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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Update from David Sedunary - Strength & Conditioning Coach - Australian Rules Football

Hello Bob

Hope this email finds you strong and healthy.

Strength training at our Club Gym is going along fine, I am also now teaching players Boxing, just basic punches straight left, right cross, left hook and left rip, then they work the punching bag over for 3x 1 minute rounds with a 1 minute rest.( sometimes I get to them to throw in some elbow strikes, you know Brad Steiner style)

Believe me it quite exhausts them.

Boxing is done on Wednesday and Strength work Monday and Friday. 35 players have commenced Strength training , some have trained more than others over a 10 week period twice a week. 11 players who have trained more than 8 workouts have increased their strength from 30 % to 62 % , granted they started with moderate weights, I will check again in 8 weeks.

One of my strength athletes who is only 17 years old, was dipping and chinning with his bodyweight for 8-10 reps , he now dips and chins with 22 pound around his waist, for 8 reps good improvement.

Obviously I need to get more of our players to be more consistent, but most are coming on board and having a full body workout once to twice a week.

Workouts take 30 to 35 minutes and each exercise now, is completed for 1 hard to the floor set of 6 to 10 reps, when they reach their goal in reps the weight is increased, always in good form.

The advice you gave me is working very well.

Our Club is the only Club in Town who strength trains their players.

Regards David



Editors Note: Great work David! Keep us updated. I think your much stronger team should dominate.

Dick Conner Arthur Jones Deland Kim Wood Hammer Strength Bob Hoffman John Grimek Vince Gironda Joe Gold

Dick Conner interview with Bob Whelan - NATURAL STRENGTH NIGHT podcast - (episode 35) - 22 February 17

Natural Strength Wine Rack for Bob Whelan

Natural Strength Wine Rack for Bob Whelan

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Real Physiques - By Rob Phillips

There's a reason that ancient Greek statues look the way they do. I believe that it's the perfect physique and I seriously doubt that those sculptors would base the statue on any drug induced trainer of the modern era, as they look like a science experiment that went wrong.

In my opinion the greatest natural physiques that normal men could hope to achieve ceased to exist after the late 50's. I remember watching a certain 70s documentary as a young impressionable boy about bodybuilding legends in Venice Beach, I didn't realise until I was older and started really educating myself about the iron game that these guys were all on steroids . Up until this point I'd foolishly believed that if I just trained, longer, harder , and exactly like they did then I'd look like them. It's kind of like that moment when you find out as a kid that Father Xmas does not exist and it was a lie all along.

Lifting weights was supposed to be a health benefit, eating healthy, training hard, progressing, thats the reason why I still haul my carcass into my freezing garage to try and get stronger and fitter than before, and I'm sure you all do the same.

But the current climate of strength and fitness sports seem to revolve around who can abuse the most body altering drugs whilst lying to everyone around you that you are natural and did it all yourself. Natural trainees do not usually have 20 inch arms with 5 percent body fat, those people are either in the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent or are on something. That's not me, and I doubt that it's you otherwise you wouldn't even be on here reading these articles.

Have you ever noticed that the old-time bodybuilder's and strength trainers still looked great in their 50s 60s and 70s ? Whilst nowadays 3 years after retiring modern bodybuilder's look like a guy who's never lifted in his life? We've all seen it happen, even to people around us . The reason ? Real strength training builds real muscles and real physiques for real people . That's a fact that's been known since Milos Of Croton lifted a calf everyday until it became progressively heavier. I'm pretty sure he didn't have access to testosterone other than his own either.

Being strong and healthy is a benefit that most people take for granted until it's taken away from them, to abuse that by cheating is just cheating yourself in the long run . The greatest physiques ever built were built naturally using just hard work and determination.

Last year I went to the biggest fitness expo in Europe, the look nowadays seems to be big arms, no back, no legs, big shoulders. It's horrifying if im honest, the majority of these guys would be lucky if they weighed more than 170lb and could bench more than 120lb if I had to guess. Sometimes progress is a bad thing, and the only light at the end of this very dark tunnel is people like Mr Whelan and his friends writing and keeping the real business of strength and fitness alive.

Meal Timing: Does It Matter When You Eat? - Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD

My clients commonly ask me questions about when to eat. A recent article on Meal Timing spurred me to write this article (below). Perhaps it will offer some food for thought, and help you plan your meals for health as well as for energy and performance. I hope you enjoy the information.

Best wishes from snowy Boston,

Nancy

Meal Timing: Does It Matter When You Eat?

Meals and snacking patterns have changed over the past 40 years. You have undoubtedly noticed that many of us are eating fewer calories from meals and more calories from snacks. As a result, I get questions from both athletes and non-athletes alike about how to best fuel their bodies: Should I stop eating after 8:00 pm? Which is better: to eat 3 or 6 meals a day? Does it really matter if I skip breakfast? Because meals can be a central part of our social life—and busy training schedules can contribute to chaotic eating patterns—many athletes disregard the fact that food is more than just fuel. When (and what) you eat impacts your future health (and today’s performance).

Food consumption affects the central clock in your brain. This clock controls circadian rhythms and impacts all aspects of metabolism, including how your organs function. Restricting daytime food and eating in chaotic patterns disrupts normal biological rhythms. The end result: erratic meal timing can impact the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD), type-2 diabetes and obesity.

This article offers food for thought from the American Heart Association’s Scientific Statement on Meal Timing and Frequency: Implications for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention. (Circulation, Jan 30, 2017). The information is particularly important for athletes, because training schedules can really upset standard meal times. Plus, most of us want to live a long and healthful life. Hence, we need to pay attention to meal timing—starting at an early age. Children and adolescents who skip meals have a higher risk of developing health issues (higher BMI, more belly fat, higher serum insulin and blood glucose). Not a good start for a long and healthy life. (Parents take note: Be responsible with family meals!)

Older athletes also want to stay healthy. In 2014, 14.5% of the US population was 65 years or older. Over the next 25 years, older Americans are expected to grow to 22% of the US population. We need to outlive the diseases of aging. That starts with fueling wisely on a regular schedule and enjoying regular exercise!

Breakfast: Is it really the most important meal of the day?

If you define breakfast as eating 20% to 35% of your daily calories within two-hours of waking, about one-fourth of US adults do not eat breakfast. This drop in breakfast consumption over the past 40 years parallels the increase in obesity. Breakfast skippers tend to snack impulsively (think donuts, pastries, chips and other fatty foods). They end up with poorer quality diets and increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and overweight/obesity.

Eating a wholesome breakfast starts the day with performance enhancing fuel at the right time for your body’s engine. If you exercise in the morning, fuel-up by having part of your breakfast before you workout and then enjoy the rest of the breakfast afterwards. This will help you get more out of your workout, improve recovery—and click with natural circadian rhythms.

Meal Frequency: Is it better to eat 1, 3. 6, 9 or 12 times a day?

In terms of weight, eating 2,000 calories divided into 1, 3, 6, 9, or 12 meals doesn’t change your body fatness. In a study where breakfast provided 54% of the day’s calories and dinner only 11% of calories—or the reverse, the subjects (women) had no differences in fat loss. Yet, in terms of cardiovascular health, the big breakfast led to significant reductions in metabolic risk factors and better blood glucose control. The bigger breakfast matched food intake to circadian rhythms that regulated metabolism.

Athletes who skimp at breakfast commonly get too hungry and then devour way too may calories of ice cream and cookies. If they do this at night, when the body is poorly programmed to deal with an influx of sweets, they are paving their path to health issues. Hence, if you are eating a lot of calories at night, at least make them low in sugary foods, to match the reduced insulin response in the evening. This is particularly important for shift workers, who eat at odd hours during the night and tend to have a higher rate of heart disease.

Should you stop eating after 8:00 PM? There’s little question that late-night eating is associated with obesity. Research with 239 US adults who ate more than one-third of their calories in the evening had twice the risk of being obese. Among 60,000 Japanese adults, the combination of late-night eating plus skipping breakfast was associated with a greater risk of diabetes, heart disease and obesity. A study with 2,200 US middle-aged women reports each 10% increase in the number of calories eaten between 5:00 PM and midnight was associated with a 3% increase in C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation. Inflammation is associated with diabetes, CVD and obesity. Wise athletes make a habit of eating the majority of their calories earlier in the day, to curb evening eating.

