Friday, May 4, 2018

The Passing of The Living Legend - By Jim Duggan

     Once, while being interviewed, Bruno Sammartino described his mother as his biggest inspiration. "She was my absolute hero," was how Bruno described the woman who was forced to flee to the mountains with her three young children when the Nazis invaded her village during the second World War.  For over a year, Bruno, his mother and two siblings were forced to eat dandelions and snow while their small Italian village was occupied.  It's not hard to see how much Bruno admired his mother.  It's even easier to see why Bruno Sammartino was a hero to many people, particularly to Italian-americans. His greatness as an athlete was exceeded only by his greatness as a person.
     On April 18, 2018, Bruno Sammartino passed away at the age of 82.  Not only was he was one the greatest wrestlers to ever enter the ring, he was widely considered to be one of the strongest men of his era.  When he came to America as a teenager,  he was literally a 90-Lb. weakling. It was after he began lifting weights that he developed into one if the biggest and strongest men of all-time. His best lifts include a 565 Lb. Bench Press with a two second pause. According to David Willoughby's book, "The Super Athletes," Bruno was capable of performing a Press ( while lying on the floor) of 545 Lbs. He also did a Military Press of 410 Lbs., as well as a strict Barbell Curl with 235 Lbs.  According to Willoughby,  "In all probability, if Sammartino had not chosen to concentrate on wrestling, he would have become a champion performer in the three official Powerlifts." David Willoughby was not given to exaggeration or expressions of hyperbole. Bruno was truly powerful, and was recognized as much for his great strength as for his stellar wrestling career.
     As a wrestler, he was one of the most popular champions ever to grace the "squared circle." He held the title longer than any man before or after. He sold out Madison Square Garden more than any other wrestler. When I broke the news of Bruno's passing with former members Bruno's Health Club, Chris Newins, one of the very first members to join Bruno's, made the statement that if it wasn't for Bruno, there would probably be no WWE today. "Bruno actually saved the old WWWF when it was tanking. As champion, he saved the company." While wrestling scholars ( if there is such a thing) might debate that last statement, there is one thing of which I am certain. There would have been no Bruno's Health Club if not for Mr. Sammartino.
     Larry "Bruno" Licandro idolized Bruno Sammartino. He even followed in Bruno's footsteps and wrestled professionally for a short time in the late 1970s. When Larry opened his own gym in the 1980s, it was only fitting that it would be named for the "Living Legend." I trained at Bruno's Health Club from 1983 through 1988. I can safely say that the memories of that gym will stay with me always.
     I am also proud to say that I have a special memory of meeting Mr. Sammartino back in 2000.  That year, the Association of Olde-time Barbell and Strongmen (AOBS) honored Bruno for his contributions to the Iron Game.  The line of people waiting to meet Bruno wrapped around the room.  Everybody, and I mean everybody, wanted to meet the Living Legend. He was gracious to everyone, and posed for pictures with just about everybody. A real gentleman. When I finally got to meet him, I had asked him to sign a copy of his autobiography that I had brought with me. When I mentioned to him that the pen that I handed him was the same one that John Grimek had used to sign my program a few years before, he seemed genuinely honored. He definitely had an appreciation for Iron History because he mentioned that he was proud to be mentioned in the same breath as the the great JCG.  During his acceptance speech, Bruno mentioned that he always loved lifting weights, and wished that he could have pursued it.  Unfortunately,  back then, as it is today, there was no money in hoisting the steel. But that didn't stop him from dedicating his life to building his body, and making himself as strong as possible. He was very appreciative of what lifting weights had done for him, and was very grateful for his legion of fans.
     If you have the opportunity to get your hands in a copy of his autobiography, I encourage you to read it through to the end. It definitely is inspiring. There are two passages that stand out in my memory.  In the Foreword, Bruno summarizes how much he appreciates the life he was able to build in this country. "For me, it is a privilege to be an American."  That just about says it all. Later on in the book, there are words that will resonate with everyone who supports this website, and believes in the principles of drug-free training. On page 186, Bruno states: "I'm proud to say that I never used or condoned the use of steroids."  Strong words from a great man.
RIP Bruno.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Learning From The Past - By Jim Duggan

