Thursday, June 29, 2023

Wise Words from Norbert Schemansky - Bob Hoffman (1963)


than On the plane on our return trip from Russia last spring, Norbert Schemansky said to me, "Let's quit reading the back issues of Strength & Health. Let's quit living in the past. Let's get up to date and make some world records and win some world championships!" 

A moment later, "Ski" said to me, "In Moscow I was talking to Kono, and he seemed concerned with Veres' presses and some of the other lifters' presses. He said that he was going to take pictures of the various presses and try to analyze them to see just how they do it. 

"I think Kono is missing the boat. His press is good. But his quick lifts are no longer good. And the same goes for Jim George, Tony Garcy and some of our other younger lifters. While these fellows have brought their presses way up, their quick lifts have stayed the same for years. In the meantime, their competition, men like Lopatin, Kaplunov, Veres, Toth, Baszanowski, Palinski and others have improved their presses and also brought up their quick lifts. The result is record lifts and totals. 

"And so I think that George, Kono, Garcy, and all others concerned should work on a second pull schedule for a few months to bring up those quick lifts." 

Ski is quite right. Two years ago in the Moscow Invitational Tommy Kono snatched 303 and had 314 at arm's length. Last year he missed all his snatches, and this year could do no better than 281. Two years ago Joe Puleo clean and jerked 340 for a Junior world record. Although he has cleaned more since, he has not jerked it. Two years ago Bill March snatched 295 on  second attempt. 

I have told all of these men so many times what they are failing to do. As Norb said they are not practicing enough high pulls. His terrific pull is responsible for his world record snatch of 362 pounds. Let's hope that with Ski backing me up these fellows will perform the exercises I have been urging them to perform. 

In the usual pull for the snatch or clean, about 80% of the effort is expended at the start of the movement. The other 20% accounts for the follow-through. In other words, after a maximum initial effort to start the bar, it simply carries through. But this is incorrect. What is needed is a maximum effort every inch of the way. This basic principle is stressed in all of the famous York courses. 

For the same reason, when we devised functional isometric contraction, with the three positions of the press, the three knee bends, and the three pulls, we did so for the purpose of making sure that strength will be built at every position where strength or force is applied. But this is not enough. Limited movement withvery heavy weights is needed to gain the greatest amount of power. 

Schemansky uses limited movement in his training. Paul Anderson always has done so too. Tommy Kono has used it with his pressing, but not enough in his snatching and cleaning. 

When Norb won the World heavyweight title in 1954 he presses 330.5. Last year at Budapest he pressed 402.25, and since the bar was weighing heavy the pooundage was probably even greater. In 1954 he held the World record in the snatch at 330.5. He still holds the World record in that lift, but it is at 362 pounds. This he has improved in both of these lifts, thanks in no small measure to his practice of limited movement.

Returning to our conversation of last March, Norb continued: "Most lifters have a pull like a triangle. By that I mean that they pull hard from the ground to the knees, but that from that point on up their pull diminishes to almost nothing, and by the time the bar reaches the shoulders there is no more effort involved. 

"What they should do is develop a program that stresses pull throughout the entire range of movement, trying to have as much power through the second pull phase as they do in the initial phase from the floor. 

"To build the pull in the higher positions I do three basic exercises. These are:

The lat pull from the knees with the back flat,
From the top of the thighs, and 
From the belt.        

In each of these positions I pull with the clean grip, then move my hands out to snatch position. 

And for each I use 2 sets of 2 reps each. 

On every rep I pull as high as is possible, regardless of the starting position. This is very important. 

"In the first position, from the knees, what I really do is a pull from the dead hang. The back is kept very flat. With the clean grip I use my best weight for the clean, and for the snatch grip I use my top snatch poundage. The same weights are used in the other two positions. 

"In the pull from the top of the thighs, the bar lies on the thighs at the beginning of the movement. The back is still kept very flat. The thighs are used to start the initial pull as in the continental. 

"Pulling from the belt is exactly the same as the same portion of the continental. As in the other two positions, I make a point of following through completely, going all the way up on toes.

"My reason for doing the clean pulls first is that when I drop down to the snatch pulls, they feel very light in comparison with the heavier weight for the clean pulls.

"All anyone who doubts that these lat pulls work has to do to learn otherwise is to try them. I guarantee that anyone who does so will have a sore pair of trapezius muscles and arms the next day regardless of how good a shape he may be in, which proves that these guys don't utilize all their pull in normal training." 

Fellows, here indeed are some wise words by a man who has shown just how true they are. Beset with injuries, surgical operations on his spine, and disappointments of every kind, HE KEPT TRAINING, KEPT FIGHTING until he made a world record snatch long after everyone thought he was finished. 

And when Vlasov, the great Russian world champion came along and broke his record, Ski came back like the champion he is to move that record even higher. And now he says that he feels he is ready to extend the record still farther into the stratoshere. 

Norbert Schemansky has used, and still uses limited movement with heavy poundages to improve his press and pull to great advantage. 

Enjoy Your Lifting!  

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

The Bodybuilder's Friend: The Deep Knee Bend -- Peary Rader (1947)

From This Issue. 

In case some of you think that we overdo the emphasis on the squat program, let us repesat that it has been proved beyond a doubt (by those of us on whom all else failed), to be the most foolproof bodybuilding program yet discovered. 

Those not familiar with The Rader System can find it here in two parts: 
And the one on Isometronics: 

It incorporates all the basic principles necessary for the promotion of growth of the muscles, strengthening the internal organs and in some cases growth even ofthe bones. This is largely due to the fact that the squat most efficiently works the large muscle masses of the body. As has often been stated, the strenuous use of the great muscle masses of the thighs, hips and back, and even of the chest, causes the greatest acceleration of all the physiological processes -- namely,j circulation of the blood and respiration. We also find greatly increased activity of all other organs of the body, and improved metabolism. 

To be sure, there are other methods of exercise that will affect the body almost as desirably as does the squat, but not in all cases. It is also found that in a very small percentage of cases the squat in any of its various forms of application fails to give desired rresults. 

For these cases we have other methods. However, this is such a small percentage that it merits little consideration. 

Most failures are not failures of the squat, but rather failure of the bodybuilder to apply it properly. We advise you to get out your old copies of VIGOUR or IRON MAN and review this. 

It was popularized in the United States in its specialized form by Henry Steinborn. Then Siegmund Klein became enthusiastic as a result of Henry's apparent good results. From here we find Mark Berry, who was a frequenter of Klein's Gym and also editor of the old Strength magazine, taking it up with great enthusiasm and pushing and developing it through the magazine. 

Now, before toing on we will give you Steinborn's program in general, for he had no set program. He just used the squat with whatever program he happened to be following. He still follows the same style of exercising with the weights when his wrestling engagements will permit. 

Henry seemed to favor low reps (usually not over 10), with very heavy weights. Quite possibly he may have done many more, but not as a regular thing. He usually rocked the bell across the shoulders . . . 


. . . did his squats, and replaced the bar on the floor unassisted. He always used well over 400 pounds in his workouts, and has performed a single with 530. It is also claimed that he has used 550. 

Our friend Klein, always a stickler for correct performance, evolved his own style of squatting. His system is to do round 15 reps with a poundage of not much over bodyweight. He is very strict about how it is done. The movements are slow and rhythmic; the back is kept quite flat and erect, all the strain being thrown on the thighs. He performs about 15 flat-footed, then as many more on the toes. By this method he can get a very vigorous workout with but little weight.

However, thet area of strain is more limited to the lower front thigh muscles or three different heads, and most specifically the inner head of the quadriceps femoris. Little effort is felt in the back, hips and back of thighs. 

Therefore, it is not as good a style for weight gaining due to the fact that it does not use so large a group of muscles and consequently is not as stimulating an organic activity. 

Note: Duh, ya means I can stimulate organic activity without jamming sharps into my butt? Yeah, all this kind of experimentation basically went out the window and was forgotten once we sold our souls to science and its madmen lacking any sense of the magical in life. Aw, such a shame for a naive halfwit like me who would appear to be lost in the dream of life and not the reality of its horrific and neverending schtruggle to attain great glory, die, and be mercifully forgotten . . . ba dump bum. Contact Dit2 management for soap box rentals. We has 'em! In abundance! Also, our latest book effort is set for publication in the blink of a few large eyes. . . "The Ten Tight Tan Commandments of Lifting." At failing bookstores everywhere soon! Digital stone tablets ain't easy to come by, Mister. 

It is, however, a very excellent method of developing the muscles in the thigh. Mr. Klein used the squat in connection with a number of other upper body exerises. 

MARK BERRY likewise made a deep study of the squat, and had perhaps the widest field for experimenting, being the editor of a magazine of wide circulation . . . 

here's a listing of the Strength mag run . . . unfortunately, if you want info on what articles are in each one, you'll have to ask around: 

Mr. Berry himself gained from being 126 lb. National champion to about 180 lbs. bodyweight. Mark was the real pioneer in this squat business, and with the aid of some of his pupils has done much to bring squat specialization to its present state nearer to perfection. 

It was through Mark that we were inspired to start the squat, which we have since studied deeply. 

Due credit must be given to J.C. HISE, who was the first big success, and perhaps most enthusiastic squatter and experimenter. 

Note that back then these men ACTUALLY DID the experiments over long periods of time and had their pupils do likewise in order to gain more knowledge of the processes, as opposed to sitting on their asses quoting short term research studies as if they were law. Yawn. Non-involvement and modern man do seem to go hand in hand. Here's one for ya . . . en route home last night from work, on the train going over the Fraser River. A gorgeous brilliant-red sunset! The few who even noticed it seemed to have something stuck in between them and the glory of this down-heading flame from far away casting shade and texture on all things. I believe it's what's called a cellphone. Anyhow, I could give a shit how others choose to view their lives . . . the concept of an event not being "real" unless it's recorded and plopped on social media is an interesting one, ya gotta admits! "How can my social status and media profile be improved by this sunset? Is there a way I can do nothing but click a pic and make it seem that I've somehow voiced my reaction to this event almost in front of my eyes?" Fuck 'em. Ya can't skin 'em and gotta live with 'em. 

Mark Berry's style of squatting was very similar to that which we believe currently to be the best, and was the foundation on which the present and close-to-perfection squat program is based. 

Mark recommended the use of a flat back in squatting, and use of plenty of weight with 20 repetitions. He it was, who decided that an abbreviated program was best wigh wirh with the squat in order to gain fastest.

He cut other exercises down to about five or six . . . presses, curls, etc., for the upper body. Sometimes the dead lift was included, but it was found by many exercisers, and most surely by Hise, that a combination of the squat and dead lift in the same program was to strenuous for greatest gains when one had progressed to use of heavy weights in the squat. 

Note that he mentions dropping the dead lift AFTER you become able to handle heavy weights in the squat. Less is not more, and more is not less. The SDL, the form of dead lift used in these programs, can improve your squat as you're building up the poundage. Will you be sore? Duh. Don't avoid it. You are not overtraining, are not overtrained owing to two workouts. 

Rudy Gambacorta . . . 

. . . was perhaps Berry's first outstanding squat pupil. His program, on which he gained 20 lbs. in three months (from 151 to 171) while working in a pressing establisment in hot summer, was a follows: 

Curl | Press on Back | Squat | Chin with Weight on Feet | Abdominal Raise | Dead Lift | Calf Exercise | Winding Weight a.k.a. Wrist Roller | Press Behind Neck | Muscling Out Weights and | Straddle Lift. 

You will note that this is quite a good-sized program. 

Note: If you're familiar with the advent of the "Set System" and its occurence in history, this layout will not seem quite so large.

From now on, however, we find that they are cut down a great deal. 

J.C. Hise was about the next big gainer with the squat. His program, on which he gained from 200 to 229 in one month, was very abbreviated. It consisted only of the Press Behind Neck and the Squat. If I remember right he used about 15 reps in the neck press. 

Hise used around 365 lbs. at this time in the squat, with which he squatted 8 times, rest, then 8 more with this weight, then after another rest he reduced the poundage by about 100 lbs. and did 20 more. 

It was about this that the value of PAUSING BETWEEN SQUATS FOR DEEP BREATHING became evident. 

Hise drank a great deal of milk and ate lots of meat at this time. Gambacorta also emphasized the importance (as Berry long had) of a full diet of nourishing foods, and especially plenty of fluids in the way of milk and soups -- lots of rest and sleep and care to avoid over-working. 

But back to Hise who soon found he gained best on the 20 reps or more system. He eventually worked up to 277 lbs. 44 times, but found this number a little excessive and fell back to 30 reps. His bodyweight meanwhile going to near 300 lbs. 

Joe recommended squatting with ROUND BACK, which was fine for fellows with short backs, and game magnificent back development, but would not work with fellows with long backs, as their leverage was so far forward that they had to sit up streight and with flat back in order not to fall on their faces. 

It soon became the fashion to get a REBOUND FROM THE BOTTOM of the squat. This would be a MUSCLE REBOUND, as otherwise one may injure either the lower back or calf. 

Now we find another man coming on the scene with a gain from 145 to 245 lbs. in a short while. This was William Boone. 

His program (and he was but 19 years old), conssited of the following: 

Squat | Dead Lift and | Dipping on Parallel Bars. 

He once in a while did a few more for the upper body. 

At a still later date we find him weighing 260 and performing the following: 

One day per week was devoted to pressing and curling. He would press: 
240x5, 240x7, 250x4, 260x3, 270x2, 275x1, 240x4, 212x6, 212x4, 182x6, 182x4. 
Then Reverse Curl 136x12 and Regular Curl 160x10. 
On two other nights per week he performed nothing but squats with the following: 
405, 435 and 410 for a single each, then

Another outstanding gainer who gained from 160 to 225 pounds in three months was Howard Jacobson. His system was to do 20-30 squats with a heavy weight along with 11 other upper body exercises. 

From now on the successes from the squat program become too numerous to mention. Suffice it to say that they all began to follow about the same style program. That is, heavy squats and 6-8 upper body exercises. The repetitions varied . . . 

Those who found they could gain well by doing about 30 reps in three sets of 10 used this method, while many others used the 20-30 continous repetitions. 


It now became the habit to include the pullover in the routine in order to hasten the enlarging of the rib box. 

We find JOHN GRIMEK making great gains with a short session of the squat. In fact, when I saw Grimek recently he told me that he had squatted with 500 lbs. (1947), though he seldom does many squats now since he has no desire to gain more weight. 

LOUIS ABELE comes on the scene with some marvellous gains in both bodyweight and strength from the squat. 

WELDON BULLOCK made very rapid gains through the use of the squat and became able to handle heavy poundages. 

Some have been told that the American champions never squat. 

JOHN TERRY is an early product of the squat and has squatted clear down and relaxed at the bottom with 380 [he was in the featherweight class). Quite likely he could do over 400 now. 

TERLAZZO broughgt his weight from the 132-lb class to a heavy 150 lbs with  sessions of squats. He is capable of squatting with 425, and I believe if he specialized on heavy squats as he does presses he would squat with 500 lbs. 

TERPAK has done some squatting, though not so much perhaps as the others. 

DAVIS is a great squatter, as he has done 500 lbs. or more. 

I could go on and On and ON and name about all the rest, but enough is Enough. [upper case is great to play with for a writer!] True, there have been a few good lifters who did few squats; however, they did some other exercises that had a similar effect on the thighs. 

Of course, some of these fellows used the squat for strength and others for weight gaining, and some for both. 

In the interest of truth I must state that not all of the best gainers or strongest men found it necessary to use high repetitions. Some can gain on low reps. Only those known as "hard gainers" have to resort to high repetitions.  

One other outstanding example of the squat is ROGER EELLS. He started out as a consumptive with but a short while to live, and built his weight from 121 to his present weight of 200. He, too, has his own preference in squatting methods. He prefers to use and teach the use of NO MORE THAN BODYWEIGHT in most cases and to concentrate upon deep breathing between squats, his upper body program being similar to that used by everyone else. He has had good results from this method on both himself and some of his pupils. 

Certainly, if you can gain with bodyweight puff-and-pant squats [a.k.a. "peewee squats in Hise lingo], you will find it easier to perform them, as it takes somewhat less effort than to perform puff-and-pant squats with heavy weights. 

Most recently Mr. Eells brought his weight up to its present 200 lbs. by gaining 25 pounds in 25 days by a very strenuous program of squatting. Such a program should not be attempted by any but an advanced man, and even then he should have most of his time free for resting. 

Mr. Eells at this time exercised EVERY DAY (25 days) and performed at least three sessions of squats of 20 or more repetitions each and from 8-20 deep breaths between each squat. In addition he performed the rowing exercise, press, curl, and one or two other exercises, each being performed a high number of reps in series of 10 reps each series (set). 

We have studied all these squat programs and tried them all, and have at last built what we consider the most successful progrm for weight gaining and body-building presented to this point. 

Each exercise has been carefully selected for a specific purpose. Nothing is done without a very definite reason. Certain variations of the program are sometimes (but seldom) necessary regarding the system of repetitions and poundages for some cases where difficulties are encountered. 

Following is the program which appears simple, but is very result-producing if followed carefully: 

First perform the Press Behind Neck (standing, you fool) 12 repetitions, then the regular Two Arm Curl the same number of reps. Now the Military Press 12 reps. Then the Rowing Exercise 15-18 reps. Follow this with the Press on Back (on box) for 12 reps. Now the squat, loaded to WHAT YOU CAN COMFORTABLY HANDLE for 20 reps . . . 

Take it off the standards. Perform two or three (not over five) squats with one breath between each squat. This will create a necessity for deep full breaths and many of them. From there on stop or pause between eacy squat and take about 3-6 deep full breaths. Hold the last breath and squat. As you near the bottom of the squat begin tensing the muscles to come back up (muscle rebound). This will stop you before you hit bottom (where the danger point is with heavy weights) and will give you a slight MUSCULAR REBOUND in coming erect. When about 3/4 erect expel the breath and repeat the whole thing over again. Add weight to the bar as often as you can (usually once per week). Work out three times per week (some exercisers get better results get better results from but twice a week). 

In performing the upper body exercises be sure to do them strictly and in good style. Remember that the squat is the growing exercise and the others are to direct the points of growth. If you have calves, forearms or neck that are below par you might add a special exercise for them. Also follow each squat set with the two arm pullover at least 20 repetitions with a light weight. 

Don't forget that exercising is only half a training program. You must have a full diet of good food of wide variety and include plenty of liquids, especially milk. Sleep and rest all you can. Encourage a surplus energy. Naturally, this does not mean quit your job, but relax in every spare moment. Engage in no other athletic activity until your bodyweight and development are satisfactory. Do not increase your exercise program beyond 8 exerices. 

Enjoy Your Lifting!     


Monday, June 26, 2023

To Squat or Not to Squat -- Fred Hatfield (1987)

From this issue (July '87)

Of all the popular exercises bodybuilders do, as sports medicine expert Michael Yessis has pointed out, "The squat is probably the least understood." 

That, despite the fact that over the years more has been written about this exercise than any other in the book. 

Where Joe Weider is concerned, an exercise routine that does not include the squat will prove about as useful as the most expensive CD player without discs. 

Squats stimulate all-over body growth, says the innovator of the world-renowned Weider System (recently updated . . . Go, Joe and Fred). It should be noted that when Joe talks squats, he means squats heavy enough to make your knees tremble.

Sometimes I wonder if Joe's love affair with the squat has anything to do with his roots as a powerlifter and weightlifter. 

"No," he says, "the squat builds power, whether you're a lifter or a bodybuilder. It also builds quality muscle, in the thighs especially."

And not surprisingly, Joe firmly believes that "all that stuff about squats giving practitioners a big behind is strictly bull." 

Of course you cannot discuss the pros and cons of the squat without the name Vince Gironda coming up. Indeed, so certain is Vince of the negative influence of the movement that in all the years I trained at his North Hollywood gym, I never once set eyes on a squat rack. 

Vince insists that all you'll get from heavy squats is a horse's ass, a grotesque rear end that'll throw the rest of your physique totally off balance. In other words, if you want symmetrical development, stay away from deep knee bends. Which may account for the fact that the majority of Vince's big names, Don Peters and Don Howorth among them -- never sported huge behinds or, for that matter, huge thighs. 

But then Vince will quickly point out that Larry Scott was his most famous product -- and that the two-time Mr. Olympia had thighs that took your breath away. (He also had calves that were the envy of most ambitious bodybuilders at the time when steroid abuse meant a handful of Dianabol pills a day!).

At Vince's you were encouraged to do sissy squats (wouldn't it be interesting to discover the inventor of this particular exercise -- and how it got its name?), sometimes with a dumbbell or barbell plate attached to a harness made especially for the purpose. I tried the exercise a few times, without the added resistance, and almost destroyed my knees. 

Here's Vince G doing some posed Roman Chair squats. You can make your own conclusions as to the possibility of injury over time with these as well as his double burlesque bump-whatever squats. 

Or, you could do hack squats on Vince's somewhat archaic contraption. I might add that several people in a position to know insist that Scott's thighs were built largely with sissy and hack squats performed the Gironda way. Which must say something, despite my personal experiences. 

Note: In Scott's booklet on thigh development, the foundation-building layout, we may have some form of answer. The exercises he recommends are: 

Back Squat
Jefferson Lift
Leg Press 
Front Squat 
for the first phase.

No mention of double bumping the burlesque way a la Tempest Storm or Blaze Starr. In the "cutting" phase he recommends plenty of BB and DB hacks, all with an upright back and no lean-back or hip jutting. Perhaps Vince just looked the other way when a member of Scott's draw brought in members for cash via his celebrity, much as he did when making pronouncements about steroid use and his mighty-clean champeens? 

But what do our current champeens say about the squat? 

Tom Platz, for one, swears by the movement. I've watched him go up and down with 500 lbs on his shoulders without a warmup, and by the look on his face you'd have thought he was actually having the time of his life. 

Several Gold's Gym members swear they've seen Tom squat {a lot of oath-taking goin' on in this game, ain't there! The real question might be, Are there enough grains of salt?] . . . swear they've seen Tom squat with over 600 lbs nonstop for 40 reps! It's worth pointing out, by the way, that Platz's squats are rock-bottom deep, every rep [i.e. Oly squats]. 

Of course, Tom isn't merely a powerful squatter. He also happens to be especially famous for the look of his thighs. Indeed, whenever you think thighs, the name Platz automatically comes to mind. 

What does Tom say about heavy squats? 

[Too much in too many places, seemingly without end?]

Well, for starters, they have not hurt his knees or back. And just in case you're thinking the guy was simply made to squat, let's hear from Tom himself [all the while realizing the guy was on the shy side of 5'6" and armed, er, legged with, well you round up some pics and check out his leverages for squatting] . . . 

"I started out feeling about the movement as most other guys do," he insists. "I was wary of it. But once I'd taken the plunge -- once I'd started squatting in earnest -- there was no stopping me. My thighs responded quickly to the exercise and the poundages just kept rising." 

[What does that tell ya about his genetics etc. for this movement?]

What were his thighs like before squats came into his life?

"They were skinny," Tom swears. "I've got lots of pictures to prove it. Squats have helped me a great deal, especially with my lower back! You see, before I started serious bodybuilding [a possible contradiction in terms depending on your worldview?], I played football [is this guy too sacred in the b-building community to make fun of? I wouldn't know. Is anyone? You know, with my familiarity with the musclemags and tubes about these champeens and a good memory of what each has said in print or video over the years, it's  too easy to do, so I'll stop here], and I was getting killed all the time. My back was a sorry state. Squats strengthened the area to a degree that eliminated my problem." 

Let's hear again from Michael Yessis: "Successful execution of the squat, and the depth of the squat, also depends to a great degree on ankle, knee and hip joint flexibility," he says. "If you don't have sufficient flexibility in the ankle joints to keep your feet flat on the floor or in the hip joints to get low enough, you should practice the squat with no weights. Keep striving to get lower and lower until you either get stuck in a hole you butt-drilled in the floor or develop the required flexibility." 

Yessis points out that the deeper you squat, the greater will be the involvement of the glutes." Partial squats, in which the thighs do not hit the horizontal position, stress mainly the hamstrings of the hip joints and the extensors of the knee joints," says Yessis. "They aren't effective for involving the bluto, er, glute muscles." 

Yessis points out that "the squat should be executed in one basic pattern. However, there are several variants that can be used for maximum all-around development." You may use a wide stance, for example, or stand with your feet fairly close to each other. But in all cases, Yessis advises, "keep the execution the same." 

Anyone else here long for public guillotining?
Keep the execution the same! 

He also recommends a variety of squats . . . 

Front squats, with the barbell held high on the chest so that it rests on the deltoid muscles with elbows held high to prevent the bar from falling off, require greater balance than regular squats. The trunk remains in an upright position throughout the action. 

With regular squats, says Yessis, "be sure that your weight remains equally distributed on the whole foot. Don't allow the weight to shift onto the balls of the feet or onto your heels." 

He also advocates that Jefferson squat, admittedly no longer popular among bodybuilders, but wonderful, "especially for those with back problems."       

It is the opinion of Michael Yessis that proper execution of the squat depends to a large extent on a strong midsection. "It will prevent buckling or other undesirable movement of the spine while squatting. If you midsection muscles are weak, do situps, back raises, twisting situps and twisting back raises." 

Additionally, he advises, "When you use heavy weights, make sure that the bar is fairly rigid and doesn't have a lot of bend to it. If it does, hitting the down position could be dangerous. For example, when you lower yourself and stop, because of its inertia, the barbell continues to move down, creating greater pressure on your body. The faster you go into the squat position, the greater the pushing force. Thus, if you try to rise as the bar is whipping down, it can create excessive force and be dangerous to your knees and back -- and lead to failure in the lift. You should always use spotters, regardless of the barbell." 

Finally, Yessis is against the use of a lifting belt while squatting. "If you do, it will prevent your back muscles from keeping your spine in a strong position. A back support by itself is of little value. If you must use a belt, use a very wide one, wide enough to cover the greater part of your abdominal wall. This will create pressure on your spine and keep it strong and in place." 

Like Tom Platz, Rich Gaspari is a particularly strong squatter. "I started out in a powerlifters' gym," Rich explains. "There, all they talked about was strength. You were respected only if you could squat with impressive weights." 

Note: Here's something taken from a Rich Gaspari interview: 
"By the time I was 19 years old I was doing 785 on the squat. I got 2 reps. I was also doing six plates a side (585?) for 20 reps, 495 for 30." 

Once at Gold's Gym in Reseda, California, I stood openmouthed as then little known Rich squatted Lord knows how many times with 650 pounds. Several months later, after he'd won the NPC Nationals, Rich reminded me of the squatting episode. "I hadn't planned on doing more than about 6 reps," he chuckled. "But by the look on your face as I got under the weight . . . you seemed to be thinking, "Oh-oh, another jerk's about to bite the dust!" I just couldn't help myself after that. So I went and did, I think it was 15 reps." 

Not anymore. These days you'll hardly ever catch Gaspari squatting with more than 350.

He says, "In the first place, I don't need the muscle mass that heavy squats undoubtedly build, not in my thighs anyway. Besides, there can be no doubt that squats encourage growth where I definitely don't need it at this point in my career. I'm talking about my obliques and butt." 

These days Gaspari depends for "thigh refinement" on leg extensions, leg curls, lunges and so on. He says, "THE SQUAT IS A FABULOUS MOVEMENT IF WHAT YOU WANT TO DO IS BUILD MASSIVE THIGHS. I highly recommend the exercise, all varieties. The regular squat, with heavy weights, is almost unbeatable when it comes to developing muscle mass in the thighs." 

The bottom line, says Rich, Richie, Gaspo, our personal friend, right, finally, is this: "Too many advanced bodybuilders keep on doing a movement just because it's effective. You've got to know when you've had enough of a good thing. Otherwise, you could end up with thighs that bring an audience to its feet every time you display them, while the rest of you is hardly worth a second glance." 

He certainly has a point. 

I spoke with Fred Hatfield, who has broken squat records in five different weight divisions, 181 through 275 pounds. 

Was there ever a time when Fred Hatfield was just an average squatter? He says he was always very strong. As a 165 pound Olympic lifter, he could squat 500 pounds "on any given day -- hard bar, Oly style." 

Secretly recalling my own best performance (I actually squatted with 500 pounds for reps at a bodyweight of 210!), seemingly a hundred years ago, I asked, "Is there a type whose structure does not readily lend itself to heavy squatting. 

Note: What an assinine question. Obviously on this planet if you see a human being with great genetic advantages for doing a specific thing, you won't have much trouble finding another outfitted with for-shite genetics to do the same thing. Oops. Pardon me. 

'How about the guy with a long torso and relatively short legs?" 

"He'll be forced into squatting in a very upright position," said Hatfield, "and that's not conducive to squat records, mainly because from the upright position you can't get as much from the glutes and hamstrings. As far as bodybuilders are concerned, however, I believe that squatting with the torso upright is the single most effective means of developing the quadriceps."

"Is there a bodybuilder for whom the squat is not recommended?" 


 "Yeah," said Hatfield, smiling. "His name is Tom Platz, and he sure doesn't need a lot of squats now. As everybody knows, Tom has a remarkable physique. But despite that, his legs are out of thisworld. They overshadow by a long way the rest of his development. They overshadow by a long way the rest of his development [especially that arm with the torn biceps . . . only cure for that is extreme forced stretch work on more-a them DB flyes! I have always enjoyed the way Weider contests will ignore their sponsored contestants' obvious weak, no, complete fail bodyparts. Must be the adverts already set up or something, eh. The torn biceps, the quad that wasn't really there, the Dickersonian elbows, the repeat Mr. Olympia over the hill and only half ready to compete, the ripped off triceps, etc., etc.] 

Where were we? 

Clearly, I had not put my question properly. What I meant to ask was, "Is there a body type that would be better off not squatting at all?" 

"I don't think so," said Hatfield. "I believe squats will benefit anyone who practices them. Bodybuilders of all physical categories will find that regular squats are the best means of attaining super-development in the quads. And most bodybuilders need massive quads -- except for Tom Platz, that is." 

"Do you recommed high or low reps? What about poundages?" 

"I like the Weider Holistic Training Principle." 

Okay . . . I've had enough bullshit and you likely have too at this point.

"The Bodybuilder's Friend: The Deep Knee Bend." Coming soon to a blog near you and showing the difference between fartin' and foolin' when writing an article on the Squat. 

Enjoy Your Lifting! 



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