The best plan: Plan to eat intentionally.

Failing to plan for meals can easily end up in missed meals, chaotic fueling patterns and impaired health, to say nothing of reduced performance. If you struggle with getting your food-act together, consult with a sports dietitian who will help you develop a winning food plan. Use the referral network at www.SCANdpg.org to find a local sports RD.

Instead of holding off to have a big dinner, enjoy food when your body needs the fuel: when it is most active. If you worry you’ll eat just as much at night if you eat more during the day (and you’ll “get fat”), think again. Be mindful before you eat and ask yourself: Does my body actually need this fuel?

Most active women and men can and should enjoy about 500 to 700 calories four times a day: breakfast, early lunch, second lunch, and dinner. To overcome the fear that this much food will make you fat, reframe your thoughts. You are simply moving calories in your pre- and/or post-dinner snacks into a substantial and wholesome second lunch (such as a peanut butter-honey sandwich, or apple, cheese & crackers.). The purpose of this second lunch is to curb your evening appetite, refuel your muscles from your workout earlier in the day (or fuel them for an after-work session) and align your food intake to your circadian rhythms. Give it a try?

Sports nutritionist Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD has a private practice in the Boston-area (Newton; 617-795-1875), where she helps both fitness exercisers and competitive athletes create winning food plans. Her best-selling Sports Nutrition Guidebook, and food guides for marathoners, cyclists and soccer are available at nancyclarkrd.com. For workshops, see www.NutritionSportsExerciseCEUs.com .

Nancy Clark, MS RD CSSD Sports nutrition counselor www.nancyclarkrd.com (Books, presentations)

Friday, February 10, 2017

Wasted Years! - A mesage from Rob Phillips

Subject: Wasted years

Hello sir, I just stumbled upon your fantastic podcast! Already listened to 5, great host, great guests, great subjects. The information contained within is a literal goldmine. I would love to contribute an article for your consideration if I could be so bold.

Wasted Years

I'm 43 this year, I've been lifting on and off for 20 years. I think I've got a pretty good physique for my age, I've never taken anything more than creatine and protein powder (won't ever fall for that propaganda again, but that's another story ) when I started training I was 160lb at 6,2 I could get two hands around the top of my thigh. I was the guy on the beach that had sand kicked into his face by Charles Atlas.

I wish I could turn back the clock and tell myself
drug using bodybuilder workouts will not work for you!

Compound exercises should comprise the majority of your workouts!

No supplement is better than food!

The muscle magazines and every pro bodybuilder are lying to you!

Low rep, high intensity workouts are better for you than high rep low intensity!

Having big muscles but being weak is not a benefit!

A six-pack is not really important to your life!

Unfortunately for me, this took me nearly 20 years to work out, but I'm not bitter. I'm happier with my training than I've ever been and stronger than ever. I Squat, Bench, Deadlift, Chin, Row, and Press alternating twice a week. They can keep their ego driven training in the magazine's for the goons, hard heavy infrequent training is the real deal. No matter your age or gender, there's time to change for the better. Keep lifting !



Editor's Note: Great Info Rob, please keep them coming. I'm glad you like the Natural Strength Night podcast and appreciate the kind words. -Bob

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Beginning A Strength Training Program - By Jim Duggan

In my last article, I described a general plan for getting in shape and getting stronger. The beginning of a new year, traditionally, is a time to start an exercise regimen. For most trainees, their exercise goals fall into one of two general categories: Gaining muscular mass, or losing excess bodyweight. Generally, those who want to increase their muscle mass are younger. Beginners, in particular, want to gain size and strength. When it comes to losing weight, it is usually the "older" trainees whose goal it is to drop some unwanted pounds.

On the other hand, there many older trainees who don't necessarily want to lose weight. Rather, they still desire to build strength and lift heavy weights. There are many people who, having worked out in the past, wish to resume an exercise program. People fall into this category for any number of reasons. Job, career, and family responsibilities are the biggest reasons for discontinuing an exercise regimen.

Anyone who has any kind of medical problem, and those who have not been active, but are eager to begin, should check with a physician before embarking on a Strength Training program. Those who were never very active, but are now contemplating a weight-training program, should undergo a complete physical to be on the safe side. It makes no sense for a sedentary individual try engage in an intense strength-training. Such a mistake could lead to serious injury. Always be smart.

Those who trained in the past, and are in fairly decent condition, might have to make some adjustments, particularly if they find themselves lacking energy after their workouts. Sometimes it's better to reduce the number of sets of an exercise. Or even reduce the number of workouts performed in a given week. Many times, especially after a long layoff, people try to do too much. What makes things worse is if they try to follow the so-called "routines" found in the popular muscle magazines. Too often, these "routines" contain too many exercises , too many sets, and too many workouts per week without sufficient rest and recuperation. Sometimes, when it comes to lifting weights, less is more. You have to listen to your body. You know your capabilities better than anybody else. Perhaps you can't lift three days per week, or even twice per week. At least not at first. In that case, you should settle for once per week, until your body becomes accustomed to the increased load placed upon it.

Many trainees haven't actually trained hard for a long time. Perhaps even years. But they think they can do something they did when they were actively working out. As you get older, you have to train smarter. And sensibly. This means keeping your ego in check. That's why after laying off for a few months, most people, especially older trainees, will find that the weights they are using "feel heavy," when they resume training again.

Then there are the individuals who are beginning a training program who have never lifted weights before. Many times they are so hyped about training when they first start, they can't resist training to capacity every day. Most people who try such an approach lose interest and quit. We've all seen people like this. It's better to start slowly and keep your mind hungry for more. Do not overtrain. Remember, you can "burn out" mentally as well as physically. Slow and steady will always win the race when it comes to building lasting strength and health. Size and strength that is developed slowly will endure longer. Beware of anybody who tries to sell you on any shortcuts. That's why you should avoid the "muscle magazines. " They are not usually genres for a typical, drug-free trainee. In lifting, as in life,my out reap what you sow.

For those trainees who are over the age of 65, by all means continue to train. Just remember that there is no reason for anyone to attempt something that he/she has done two or three decades earlier. Yes, you should definitely lift weights if you can. If you continue to feel good about your training, then you don't have to make any changes to your program. However, if you find that you can only lift once per week, you can still engage in a comprehensive exercise program. Walking, swimming, riding a stationary bicycle are effective alternatives to lifting weights. Remember, you can do less lifting and still remain active. Just don't fall into the trap of inactivity. Don't just sit around and fall into a sedentary lifestyle. Try to be more methodical and remain active. By training sensibly, intelligently and consistently you can maintain your enthusiasm as well as your strength and health.

One of the most memorable quotes that I remember came from Bob Whelan's training facility. "Regular workouts = long-term investment strategy." I've always remembered this because it is so true. It's not some flashy, gimmicky sales pitch. It's an accurate description of how you should approach your strength training. We're all in this for the long haul. By following a common-sense approach, you will build lasting strength and enduring health.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Happy New Year! - By Jim Duggan

Traditionally, this is the time of year when we reflect upon the past twelve months and look forward to the year ahead. The holidays provide us with an inner joy while the arrival of New Year's allows us a fresh start, a "starting point" from which to improve ourselves. A chance to replace bad habits with good ones so that we can enjoy a life devoted to STRENGTH and HEALTH. Yes, many people will make resolutions. But the question is, how many actually keep them? Did you?

Most people who make resolutions begin the year with the best of intentions. The holidays- with their overindulgences and excesses- provide us with "good tidings," cheer, and happiness. Once the holidays are over, most people will make a determination that they will eliminate certain bad habits, and embark upon an exercise program. Sadly, most New Year's resolutions begin to fall by the wayside after about a month. Sometimes even sooner. It's easy- and common- to fall into a rut. Then all the good intentions and resolutions go for nought.

Whenever we make resolutions, we must also develop a comprehensive plan to adopt an exercise regime. It's not enough to simply have a goal. You need to have a plan of action. A goal without a plan is merely a dream. Whether you goal is to lose weight, or to add weight in the form of increased muscular size, you must have a detailed plan. More importantly, you must be willing to do the required work in order for the plan to be successful. You will never reach your goals without hard work, and discipline.

If you wish to lose weight, you have to combine diet and exercise to achieve the desired results. If you have been sedentary, or if you haven't trained in a while, then you should begin slowly. Do not try to become Jack LaLanne overnight. In other words, you cannot overcome weeks or months of inactivity in a short period of time. Slow but steady is the order of the day. Once you have fallen into a routine of regular exercise, then you may begin to gradually increase the amount and the intensity. Many people get discouraged when, after weeks of what they consider to be "a lot of work" show no apparent improvement, they want to quit. It is at this point that you must do your best to fight the temptation to give up your goals. At this crucial point, your body has undergone various changes, and even if little or no outward improvement is noticeable, there have been definite changed taking place within your body. You may be just on the threshold and ready to start showing visible improvement. And once your body begins to improve, it will only get easier to stick to your exercise program.

If your goal is to gain weight and muscle, then you must also have a well-designed plan. Your training must be done in such a way that will effectively break down tissue without depleting your energy reserves. Do not overtrain. Especially if you are a "hard gainer." You must allow yourself enough time to recuperate from your workouts. Your routine must target the major muscle groups of the body. The exercise movements you perform should consist of the basics: Squats, Bench Presses, Overhead Presses, Deadlifts, Rows. No isolation movements. Hardman heavy work on the basics will build size and strength. Also, you should not try to follow the so-called training programs taste are found in the various "muscle comics." The popular muscle magazines featuring some steroid bloated "champion" are of absolutely no use to anyone who is serious about building a strong, enduring body the natural way.

It is important for any person who lifts to develop a routine based on his/her knowledge and experience. Become a student of Physical Culture. Do not simply follow someone else's exercise routine. You must find out what works for you, work out your plan, and then execute it. Blindly following somebody else's program is a sure way to become disinterested and frustrated. This is especially true when it comes to the subject of frequency of training. Many people will tell you that you must lift 5 or 6 days per week. This is simply not true, especially if you are trying to gain weight. No more than three full-body workouts per week are necessary to build muscular size. Notice that I said "full body" workouts. It should go without saying that training individual bodyparts on separate days is a colossal waste of time for a Drug-Free trainee in search of increased muscle mass.

In addition to the actual workouts, sleep, rest, and proper nutrition are crucial to anybody wishing to gain weight. It is very important not to overtrain. To ensure against overtraining, adequate rest, and plentiful sleep are vital. And, of course, an adequate diet, rich in quality foods must be adopted. This goes for everybody who trains, regardless of your goals. The importance of a good diet cannot be overlooked.

There is one more thing that needs to be made about trying during this time of year. For those if you who train in commercial gyms, you may have noticed that there are considerably fewer parking spaces in the gym's parking lot. That's understandable, and should be expected. The "Resolutioners," that particular breed of trainee that shows its face this time each year, have created a logjam in the parking lot, the locker room, and near the EZ Curl Bars. Do not allow them to discourage you, for they won't be around for long. They are usually gone by the middle of February. Then you won't see them until next January. For those readers who are fortunate enough to train at home, consider yourselves lucky. You avoid having to witness a lot of nonsense, especially at this time of the year.

To everyone who is serious about building their body, increasing their strength, and maintaining their health, I hope 2017 will be a triumphant year for all of us!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Knowing THE TRUTH about Strength Training - By David Sedunary


I have been training with weights, since I was 16 years of age and I am now 65, I have read studied and learnt from, whom I class as very knowledgeable people in the strength training field, such as Bill Starr, Bob Whelan, Brad Steiner, Stuart Mc Robert, John Christie, Brooks Kubik and Peary Rader.

I know what I am on about, without being a lard head who knows it all. I am prepared to learn, providing what I am learning is helpful and safe, in building my body and others.

Just recently I offered my services to my Local Football Club ( Australian Rules ), as their Strength Coach , I obtained advice from Bob Whelan and came up with the following program in which the players under my tutelage , and 2 of my assistants train twice a week.

I have experience in training Footballers and people in Strength training as I operated a Gym in my back yard from 1978 till 1991, no one questioned my training methods, they just done it and got results, just the basics in good form, mostly only training twice a week and sometimes three.

Australian Rules is a heavy contact sport, where no head gear or protective gear is worn; the player’s play 4 quarters of 25 minutes per quarter, with a 15 minute break at half time. The sport has a high incidence of knee injuries, resulting in knee reconstructions; I put this down to continuous running and high angled pressure put upon the body. My main aim is to strength train my players which will, Prevent injuries and improve their performance.

Australian Rules is all about pushing and pulling as most or if not all contact sports are. It makes sense to work the legs, back and shoulders, using compound exercises.

It is my feeling that strength training has had the greatest effect on the improvement of athletic performance, more than any other form of supplementary training.

The program the players use is as follows:

Monday: Workout 1#

5 minutes warm up, as players run around the Football Oval.


1. Bench Press 2x6-8 1 warm up set after first hard set go straight to chins, rest 2 minutes and repeat
2. Chins hands facing 2x6-8
3. Dips 2x6-8 after first set go straight to Lat Pulls, rest 2 minutes and repeat
4. Lat Machine pull downs 2x6-8
5. Machine Squats 1warm up set followed by 2 sets x10reps.
6. Weighted crunch sit up
7. Neck work sets x 10 using slightly deflated soccer ball
8. Calf raises 1x 20reps


Friday Workout 2#

5 minutes warm up, as players run around the Football Oval.

1. Standing Press 2x6-8 ( same process as above)
2. Chins 2x6-8
3. Dips 2x6-8
4. Seated Rows 2x6-8
5. Trap Bar Dead lifts 1warm up set, 2x10
6. Side bends 2x10
7. Neck Ball 2sets
8. Calf Raises 1x20


Note: If time is short and the heat reaches between 90 F 100degrees F, I sometimes train the players using one hard set only.

This type of temperature is normal in my home town from January till April

When a player can lift the weight for the target reps in good form the weight is increased by 2 to 5lbs.

· All workouts are recorded, and improvement passed on to players.
· The ankles and feet are strengthened with Calf raises, as does standing on your feet
 performing movements.
· Players are rotated off the training track in groups of 6 with two players at each station,
· The neck is kept strong, by using a slightly deflated soccer, putting pressure on the ball with your head and rolling it up and down the wall.
· The big thing these days , which you hear a lot about in Football circles is strengthening the Core Muscles , the Core Muscles are the abdominals, obliques, quadratus lumborium, lower back, and gluteus muscles, exercises which work and strengthen these muscles are Crunch sit up, Side bend, Squat, Trap Bar Dead lift, Chin up.
· Occasionally I have been using the Farmers walk and Sand bag carry.

Some people get off the track:

Just recently I was confronted by a player who wanted to do something different, or his own thing, it became too hard explaining to him that the basics work. He told me he likes to train 5 days a week splitting his program, training body parts so to speak.

There are some players who find it hard to accept the truth about strength training, as mentioned above, these people fall by the way side, and sometimes come back and train correctly using full body, basics exercises.

Strength training for football must not be confused with modern bodybuilding, as some players feel they need to read and follow body building magazine programs, this can be no further from the truth. This is my major hurdle convincing all, what the truth is about strength training.

I know it and others need to.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Anvils and CMBs: A New Twist On Old Exercises - By Jim Duggan

Anyone who has trained for any length of time knows that there are certain exercises that must be included in any meaningful training program. For instance, anybody wishing to gain size and strength would be foolish not to include plenty of Squats, Bench Presses, and some sort of heavy pulling movement. Certain basic exercises should be performed from the onset of anyone's training regimen, and these movements have to be performed throughout his/her lifting career. Every aspiring bodybuilder needs to perform many sets of Squats. You will simply not build size or mass without doing them. If you want to develop your shoulders, you need to press. You can do all the lateral raises you want, but for sheer size, overhead presses must be a staple in your exercise routine. Likewise, if you want to build a thick, muscular back, some form of pulling must be done from the very onset. Deadlifts, Bent-Over Rowing, High-Pulls are the key movements for building size. You can do cable rows until the cows come home, and you will not build a strong, well-developed lower back.

As much as most experienced trainees appreciate the basic exercises, and the fact that so many of us have been doing them for so long indicate a strong appreciation for them, there are the inevitable times when we sometimes become bored, or even stale from performing on such a continual basis. Let's face it, we are all human. Constantly performing set after set of the same movements will test even the most enthusiastic of lifters. And while there are remedies for the boredom that occurs, like varying the rep schemes, or changing the frequency with which the movement is performed, it still boils down to doing the same thing. One thing that has helped me over the years is to perform the same exercises, but with different modalities. Bench Presses can be performed with a thick bar, log bar, or specially shaped bar that changes the hand positioning. Deadlifts can be done with a trap-bar, or hex-bar. Overhead presses can be done with a thick bar, or log bar, or even sand bags. If you've read Dinosaur Training by Brooks Kubik, you can find many excellent ways to build strength using barrels, beams, and sand bags and other interesting items. When I trained at Dr. Ken's Iron Island Gym there were many "toys" to play with in terms of building strength. Heavy I-Beams with welded handles, torpedoes with handles, specialty bars of varying weights and thicknesses. There was absolutely no way to ever get bored at that gym, and the fact that I had some of the best workouts of my life are proof of that.

There was one particular item that caught my eye the very first time I entered Iron Island. In one corner of the gym, sitting on a steel stand, was an anvil. It wasn't especially large- around fifty pounds or so- but it stood out. Upon seeing it for the first time, I remembered an article that Dr. Ken had written for Muscular Development magazine where he described using anvils as an unorthodox tool for building incredible strength. Curls, presses, in addition to using mallets to pound the anvil until your forearms felt like they were going to fall off, were easily done with an anvil. Little did I know at the time I read the article, that I would have the pleasure of using the very anvil that Dr. Ken had written about. Of course, back then, obtaining an anvil was not an easy thing to do. Ebay, Craigslist and the like were not in existence. If you wanted to get your hands on an anvil, you would have to locate a farrier supply store. Unfortunately, farriers are not often found in suburban shopping malls. But, in today's world of technology, anvils and such are simply a click away ( maybe several clicks, and a considerable amount of money.) Anyway, they are readily available if you are willing to look. I must admit, until I read that Muscular Development article about anvil-lifting, my only exposure to anvils was from watching Wiley Coyote trying to drop them on the Road Runner in the old Warner Bros. cartoons. But I quickly developed an appreciation for the benefits that be gained from using an anvil. And, I am proud to say, that over the years I have used anvils in my training from time to time. Today, I am the proud owner of three anvils of different sizes.

There are several ways to train with an anvil, but the movements I use them for are curls and neck work. Curls are fairly straight-forward. Grasp the anvil with an underhand grip, and curl the anvil the same way you would a barbell. A little cheating is permitted. And I mean just that. A little. Do not swing your entire body just to complete the reps. Depending on the size of the anvil, your hand spacing may be different from what you would normally use for barbell curls. Don't worry. Just work into it slowly, and don't try to do too much at once. If you develop your strength to the point where the reps are getting too easy, you can simply wrap a chain around the anvil to provide additional resistance.

Another way that I like to use anvils is to use them to train my neck. Training and strengthening my neck has become a challenge for me. While I have always had an awareness for the importance of neck work, in the past six months or so, I have devoted an increasing amount of time and effort to training this crucial bodypart. And the hard work has paid off. I'm using heavier weights for my neck exercises, and my shirts are increasingly difficult to button at the top. As far as using the anvil for neck work, I would simply wrap a chain around my anvil and hook it to my neck harness. I would train it in one of two ways. The first way would be to simply do several sets of 10-20 reps. I would never try to use a weight that I couldn't do for at least ten reps. The second- and more interesting- way I used my anvil for neck training was to include it in the "Deck of Cards" Workout. I described this in a previous article. The Headstrap was one of four exercises performed as part of this workout. I tried to move through the workout as quickly as possible, yet I am always aware of maintaining proper form. While there are other ways to use an anvil, these two movements- Curls and Neck work- are my two favorites.

Another tool that has made my workouts more interesting are Center Mass Bells ( CMB ). They seem to have been around for only a short time, and there are two companies that sell them. At least that I am aware of. I purchased mine about a year ago from Sorinex Exercise Equipment. I originally purchased two sizes: 50 and 60 Lbs.. I later purchased larger ones ( 70, 90, 100). I can honestly say that I love training with these things. They provide a somewhat different feel than regular dumbbells. I have heard them described as a cross between dumbbells and kettlebells. I can't really verify that statement. I never developed an interest in using kettlebells. Even when they were all the rage about ten years ago, I never got into using them. But the CMBs are a different story. I like the feel of them, and they are effective in several exercise movements. I will usually do one of several movements with them. My favorite exercise with the CMBs is to do dumbbell presses with them. Many times I will vary the movement and do alternate dumbbell presses. I like the parallel grip that the CMBs allow you to use. The biggest challenge is sometimes making sure that your hands are centered on the handles, otherwise they will rub against the edges. Another great movement to do is to perform hammer curls with them. Again, they are similar to dumbbellls yet at the same time, they allow a slight difference in how the exercise feels. I think that using them in this manner will develop great strength in your arms as well as your forearms. The last way to use the CMBs is to use the heavier ones for dumbbell rowing. This is another movement that I will sometimes incorporate into the "Deck of Cards" workout routine. I haven't used them for this often, but I have found that you can vary your hand position while using CMBs. Using a dumbbell, you're pretty much limited in how you hold the weight. With the CMBs, you can rotate your hand position thereby increasing the effectiveness of the movement.

There are any number of movements you can perform with the CMBs, and the only thing limiting you is your imagination. Or, if you don't have any imagination, go to Youtube and look up CMB workouts and you will find plenty of ways to get a great workout. Most of the movements are variations of the basic exercises. Some are unique to the individual piece of equipment. Anvils and Center Mass Bells have been a great addition to my training arsenal. I enjoy using them, and, in addition to my stones, I look forward to using them even more.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A Great New Book on Strength Training and Natural Bodybuilding By Stuart McRobert and Chuck Miller

I highly recommend the new book: INSIDE THE MIND OF AN IRON ICON By Stuart McRobert with Chuck Miller.

As with all of Stuart's book's, this is another one I endorse. No magic or secrets here, (and that's why I like it so much), ... just the rock solid information that you need to hear. This book is crammed with top quality and truthful information for the drug free trainee to maximize his or her potential.

I have also known Chuck Miller for more than 15 years. He was one of the top natural powerlifters in the Mid Atlantic area and trained at my DC gym (Whelan Strength Training) several times. He attended many of my Capital City Strength Clinics in Washington, DC too. Chuck was the first person to shoulder the 250 pound Atomic Athletic granite stone at WST. Chuck did a great job putting this book together and is to be commended.

Are you stuck in a training rut? Save a lot of time, money and frustration and get this book now. If you are serious about your training then this book belongs in your collection.

Bob Whelan

ORDER HERE

Monday, December 5, 2016

Alan Calvert possibly the greatest? - By R.J. Hicks

One of the most underrated icons in the Iron Game, Alan Calvert, had one of the greatest impacts on weight training in North America. In the late 1800’s and into the early 1900‘s, little to no information existed concerning health and fitness, especially on proper weight training in North America. Strongman shows with large, muscular and powerful men performing great feats of strength were some of the only, but limited, influences on weight lifting. Alan Calvert, set out on a mission to educate North America on heavy barbell lifting. In doing so, Calvert started one of the first barbell companys, leaving an everlasting footprint in the modern weightlifting culture.

From an early age Alan Calvert knew the strength and muscular physique he wanted after seeing the local strongmen compete in extraordinary strength feats at local circuses and theatres. Up to this point in time, only light weight exercises with dumbbells were advertised and offered as a method to gaining strength and size. Spending the time and energy to study his obsession and passion with these strongmen and their powerful physiques, Calvert realized that heavy barbell training was at the foundation of their success. However, no large barbell manufactures existed for purchasing barbells in North America at the time, nor was there instructions on how to train with them. This lack of knowledge and availability sparked an idea and a sense of purpose in Calvert, ultimately leading to the creation of Milo Barbell Company.

In 1902, Milo Barbell Company become the first mass producer of barbells within North America under Alan Calvert. Hardly any gyms existed at this time to train at and most barbells that did exist were homemade. Milo Barbell Company became the first mass producing barbell company in North America that could provide barbells to weight lifting enthusiasts and allow them to train at home. The unique design behind these barbells verses the limited barbells at the time, were their ability to adjust the weights. This was a HUGE development for being able to train the full body with correct weight and allowing for the trainee to properly progress by adding weight in their lifts. To be able to train progressively with heavy weights prior was nearly impossible, without having a room full of fixed-weight barbells.

The second part of his journey to improve the weightlifting culture in North America was to educate those who purchased the barbells. Calvert wrote many letters to what he referred to as pupils or customers answering their questions revolving around building a stronger and more muscular physique, ultimately providing as much guidance as he could. Seeing that there was no formal instruction on how to properly use heavy barbells at this time, Calvert wrote several articles and magazines to educate weightlifting enthusiasts across the country. Alan Calvert’s most famous magazine was titled “Strength”. 17 issues of “Strength” were published full of pictures of highly developed strongmen and informative literature on weight lifting. The vast knowledge Calvert displayed on muscular development, anatomy and physiology and the health benefits through his writings with little to no education available on the subjects at that time was magnificent. Through Calvert’s writings, weightlifting enthusiasts were able to learn some of the most prominent training principles that are still used today.

One of Alan Calvert most profound influences on weight lifting was his book Super Strength. (Get your copy HERE.) Calvert established several strength training principles despite dealing with limited equipment and research that are still incorporated into modern training techniques. His number one principle surrounding the design of Milo Barbells is to use moderate-heavy weight that the trainee can handle in a progressive manner. Calvert knew in the early 1900’s the weight lifting must be progressive in nature in order to become stronger and more muscular. Calvert also emphasized training the full body and that a strongman must have no weak links, putting a special emphasis on the hips and lower back. He knew the importance of recovery, stating full body weight training should have 48 hours rest minimal between session. He also realized the difference between demonstrating strength and building strength. Calvert urged his readers not to test their true limits in the lifts, but to use a moderately heavy load and slowly progress to heavier weight as strength increased. More importantly, Calvert prioritized compound exercises over light weight isolation exercises, seeing the significance of teaching your muscles to work together as well as the effect of the heavier weight in the form of building a muscular and powerful physique. Although the tools of training and sources of information and research has advanced, many of Calvert’s’ weight lifting principles still apply today.

Despite Alan Calvert’s great effort towards influencing North America, little money was available for weight lifting enthusiast to purchase barbells. The height of the depression during the late 1920s and early 1930's in North America hit Milo Barbell hard like many other businesses. Calvert did not give up and attempted to keep the company afloat and his dream alive, but money and resources bled out, forcing Milo Barbell Company to go bankrupt. It was not long after that Bob Hoffman purchased the company for pennies in comparison to what it was worth, changing the name to York Barbell and moving the operation from Philadelphia to York. Bob Hoffman carried on Calvert’s dream, making barbells available to the public, became the U.S. olympic weightlifting coach, sponsored great bodybuilders such as John Grimek and stayed heavily involved in the sport of weight lifting in North America for over 50 years. Although the name changed, Calvert’s work remained an influence for York Barbell. Jan Dellinger, who shared an office with John Grimek at York, told Bob Whelan, “The great John C. Grimek kept only one book on his shelf by his desk at York Barbell and it was his copy of SUPER STRENGTH”.

Over the past 100 years the field of strength and conditioning has grown immensely and has had many contributors to its growth that are not remembered. However, bringing into the picture is one of the underrated physical icons of the early 1900s, Alan Calvert. He deserves far more fame than he receives. Calvert was a strongman, business owner, writer and coach that left an everlasting impact on propper weight training. His passion and desire to provide the equipment and information needed to any trainee interested in gaining strength and size greatly aided in the development of the way we view strength training today.



Sources:

Beckwith,Kimberly. "Strength: America’s First Muscle Magazine 1914-1935." Iron Game History, vol. 9, no. 1, 2005, pp. 11-28.

Calvert, Alan. Super Strength,1924.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Designing An Effective Training Program - By Jim Duggan

One of the most important things for anybody who trains with weights is to gear his/her training toward his own particular needs and requirements. Naturally, needs, requirements, and desires will vary from individual to individual, but there are some general patterns all trainees can utilize regardless of age or goals.

For those who are younger, and just starting out, the main desire is usually to build muscle mass. Think about how you felt when you first wrapped your fingers around a barbell. If you're like most people, you wanted to get big and strong. Perhaps your desire for size and strength was tied to playing football, or wrestling, or some other sport. Maybe you were exposed to a major strength athlete via a magazine, or other form of media, and you wanted to emulate him. Whatever the reason, most young trainees will lift weights frequently, intensely, and religiously. Further, since they are young, they will usually succeed on an accelerated program due their bodies' ability to recuperate quickly.

On the other hand, someone who is out of school and has entered the workforce may become aware that he is not in the shape he was in during his school days. This person is not considered old ( or even middle-aged) but due to career and/or family responsibilities, he might have fallen out of shape. It's easy to gain weight and become careless insofar as it relates to maintaining healthy habits. Lack of exercise combined with a poor diet will cause bodily changes which will inspire many people to attain and maintain a better degree of fitness. The desire for muscular size might be gone ( then again, maybe not!), but an increased awareness of strength and health will often provide the impetus to "get back in shape." 

Older trainees, those over the age fifty, are another group with unique goals. As we get older, we become increasingly aware of our health and any physical shortcomings. Years of overeating, lack of exercise, and excessive drinking are the causes of many of the problems associated with getting older. Some people will embark on a training program as a remedy for years of bad habits. After all, we have been told for years that it is never too late to begin working out to improve yourself. And I believe that to be true.
Persons over the age of seventy, while considered to be older in the general sense of the word, can still exercise. Naturally, the desire for increased muscle mass will be replaced with a realistic expectation that a sensible weight-training program, combined with a moderate program of walking and/or stretching will bring about gains in fitness, flexibility, and balance. Stronger bones, flexible muscles, and a general sense of physical well-being will offset many of the infirmities of the older years.

When it comes to older trainees, those over the age of fifty or those who have not exercised in a long time, one of the biggest mistakes one can make is attempting to do too much, too soon. The idea that you can handle the same sort of workload that you did when you were younger can be dangerous. Not only can you become discouraged and lose interest, you can actually cause injury to yourself. Extreme ambition and enthusiasm can cause put a sudden halt to an older trainee's progress. 

Another potential pitfall is that, many times, enthusiasm and desire begin to wane. The trainee begins to lose interest. They may train less frequently, or might even stop completely. This phenomenon is usually associated with New Year's resolutions and the countless number of people who set out to work out, diet, and dedicate themselves to a program of healthy living. Regardless of the fact that they might have spent the previous eleven months being sedentary and lifting nothing heavier than a fork. With most trainees, the desire to get back in shape is all the incentive one needs. However, after a few days, or weeks, the trainee will become discouraged. This is especially true if progress is not immediately forthcoming. 

When designing your program, you should select exercises that will develop the major muscle groups. One should strive to create a common-sense program consisting of exercises to develop the musculature of the legs, back, shoulders, arms, and abdomen. Choose movements that you can perform safely, and effectively. Do not blindly follow someone else's routine. Nobody knows your body like you. Educate yourself and learn what works for you. More importantly, learn what doesn't work for you. Everybody is different. By all means, do NOT try to copy the routine followed by some steroid bloated so-called champion. You see these all the time in the muscle comics. Also, do not fall into the silly trap of "body part" training. That's when you train one bodypart for a god-awful number of sets in a workout. The following day, you would do the same thing only this time a different is trained. What nonsense! Anybody could plainly see that you are not allowing your body sufficient time to recover if you are lifting every day. Use a sensible program of moderation. Train two to three times per week. Allow yourself adequate rest and recuperation. Follow a healthy diet. And, of course, train consistently. And progressively. It's actually quite simple for anyone who has been following this website to develop an effective program. There are many routines to evaluate and try. Train intelligently, progressively, and safely.

Monday, October 24, 2016

What is your training goal? - By RJ Hicks

Where do coaches start when designing a new training program? The biggest difference between working out and training is ones’ plan of attack. Whether it be a new client, athlete, or the entire team, the number one question to ask is “what is your training goal?”. If you don’t know where you’re going, how do you know if you ever get there? It is difficult to achieve ones’ dream without a picture in mind, just as it is challenging to design a strength training program with undefined goals. Once you have a goal, an appropriate plan can be put into place with productive training on the way.

Every goal should be unique to the client or athlete, just as no client or athlete is the same. Medical history, experience, lifestyle and occupation or sport all play a factor in determining or redefining one’s goals. No one method will work for each individual, which is why it is important as a coach to develop a large tool box. Do not get boxed into certain cults or camps in the strength and conditioning field. Develop that large tool box and be open minded to what other strength coaches have been successful with. There are many different methods of strength training that can fit under the same principle umbrella. Do not be afraid to use different methods of strength training responsibly.

There are many great methods that can be used based off the client or athlete’s goals. If you were training a Powerlifter with the goal of reaching the highest 1 rep max possible, one method to use is a low rep pyramid scheme with mainly barbells, covering the “big 3” (deadlift, squat, bench). The rep range for low rep pyramid training in the “Big 3” should stay 5 reps and under since in competition powerlifters never do more than 1 rep. A lower volume higher rest scheme should be implemented to ensure the powerlifter recovered enough to lift the most amount of weight each time. A barbell should be used in most exercises since mastering movements on a barbell takes practice to develop that specific skill that the sport demands. This is one great way to train a powerlifter, however not all trainees are powerlifters and would benefit the most from this training.

If you were training a basketball team with athletes whose goal is to prevent injury while gaining strength and some metabolic conditioning, High intensity strength training at one set to failure with all hammer strength machines is a great idea. Having the athletes train the full body with low volume and low rest at one set to failure will improve strength and metabolic conditioning. The use of machines is advantageous for athletes with abnormal body types such as most basketball players. Proper use of a good Hammer Strength leg press machine or a Squat Pro for a 6’5 athletes with narrow hips is safer and more productive then having the athlete barbell squat. The infrequent and short training sessions will give the athletes more time to develop their individual sport skills needed for playing basketball. High intensity strength training with 1 set to failure is great for some athletes, however it is not realistic to have everyone be able to train to momentary muscular failure.

Let’s say you’re training the average Joe who works 40 hours a week and wants to be a stronger more muscular version of him or herself, a Hardgainer approach that Stuart McRobert lays out perfectly in “Brawn” is a fantastic method. A twice a week lifting approach where the full body is trained each week with safe basic compound exercises for 2-3 sets. Long training cycles with small adjustments based off of individual performance is used with poundage progression, being the main goal, with short layoffs to cycle intensity. Infrequent strength training fits well into the 40-hour work week and allows for adequate recovery from a hectic schedule and for the average Joe to actually train. A realistic training intensity can be achieved where the trainee trains hard, yet are not forced to obliterate his/her self every workout. This allows for the trainee to build up to harder to more challenging training, while staying motivated. While, flexibility in training equipment and exercises permits the trainee to train at most gyms or at home. The list goes on: Dinosaur training for young fit motivated athletes, Olympic lifts for Olympic lifters, super slow for those with injuries or love to feel “the burn”, the tier system in a team atmosphere. All of these training methods has their place in strength training and should be matched properly with the client or athletes goal.

Countless coaches see great success in their clients and athletes with the practical application of many strength training methods. No two coaches have to be the same to be successful, just how there is no one right mode or method for everyone. Many methods of strength training can be productive as long as it fits ones’ strength training principles and matches the client’s goal. So the first step to deciding the proper strength training method is to ask “what is your goal?”

The Value of Persistence in Training - By Jim Duggan

One of the best things about past issues of the old muscle magazines is the tremendous amount of quality information found within the pages of these treasures. Yes, it is enjoyable to "walk down memory lane, " and read about the champions of yesterday. It is particularly satisfying to revisit the magazines from a specific period. Perhaps look at the results from the Olympics of the 1970s, and see what the lifters of forty years ago were doing. Or maybe re-read an old article featuring a favorite athlete, or author. Maybe the old advertisements will bring back memories of some of the products that we all purchased in our quest for size and strength. Hi-Proteen, Super Hi-proteen, Energy, etc., are among the classic products that those of a certain age will look back upon with fond memories. Whatever the reason for reading the classic magazines, it always comes down to good, solid training information. Quality information knows no expiration date. It never goes out of style. And, of course, when I say classic magazines, I am referring to such stalwarts as "Strength and Health," "Muscular Development, " and Peary Rader's "Ironman."

One particular magazine that I have recently read is the November 1969 issue of Muscular Development. Reading through this issue wasn't exactly a trip down memory lane for me, as I was five years-old when this issue hit the newsstands. But, forty-seven years later, the editorial in this issue contains words of wisdom that could benefit anybody training today. John Grimek's editorial was titled "The Value of Persistence in Training." While the editorial itself only contained about four or five paragraphs, within each one are words of advice from which we can all benefit.

Within the first few sentences are the words: "Too many beginners, mostly youngsters, who take up training do so with a zealous fervor only to give it up after a few months simply because they did not make the progress they had hoped to achieve." We've all experienced slow gains, frustration, plateaus, and other obstacles. But the most important thing is to never give up. Whatever your goals, and whatever your age, develop a plan, devise a system, and do it. Don't complain about not having time to train, or being tired, or too busy. Make it happen.

The second paragraph contains lines from an article that John Grimek had originally written in the 1930s for Strength and Health Magazine. It reads as follows:

"Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful talents.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."

Mr. Grimek wrote that the author of these inspiring words was unknown. However, that is not true. The person who wrote these lines is none other than Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States. And while historians and scholars will endlessly debate his strengths and weaknesses as a President, those of us fortunate enough to read this words will continue to be inspired by them for generations to come.

Mr. Grimek also wrote that there is a lesson to be learned from the above quotation. And, of course he was absolutely correct. He was correct back in 1969, and he is still correct today, in 2016. Persistence comes in many forms. Maybe it's Doug Hepburn, who was born with a deformity in his right foot (club foot). His leg never developed properly, but through sheer determination, he became the first person to ever Bench Press 500 Lbs., and was the strongest man in the world during the 1950s. Or perhaps Persistence is exemplified by the great discus thrower, Al Oerter, the first man to win four Olympic gold medals in one event. Al overcame a near fatal automobile accident prior to the 1960 Olympic games to win the gold, then four years later, he overcame a very serious ribcage injury to win gold again. Then there's Bruno Sammartino, the Living Legend. Bruno's early childhood was spent in the mountains of Italy, hiding from the Germans during World War II. Arriving in America at the age of fifteen, he was a very sickly child. As a teenager, he was literally a 98 Lb. weakling. But through sheer force of will, and hard work, Bruno became one of the strongest men the world has ever seen. Had he not dedicated his life to becoming one of the greatest wrestlers in history, he would have set lifting records that would have stood for the next century.

The last paragraph of John Grimek's editorial drives home the importance of being persistent in one's training. "Results are dependent on the effort one puts into his training and not the kind of program he is following." Basically, stop searching for that ever-elusive, magical, super-secret training program. Instead, follow a commonsense regimen consisting of hard work on the basics. Strive for poundage progression, give your body adequate rest and nutrition, and you will be on your way. For drug-related strength athletes, Persistence and determination will ensure that you will make gains in size and strength. While the gains you make might be more gradual than meteoric, they will last. And it is more advantageous to gain slowly, than by trying to put on 25 to 30 pounds within a few months.

I will conclude this article with the exact words that the great John Grimek used to end his editorial: "So persist and don't give up because the going gets tough. Success may be just around the corner, and who deserves it more than you? No one. That's why you should persist....you'll win out."

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Death of America's Golden Age of Weighlifting - By Jim Duggan

When I was trying to decide on a subject to write about, I thought about the many articles I've written for both this website, and also "The Dinosaur Files." Most of the time, I write about different training ideas, programs, or actual workouts that I've used. But one thing stuck out in my mind: Every article I've written has been dedicated to the idea of getting stronger. In other words, LIFTING. And just about every person who has ever trained with weights has envisioned themselves hoisting massive poundages. And while not everyone has endeavored to compete in the various forms of competitive lifting, those of us who have graced the platform have had many champions to admire over the years. Given the sorry state of Olympic weightlifting in the United States today, it may be hard to imagine a time when American lifters were a dominant force. However, about sixty years ago, that was exactly the case. There truly was a "Golden Age" of American Weightlifting. And one of the biggest names of that era was Norbert Schemansky.

On Wednesday, September 7, 2016, Norbert Schemansky passed away at the age of 92. His death comes just five months after the death of another legendary American lifter, Tommy Kono, who passed away in April at the age of 85. These two gentlemen were two of the greatest lifters of all time. In fact, many lifting historians make a strong case for Tommy Kono being the greatest weightlifter of all time ( although, personally, I would make a strong case for John Davis, but that's another article.) In any event, for the United States to lose two of their greatest strength athletes within months of each other signifies the official end of a bygone era. And even though neither man had competed for over forty years, the legacy that each left behind will live on in the minds and hearts of all of us who love reading about strength, strong men, and physical culture.

One of my favorite books is "Mr. Weightlifting'" an excellent biography of Norbert Schemansky written by Richard Bak. It was written about ten years ago. The foreword was written by Al Oerter, another phenomenal strength athlete. If you can get your hands on a copy of this fine book, by all means do so. You will get a real appreciation for just how great an athlete Mr. Schemansky was, as well as an appreciation of his dedication and focus. He was the first weightlifter to win four medals ( one gold, one silver, two bronze.) He was a three-time world champion whose career spanned over twenty years. He got better- and stronger- as he got older, with best official lifts of Press-415 Lbs., Snatch-363 Lbs., Clean and Jerk, 445 Lbs.. What was even more remarkable was that, unlike today's sponsored athletes, he had to hold down a full-time job in order to raise his family. Imagine having to work for a living, while finding time to train, and still being able to compete with subsidized athletes from the old Soviet Union. A well-told story is about the time he returned home from the Helsinki Olympics in 1952. He had won the gold medal, yet there were no cheering crowds to greet him at the airport. In fact, he had to take a bus home. Can you imagine something like that happening in today's day and age?

There have been many articles written about his training, and the underlying theme has always been that Mr. Schemansky trained hard, and heavy on the basics. Heavy squats, pulls, and, of course, the lifts themselves. I remember reading one of his philosophies about training that stated that one shouldn't attempt maximum singles in the gym. Always strive to lift more in a contest, when it counts. I actually had pleasure of meeting Mr. Schemansky about twenty years ago. It was at the 1996 reunion dinner of the Association of Oldetime Barbell and Strongmen (AOBS). He was being honored that year, and I actually asked him for his autograph. The word about Mr. Schemansky was that he was not exactly the most friendly guy in the world, and that he could be caustic and abrasive. However, I found that not to have been the case at all. He could not have been nicer or more gracious. And I still have the autographed program. Incidentally, I am not a big autograph collector. In fact, the only other autographs I have are from Bruno Sammartino, Al Oerter, John Grimek, and Chuck Noll. There is one more thing that I would like to mention about Mr. Schemansky. He was a veteran of World War II, and saw action in Europe fighting for our country. A member of the "greatest generation," as well as a member of the "Golden Age of American Weightlifting."

We might all benefit from closer study of the greats of the Iron Game. I've always thought that anybody signing up to train at a gym or health club should be required to read the biographies of some our Physical Culture legends. It's sad to say, but there are far too many people lifting weights today that have never heard of John Grimek, or Bob Hoffman, or John Davis, or "Mr. Weightlifting" himself, the great Norbert Schemansky. The would learn first-hand about hard work, dedication, and persistence. Three qualities that will go a long way in helping you succeed in strength training. Or any other endeavor.

Monday, September 5, 2016

It's In The Cards - By Jim Duggan

Health, fitness, and all-around conditioning are several components of an overall exercise plan that are often overlooked. Anybody who reads the articles on this website is definitely interested in building strength. We all have similar goals and interests. However, many strength athletes pay little, if any, attention to developing their cardiovascular fitness. Many times, trainees will neglect it completely, until it's too late. Good health often becomes an afterthought. I will readily admit that, when I was in my twenties, my training was centered completely on becoming stronger, especially on the three powerlifts. Lift heavy, eat a lot, rest. Repeat. Cardio work was considered an anathema. I suppose most persons who train fall into the same trap, especially in their younger years. It wasn't until I reached my thirties that my outlook changed, and I started to devote some time to developing some level of fitness.

I am not trying to turn anybody into a modern-day Jack LaLanne. Nor do I want to radically change anybodies general training philosophy. I am simply suggesting that a small amount of time devoted to improving one's health and fitness will pay big dividends over the course of a lifetime. Besides, you won't be able to lift heavy weights if you can't even lift yourself onto your feet without sweating profusely.

There are many ways to incorporate some cardio work into any exercise program. I'm not going to get into a discussion about running, jogging, swimming or the like, since this website is devoted to natural STRENGTH. But all persons interested in strengthening their bodies should perform some form of cardio, or aerobic, training. Especially if they are past the age of thirty. The choice is an individual one insofar as which form of aerobic exercise is best. Any exercise that you will be willing to do several times per week is the best exercise. Like I've said many times, you know your body better than anybody else. Be attuned to what works for you, and do it. Nevertheless, here are some ideas:

While I usually lift weights 2-3 times per week, I do some form of cardio on the other days. There are several exercises that I like to do. Probably the easiest is simply walking. That's right- picking 'em up and putting 'em down. You'd be surprised at the health benefits that you will accrue from this simple movement. I prefer to walk outside, in the fresh air. However, on inclement days I will substitute walking on a treadmill. I usually aim for about 2.5 miles. Please bear in mind that this is not the Powerwalking Program that popularized by Steve Reeves years ago. Although if you want to Powerwalk, by all means do so. But it isn't necessary. You can get great results from simple walking. Another form of aerobic exercise I like to do is the Stairmaster machine. It has two advantages that seem to benefit me. I can go at a good pace, without the pounding on my feet and ankles that would result from distance running. Those of you reading this who, like me, are in the heavier weight classes can relate. Another advantage of using a Stairmaster is that, as a fireman, climbing stairs is an all-too-familiar part of my job, and spending time on a Stairmaster is an excellent way to keep me in shape.

For those of you who simply can't- or won't - do any form of cardio training, there is an option. An option that can even include using weights, if you'd like. It's a way of training that's been around for many years. It's called the Deck of Cards workout. Wrestlers, martial artists, and other elite athletes have been using this workout for years. It's quick, easy, and the best part is that you do not need any special equipment. All you need is a deck of cards, and some imagination.

Here's how it works: Assign an exercise to each suit. Shuffle a deck of cards, then start drawing a card form the deck. Do the assigned exercise for the amount of repetitions designated by the number on the card. So, if you assigned Bodyweight Squats to Hearts, and you draw the Seven of Hearts, then you would do seven repetitions. Face Cards can be Ten, Aces are worth Eleven. You can either disregard the Jokers, or use them and assign any amount of reps you'd like. You can use any exercises you'd like. I workout that I've been doing recently is as follows:

Hearts= DB Press w/ 60 Lb. Center Mass Bells ( a new toy I recently purchased from Sorinex equipment. More on that in a future article.)
Diamonds= Headstrap w/ 85 Lbs.
Spades= Weighted Step-Ups
Clubs= Weighted Sit-Ups.

Your exercise possibilities are limited only by your imagination. You can also make it even more basic and use just two exercises, and assign one movement to the Red suits, and another one to the Black suits. You want to be able to get through the deck as quickly as possible. You can even time yourself, so that way you have a way of measuring your progress. The key is to force yourself to work hard and fast.

The Deck of Cards workout is an excellent way to increase your level of conditioning, as well as your fitness. I distinctly remember a quote by John McCallum from his Keys To Progress Book, which read: " Time spent improving your health is time well spent. Good health is your biggest asset." By making a few simple changes, you can reap the rewards of not only building your strength, but becoming more fit as well.

Friday, August 5, 2016

SPREADING THE FRAME IN THE FORMATIVE YEARS (AND BEYOND) - A LAYMAN'S PERSPECTIVE - By Todd Baisley



Much of strength and health focuses on muscles and strength. In the midst of that, perhaps a nod towards skeletal development would be worthwhile. After all, a set of 17" all terrain tires might look good on a full size truck, but not so good on a Honda Civic. While much of the frame broadens and thickens just from being under the iron, some exercises serve this purpose more than others.

One can also give a nod towards symmetry without automatically being tagged a bodybuilder. If a young man has a shallow rib cage, but wide shoulders and long arms, there is nothing wrong with forgoing wide grip pulling movements for a season. If a guy has huge hips, and no upper body, once again, it isn't a crime to stay with some real low rep squats, gentle and progressive, while focusing on the upper body till things even out. When he stands straight and true for his bride to be, he'll thank you!

To spread the shoulder girdle, I would put wide grip chins, front and back, at the top of the list. These should be done in a slow and controlled manner with a FULL range of motion. Don't bother blowing your rotator cuffs with the common kipping craze. You'll only get away with it for so long. Keep the chest out, back arched unless you want to diminish the effectiveness by half. Over the years, it has never ceased to amaze me how many guys have such little back development that do the right exercises, but with bad form. Couple the wide chins with some deadlifts or rows and it is a real winner. Looking back to the narrow scapula I had as a 143 lb. guy compared to my shoulder width two years later, after consistent wide chinning and rows, I am sold on this. And remember, while muscle comes and goes over the years, the frame you build stays pretty much the same.

For spreading the rib box, nothing beats the dumbbell pullover. Some guys do pretty well with a barbell as well. This is one of my great regrets in exercise selection, and probably helps explain my two dimensional appearance. Because I didn't "feel it" in the muscle, I thought it wasn't worth much. Many young guys make this same mistake. Don't be one of them. Keep a slight bend to the arms, take a deep breath, and sink into a good stretch while keeping the hips low. Patience and persistence will yield a couple inches on the chest in a few years when you're younger. It can be done when older, but it takes longer. This also arguably makes more room for the organs and potentially bigger motor under the hood, i.e. heart and lungs.

Squats are the well deserved and predictable choice for the lower body structure. The amount of growth hormone released into the system by squats is perhaps greater than any other exercise. Add to this the large amounts of weight your skeleton has to support, and it really contributes to a strong, solid frame. The carryover strength and athleticism for everything from a vertical jump, to driving opponents backwards in football or wrestling are noteworthy as well.

When training, surround these three worthy exercises with some heavy presses, curls, rows (upright or bent), dumbbell work, and some core work. I also recommend some neck work, especially bridging, but that is up to you.

For enduring muscle (not endurance muscle), the kind that won't disappear during a two week vacation or month lay off due to injury, build up to heavy weights and some lower reps. Pyramids up to a heavy single or double and 5x5 were my favorites. This winter, for the first time in twenty years, literally, I got a gym membership. For a change (and to try to help a couple nagging joints), my teen kids and I pummelled ourselves on a high volume, higher rep lifting routine. We're talking 20 sets of 12 to 40 reps, something I hadn't done in over twenty years either, but, hey, it was dark early and we were bored. After four months all of us hated working out and even I was surprised at how quickly the veiny, puffy muscle shrunk. Those three pounds I had put on through such toil were GONE when I took a couple weeks off.

On the flip side, when my brother and I first started training consistently, 30 years ago, we didn't own a bench so we built our three times a week full body routine around heavy military presses, frequently pyramiding up to a max lift. Though I can't claim much, my shoulders have never left me, even over extended layoffs. No one else in my family, besides my brother, has noticeable shoulders, so it isn't genetic. He can also still walk into Dick's Sporting Goods and side press a 90 pound dumbbell. It would be hard to overstate the role heavy, safe, lifting can play in the formative years for how one may look and be strong for the rest of their life.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Anvil and Stone - By Jim Duggan

Over the years, I have tried to challenge myself each year on my birthday. I remember reading about the legendary feats of Jack LaLanne, and also Bob Hoffman. They would each celebrate their birthday in a meaningful way. And for anybody who follows the ideals of Strength, Health, and Physical Culture, "meaningful" is a cheerful euphemism for working out brutally hard. And while I would never consider towing a flotilla of 70 rowboats during a mile-long swim with my hands shackled, I do try to come up with meaningful. And challenging.

One of my favorite ways of challenging myself is with Stones. Atlas stones have been a staple in Strongman Contests for many years. My first close encounter with stone-lifting was at the AOBS Reunion Dinner of 1999. It was there, at the old Downtown Athletic Club, that Steve Jeck put on an impressive display of stone-lifting. After the dinner, but before heading to Peter Luger's with Bob Whelan and Drew Israel ( yes, we went to dinner AFTER the dinner!) I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with Mr. Jeck. It was then that I was inspired to get my hands on some granite atlas stones. To make a long story short, about a month or so later, a nice, brand new 220 Lb. Granite Sphere was delivered to my house. Over the years I have added to my collection to the point where I now am the proud owner of five spheres. They range in weight from 145 Lbs. to 300 Lbs. Each one has a specific use. The lighter stones are usually used for rep work, while the heavier ones are meant for maximal attempts. But even when my workout calls for a series of heavy singles with the heavier stones, the smaller ones serve a useful purpose for warming up. 

As far as Anvils are concerned, my collection is limited to two. For now. I have a 100 Lb., and a 165 Lb. Anvil. I was first introduced to anvil-lifting by Dr. Ken. I remember reading an article in an old issue of Muscular Development. Like all of his articles, it was well-written and contained a lot of quality training information. A few years later, I had the good fortune to meet Dr. Ken and join the Iron Island Gym. And, tucked away in a corner of the gym, was one of his anvils. That was the first time I had ever actually seen an anvil up-close and personal. Prior to joining Iron Island, the only anvils I had ever seen was on the old Warner Bros. cartoons when Wiley Coyote was trying to drop them on the Road Runner. There is no desert on Long Island where I live, so the Road Runner can breathe easily. I won't be trying to drop one on him. But I do like to use my anvils as a workout tool from time to time. Cartoons aside, I do remember reading somewhere that the anvil can be accurately described as the American manhood stone. Perhaps we don't have a history of stones like they do in Europe. But we definitely have a history with anvils. Incidentally, I would love to get a few more anvils, but they are quite expensive.

Anyway, getting to the workout. I had wanted to rep out with the 180 Lb. Stone for a while. My previous best was 80 reps, done over the course of 90 minutes or so. For my birthday, my goal was to hit 100 reps. The movement itself is quite simple: Lift the stone from the ground and shoulder it. Of course, actually doing it 100 times is something else entirely. My plan was to break it down over many sets. I would do anywhere from 5 to 12 reps with the Stone. I would then go inside and perform 15 Hindu Push-ups. I would then go to the 100 Lb. Anvil and, using my Neck Harness, do a set of 12-15 reps. After the neck work, I would rest about minute, then continue. So the workout itself looked like this:

180 Stone x 100 Reps
100 Lb. Anvil x 100 Reps
Hindu Push-Ups x 100 Reps

Upon beginning the workout, I was surprised that I was lifting the stone pretty easily. One of the problems I encounter is that when I drop the stone to the ground, it does roll around from time to time. The combination of hard ground, and spherical stone being dropped from shoulder height will cause the stone to roll around a bit. Of course, if the ground is soft, there will be the inevitable craters. Not good for the footing. There is also the issue of dirt and sweat. I did have to wipe off my forearms at regular intervals. The weather was hot and humid, but it didn't really affect me. I did try to keep hydrated. Of course I did not use a belt, gauntlets, or tacky. And, yes, my forearms took a beating  ( as they usually do when I do high-rep stone workouts.) I was very happy that I was able to maintain a good rhythm and strong pace throughout the workout. I was able to complete the entire workout in less than two hours. Afterward, I was completely sore, as one could imagine. 

While not everybody might have access to stones, we all are capable of challenging ourselves. Whether it be lifting weights, shouldering stones, running long distances, or swimming a mile with your hands shackled while towing 70 rowboats, we all have the potential to better ourselves. And while I may not be a Spring chicken at 52 years old, I am proud to say that I haven't let myself become old. Nor have I lost the desire to challenge myself.
BODY • MIND • SPIRIT