Thursday, March 2, 2023

Pressing for Power and Development, Part Two - Charles Coster (1957)

The author. 
Check the calves on this guy. 


Continuing last month's article on the value of various systems of pressing in order to improve one's ability with limit poundages, I am reminded of the unique pressing exercise used by the Korean Kim during his training at Helsinki. 

Kim is a 160 pound middleweight who has reached such a wonderful degree of power that he is in the envious position of being able to take and succeed with 270 pounds with his first attempt. 

Kim is obviously fond of pressing, and this may to some extent account for the amount of success he has achieved.  

On one occasion I saw him go through a complete workout at the Village. After working through the Press - Snatch - and Clean & Jerk . . . he came back to the Press again and finally closed the session by performing 10 repetition "Jerk Presses" with 242 pounds -- using a smooth and novel method I had not seen before. 

After the bar had been taken to the shoulders, he stood with his feet spaced apart, one foot being about 10 inches to the front. From this position Kim bent his knees and "gently jerked" the weight with just sufficient force to take it upwards as far as the crown of the head. 

This idea is obviously designed to enable the athlete to tackle and strengthen his Olympic Press at the difficult sticking point all weight lifters experience. 

Kim has a very heavy top development for a middleweight, and his triceps would do credit to a Mr. Universe, so heavily are they developed.  

As he squeezed out the last three reps with this poundage once could see the terrific tension that was being placed upon all the muscles involved. 

His triceps in particular quivered and glided about like serpents, and I found it interesting to speculate upon the possibilities of Kim's little routine. 

Here is a comparatively young athlete who has reached the top as a presser, and he was not afraid to experiment with new methods of approach in the hope of enlarging his capacity still more. 

I have met many lifters in my time who bemoaned their shortcomings in various directions. When "routine" methods failed to bring results to their doorsteps they felt bewildered, mystified, ready to give up. It didn't occur to them that a little extra honest hard work on the lift concerned might be all that was lacking of that a few basic power and muscle making routines might be sufficient to strengthen the one weak link in their chain.

Undoubtedly, this Korean is the One and Only middleweight in the world today who could possibly improve upon Khadr-el Touni's world record press of 280 pounds . . . and moreover Kim uses a reasonably fair "military" style of Press which is a pleasure to watch. He came 3rd at the Finnish Olympiad with lifts of 270-248-325 pounds, but undoubtedly his true limit is not less than 860. 

If one takes the trouble to run through the names of seven World record holders for the Olympic Press one cannot but notice that they one and all possess amazing top-developments. Additionally, there are quite a number of the top flight body-builders who press weights varying between 270 and 310 pounds. 

Although his bodyweight is high at 260-270 pounds, Doug Hepburn the Canadian strong man is doing wonderful things as a presser, and incidentally, I have heard it said that Doug can hold a neat hand-balance (see Part One of this series) and believes in the value of handstand press-ups as an aid to developing Olympic pressing power.  

All these men have wonderful musculature . . . and they all press big weights. IT IS TAKEN FOR GRANTED BY THE EXPERTS THAT THEY ALL POSSESS "GOOD LEVERAGE"AS WELL . . . but sometimes -- I wonder. 

Discussions on "leverage" usually wax loudest where heavy muscular development is lacking . . . that is my experience. 

I have known any amount of lifters who bemoan their bad leverage . . . when obviously they were pressing all the weight that could be expected when the extent of muscular growth was taken into consideration. 

A far more interesting problem than good or bad "leverage" from my way of thinking is the query: Is it possible for everyone to acquire the super musculature? 

Frankly, I have my doubts, and they are based upon personal experience. 

Many years ago I happened to find myself in competition with the late Ronald Walker at a British weightlifting championship. We were both in the 12 stone [168 pound] class. I had fought my way upwards by slow and laborious steps in the weightlifting world for a number of years. Ron Walker, who was making his appearance for the first time -- beat me for first place.

As soon as I saw his physique in the dressing room -- I knew that I had had it. He was obviously going to be a muscular phenomenon, and eighteen months later he was a full 185 pounds.

Giant tendons sprouted out everywhere on his body. His back was something to marvel at . . . 


He had the appearance of having a couple of coconuts sewn underneath his deltoids. His forearms were masses of thick, wiry sinew, and  his trapezius made him fit to be an artist's model.


When the weight training bug first hits a young man . . . sometimes the seed falls on stony ground and the plant does not thrive as lustfully as is hoped. 

In Ron's case the seed fell in ripe soil . . . and comparatively speaking, he blossomed overnight. 

In five short years he was good enough to meet any heavyweight in the world, and his physical appearance beggared description.

He was all muscle and definition and carried no superfluous tissue. He had a style of his own when lifting, and when in "form" his presses went up as though guided by invisible steel cables. 

Ron had the mentality which enabled him to make some wonderful unofficial training lifts on numerous occasions. 

Although he never weighed more than 190-195 pounds, he is said to have pressed 300 -- snatched 320 -- and to have cleaned 400 pounds. His best official lifts were 280-297-363 pounds, and unfortunately the Second World War prevented him from having the international competition that he needed to bring him to peak form.

I have seen Ron press 275 pounds in the groove so steadily that it could truly be said that the only part of him that moved was his arms, so perfect was the movement, so amazing was his physique. 