     When did you first begin to lift weights? Who were your earliest influencers as you entered the Iron Game? Do you remember the first muscle magazine you ever read?
     Everyone who shares our love of "hoisting the steel" has a story.  And every story has a beginning. While we may all come into the Iron Game from different backgrounds, our introduction to the Iron usually ( but not always) takes place at a relatively young age.  My introduction took place during the 1976 Summer Olympics. I was twelve-years old, and was absolutely riveted to the Weightlifting competition.  I knew then and there that I wanted to lift weights. Over the next few years, while watching numerous Weightlifting and Powerlifting contests on television, I grew more determined to learn as much as I could in order to get bigger and stronger.  I began training regularly, and tried to emulate the huge, powerful men that I saw lifting monstrous weights on the television screen.  
     In addition to television,  there was no shortage of books, and magazines available at the local bookstores and magazine stands.  My desire to learn as much as possible, coupled with my love of reading, helped in developing a basic lifting routine that I followed religiously.  The best, or most reliable, sources of information, consisted of what was contained in thejavascript:; various "muscle magazines."  While the local magazine stand did not carry Peary Reader's "Ironman," it did carry all of the other muscle, strength, and bodybuilding periodicals of the day.  I bought as many as i could, and devoured them each month.  I'll never forget the first time I read Bob Hoffman's "Muscular Development."  It was the August 1980 issue, and it featured a fairly prominent bodybuilder on the cover.  But what really caught my eye was something written on the cover:  "How to Increase Your Benching Power." That was it for me.  What sixteen year-old boy does NOT want to increase his Bench Press? The article was written by two-time World's Strongest Man Winner Bruce Wilhelm.  It listed his current program and even included the poundages that he used.  While I couldn't do the exact program ( I didn't have access to an Incline Bench at the time), I was inspired to train even harder to increase my Bench Press.  While Bruce was a World-class Olympic Lifter,  Track and Field thrower, and collegiate wrestler, he never specialized in Powerlifting. Nevertheless,  his article motivated me to train hard in the hopes that I could lift heavy weights like the ones that he was using.  On a personal note, I had the meeting Bruce at the 2017 Reunion Dinner of the Association of Oldetime Barbell and Strongmen.  Through my friend Steve Weiner, Bruce was kind enough to invite us to sit at his table, and pose for pictures afterwards. 
     In addition to the article about Bench Pressing, there were other items in the magazine that would leave an impression on me.  The first one was about a contest that had been held in England the previous Winter.  It was called the World Strongbow Contest.  Powerlifters dominated the event but what was particularly interesting was the fact that the Lifts that made up the contest were/are some of the most impressive lifts that anyone can practice.  The contest consisted of the following:
1) Clean and Jerk
2) Deadlift
3) Dumbbell Press for Reps ( 55 kg DBs)
     Think about it.  If you were to plan a workout, and decided to do these movements, you would have one helluva workout.  If you trained hard enough, your entire body woukd be sore for days.  Every major muscle group would be called into play.  You may not get a pump in your lats, or pecs,  but you would build incredible strength. 
     The only possible variations that I can think of would be to substitute the Power Clean and Push Press for the Clean and Jerk.  The reason for this is obvious. If you are not a trained Olympic Lifter,  it would be wiser to begin with a less technical movement. It would also be a smart idea to adjust the weight of the Dumbbells so that you so that you could perform at least ten or more repetitions. 
     The last item about the August 1980 issue of MD that stood out in my mind was the very last article.  It was the famous John Grimek column "Your Training Questions Answered." The great MCG would answer readers' questioned that we're submitted to him.  In this particular issue, a reader wrote a letter lamenting the fact that people didn't train as hard as they did in the past.  Sound familiar?
     The reader mentioned that his 23 year-old son was seeking the all-too elusive "super, secret training course." Again, sounds familiar, right?
     In his response, Mr. Grimek mentioned that has stood with me for a long time. Here it is, word for word:
     "As for your son, tell him to stop looking for that secret training course. He won't find it.  The secret is hard work and regular training,  and when you feel ambitious and eager for a good workout, then you should go all-out.  But on days when your energy level is low, train accordingly.   In this way you will make better progress and you should enjoy your training much more, regardless of which system of training you elect to try.  Just remember,  you get from your training what you put into it, and the more you know about training and what your muscles can take, the better results you can expect. That's the basis for training."
     These words were written nearly 38 years ago, but they are as still as relevant, and valid now as they were when they first written.  You wont find better training advice on any website, or YouTube channel. The sad part is that most trainees at a typical commercial gym would have no idea who John Grimek was, or what Muscular Development contributed to the Iron Game.  It is up to those of us who have a deep-rooted appreciation for the Iron Game, and old-time Physical Culture, to keep the idea of no-nonsense, sensible training alive. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

More Favorite Exercises - By Jim Duggan

     In a previous article, I described some of my favorite exercises.  The movements that I selected were those that I used during my competitive Powerlifting days.  These movements could be accurately described as "assistance exercises," because their main purpose was to assist in building strength for the three Powerlifts.  At that time, most, if not all, of my training energy was devoted to increasing my total. Increasing the Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift was paramount in my training, as it should be for anyone training for Powerlifting competition.  The fact that I enjoyed doing "assistance" work meant that I could approach my workouts with a sense of enthusiasm, which is a good thing, whether you compete or not.
     I can honestly say that I have always looked forward to working out. From the time I first began to lift weights, I have thoroughly enjoyed  training. Decades later, there is still nothing I enjoy as much as being able to lift weights. And even though I no longer compete in Powerlifting,  I can honestly say that I still look forward to training.  I actually look forward to my workouts.  As I get older, I realize that I am very fortunate to be able to still "hoist the steel."
     The Powerlifting assistance exercises that I've done in the past still serve a useful purpose, but now I can enjoy a larger variety of movements that will help build usable strength. Like many trainees who do not compete, I am not limited in my selection of exercises.  A drug-free Powerlifter has limited energy to devote to movements that do not directly assist the three Powerlifts. Being free from the constrictions of a Powerlifting regimen, one can explore and enjoy many different exercises.
     There are countless exercises to choose from when designing a workout routine. For most Lifters, there is always a period of several months, during which, there are no contests to train for.  The "off-season" was always a perfect time to experiment with new things. Perhaps concentrate on improving a weak lift, or simply build strength without fear of "burning out" on the three Lifts.  Let's face it, even the most dedicated trainee can become stale if he/she does nothing but Squat, Bench, and Deadlift to the exclusion of other movements.  The exercises that I'm about to describe can be used by competitive Lifters, or by trainees who simply want to get stronger. For the Lifter, these movements offer a change of pace.  A method of strengthening a Lift, without actually performing the Lift itself.  But whether you compete or not, these exercises are an effective way to get stronger, which should be the goal of everyone.  Anyone who seeks to increase his/her strength can use these movements.  Overall body strength is something we should all strive for, and these movements will certainly "do the trick." However,  it should go without saying, that one has to train hard, and progressively in order to get stronger.
     Here are three exercises that I have enjoyed in the Past. Some I still enjoy doing, and hope to continue to do them for many years to come. Anyway, here it goes:
1) Hammer Leg Press.
     I can hear the serious Lifters screaming bloody murder at the suggestion of using machines to gain strength. I have always been a dedicated supporter of free-weights, but some of the most intense workouts that I ever did took place on a Hammer Leg Press machine. I was introduced to this exercise by Drew Israel.  When I first met Drew, I was following what can be described as a typical Powerlifting program. Heavy Squats, Bench Presses, and Deadlifts for sets of low reps.  The first time I trained at Drew's house, he had me do a set of thirty (30!) reps on his Hammer Leg Press machine. At the time, I considered anything over five to be "high reps." Boy, did I have a lot to learn! The hard work required to complete a High Intensity workout translated into greater strength.  And while I would never advocate doing sets of thirty prior to a competition, it was the perfect way to train in the "off-season." It's also a great way to train for anyone seeking to get stronger.
     For those who have access to a Hammer Leg Press, or Hammer Iso-Leg Press, you are indeed fortunate. Many gyms do not have them. Most commercial gyms favor the popular "sled" type machine. I never cared for this machine. I think the Hammer Strength machine provided for a more effective workout without placing strain on the lower back. The key is to use up the machine properly. Do NOT use it to attempt heavy singles or maximum attempts. That isn't what these machines are built for. These machines are for building strength, not testing or demonstrating strength. Try to work to a point of muscular fatigue or failure. Good form, full range of motion, slow negative, and absolutely no bouncing will give you an effective workout that will leave you sore for days.
2) Modified Push-Up
     I can't think of an official term to describe this movement, but I can explain it and it will sound quite simple. It is also an effective way to strengthen your chest muscles. Even if you're not interested in increasing your Bench Press, this exercise will develop slabs of muscle and increase your upper-body strength.
    You'll need a partner for this exercise.  Place an empty bar on the floor.  Get down into a Push-up position with your hands on the bar ( instead of your palms on the floor.) Imagine doing an upside-down Bench Press. When you are in the proper position, have your partner place a heavy plate in the center of your back.  Now, try to perform as many repetitions as you can.  I always liked sets of ten, but you can do as many-or as few-as you like.  Be sure to nice, smooth reps, with a long pause at the bottom. One suggestion I would make is that it's better to use one large plate than trying to balance several smaller plates on your back.  I realize that this exercise closely resembles the regular Bench Press, but I always noticed a difference between pushing a heavy barbell off my chest versus pushing my body off the floor.
3) Farmer's Walk
     The best is saved for last.  Over the last twenty years or so, a lot has been written about the benefits of this great exercise.  The first time I heard of the Farmers Walk was in the early 90s.  It was a staple of the World MusclePower Championships, and quickly made its way into major Strongman competitions. Indeed, there a few, if any, strongman contests that do not have some form of Farmers Walk event. The reason for this is simple:  It is a test of overall body strength that will leave your entire body sore for days. Along with lifting heavy stones, the Farmers Walk will have you feeling as if you've been hit by a truck.  Imagine something as simple as picking up a heavy weight in each hand, and then walking as far as you can! Yet, simplicity is the hallmark of genius when it comes to building strength. And this simple exercise will fry your lower back, hips, shoulders, legs, and grip. It is definitely NOT an exercise for Toners, Pumpers, Posers, and the like.
     There are several ways that you can incorporate this movement into your training program. You can mark a course and time yourself with the goal of adding weight while maintaing your time. Or you can go for maximal distance.  Either way, if you do the movement  correctly, you will feel it for days afterwards. As for what type of weights to use, you can use Dumbbells, or if you wish, there are implements that you can purchase which have a handle and a loading area which you can load with as much weight as you'd like. Either way, the important thing is to work hard, and "carry that weight!"
     The three exercises that I just described have been an enjoyable part of my workouts for many years. There are hundreds of exercises from which to choose when designing a training program, and if variety is your thing, there will always be different movements that you can do.  But to build size and strength, you don't need more than a few basic exercises.  The effort that you put forth, as well as the discipline to train consistently and progressively, is more important than having a large variety of exercises from which to choose. Think quality over quantity.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Rolling: A Different approach to lower arm Health & Strength - By Jeff “TRex” Bankens

