Thursday, June 20, 2019

My 10 Undeniable Truths of Weight Training for Beginners - Part 3 - Balance your training routine - By RJ Hicks BS CSCS

A common theme I come across when discussing training with individuals is the lack of balance in exercise selection in their routines. Many people believe they are training all their muscles, when they only truly train half or focus on training the primary muscles used in a given activity and ignore the rest. If you want to get as strong and muscular as possible, take up a balanced approach.

It is easy to get in trouble with unbalanced routines when your philosophy of training is based on a certain group of exercises. The first example that comes to mind are people attempting to mimic strength athletes, competing in powerlifting. Many people believe the squat, bench and deadlift are the only three lifts you need for total strength and muscular development. The squat, bench and deadlift are great exercises, but by only training those three lifts you leave out many of the equally important muscles. 

The bench press trains the front deltoids chest and triceps but does not train the muscles the overhead press trains to the same extent. Just as the deadlift fails to train your upper back to the same quality as the bent over row or chin up. The bench press and deadlift do not truly train all your muscles of the upper body, maximally. You miss out on a lot of upper body strength and size potential; creating an imbalance in the shoulder joint. This imbalance between the pushing and pulling muscles can invite shoulder problems down the road. That is why these exercises are meant to complement each other. 

Some coaches de-emphasize total body training to solely emphasis exercises that resemble movements performed in an athletic setting. You would never want to work only the primary muscles in a given activity. The muscles surrounding a joint must be strengthen on all sides regardless of your event, to prevent one side of the joint from over powering the other. The antagonist (opposing) muscle groups must be just as strong as the agonist (primary) muscle groups. A balanced joint is a stronger joint. This should be the goal of every athlete in any sport. To do this you must work the front and back of both the upper body and the legs.

I prefer a strength training philosophy grounded in training with balanced routines over a philosophy paved by certain lifts or modalities. I break the body down into planes of motions rather than muscle groups. This allows me to avoid being pigeonholed into one exercise or training tool over another, while keeping a balanced approach. The philosophy is simple; a bench is a horizontal push, a military press is a vertical push, a row is a horizontal pull, a chin-up is a vertical pull and the squat, deadlift and leg press cover the push and pull for the legs. Now it doesn’t matter if barbells, dumbbells, machines or body weight with added resistance are used. 

The foundation of a routine would consist of a horizontal push, a horizontal pull, a vertical push, a vertical pull, then rotating one major push or pull movement for the lower body.  That way one workout the squat or leg press is trained, and the deadlift is trained the next. There is equal emphasis on pushing and pulling for both the upper body and lower body, and therefore greater stability in the joints. 

You can choose to cover the basic planes each workout or spread across the week, based on individual preferences, recovery or time. One workout you can train the (bench) horizontal push, (pulldown/chin up) vertical pull and (squat/leg press) lower body push, while on the next workout you train the (overhead press) vertical push, (row) horizontal pull and (trap bar or conventional deadlift/stiff leg deadlift) lower body pull. Splitting the work up over a 7-10 day can allow you to better focus on each lift or might just be the extra recovery needed in each movement to keep progressing.

The more equipment you have the more planes of motion you can add for variety sake. Every workout does not have to be based around a flat press and a horizontal row. Incline presses and high rows, dips and upright rows, decline benches and low rows are many great combinations that share a similar plane of motion and follow the simple push/pull philosophy. Find the exercises you enjoy the most and balance out the upper and lower body training.

There is no one size fits all for productive training. Strength in any one exercise can be obtained through consistent and progressive effort, yet true strength can only be developed through complete muscular balance in all parts of the body. Adopt a balance training routine philosophy and get balanced!

Editor's note: Great Article R.J.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Embracing The Deadlift - By Jim Duggan

     Not too long ago, the US. Army decided to overhaul its long-standing physical fitness test, in order to improve fitness, reduce injuries, and better demonstrate strength.  Read those last three words again: Better demonstrate strength.  STRENGTH.  What we train for, what we admire, and respect. What we enjoy reading about ( and writing about, too!). And just what movement has the Army chosen to most effectively  test the strength of its soldiers?  Why, none other than the Deadlift.  Actually, to be more precise, the Trap Bar Deadlift.  More about that in a few minutes.
     Since the 1980s, the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) consisted of three events: Push-Ups, Sit-ups, and Two Mile Run.  Since the Fall of 2018, a new Army Combat Readiness Test (ACRT) has been developed, and is in the process of being implemented.  The new ACRT consists of the following:
1) Leg Tuck.  This replaces Sit-Ups.  It's basically a hanging knee-up.  You hang from a pull-up bar, and bring your knees up to your elbows.  You need to do a minimum of three, and get maximum points if you do 25.
2) Power Throw.  This is a backward toss with a 10 Lb. medicine ball.  We've seen variations of this in World's Strongest Man contests over the years, usually in the form of tossing beer kegs for height.  For the Army, the test is measured in centimeters and a minimum throw is 450 cm ( 14.5 feet.) To max the event, you need to toss the medicine ball 1400 cm ( 45.9 feet.)
3. Trap Bar Deadlift.  Lift as much weight off the ground for three reps using a Trap Bar.  The minimum weight is 170 Lbs.  To get maximum points, you need to do 400 Lbs..
4. T-Push-Ups or Hand Release Push-ups.  This is a different version of the standard Push-Up.  There are four counts to the movement.  Up Push-Up,  Down Push-Up,  Extend your arms to your side's to form a "T" with your body, Bring your arms back to the Down position. Minimum score is 15, max is 80.
5.  Shuttle Sprint Drag Carry.  This is a shuttle run consisting of carrying various loads for a 25 meter shuttle course.
     Sprint 25m and back with no weight.
     100 Lb. Sled drag 25m and back.
     Sprint 25m and back with no weight.
     Sprint 25m and back carrying two 40 Lb. kettlebells.
     Sprint 25m and back with no weight.
     Minimum passing time is 2:40, Max points is 1:30.
6.  Two Mile Run.
     While the inclusion of kettlebells, and the sled-drag are sure to pique the interests of strength athletes, it is the Deadlift that immediately registers with those of us who hoist the Steel.  It is refreshing to see that the Army is finally recognizing the Deadlift as a superior movement for testing, demonstrating, and building strength.  Perhaps the "powers that be" took a long look at the benefits of this wonderful exercise.  Or maybe they just looked up some of the quotes Lifters have used to describe the Deadlift.  Here are just a few:
"The Deadlift is the great separator. Many times a powerlifting contest comes down to the final Deadlift."
"The most basic and simple test of overall bodily strength."
"The Deadlift separates the men from the boys."
"The contest isn't over until the bar touches the floor."
"In a contest, a good deadlifter always  has an ace in the hole."
     While I don't believe the Army is trying to convert their soldiers into Powerlifters ( at least not yet), it is nice to see that strength, or should I say STRENGTH, is an integral component of fitness.  Whether you are a Soldier, Firefighter, or competitive athlete, deadlifting will build great strength that can be applied to any physical endeavor or challenge.
     It is particularly interesting to see that the Trap Bar is being used as the implement of  choice to perform the Deadlift in the new testing process.  I first became aware of the Trap Bar back in 1992 at Iron Island Gym.  I've always liked the feel of the movement, and have gotten good results incorporating it into my workouts.  There have been times when I've used it for sets of low reps.  Three sets of five or six will build great strength, while providing an effective alternative to conventional Deadlifts.  Let's face it, week after week of heavy Deadlifting can become monotonous. Utilizing a Trap Bar can keep your workouts interesting, while you still provide work for your back, and hips.  There were also times when I would use the Trap Bar for high reps.  Training at Dr. Ken's Iron Island Gym, it would be difficult to avoid high intensity training, and the Trap Bar provided the perfect vehicle with which to train intensely.  An all-out set of twenty reps will be enough to throw anyone "for a loop." Or, you could do three sets of ten with one minute of rest between sets.  It looks easy on paper, but wait until you try it.
     Over the last month, my interest in the Trap Bar has been renewed. This has nothing to do with the Army's new test.  Rather, it is just a recognition of the benefits of using such a quality piece of equipment.  I recently purchased a heavy-duty trap bar with 2" handles.  The thing is a beast, and the thick handles will tax the grip, and add intensity to the movement.  I like to use a 2" platform inside the bar ( 2" deficit) to make the movement even more challenging.  The soreness that I've experienced indicates to me that it must be working.
     Hopefully, the Army's new physical fitness standards will be successful.  Past experience with new things tend to indicate that the results will be both positive and negative, especially at first.  After sufficient time has passed, I'm sure that they will be happy with the results.
     In any event, best of luck to our soldiers in their Deadlifting endeavors.  May they embrace the benefits of a wonderful exercise.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Squats For Bigger Arms - By Jim Duggan

     The title of this article is from the April 1970 edition of Muscular Development magazine.   It was originally written by Sterri Larsen.  Who is/was Sterri Larsen you might ask?  I have no idea.  A Google search produced no answer.  Under his byline in the article, it states that he was a bodybuilding authority in Norway.  That is all I have on Mr. Larsen.  It doesn't really matter who he is.  What matters is that he wrote a great article, which contained information that is as relevant today, as it was nearly fifty years ago.
     Imagine making the statement that Squats can build your arms.  Perhaps back in 1970, it was not so far-fetched.  Most persons who lifted weights were open to new ideas, and there were quality magazines like MD, Strength and Health, and Peary Reader's Ironman, which provided readers with quality information.  Sadly, there is a serious lack of useful training information being disseminated today. Yes, the internet provides us with more information than ever before.  But is there anything useful being practiced at a typical commercial gym?  "Leg day," "arm day," bodypart training, and other principles of "bro science" are prevalent.  The concept of training specific body parts on separate days came about in the 1970s  via the various muscle magazines, or "muscle comics."  Instead of preaching sound training principles, they espoused the idea of pumping up your body through bogus articles that were supposedly written by ( drug) bloated pumped-up bodybuilders.  Common sense went out the window.  Instead of two or three full-body workouts devoted to the idea of building Strength and Health, six day per week body part training was recommended.  Instead of Squats, Deadlifts, Military Presses, the muscle comics endorsed the use of movements that would produce  pumped up arms and pecs, and "barn door" lats.  Today, a casual stroll through any commercial gym will prove that such foolishness is still with us.
     Fortunately, the people reading this article are interested in the concepts of old-time Physical Culture, and common sense Strength training.  People who LIFT.  People who realize that hard work on the basic exercises, allowing yourself sufficient time to recuperate between workouts, and following a sensible diet, are the best way to get bigger and stronger.
     In the original article, there is a line in the third paragraph which sums up the theme of what the author is trying to get across:  "Squats are still the best way to increase your bodyweight and to expand your chest......and when your chest grows, so do you!" There are many ways to incorporate Squats into your routine.  Breathing Squats, 20-Rep Squats, 30-Rep Squats, Six Sets of Six, Five Sets of Five.  They're all effective, provided that you that you put in the requisite work and effort.
     Breathing Squats are simply regular Back Squats done in high reps with lots of breathing between each repetition to increase the rib-box and increase metabolism.  There have been many articles, and even books written about the effectiveness of high-rep Squats.  John McCallum, Dr. Randall Strossen, and Dr. Ken Leistner are just a few of the legendary Iron Game figures who have inspired countless lifters to include heavy Squatting in their workouts.  It doesn't get any better than those three gentlemen, and when it comes to gaining size, it doesn't get any better than hard work on the Squat.
     The concept of 20-Rep Squats is addressed perfectly in Dr. Strossen's great book, "Super Squats: How To Gain 30 Pounds Of Muscle In Six Weeks."  If you have never read that book, I encourage you to order yourself a copy.  Even if you do not seek to gain weight, you will be motivated to train hard.  You will become aware of the importance of hard work.
     If you are going to specialize on heavy Squatting, then you must be judicious in selecting the other exercises in your your routine.  Deadlifts, Bench Presses, Military Presses, and Bent-over Rows are the movements that will build Strength as well as size.  You can spread these exercises over two or three days.  You can build tremendous strength, and considerable size on a "limited" or "abbreviated" routine consisting of the basic exercises.  Naturally, you must work hard.  You must also be consistent as well as progressive.  Poundage progression is the key to consistent gains.
     I would like to add one thing that the original author did not mention in his article.  You must train in an intelligent manner, which is to say safely.  Do NOT Squat to failure unless you are training inside of a Power Rack.  If you do not have access to a Power Rack, then secure the services of two good spotters.
     High-rep Breathing Squats, will cause you to experience remarkable gains all over.  It is effective for increasing your bodyweight, as well as your Strength.  It is much more effective than engaging in a routine of pumping, and toning exercises.  Dedicating a day to pumping your arms with endless curls, and pushdowns will not build appreciable strength and will not even cause an increase in size.  Neither will endless sets on a pec-deck machine when it is "Chest day."  Incidentally, when it's "arm day," what happens when you eat a meal after your workout? Do the nutrients go directly to your arms? Likewise on "Leg day," if you consume a protein drink immediately after you train, will the protein bypass the other parts of your body and go straight to your legs? What about when you sleep? Do you sleep only for your arms or legs on their assigned days? These questions prove the utter foolishness of body part training.  Leave that sort of thing for the pumpers and toners.
     There is one more quote from the original article that I would like to mention.  "There will be times when only sheer willpower will keep you going. Yet, it's never your muscles that give out first- it's your personal aversion to the exercise that makes you stop."  Naturally, Squats are hard work, and high rep Squats are brutally hard.  Set a goal, and make up your mind to reach that goal no matter what.  Your body can handle just about any type of challenge you throw at it, it's your mind that you have to convince.  If you work as hard as you're supposed to, you won't regret it because you'll be making the gains that you want.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Natural Encouragement - By Vince Vaught

In our small group we should be thankful for one another as we cling to the
original purpose of what it was intended to be about. A healthy lifestyle and increased
strength through the disciplines of consistent hardwork with the use of weight training
equipment. It was and still is our objective. There's an existing respect & appreciation among
us who never crossed over. We're the ones who have stuck to the theme of health and are
satisfied with who we are. The old school purist never feels inferior or envious of what's
happening with the drug enhanced crowd. In the modern fitness & wellness culture most
people understand the difference and quietly feel sympathetic towards individuals who
made bad choices. After decades in the strength section of fitness, one can assume he's heard
and seen almost all of it...... except, a justified legitimate reason for chemical enhancement.
              The Natural Strength enthusiast has to discard all methods contrary to what's already been
proven effective. One must believe in what works and having followed those instructions also
believe in theirself. It takes confidence to embrace the challenge of out doing what you did before.
Keep on believing and don't waste time. You're doing the right things, proper nutrition, enough
sleep, and a generally clean lifestyle and along with that, the common sense not to over train in
volume or frequency.
             In pursuit of new strength levels a main issue is avoiding injuries & setbacks along the way.
One should be comfortable in knowing which compound exercises their body tolerates and the
particular technique required for them. Training forward comes easier when you're not working
around aggravated body parts. Consistency is key to achieving your goals, with that in mind, learn
how to minimize injury risk.
             It's hard to imagine anything goofier than training hard without a lifestyle to support your
expected progress. Worse yet would be someone doing everything right and the only thing holding
them back is the workout itself. Over the years many times a misguided young bodybuilder would
ask me how its done. What he really wanted to know was, could he expect to be like me someday,
20 years from now when he's my age. Well, no help was given unless they promised to put everything
aside, forget the past, believe,  and commit to my instructions.
             They were prescribed a 2-wk rest and provided with an abbreviated version of what they had
been doing. Without exception everyone who followed the plan got back to me with an amazing
testimony of new strength levels and muscular growth. Like me, they learned to appreciate quickly
what a difference it makes when a program is designed to ensure recovery and how the body responds.
              Having experienced good progress with a split routine in the past, there were still concerns
about overlap when doing Squats or Dead Lifts later in the week. If you've already hit upper body real hard,
how can you do Squats or Dead Lifts(which are both whole body efforts) within 2 or 3 days the
same week without interrupting recovery. Granted, these are concerns limited to those serious about
becoming stronger and they're the ones capable of training hard enough to overtrain.

              This is an example routine to be tweaked for your personal use and performed in a High Intensity
Abbreviated style. Rest instinctively after each workout. You should be ready to train again in
less than a week without fear of overlap. If not, you'll know it, just take an extra days rest.

The 3-Routines to rotate are "A", "B", & "C" in order. Do "A" take 5 days or so to
              rest and do "B" then rest again appropriately and do "C". If 5 days rest between isn't
             enough you'll realize soon enough. Obviously more rest could be required based on
             activities and other demands in life. Even at max intensity you should typically feel
             ready to workout again within 5 or 6 days, for sure by the 7th day in most cases.
                        Clearly this program is designed for those with the cultivated ability to train
              hard. The ones who really do something to the body, can't risk overlap, and are
             totally reliant on recovery to be consistent.
                        Honestly though, this comes with a warranty and it will work for everyone. The
             beginner, the one starting over, the veteran, and you too!!

                             "A"                             "B" "C"
             overhead bar press                              chin up 30 degree Inc Bench press
             trap bar dead lift                                      dip rows
                     pull up                                chin up bar squat
             overhead bar press                                 dip 30 degree Inc Bench press
             trap bar dead lift                                  calf press  rows
                    calf press                         Romanian dead lift bar squat
                   leg curl                                     Leg press 45 degree back extension
            seated DB curl                                     bar curl calf press
                                                                                                                                      arm curl: choice

                                Note: as mentioned before, tweak it a little for personal needs but leave
                                things structured the same.
                                             * upper body heavy as possible in the 5 to 8 rep range in strict form
                                             * Squats & dead lifts work it in the 12 to 16 range, keep the same load
                                                and see what you can get on the 2nd set. If your trap bar has high                                             
                                                Handles have a heavy day and a heavier day on the high side next                                                                                           
                                                Time and occasionally do a static hold at end of 2nd set
                                            **for upper body go to positive failure most of the time, do some
                                                 beyond failure cheat reps or negatives every 3rd or 4th workout
                                            **upper body: plan your micro load increases according to rep
                                                 accomplishment of a collective 10 in the two sets (or your
                                                 preference) & occasionally do a flush set with a reduced wt. after
the 2nd set.


Great article Vince!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Tribute to Dr. Ken - By Linda Jo Belsito

Kathy, Sol, BariAnn, Bari, Doris, Greg, Kevin, Family and Friends.

As I sat down to write about my memories of Ken, I wasn’t sure how or where to begin. My mind has been flooded with 40 plus years of so many memories. How can I put all of this into words? As I read the tributes over the past week the recurrent themes I read were: He was a Dr. of Chiropractic, dedicated father, husband, son, brother, grandfather, friend, mentor, motivator, coach, great man, real, honest, smart, author, gentle, brilliant, motivator, pioneer & historian in the iron game and strength world. He was all of those things and more to me, as I called him my brother from another mother.

I received a call last Saturday afternoon on my way home from my gym which he helped me build.
All of us have some piece of equipment from his home gym or had something donated from someone he contacted to help us build his legacy. We will carry on his traditions of paying forward in the world of strength training.

Nothing made his chiseled face light up more than when he would give you a new piece of equipment, t shirt, steak, or slip you some cash as you walked out the door. Paying it forward was something he did constantly. He still is by asking us to donate to the kids in his community he has helped for so many years.

Beth and I worked for Ken and Kathy in his Chiropractic office from 1986- 1992. We were reminiscing, about the basement gym, the juke box, where he and Kevin allowed us to pick a song to train to after everyone else was done. 60 minute Man comes to mind. What he did for so many was taught us how to find that inner strength, mentally and physically. He lived that life, he had this charismatic way of making you want him to bring you to that next level. He would not give you any leeway, he would not ask you to do anything he had not done, or wasn’t willing to do along with you. If your goal was to get stronger, he was going to get you there.

I was blessed when he came into my life over 40 years ago at a local powerlifting meet on Long Island. I have to be honest, I was a little afraid of this guy with tattoos, who was running the meet. I guess he saw potential. He introduced himself “ I’m Dr. Ken”. He gave me his information in case, I wanted to get serious. I had no idea that in a short time I would be calling on him for help. I took him up on that after a squat work out when I attempted 225 lbs., pulled something in my low back. I went to the ER, where the physician said, “ women don’t lift weights! They gave me pain meds, told me to sit on ice and heat, rest and don’t lift.

I called Ken and told him what happened, and in Ken fashion, he said, “F**K that, get in here, I will adjust you and you will be back in the gym this week. “ And I was.

He has helped athletes of all walks of life. Many came to Ken wanting to train. But he gave us so much more. He made us all stronger, not only physically but mentally. He could explain the how and why, we needed to do something, due to his knowledge in the Iron Game that goes back so many years. But we all remember the experiences of those high rep workouts, where we either hit the bucket, or would attempt to stop, and his words were “ I didn’t tell you to F** ing stop”.

We did HIT training back then, which I incorporate every now and then with my athletes.

I traveled with Ken doing lifting exhibitions on Hammer equipment, did seminars, visiting colleges, and he also would take me to competitions to get the experience I needed in PL since he believed I could be a champion one day. He taught me how to find that inner strength. He let me figure out what it meant to be a mentally and physically strong in a world that did not yet accept female strength athletes.

Something he always demonstrated was unbelievable stamina, resilience, and a never quit, positive attitude to a degree where we questioned if he was human? Does he eat? Does he sleep? I could never figure that out. But believed in him and he would always greet me with a big hug and That great smile.

What I do know is, when he did eat, it was for the masses and he loved good food. He introduced me to Peter Lugers, steak tartar. He invited me to Thanksgiving dinner and asked me to help make smashed potatoes, which was a back and tricep workout. He would have summer strength events and BBQ’s, and pudding pie fights with the kids in the backyard of valley stream. We would train in the cold garage fully clothed, but completed the workout only to come inside and have Kathy waiting with something great to eat. His legacy will live on in everyone he has touched, mentored or trained. From local high schools, college, pro teams to helping produce an Olympic Champion Derrik Adkins.

He made us mentally and physically strong. He gave me unconditional love, friendship, guidance, and always followed through on anything I asked of him. He made me a better person and my successes in life and lifting I can say are because of him.

I find myself doing what he did for me with my athletes, young kids, children, and most recently the wounded warriors, marines, and Army soldiers who come into my gym to find that strength. I make it a safe place for all. I expect as he did that you train well, stick to the program and make the most of that training time.

All of us who have had the opportunity of training under Dr. Ken, know the lessons we have learned from him. We all can probably recite the stories he would tell about back in the day, when strength training for him consisted of lifting steel beams, sand buckets, in his garage, and the stories of trips he took to York Barbell to pick up equipment in a massive snow storm back in the 60’s.

What amazed me about this when I read it, is that the rack he picked up on that trip, he gave to me for my home gym back in 1986. I have it in my gym now. Beth and I worked for Ken and Kathy as their rehab nurses, in Valley Stream and it was some of the best times of our lives. Not only did we get great experience and learn, but he would always have perogies, cheesecake, steak, or Graters Ice Cream, to help us get stronger, after a workout.

Ken was real. He said what he felt. He was misunderstood by many, but to those of us who he loved, you knew you were loved. This man would give you anything to help you succeed, or put you in touch with those who could help you.

If he is listening now, just hear this. We didn’t tell you to Fucking STOP!

To say I will miss Ken, is an understatement. I will miss his hugs, calls, emails, that great laugh, and of course the events he held at his home. His absence is felt by us all. Our hearts are broken, But I know every time we step in the gym, now more than ever, we will be living his legacy and paying it forward as he taught us to do. I know we will meet again someday at his “Iron Island In the Sky”.

In Strength, LJ your sister.

Editor's Note: A Great Tribute to Dr Ken Lindo Jo! 

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Much Respect and Rest In Peace Dr. Ken - By Bob Whelan

I really only knew Dr. Ken in a professional way, mostly in the 90's when we both wrote for some of the same magazines and he contributed a chapter for my book IRON NATION. I also got the idea of having a puke bucket in my gym after watching a few of his training video's! It sure beat cleaning the mess! If I had lived in the New York area, I believe we would have been the best of friends. I met him when I visited Iron Island Gym with Drew Israel in the mid 90's and had a chance to speak briefly to him and see his great world class gym. I wrote about this visit in Hardgainer. A few phone calls and emails pretty much sum up our personal relationship. We really did not know each other well, but I always had the greatest amount of respect for Dr. Ken. He was a unique personality and the people who knew him best absolutely loved him. I loved reading his articles and always wish that I had the chance to go to one of his epic Thanksgiving dinners. I heard so many great things about them from many of our mutual friends. I consider him to be one of the greatest and most influential writers in the history of physical culture. He will be missed. Much respect and Rest In Peace Dr Ken.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Dr. Ken Remembered - By Jim Duggan

    It would be difficult to overstate the impact that Dr. Ken Leistner had on the world of Powerlifting, and Strength Training.   As a chiropractor, strength coach, writer, and gym owner, he influenced countless Lifters, and Iron Game devotees over the years.  Earlier today, I received the sad news that Dr. Ken had passed away, at the age of 72.
     Several of us from Bruno's discussed the impact that Dr. Ken had, not only on us, but on the world of weight training.  Chris Newins put it best when he said: " He was a mentor and friend to so many."  Truer words were never spoken.  He certainly had an impact on my life insofar as it relates to training.  There will undoubtedly be numerous tributes to Dr. Ken over the coming days, and rightfully so.  I think it is accurate to say that he was one of the most influential figures in the world of Strength and Lifting.
     My first introduction to Dr. Ken was through the pages of Powerlifting USA Magazine.  His column, "More From Ken Leistner," was a regular feature.  It was also one of the first things that I would read.  His no-nonsense, straight forward, no bull style of writing was perfectly suited for those of us who love to lift.
     Dr. Ken wrote for many magazines over the years.  Just about every Muscle/Lifting/Strength publication benefited from his expertise.  And readers like me were all the better for it.  His own publication, "The Steel Tip," was years ahead of its time.  I'm glad that I have a complete set of back issues,  which he generously gave to me.  One of my favorite articles of his appeared in Muscular Development magazine.  It was titled "Unorthodox Power Builders."  It described how one can become brutally strong by lifting odd objects.  Back then, lifting I-Beams, Anvils, or Torpedoes was not something that was generally done by trainees. This particular article was focused on lifting heavy anvils.  It must have made an impression on me since I am the proud owner of nine ( yes, nine) anvils ranging in weight fro 50- 206 Lbs..
     The first time I ever met Dr. Ken was in the Winter of 1992, when he opened the world famous Iron Island Gym.  I had the pleasure of speaking with him for about twenty minutes. At the time, I was 27 years old, and I thought I knew a lot about lifting.  Boy, did I have a lot to learn, and I could not have have picked a better place to learn, nor a more knowledgeable person to learn from.  You could just feel his passion about all things strength related, and he wanted to provide the very best facility for those who shared his passion.  I think if you ask anybody who trained at Iron Island, you will get the same answer:  It was the best lifting gym that any of us had seen.  The atmosphere, equipment, environment, and energy of that place could inspire anyone.  I have often said that if you couldn't get motivated at Iron Island, then you ought to be embalmed.  Dr. Ken and Ralph Raiola created a gym that was second to none.
     My first experience with High Intensity Training was through Dr. Ken.  At the time, he was writing articles for "Hardgainer" magazine. He was kind enough to give me a stack of back issues.  Looking back, Hargainer was one helluva training magazine.  And, just as with PL/USA magazine, his column was the first thing I would read.  Incidentally, during the mid 1990s, Hargainer could boast of having Dr. Ken, Bob Whelan, and Brooks Kubik as regular contributors.  Imagine, three of the most knowledgeable and talented Iron Game writers on the same magazine at the same time!
     I can't begin to imagine just how many lifters and Strength coaches have been influenced by Dr. Ken.  I certainly learned a lot from him.  I still have his monthly "Iron Island Insights," that he wrote for the members of the gym.  As I've often said, quality training information never goes out of style.  In fact, I still have a hand-written Deadlift program he wrote for me in 1993.  It was a program that helped me to a personal best of 688 Lbs., which I pulled at a meet at his gym.  The trophies he gave out were made from actual I-beams.  I cherish the program, and the trophies I received to this day.  More importantly, I will forever cherish the memories of a great gym, and a man who made a difference in the lives of those who benefited from his talent, passion, and wisdom.  I would like to offer my sincere condolences to his family, relatives, and many friends.
Rest in Peace, Dr. Ken. And Thank You. 

Editor's Note: Thank You Jim for the great tribute to Dr. Ken. I had a great deal of respect for him. He was an Iron Game legend and one of the best strength/ muscle writers in history. He will be missed but his influence on weight training will long remain with us.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

The 3 x 3: Oh, How I Love Thee! - By Rick Rignell

Whenever I’m looking for a quick, simple, metabolically challenging workout, I usually turn to the 3 X 3.  If you’re not familiar with it, a 3 x 3 consists of a multi-joint leg exercise, a multi-joint upper body pushing exercise, and a multi-joint upper body pulling exercise.  Examples of each of the three categories are listed below:

Multi-Joint Leg: Squat, Leg Press, Deadlift

Multi-Joint Upper Pushing: Bench Press, Incline Press, Military Press, Dip

Multi-Joint Upper Pulling: Row, Pulldown, Chin Up, Pull Up

The three exercises are performed in 3 cycles with as little rest as possible between exercises.  In other words, do a set of squats, then go immediately into a set of bench press, then immediately to a set of rows.  Then it’s right back to squats and so on until all three cycles are complete. As far as reps go, you’ve got some flexibility.  A common recommendation is to start with 15-20 reps on the legs and 10-15 on the upper body. If you hit muscle failure on each set, your reps then may end up looking something like this:

First Cycle: Squat = 20, Bench = 15, Row = 15

Second Cycle: Squat = 15, Bench = 12, Row = 12

Third Cycle: Squat = 12, Bench = 8, Row = 8

You can keep the weight the same on each set, increase it, or decrease it as necessary to hit the desired rep goals.  My personal preference is to keep it the same for all three cycles and of course, the number of reps completed on each cycle will decrease.  Regardless, I take each set to the point of muscle failure (or very close). My current favorite 3 x 3 routine is performed entirely on Hammer Strength machines as follows:

V-Squat: 15, 12, 10
Iso Horizontal Bench: 8,6, 4
Iso Rowing: 8,6,4

I prefer slightly higher reps for the lower body and slightly lower ones for the upper.  I take the V-Squat within 1-2 reps of muscle failure ( prefer not to get stuck at the bottom of a squat movement), and take each upper body set to failure. During the third cycle, I go to failure on the upper body sets, rest 20 seconds, then go to failure again.  Then, if time and energy permit, I do this “finisher”:

Using one pair of dumbbells, complete 3 cycles of the following exercises non-stop:

  1. Biceps Curl
  2. 2-arm Shoulder Press
  3. Single-arm Shoulder Press
  4. Negative Hammer Curl
  5. 5 Push ups

Specifically, curl the dumbbells to your shoulders, press both overhead, alternately press each, lower both with a hammer grip, then set them down and perform five push ups.  Repeat the cycle 2 more times. Some colleagues and I learned this finisher at an outstanding strength and conditioning clinic at Michigan State University a few years back, and chose to name it “MSU Upper Body Finisher” out of respect.  I highly recommend the 3 x 3 workout. Use whichever combination of exercises and reps best suits you, and get after it!

Does modern bodybuilding make you sick? You should write for Natural Strength! I always need good articles about drug-free weight training. It only has to be at least a page and nothing fancy. Just write it strong and truthful with passion! Send your articles directly to me:

Bob Whelan

Bob Whelan

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