It is not generally remembered now, but during one of his last championship appearances Ron snatched 292 pounds at the Farringdon Hall, London.

I was present when he made a new British "Push" record of 320 pounds. It was a remarkable achievement at such a low bodyweight, but this particular lift was one he was very fond of, and there is no doubt that frequent practicing was responsible for producing his amazing back and lumbar muscles.

He is said to have made a training Jerk with 400 pounds -- and I don't doubt the truth that such a statement for I saw him make a British Continental Jerk record of 380 pounds in London one evening . . . and the Jerk was easy.

"Temperament" is of much more importance when a Press is being attempted than some people would imagine. "Nerves" must be perfectly mastered when really heavy weights are going to be used . . . otherwise disaster can overtake the lifter. Ron was not too lucky with his Press on important occasions -- and in my humble "nerves" were the explanation.

Yes, I think we must face the fact that the capacity of the individual to develop a super-muscular physique varies considerably. If I continued to train for fifty years I could never have got anywhere near to Walker's physical proportions. 

Note: see photo of author and compare with Walker. 

Khadr-el Touni the Egyptian middleweight was another "natural" who developed easily . . . 

At twenty years of age his strength and development were such that he took the weightlifting world by storm. 


John Davis . . . 


is another outstanding example of a young athlete who developed very fast at an extremely early age . . .  

19-20 years old, 1940.

At 17 years of age John's body was in a truly wonderful state of development and he made an an 853 lbs. light-heavyweight total at Vienna in 1938. 

These lifts which gained him a World title were made easily, and judging from the manner in which he performed -- he was capable of an 880 total even in those days.

Most champion weightlifters experiment with different forms of training during their athletic careers and a terrific expenditure of energy is put forth during the early stages of their rise to the top.

Once supremacy has been attained some lifters find it impossible to "take it easy" by using singe reps in place of the 4, 6, or 8 reps which they had been accustomed to using in the past, and they find this satisfactory for their purpose. But most of them had to work much harder than this when they were trying to make the grade in their earlier days . . . when sets of single repetitions would not have been sufficiently stimulating to increase and improve muscular bulk and strength.

I remember watching Ron Walker at Alan Meads P.C. school some years ago. Ron was concentrating on his Press whilst preparing for a contest with a continental heavyweight. 

Observing that the workout contained very little pressing, I asked the reason. He said that he had already finished the bulk preparation of his Press and was now putting the "finishing touches" to his Snatch and Clean.

In the light of past experience he said he had commenced preparation of his Press -- about seven weeks beforehand. The system he used on this occasion was so thorough that snatching or cleaning could not be included in the same workout. 

He said he commenced by "warming up" with 6 presses with 220 pounds, followed by 4 with 240, 3 with 250, 2 with 260. 

After this stage he reversed the process and worked "downwards" with as little rest as possible between each change of poundage. 

After decreasing to 3 at 250, 4 at 240, 5 at 220 . . . the number of repetitions was increased with each 10-pound decrease in the poundage. 

7 at 210, 10 at 200, 10 at 180, 12 at 170, 12 at 160, 12 at 150, 15 at 140, 15 at 130, and 15 (or as many as he could manage) with 120. 

The object of this bulk repetition work was to cause great muscular fatigue in the regions concerned -- and in order to get this "effect" -- as little rest as possible was an important and necessary part of the plan for progress. I

Ron said, "I try to keep the 'ache' present for as long as possible." 

When preparing for a contest at a certain date in advance, Ron put the importance of "blitzing" the Press above all other considerations. 

After the first month of "bulk" preparation he eased off the lighter repetition work, and during the remaining three weeks he commenced his preliminary snatching and cleaning activities with the time and energy saved. 

The reward in pressing strength (he said) does not make itself apparent immediately, but takes about three of four weeks for the "silk" to come out after the repetition bulk work has been concluded. 

Note: I wish I knew the modern terms like intentional overworking, Overreaching and Adaptation here. Ooh, these pesky new "ideas" for naming the old things! 

This system, which totals 150 presses per workout was probably put into operation 3 times per week . . . which would mean that roughly 2,000 presses were made during the first month. 

No wonder his deltoids were colossal. What a contrast this routine shows when compared to the amount of work undertaken by the average performer. 

There must be hundreds and hundreds of lifters who do not "average" 50 or 100 presses per week . . . who spend their time bemoaning "bad leverage" . . . instead of facing the problem squarely and getting on with the WORK, and trying by all means in their power to build up the vital muscular foundation. 

As stated in last month's article, the Two Hands Olympic Press forms a sound link between the competitive weightlifter and the pure body-builder, since practically all good pressers possess superb top developments.

There are many methods and variations of procedure which will build POWER AND OUTSTANDING MUSCULATURE if they are persisted with over a good period of time, but one of the best muscle-makers and muscle-achers is the Two Hands Push Press with Barbell or Dumbbells. 

A good way to prove this is for the young athlete to first of all press the weight overhead as many times as possible without a back-bend . . . and then to make as many more push-presses as possible by "laying back" whenever the weight commences to "stick." 

There is plenty of blood and sweat in this type of exercise but it produces good muscle and tendon as well as "ache" -- and is well worth the effort. 

It may or may not be possible for you to turn yourself into a Novak or a Touni, but don't let that prevent you from making an honest and prolonged experiment when trying to find the answer one way or the other. 

Enjoy Your Lifting!    

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive