loose and oversized. 
Saturday night, at 8 P.M. the Mr. Universe contest started on schedule. According to the instructions I received from Buck Cowling, the director of the contest, and these same instructions were confirmed to me by three other judges, this first night of judging was to establish the overall winner of the Mr. Universe crown. 
The second night, the same group of judges were to officiate again, with the idea in mind to run off any possible ties, to definitely establish the place winners and to also select the winner of the short man's class as well as place winners in that division. 
Acting on these instructions, the judges I spoke to on Saturday night concerned themselves primarily with selecting the overall Mr. Universe winner. In the event they felt that the contest was close, they scored several men equally, knowing that if there was a tie, they would have a second opportunity to reach a final decision on Sunday night. 

It was, however, clearly understood that if one man earned a clear-cut victory, that he was the Mr. Universe and only place positions and the short men's division were to be decided on Sunday night. It was also clearly understood that the same judges were to officiate on the second night.

The judges on Saturday night were: Bob Hoffman, Peary Rader, George Greenfield, Bill Collona, Doug Biller, Dr. James and myself. I felt the selection of judges to be satisfactory. From past experience I knew Collona and Greenfield were all competent and fair. Doug Biller, I learned, sold Hoffman [York] equipment in his gym but I did not believe this would sway his devotion to clean sport, nor prevent him from giving a fair decision. Dr. James, I know nothing about. Bob Hoffman, I've known for a long time. 

It should be pointed out at this time that Bob Hoffman's capacity was only that of one of seven judges. Other than that he was empowered with no other official rights. Bear this in mind. 

The contest was run beautifully. First, a short address by Buck Cowling. Then, Bob Hoffman introduced the judges [likely for about an hour? The man was well conditioned, and his "wind" was exceptional]. He said at that time: "Barton Horvath needs no introduction. He has been connected with the sport for many years. When I wrote my first book many years ago there were only a few color photos included and I used Barton for one. He is employed by Weider Publications." 

I could not have asked for a more gracious introduction.

Hoffman then took his seat at the judges table and the contest began. There were 13 contestants: Harry Johnson, Ray Schaefer, Jack King, William Butler, Howard Cohan, Harvey McCune, Steve Klisanin, Ed Edney, Charles Johnson, Chuck Vinci, Delmar Pickles, Bob Hinds, and Gene Bohaty. 

Note: Now there's a name for ya! Delmar Pickles. The article you're reading was taken from the October 1956 issue of Muscle Builder. The July '57 issue has an article by Pickles (stop it!) titled, "The Mr. Universe Pot Keeps Boiling." 

The first three contestants appeared in order, and then there was a break during which a number of novelty acts were presented. The next three contestants appeared, and then there was another break, with more novelty acts. This was continued throughout the contest. Everything ran as smoothly as a Broadway production and audience interest was high.     

      Hoffman, left, Weider right. 

It was during one of these breaks that Chuck Vinci, Paul Anderson and Steve Klisanin presented a lifting exhibition. Of Vinci, Hoffman said then: "Don't let his skinny legs fool you. Pound for pound he is probably the strongest man in the world today." With these words Hoffman apologized for Vinci's skinny legs, which you can see for yourself from the picture reproduced here. Vinci, incidentally, stands 4'10" and weighs in the neigborhood of 123 pounds. 

Note: You can round up other photos of Chuck Vinci easily online.

At about that time, Hoffman also played up the specific physique and strength virtues of Steve Klisanin. He overplayed the part and it was then that I grew suspicious that Klisanin was his choice. 

Of Klisanin personally, I have this to say. I had the opportunity to meet him. I talked in length with him [at length as well!], and sincerely feel that he is a credit to the iron game. Any events which transpired and which will be subsequently reported here are not to be taken as any reflection on the character or integrity of this young man. 

Note: As issues of Tommorow's Man loved to state . . . Clean cut lads. There were actually training things in that small magazine. Similar to the current "Men's Health" type of training things, that type of training. I am beginning to believe the pics may have been the thing for many readers! 

Whatever violations Hoffman may be guilty of, I am fairly convinced that Steve was purely an innocent victim and not a party of the act. To prevent any misunderstanding, I want this to be clearly understood. 

However, smelling a rat, i suggested to Buck Cowling that a committee comprised of members of the Junior Chamber of Commerce collect all judge's ballots once they had completed the scoring of their cards. This suggestion was followed and as will be eventually proved -- really paid off. 

Note: He said eventually and he means it. Several more pages to go. My fingers are tired. When will we be there. I'm hungry. I need to pee. 

Okay . . . 'nuff for now. 

Continued in Part Two. 

Enjoy Your Lifting!  



Wednesday, March 22, 2023

John Grimek, as a Weightlifter, Part Two (1957)


I was looking for JCG photos and couldn't stop!  

Steve Stanzyk performing repetition presses with 205. Grimek is performing dumbbell pullovers, Jules Bacon leg curls, Stanko flying exercise on bench, Lauriano is reading. 

Ever since the York Barbell Club was organized back in the late twenties, a champion or two was always among its membership, although in those days the club was known as the York Oil Burner A.C.  

However, by 1937 its members dominated all championships and the majority of national records were held by this club. I didn't become an active member until 1937, although I lived  and trained in York with the other members a year before. 

Olympic Benefit, June 19th, 1936, York PA. Standing: Bill Good, Weldon Bullock, Wally Zagurski, Gord Venables, Dave Mayor, Bob Dudley, John Grimek. Kneeling: Bob Mitchell, Dick Bachtell, John Terpak, Tony Terlazzo, Walter Good. 

I found the environment pleasant and inducing. However, it wasn't the method alone that was so unique which made each and every champion a champion, but chiefly the companionship that existed among these fellows which helped to mold them into the fine men they were. They talked, ate, slept and lived weightlifting. Every man tried to help another and pointed out his faults. To be sure, competition on a friendly basis was always keen, and some rivalry existed, but this only stimulated rather than hindered their interest or ambition. 

Even today, while we do not have the large number of lifters training in York as we had twenty years ago, those of us who are still here try to offer a helping hand to those who show any ambition and possess potential ability for lifting. Examples of this are Chuck Vinci and Isaac Berger, both of whom were fair lifters before coming to York but improved sufficiently to win the Olympic title in Melbourne recently. Vinci's average total was a little over 600 pounds before coming to York, while Berger used to frequent our local meets and compete against Yaz Kuzahara, totaling 635 to 670 when in top form. However, in winning the 1955 Nationals he did total a little over 700, which was excellent, but compare that total with the record total he made in Melbourne and you get some idea of his improvement. But these men worked for their goal and received encouragement from everyone here, in particular Bob Hoffman, who seemed to have more confidence in these two men than they had in themselves! Wishing will not make anyone a champion. You've got to buckle down and work hard towards that goal! 

At the time I took part in championships, we trained, as now, on the average of three times a week. Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, which was our HEAVY DAY. On this day we have friendly contests, tryouts and attempts to surpass existing records, but on the other training days we would work out according to our physical condition or desires, thus, if we had a "rugged weekend" and were not up to par, we'd be satisfied with a medium or light Monday workout. On the other hand, if we felt like going "all out" we would work rather hard. The same was true of Wednesday's workout. Occasionally we would emply a few heavy assistance movements on Thursday, but mostly we would rest two consecutive days and lift our limits on Saturday.

Our usual workout was something like this: 

Warm up for the Press. Take light weight and do 8-10 repetitions. Then load bar about 60% or 70% or one's limit and repeat 5 times, keep increasing weight in 10-pound jumps  until only 3 reps can be done, then 2, and finally doing 5-6 single attempts. To finish most of us would cut back to about 70-75% of the weight we just pressed and make 5 rapid presses to give the muscle fast pressing-out power.

If any supplementary work for the Press was required, it would be done at the finish of the workout, such as press behind neck, push press, supine press, one arm press, etc., to keep shoulders and arms strong.

The Snatch was practiced in much the same manner. Progressive increasing of weight with sets of 5's, 3's, 2's, and finishing off with several single attempts. All repetition snatching was done in the dead hang style, except the single attempt, which were rdone in either the dive or get set style. Assistance exercises were often included, such as rapid deadlifts, hi-pullups, stiff legged snatch, etc. 

The Clean & Jerk was sometimes omitted in order to concentrate more on the two lifts just mentioned, but when included the repetitions were about the same. However, because some fellows were poor in the jerking part of the lift, they would specialize on this portion, and those whose ability wasn't ass good in cleaning, such as my own, more cleaning was done. 

I recall one lifter with terrific pulling ability, but who faltered on his jerks. This was John Terry, the negro featherweight, who could clean around 300 but only once, to my knowledge, made 280 jerk. 

I have jerked 400 overhead but was limited by my cleaning ability to 345, which I pressed, perhaps not holding a strick military position one is supposed todo, but more or less the same style used and passed in competition today. 

I recall I trained harder on the snatch and clean my last year of competition than ever before and found that my ability greatly improved. Had I realzed this earlier, I am confident my lifts would have gone beyond my expectations. But I reiterate, before that time I never took lifting seriously and played around with any odd lifts that caught my fance, and believe me we had a few dandies those days. 

Interest was always high until they finally succeeded or gave up in disgust, but one Saturday we had an unusual contest, doing all the lifts IN KNEELING POSITION. There was little different in the poundage lifted between the press and jerk, although I cleaned 280 in this manner which remains a record to thisday. Of course  no one practices this lift anymore, otherwise it might have been surpassed, These events provided us with fun and strength-building exercise. 

Note: 280 pound clean on knees. 

One Saturday after completing my training for a contest a week away, I saw one of our fellows, Wally Zagurski, a fine all-round lifter and national champion, playing around with the bent press. His best was a little over 270 but he was anxious to know hos 300 felts at his shoulder. I joined him and we worked up from 250 to 300 pounds, and it felt so light we tried pressing it. To our suprise the weight went up easily but as we started to get up, lost the weight more than a dozen times we tried. 

I admit I had poor form in recovering, because I never squatted under the weight but straightened up in a side bend fashion, which often caused me to lose the weight when I streightened up too fast. 

Wally Zagurski had a very fine style in bent pressing and we all thought that he was capable of 300 and more, had he practiced more seriously. Later he took to archery, golf and bowling and did remarkably well. Even today he's considered  fine golfer and excellent bowler, resulting from his lifting days. 

On another occasion, Sig Klein invited me to his bent press show. I accepted but stated I didn't want to participate. He did everything to make me compete, and then pulled a fast one. He gave out news that I was going to lift 300 pounds! I was on the spot and could have refused to appear as I have so often when false publicity was given out. However, those days I would accept any challenge and try anything to prove them wrong, but alas, it was less than a week away from the event. I decided to get in bent pressing shape fast, and four days before the contest I handled my first bent press in over a year. I pressed heavy weights up and supported heavier ones at my hip, pressing over 300 and holding as much as 390 at my shoulder, to get the feel. 

I trained every day until the contest and learned a very valuable lesson: I depleted my strength by all this training so that when the time came I had great difficulty with 275, which I missed coming up with, and 300 felt like a ton! I was disgusted. 

I was sure I would press 300 to 325 to arm's length and, with luck, thought I could recover, but the weights felt impossible. This, however, was a lesson I never forgot, and we always rested two, three, even four days before an important event and always did better. 

Another lift I favored was the one hand side press. Tom Inch, you may recall, held the record at 201 pounds and authorities then claimed it was physically impossible to do more than that, since the lift required to keep both  legs locked with bending only from the waist. I took delight in proving the claims false, if I could, and proceeded to practice this unusual lift. At first I was ready to concede the claim, but after a few attempts I passed the sticking point and felt more confident. Eventually I had successes with 245 and officially made 237 but was never given credit for it. But in practice I used what was called a "continental side press" which permitted one leg to bend, the one opposite the lifting arm. Actually, this was similar to my bent pressing position so experienced no difficulty and felt my flexibility was the prime reason for my ability in this lift, which lifters of that time never achieved and were much stiffer than lifters are today.

One year as an added attraction for Bob Hoffman's birthday show the fellows decided to have a one hand swing contest. After seeing me do a few practice lifts, it was decided to exclude me and as a result the heaviest poundage with 165. In training I succeeded with 200 on numerous occasions and in competition could always do more, but the opportunity never occurred. For a time I thought it would when I was invited to appear in London back in 1949 at the time your editor, Reg Park, won the Mr. Britain title. 

It was suggested I do a lift or two besides posing. Knowing the lift was very popular in England a few years past, I decided to perform a record lift, which still stands at 209. In training I seem to do very well and more than once 230 was elevated to arm's length, and shooting for at least 240 with a possible 250 if conditions proved favorable. However, only a couple of weeks before I flew to London I developed a very painful elbow which made it impossible to do the lift even with light poundages. I was thoroughly disgusted and nothing I tried seemed to help. 

I had no other alternative than abandon the lift and perform some iron bending and chain breaking stunts instead.          


Sorry to say I have never done the lift since! And I'm sorry, for I feel the lift is an excellent back developer and teaches muscles to coordinate better. 

Dumbbells have been a favorite of mine, but only because I was handed an unexpected but simple challenge and failed to meet it. This happened some years ago when I first met the old maestro, Sig Klein, who always had a few pet stunts up his sleeves those days to stump those who thought they were strong men. I was too young then, in my twenties, to feel important or strong, but an challenge in strength or stunts delighted me. The two dumbbells weighed only 100 pounds each, but they were two different shapes and clumsy to handle. It surprised me that I failed the first two times, succeeding on the third, although the press offered no difficulty. I vowed I would return in two weeks and play with them. 

Klein seemed dubious, but on the appointed hour I appeared at Klein's studio and, without removing any clothes, took the dumbbells off the rack, pulled them to my shoulders easily and began pressing them in rapid succession until Klein shouted STOP! 

Many others have failed with these dumbbells, including the pre-was champion Manger, who failed to clean them after a dozen attempts. A few years later I did swing curls with them, or cheating curls as they are know, and with less trouble than I previously cleaned them. But I learned another lesson from Klein at that time when I complained about the clumsiness of the two unmatched dumbbells, to which he replied, "A real strongman doesn't complain about any weight -- he just goes ahead and lifts it!" 

Somehow that bit of advice etched itself deep in my mind and I never forgot it, nor did I complain when I failed to lift something, unless it was in jest. But failures meant lack of practice, and to succeed you must practice. I learned this the hard way! 

To this day dumbbells remain a part of my training, in fact practically all my training is done with dumbbells. Of course, I am not trying to establish records or surpass my previous lifts. I leave that up to those who have such ambitions. 

My main objective is to stay fit, keep reasonably strong, and retain good health . . . and dumbbells can aid in that direction if properly employed. 

But . . . any exercise is better than none regardless of what type of apparatus you employ to develop strength and health. 

Just do some training. It will pay in the end. 

Enjoy Your Lifting. 

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