             Whether or not you have ever wanted to become a performing strongman, there are certainly things that we do that are beneficial to all strength trainees and anyone else involved in physical culture.  Today, I would like to offer you some exercises that are sure to increase the health, strength, and endurance of your lower arms and hands.  If you take things to the next level, you will develop the strength to be able to roll up a Teflon coated frying pan into the likeness of  a metal burrito!

            When it comes to rolling frying pans, you have need of two very important tools: a pair of strong, healthy, tough hands!  We will begin with an exercise that will serve to strengthen and toughen the entire lower arm:.

            Exercise #1 - Wrist Roller

Our first exercise will be a variation of the wrist roller exercise.  The type of wrist roller I recommend for this would be the type that can be mounted on a power rack.  Using this type of wrist roller will enable you to utilize heavy weights without negatively impacting your Deltoids / shoulders.  I use the one that can be purchased from Ironmind (  The reasons I like their wrist roller include: 1) It is hollow, enabling it to be mounted on my power rack safety pins, 2) It has very heavy knurling, which bites into the hand and builds toughness in the skin of your palms.  (See picture at this link: Wrist Roller)

1)      I recommend doing this exercise for four to five sets of one rep, one time per week.  One rep is equal to bringing the weight attached to the device from the floor to just below shoulder level, then back down to the floor again. 
2)       This wrist roller should be used in conjunction with weights loaded onto a loading pin
3)      Exercise both hands.  Concentrate on trying to bring the strength of your non-dominant hand in line with your other hand.
4)       I recommend doing this exercise on a non-lifting day so that your grip is not compromised before doing compound barbell, dumbbell, or odd-object movements.
5)      For more information, click on this link to a video describing this lift in further detail:( )
6)      I would suggest making a goal to eventually work up to using 75-100 lbs (30-45 kg) for your top set in this exercise. 
            The wrist roller exercise will be performed in a manner that closely mimics the movements used in rolling a frying pan.  This variation of the exercise works one hand at a time, rather than both at the same time.  Set the height of the wrist roller in your power rack at or slightly below shoulder level.  The rope wrapped around the middle of the roller should be attached to a loading pin with weights loaded onto it.  Place your right hand on the top of the roller using a thumbless grip (your thumb will be on the same side of the roller as your fingers).  Your left hand will act as a brake, holding the weight in place each time you need to reset your right hand at the end of each rotation forward.  Move the weight up by moving your right hand forward and away from your body, resetting your hand whenever you have moved the weight as far forward as you can.  Repeat this process until the weight stack is as far as it can go.  On my setup, the top of the loading pin would be touching the bottom of the wrist roller.  Now begin moving back down, repeating the entire process in reverse.  Each movement bringing the weight stack all the way up and back down again equals one rep for one hand.  You will now work your left hand using the same process, and your right hand now acts as your brake.  One rep for both hands equals one set.  Start light with 10-25 lbs (4.5 - 11kg), adding weight each successive set until you have completed 4-5 sets total.

Doing this exercise alone will strengthen the muscles and connective tissues of the entire lower arm, including the forearm, wrist, and hand.  It will also serve as a means of toughening the skin of your palms, which is needed when performing any of the feats of strength practiced by performing strongmen.  As listed above in the notes, I recommend doing this exercise on non-lifting days, once per week, for 4-5 sets.

            As stated earlier, being able to perform these types of feats requires the availability of two strong, healthy, tough hands.  While the wrist roller will definitely contribute to the strength and toughness of your hands, it will do anything for their health.  What I mean is, your hands take a beating with this type of training.  To keep them in the game, something must be done to ensure their recovery ability is not compromised.  My second exercise will actually be a super set of sorts, working both the crushing and extending muscles of your hands,

            Exercise #2 - Hand Gripper + Band

            Once again, this exercise was suggested to me by the Grandmaster, Dennis Rogers.  He pointed out that I needed to work my hands everyday in order to promote quality blood-flow in the hands.  He told me to get a set of hand grippers and knock-out 100 reps per day, seven days per week, three-hundred sixty five days a year.  Thankfully, I took his advice.  After  a few months, I remembered someone else suggesting the importance of working the extensors, so I  added in 100-125 reps of band extensions with the fingers,  Both the grippers and the rubber bands can be purchased from Ironmind, Amazon, or any number of other retailers.  Since I do not train in the mornings, I try to get my “Daily 100” knocked out in the morning.  I perform the finger extensions first, as they do not take as much time or effort as the grippers.  If you wish to progress with the rubber bands, you may do so by moving up to a thicker band.

A picture of the band I am currently using can be seen here (Extensor Training Band):

1)      Do not “over do” things. Start with a band you can knock out 100 reps with fairly easily.  Blood flow is more important than how many bands you can open with your fingers. 
2)       See this as a means of building longevity into your hands.  Keep them healthy and youthful.
            The philosophy behind using the hand gripper should be the same as what we have discussed in regards to the band.  Be sensible with the strength of gripper you choose.  Make sure you buy one that you can get 100 reps with.  When I say 100 reps, I do not mean to say that you buy a plastic hand gripper that you can easily close 100 times in a row,  I am talking about using something that is challenging enough to make you break your daily gripper routine into 5-10 sets.  You can do this in sets of 5, 10, 15, 25, etc. so long as you get 100 reps per day.  I also suggest buying several grippers so that you can use a more challenging gripper in some of your daily sets.  Some days you will be able to use your more challenging gripper, while some days you will not (such as the day after a tough lifting session).

A picture of two of my grippers can be seen here: ( Hand Gripper)

1)      Do not “over do” things. Start with a gripper you can knock out 100 reps with, even on a rough day.  Blood flow is more important than how hard of a gripper you can close. 
2)       See this as a means of building longevity into your hands.  Keep them healthy and youthful.
3)      Have fun with this.  Remember this is not in vain.  After a few months of doing this, your hands, fingers, and forearms will be noticeably thicker and stronger.
4)      For more questions related to the gripper/band “daily 100”, check out this video:( )

            Besides improving your lower arm recovery ability, this one-two combination will actually lessen the impact of the bumps, bruises, and dings we all encounter after years of hard, heavy training,  While this “daily 100” superset is great for anyone, it is essential for those lifters 35 and older.  Age thirty-five + is the time you begin feeling your mistakes and accidents over the years.  It is at this time in life that you must begin taking preventative care of your body, so that you will be able to keep living a healthy, active lifestyle well into your golden years.

            On another note, I can also report to you personally that these exercises, more than any others, have directly contributed to the size and strength increases I ave experienced over the last couple of years.  As a matter of fact, I have noticed that when making videos lately, I can see for myself that my lower arms have noticeably changed for the good.  They also hurt less, and as stated above, recover much quicker than in the past.

            I hope by now that you are able to see that I am not just trying to fill space for a deadline, but I am giving you proven exercises that DO work and WILL lead to success in improving lower arm and hand strength, as well as giving you the ability to roll frying pans with your bare hands.  They will give you the strength and toughness required to turn frying pans into metal burritos.

  If you watch carefully and follow the exercises I have listed above, you will become much of a man (or woman) among men, and you too, can begin traveling down the road that leads to strength that few can even dream of.  Continue down this road and maybe, you too can become a performing strongman. I will finish this article by giving you a link to a video that shows what these exercises can do for you. 

Jeff “TRex” Bankens, Gospel Minister & Performing Strongman,

Monday, November 20, 2017

Dedication to Hard & Heavy Weight Training - By RJ Hicks, BS Exercise Science, CSCS

Year after year you hear the excuses of many trainees for their lack of results in the weight room. Poor genetics, old age, the wrong program, plateaued muscles, the list of excuses goes on. These excuses blind us to the real problem at hand, inhibiting us all from receiving the training results we deserve. An honest assessment must be made with one's training approach to developing muscular size and strength by asking the following questions. Am I lifting heavy enough weight to provide adequate overload? Am I training legs heavy and hard twice per week? Do I use the hard and productive exercises or use the easy toner exercises? Am I striving to progress in training poundage each week? It is the total dedication to training hard that will bring results gym trainees seek not any magical program.

People like to complicate weight training more than they need to. You lift weights to build muscular size and strength, that’s it. The largest muscle fibers responsible for gains in strength and size are type IIa and IIx muscle fibers, which make up around 50% of an average person's muscle fibers. These muscle fibers are anaerobic by nature and require heavy resistance exercise to cause overload to the working muscles. Light weight will not provide adequate overload, stimulating mostly the type I muscle fibers. The principle of orderly recruitment states that motor units (a bundle of muscle fibers) are ranked by sized and recruited in ascending order. Type I motor units are recruited first during muscular contraction as they are the smallest motor units. The large type II motor units are recruited sequentially as the movement demands for greater force. Too many trainees train with light weight, doing very little to stress their largest muscle fibers due to the low levels of force. Lifting with light weight only burns calories and provides some endurance work through the stimulation of type I muscle fibers, but does little to build muscular strength and engage the type II fibers. To build muscular size and strength you must lift with the heaviest weight you can handle for the given repetition goal, using perfect form.

The truth is that heavy resistance training intimidates a lot of people for fear of becoming injured. Lifting with heavy weight does not injury trainees, lifting more than you can handle with bad technique injures trainees. Heavy weight is needed to generate the higher levels of muscular force to stimulate the largest motor units. This is hard work; many trainees try to avoid training heavy and find excuses why to reduce the training load on a continuous basis. There are no secrets or ways around working hard, heavy resistance training for the entire body is necessary throughout the year to develop muscular size and strength.

"Legs feed the wolf" and any serious trainee who desires real results must follow suit. In every workout where time or energy is a limiting factor leg training is the first thing to go. Leg training is uncomfortable and extremely demanding which is why many trainees refuse to do it. Many trainees will replace lower body training with running or use the excuse of fear of injury as to why they are handling light weight. Many functional trainers and performances coaches like to avoid these exercises as well. They like to talk about movement patterns, muscle activation and stabilization to build stronger athletes, as if this is more advanced than weight training for strength. This is total BS! If you want real training results you are going to have to train the legs heavy and hard twice per week, once the form is learned. Body weight squats, kettle bells, band walks and plyometric jumps are not going to get the job done. Squats, deadlifts and leg presses done with challenging weight are needed to bring fourth the greatest training stimulus to the lower body. Done through the most complete range of motion as safety dictates, these exercises will bring about the greatest stimulus to the hips, thighs and lower back. These exercises should be rotated each training session as these are the hard exercises with the greatest potential for growth.

Words such as toning, firming and pumping have hurt the weight training community in a big way. Popularized by many of the present-day bodybuilding magazine and fitness models, these words have gotten many trainees spinning their wheels on the wrong exercises. Cable cross overs, concentration curls and hack squats are dominating many commercial gyms. The exercises promoted by old-time strongmen like Mark Berry, Sig Klein and Henry Steinborn have been tossed to the side. The hard-productive exercises have not changed since the early 1900's. Squats, rows, deadlifts, presses, dips, barbell curls and shrugs should be at the forefront of any weight training program. These exercises provide movement of heavy resistance through the fullest range of motion forced by muscular contractions. Two factors needed for productive exercise. All the old-time strongmen knew this and worked religiously at these exercises year after year, with fantastic results! Toners will look for the easier exercises and will make little to no progress. Do not look to replace the most productive exercises, rather formulate your training around them for the best results. Choosing the basic hard exercises is important, but without poundage progression results will be limited.

I have seen plenty of people at gyms training with the same weight they used several years ago. Everyone has a certain weight they are comfortable with on each exercise; however, it is necessary to push past that mental barrier. It is a lack of poundage progression that holds many trainees back whether they notice it or not. Many trainees switch from program to program in hopes of finding the best training routine, inevitably doing little to force poundage progression. Tracking progression, in terms of poundage, is the greatest evidence any individual has of training success. A real assessment needs to be made on your training journal to physically visualize how far you have come since the beginning of your training cycle. The weights must be increased over the weeks, months and years. This is hard to do! It takes patience and discipline to trust in the process and keep grinding away at the basic exercises. It is more appealing to add massive variety, changing the exercise routine every few weeks. Most trainees will run to variety as soon as the weight gets heavy, in fear of reaching a plateau, when they should be digging in and focusing on slowly building the poundage. George Hackenschmidt, an old time strongmen and champion wrestler, used a simple method of progression to build his legendary strength and so can you. Whether you train with single sets, multiple sets or pyramids the overload principles stay the same. Every time you complete the number of repetitions for an exercise add a little iron to the bar for the next workout. A little bit of added weight every few weeks turns into serious weight over the years.

There is no one method for hard weight training. Multiple sets, machine training, low repetitions and olympic lifts all can work given the proper dedication to hard training. The emphasis does not rely on training tools or methods, but rather the principles. Heavy progressive strength training, utilizing the best exercises to cover the full body, will always produce the greatest gains in muscular size and strength. The only question left to ask, are you training hard and heavy?


Kenney, W. L., Wilmore, J. H., Costill, D. L., & Wilmore, J. H. (2012). Physiology of sport and exercise. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Todd, J. S., Shurley, J. P., & Todd, T. C. (2012). Thomas L. DeLorme and the Science of Progressive Resistance Exercise. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 26(11), 2913-2923. doi:10.1519/jsc.0b013e31825adcb4

Editor's note: Fantastic article RJ! This is the truth. The current "effort only" and multi-dimensional fads are NOT the way to go. Get back to heavy and hard weight training.

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Mighty Atom Documentary is Finished and it's Fantastic! - by Bob Whelan

"Known as 'The Mighty Atom,' Joseph Greenstein was, indeed, the greatest and perhaps the most unlikely strongman who ever lived. He overcame impossible odds to simply survive to adulthood, then learned to harness the powers of the body - and more importantly, the mind - to achieve the impossible. Stopping an airplane from taking off with his hair, bending cold rolled steel with his hands, biting through nails - Greenstein may have been the inspiration for Superman. An amazing tale of human potential, The Mighty Atom will have audiences cheering." - (from the movie website) Click on image below.

Click on image above.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

My Buddy Jeff Bankens Does an Impressive 145 Pound Bent Press with 2 inch Bar

CARDIO - For Life and For You! - By Jeff "T-Rex" Bankens

Last summer, our friend Christian Tackett wrote an article entitled “Cardio Thoughts”.  In this article he talks about the “fake news” he was told regarding cardio vascular training for most of his training career.  He then goes on to say that his coach (our coach), “Maximum Bob” Whelan advised him to take another look at cardio.  It changed Christian’s life.  

You can read that article for yourself at this link ( )

As soon as I read that article it struck a cord with me.  You see, it was not very long ago that, Like Christian, I too believed I did not need cardio.  After all, I was not only a weightlifter, I was a performing strongman.  I saw those two activities as a free pass on cardio vascular training.  Enter “Maximum Bob” Whelan.  He taught me something that I pray I will never forget.  He said, ‘Jeff, do the weight training for YOU, and the cardio for YOUR FAMILY’.

What Bob meant, was that, while weight training alone will make your musculoskeletal-skeletal system strong and virile, it will do little to nothing for your cardio-vascular system.  What point is there in having a strong, powerful body if you are not going to put in the necessary work to ensure that body STAYS strong and powerful for years to come.  If I want to be around to see my son grow up, and (God Willing) play with my grandkids, I better do something to ensure that my heart and lungs stay healthy enough to get me there in one piece.

Bob shared that advice with me a little over two years ago.  I am here to tell you that it was some of the best advice I have ever received!  In the last two - three years, God brought mentors into my life that I am convinced were meant to help bring my physical game to the next level.

Rather than re-hash that story, I suggest you read it for yourself at this link ( ).

After seeing the physical changes I have experienced over the last 2 years, I can say that Bob knew exactly what he was talking about.  I can also say that, on the other side of two years’ worth of cardio training under my belt, I now see that the cardio is not just for my family, it is for me too!  I heeded good advice that brought about what we are all looking for: RESULTS.  I would like to take a few minutes of your time to share with you the results I have seen manifested in my own life, to encourage YOU, the natural lifter.

I was told that, besides two days of weight training, I needed to have a minimum of two cardio workouts per week.  Implementing this was not that difficult, as I already had a treadmill in the house.  It even came with a built-in incline and two cross-country ski poles to boot!  I was all set, and began implementing the cardio work into my regular weekly schedule.  I usually have two - three cardio sessions per week that are usually thirty - forty-five minuted in Length.  While the intensity varies, I try to make a practice of regularly pushing myself so that I do not become “satisfied” with a certain level of fitness.  Just to be clear, when I say I push myself, I do not go crazy.  For example, I may try to increase the length of time I maintain a certain speed before  slowing down to catch my breath.  Other times I may walk an extra five minutes, or try to get another quarter or half mile in before quitting for the night.

Doing these things has helped me get stronger and fitter than I have been in many years, at an age when many people have started to let go and  become couch potatoes, forty.  I now find it quite thrilling to be getting stronger and leaner at the END of youth, looking down the road at middle age with a smile!

As I mentioned earlier, I am a performing strongman.  In fact, I am also a minister.  As stated in previous articles, I have a unique ministry that allows me to combine the feats of strength of the performing strongmen of old, with the Gospel message of Jesus Christ!  This has allowed me to speak and perform for many 1,000’s of people over the years.  I regularly speak at elementary schools, churches, youth groups, employee picnics, and other family-oriented venues.  It is a really unique way to connect and share with others that I really enjoy!  

Even though I have been doing this a long time, I have never done a large multi-day event as “TRex”.  One of my desires for many years has been to be given the opportunity to do something big, and last summer I did it!

It all started in October of 2016.  I reached out to the largest church in my area, in hopes that I might be able to schedule a time to speak and perform for them one Sunday or Wednesday.  The children’s pastor contacted me and asked that I meet with him.  I was hoping and praying for a successful meeting, but I had no idea what God had in store for me!  I was about to find out just WHY GOD had brought mentors Bob Whelan and Dennis Rogers in my life.  It was to prepare me for this very meeting!  You see, the children’s minister was not looking for someone to speak and perform for some random service, he was looking for someone to be the children’s speaker at a four-night / two-day church-wide revival!  

He proceeded to explain to me that I would have to prepare and preach four different sermons, with a unique performance tailored to each sermon, as well as write an anti-bullying program that would need to be presented seven or eight times during a two-day period that same week!  I can only imagine the ridiculous look I must have had on my face!  I had just been asked to do exactly what I had been dreaming of doing for so many years!

To be honest, I knew I (in myself) was not prepared, but I could not pass up an opportunity like this.  These types of events can be life-changing for the attendees, as well as the presenter.  It was a once in a lifetime event and I had to say “YES”.  I said yes to this because:  1) I knew this was an opportunity from God that I could NOT pass up; 2) I WAS prepared as an experienced speaker / preacher; 3) God had brought two men in my life that were ALREADY helping me get ready for this event, Bob Whelan and Dennis Rogers.  Knowing these things, even though I was very surprised and nervous, I KNEW it was going to be a success.

From October 2016 through August 2017, I trained my butt off!  I learned during that season of life that having an end goal in mind will keep you in the weight room and on the treadmill, not to mention on your knees (in prayer), and in the Word (studying the Bible).  After all of those months of preparation, the week had come, and it was showtime!  I ended up performing more than TEN times over a four day period, with little rest between performances.  I also spoke more than TEN times, either preaching from the Bible or giving an anti-bullying program.  We probably ministered to a couple of thousand kids that week.  Make no mistake about it, by the end of that four night period I was tired.  I was tired mentally, physically, AND spiritually!  But, I was not nearly as tired as I SHOULD have been.  You see, I had been preparing for that week for a long time, because of the mentorship of the men God brought into my life.  HE planned ahead for my success, so that those kids would get to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

I can tell you for a fact, had it not been for the hours of proper cardio-vascular training, I would not have been able to display the strength I had forged through the hours of weight training and practicing feats of strength.  I can also tell you that, had I not built up my “wind”, I would have been hard-pressed to properly present the Gospel or the anti-bullying program.  

I was successful because I was obedient to the instruction I was given, and you can too!  Remember, weight lifting is for YOU, cardio-vascular training is for YOU AND your family!

Jeff “TRex” Bankens is available for performances and speaking engagements.  He can be reached via his website or e-mail address listed below.  Feel free to drop him a line, as he loves to communicate with people from all over the world.


Monday, November 13, 2017

Favorite Exercises - By Jim Duggan

Everybody who lifts weights realizes that there are many exercises from which to choose that will make up an effective training program. Whatever your goal may be- gaining muscular size, building maximum strength, rehabilitating an injury- there is no shortage of movements to help you get there. And, if you train consistently, and progressively, you should be able to make considerable gains in the form increased strength, more muscle, better health, and improved appearance.

One of the wonderful fringe benefits from lifting weights is that it causes you to learn a lot about yourself. Hard work, persistence, consistency, resilience, and an increased level of self-awareness are all admirable traits. And they are all traits that will develop as a result from hoisting the Iron. I think you would be hard-pressed to find someone who has been lifting weights for many years who regrets dedicating so much time and energy to working out. Simply put, lifting weights is an enjoyable, and beneficial, pursuit.

When we begin our journey of lifting, most of us will start with the same exercises, as a general rule. Squats, Bench Presses, Curls, Presses, to name a few. These are the basics. As we gain experience, and make progress, we might add different movements based on our goals. For example, if you wish to become a competitive lifter, you will begin to learn the respective lifts, preferably from a qualified coach/mentor. And as you continue to make progress, you will also gain valuable knowledge and experience. You will discover a lit about the wonderful world of Iron. And about yourself.

As we continue to train, we will invariably learn that there are certain movements that will be of benefit to us, and others that will not. Some exercises may work for other people, but may not work for you. And vice versa. That's why it is vitally important not to blindly follow the routines of others. It is especially foolish to try to attempt the "routines" published in the various muscle magazines ( aka muscle comics.) Learn what works for you, and then do it.

Naturally, there will always be exercises that we just plain enjoy doing. Bodybuilders, for example, always seem to have certain exercises that they swear by, when it comes to gaining mass, or developing definition. Lifters will discover exercises that will help them accrue great overall body strength. This discovery does not occur overnight. It may takes months, or years of experimenting to find out which exercises are most effective for you.

Year's ago, when I began to compete in Powerlifting, I had to develop a routine that was effective, yet compatible with my school/work schedule. I had to focus on the three Lifts, of course, in addition to including various "assistance" work. Like most Powerlifters, I had exercises that I preferred over others. Movements that not only worked for me, but also that I enjoyed doing. What I always found interesting was that all of the lifters at Bruno's Health Club each had their favorite exercises. What was especially interesting was that we practically NEVER agreed on any of them! For instance, my friend and training partner Larry Licandro loved to do Incline Presses with a barbell. He hated regular Bench Presses, but he loved to do Inclines. He often lamented that the Incline Press- and not the Bench Press- should be contested in Powerlifting contests. On the other hand, I never particularly cared for Incline Presses, and never did them during my competition years. I thought they were superfluous when included in a Powerlifting routine.

To make an additional point, Larry had an older brother who dabbled in the sport, but was never a serious lifter. Robert never had an interest in training seriously, but there was one exercise that he absolutely loved to do: The Barbell Pullover. He was able to do heavy weights on this relatively obscure exercise. Robert, a non-lifter who was thirteen years older than Larry, was able to put his younger brother to shame when it came to this one and only exercise. Go figure.

Anyway, at the risk of sounding like a popular former talk-show host, here are some of my favorite exercises. A competitive lifter might label them as "assistance exercises," but I think that they are good enough to stand on their own. You can build a lot of strength by doing just these movements. Anyway, here are a few:

Front Squats. I was never a gifted squatter. I never had natural leverages for doing Back Squats, but I did have the good fortune to train with people who did. I was motivated as well as challenged, to come up with a routine that would allow me to strengthen my lower body which would help add pounds to my competitive Squat. My favorite assistance exercise was the Front Squat. I realize that there are a couple ways of performing this exercise, but my preferred way of doing it was to try to do it the way it is performed by Olympic Lifters. This requires flexible wrists and shoulders. It also requires that you keep your elbows up throughout the movement, otherwise you will lose the bar forward. Yes, it is uncomfortable, especially at first. But if you work on your flexibility, you can make the exercise a bit less taxing on your wrists. I always did Front Squats inside of a Power Rack. I'd set the pins at 36", which would allow me to go slightly parallel. I would pause at the bottom position for one second. This would eliminate bouncing. Then I would try to drive explosively out of the bottom. I would always keep the reps low, usually no more than 5-6 reps and working up to a heavy triple.

Bench Press Lockouts. When it come to the Bench Press, my favorite assistance movement involved the Power Rack. As I mentioned earlier, I was never a big proponent of Incline Presses. I never did them while I competed because I felt that the movement too closely resembles regular Bench Presses. I've always felt that the Bench Press was easy to overtrain. This is especially true for drug-free lifters. Too much Bench Pressing will eventually take a toll on your shoulders.

When it comes to utilizing the Power Rack for Bench Presses, I'd set the pins at a height which was about halfway through the movement. Personally, my weak point was always the lockout. I never had a problem getting the weight off my chest. If I lost a lift, it was during the last several inches to completion. The heavy lockouts were an effective way to improve a weak point, while at the same time overloading my muscles. One thing to note is that I usually scaled back in my regular Benches so as to avoid overtraining.

Good Mornings. When it comes to the Deadlift, I have several favorite exercises that have been effective in strengthening my lower back. I've always felt that since the Deadlift involves so many muscle groups, you can't just stick to one assistance movement. I'll just describe one right now, the Good Morning. Now, before anyone blows a gasket and starts ranting about how dangerous they are, let me explain that I have been doing Good Mornings for years. When I first experimented with the movement, I started slowly. Using moderate weights, and being careful about my form, I did not try to push the poundages until I was sure that I could perform the movement without getting hurt. Good Mornings are not for everyone. If you decide to give them a try, pay close attention and listen to your body. If it doesn't feel right, then discontinue them, and move on to another exercise. What I've always liked about Good Mornings is the fact that they can be used with just about any type of rep scheme. High reps, low reps, and anything in between. I've gone as high as thirty reps, for one all-out set. I've also used heavy weights for sets of 5-6. Again, if you're able to do them, Good Mornings are an excellent exercise.

While I have only listed three exercises here, there, are of course, many other movements that I enjoy doing. That's one good thing about lifting weights for nearly thirty-five years. Years of trial and error will inevitably give anyone a large number of favorite exercises to keep in "your pocket." I'll list more in a future article.

Editor's Note: Great article Jim!

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Reality of the Fitness World - By Sutinder Mann

I came across an article in which a drug user outlined their experience of training with and without drugs. It got me thinking about the difference between physical culture and the fitness world and I wanted to communicate that to the widest audience and not just those of us who labour under heavy iron. I wanted my prose to get through to those who have not lifted and appreciate our situation. So below is my humble attempt:

A Tale of Two Neighbours.

Joe and Bob live on the ground floor of a High rise apartment building. Both decide to get into shape and come to the conclusion that the most convenient way would be to use the stairs in the building.

Joe would leave his apartment in the morning before work and start climbing the stairs rather quickly, holding the hand rail and once he had a few flights done, puffing and panting, he would take the lift back down to the bottom floor. Having caught his breath he’d return none the worse for wear to his apartment room to take a shower.

Bob would also leave his apartment before work and hit the stairs, but he did not hold the handrail, instead he worked to keep balanced and moved a lot slower to avoid falling. When Bob got as far as he could (which was fewer flights than Joe) he would turn back puffing and panting, and painfully walk again unsupported down the flights to his apartment, for a shower.

Both enjoyed the exercise and did more steps each session. Joe was able to follow his program of stair climbing almost every day but Bob often had to have a few days off to recover from his stair climbing sessions. In time Bob was climbing to a considerable height, however still far behind Joe.

There was a young woman called Jessica who lived on the mid-level apartment floor who also decided to start climbing stairs a few weeks after her ground floor neighbours. One morning as she started on her climb, she met Bob huffing and panting on the way up and they had an exchange.

Jessica: Nice to meet another stair climber. Hi, I’m Jessica.

Bob: Hello….erh…nice to meet you…..mine’s Bob.

Jessica: You near this floor?

Bob: Phew!....No, ground floor.

Jessica: Arhh just like Joe!

Bob: Yeah.

Jessica: Isn’t Joe incredible? I’ve been seeing him on his way up.

Bob: Yeah….I guess….Well I’ve got to go down now.

Jessica: What already?

Bob: Yeah….Bye.

Bob made his painful steps back downstairs. As he reached the ground floor he hears the ping of the lift doors opening and he sees a smiling Joe strolling out.

Joe: Oh hey, Bob.

Bob: Hello Joe. What’s got you so happy?

Joe: I’ve got a date tonight with Jessica upstairs.

Bob: Cute blonde?

Joe: Yeah, have you met her?

Bob: Yeah briefly.

Joe: Bob you look shattered. You know you can use the lift down, it’s much easier.

Bob: No shortcuts for me. I want to do it under my own steam.

Joe: Have it your way.

As they walked back to their rooms Bob shrugged and thought to himself “My way’s the right way”.

Rather left field I guess but let me explain, as I mentioned earlier my inspiration was based upon an article I came across in which a drug user outlined the main difference between natural training and steroid use. The main gist was he could train an intense squat session and feel fine the next day, as if he had not squatted at all, whereas the same session done without drugs destroyed him totally for a few days. Also the drugs gave him an artificial mental focus and drive in the gym. From reading that I virtually lost all respect for steroid users.

Drug users do not suffer for their growth as we do. When we experience the exhilaration of hard training we know the next day or so we will wake up suffering somewhat, being sore and tired but we know that is the price we are willing to pay for physically bettering ourselves. We do not fool ourselves thinking that you can get something for nothing. We do not fear this suffering but embrace it as part of the physical culture lifestyle. We train and suffer like the Bodybuilders of the pre drug era. Their achievements in muscle and strength astonish and inspire us to this day because we know they truly earned it.

As the Bobs of this world we are climbing to achieve more muscle and strength; unlike the Joes we won’t hold the stair rail or take the easy ride to recovery. We are realising our God given potential naturally, and it is truly “the right way”.

Editor's Note: Great article Stind! My ending of this story would continue with Joe catching an STD and quitting training completely in his thirties. Bob continued to train and improve for the rest of his long healthy and happy life.

Friday, October 20, 2017

A Beginning Powerlifting Program - By Jim Duggan

The title of this article would imply that the routine that follows would only be of use to aspiring Powerlifters. The reality is that just about anyone can benefit from a basic Powerlifting program. Whether you are an aspiring lifter, or an experienced lifter coming back from an extended layoff, or someone who seeks to build size and strength, a program built around the three powerlifts will produce the results you are looking for.

If you plan on entering Powerlifting competitions, you will need to build a solid foundation in order to prepare your body for the physical demands of competitive lifting. The beginning phase is the time to strengthen and develop your muscles, joints, bones, and connective tissues, so that they will be better able to cope with the heavy workload that a Powerlifting routine requires. It is also the time to learn how to perform the three lifts- Squat, Bench Press, Deadlift- properly. Correct form is something that must be learned and repeated constantly. Whether you're a beginner, or an advanced lifter, you should continuously use proper form all the time. And it is much easier to correct flaws in your form in the early phases of your lifting career, while habits are being formed. Sometimes this requires a training partner to watch and critique you while you lift. You do not want to fall into the habit of not squatting deep enough, or not pausing your bench presses. Needless to say, I think it would be foolish to practice sloppy form in training in the misguided hope that you will be able to correct yourself at a contest. Always train the way you compete and you can avoid the embarrassment of bombing out.

The first point to consider when beginning a Powerlifting program is the number of days per week to train. I think a good rule of thumb should be two or three days per week. Some people might be better off doing only two workouts per week, while others can handle a heavier workload. If you handle three workouts per week, and you can adequately recover between workouts, then by all means train three days per week. Nobody knows you better than yourself. But be honest. And, if course, your work/school/family commitments will influence how much time you can devote to your training.

When it comes to poundage selection, as a beginner, you want to use a weight that will allow you to complete each movement in good form. That means no cheating. You may heed a coupkenof workouts before you're able to determine the correct poundages to use. Again, be honest with yourself. If you find yourself cheating to complete the required number of reps, then lower the weight. Once you're using the correct poundages, your next goal will be to train progressively. Pondage progression. The two magic words for any strength athlete. However, before you add weight, you should strive to add repetitions. Adding one or two reps to your training poundages each workout will allow you to add weight during subsequent workouts. For example, if your program calls for you to do 3 sets of 6 reps in the Deadlift, you should try to do 3 sets of 7 reps in the following workout, then 3 sets of 8 reps in the workout after that. Once you can complete 3 sets of 8 in good form, then it is time to add weight, lower the reps and start over again.

One point to remember is to not try to do too much. Too many exercises, for too many sets, without allowing your body time to recover, will lead to staleness, burn out, or injury. None which is desirable.

The routine is as follows:

1) Squats 3x8

2) Bench Press 3x8

3) Deadlift 3x6

4) Military Press 3x8

5) Bent-over Barbell Row 3x8

6) Dips 3x8

7) Barbell Curl 3x8

At the end of the workout, you can do one or two sets of Sit-ups. You're not looking for washboard abs, but rather, you want to strengthen your abdominals which will aid in your Squat and Deadlift.

Another point to remember is to try not to get into the habit of depending on wearing a lifting belt. Anyone who trains in a commercial gym will attest to the fact that just about everybody wears a lifting belt for just about anything and everything. My advice would be to not wear one. It might take a while to become comfortable going "beltless," but you will develop greater strength in your midsection, as well as your lower back, which will translate into increased poundages in your Squat and Deadlift. And then when you use it in a contest, you will get an additional "boost," which will only help your total.

Some additional points:

When Deadlifting, try to use the conventional stance. I realize that many people use the "Sumo" style, but I've always felt that the conventional Deadlift is the truest form of Deadlifting. Call me a purist, but it's just something that I've always believed. And while it may take a while to get comfortable in your grip and stance, just be patient. Don't try to rush things.

When Bench Pressing, try to do all your reps with a pause. At a contest, you will be required to pause the bar at the chest. It makes absolutely no sense to not train the same way. Even if it means having to use less weight.

I would like to say a few words about spotters. When you are Squatting, or Bench Pressing, it is a good idea to utilize spotters. If there are no spotters available, then you should lift in a Power Rack with the pins set so that they will catch the bar in the event you can't complete a rep. In lifting, as in life, it is better to be safe than sorry. Always practice safe lifting habits!

Dips are an exercise that I've always liked doing. They are far superior to pushdowns, triceps extensions, French presses and the like. However you can substitute close grip Bench Presses if you prefer, and see which works best for you.

You can use this routine for as long as you want, but if you plan on competing, you will need to do more assistance exercises for each lift. This means that you'll have to be more judicious in how you set up your training schedule. As Drug-free athletes, we have to be more conscious of our ability to recuperate. Sometimes it boils down to training smarter not harder.   

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Looking for an old York Giant Krusher and a York Horse-shoe Exerciser

Hey Bob how are you doing? It’s Jeff Gretz. I'm looking for an old York Krusher and a York Iron Horse-Shoe exerciser both with springs. I am looking to pay top price for any of the spring type exercisers. Please let me know if you know anyone that wants to sell or trade.


Saturday, September 30, 2017

Working Out When You're On Vacation - By Jim Duggan

One of the biggest challenges about going away on vacation, for those of us who love to train, is the issue of working out. Do I attempt to train? Or do I take a "true vacation" and not work out for the duration of the time away? For many people, the prospect of missing just one workout is almost too much to bear. This seems to be especially true of runners and other distance athletes. Maybe it has something to do with the "runner's high" that has been widely commented on through the years. While I have no doubt that such a feeling exists, what about those of us who lift? Why hasn't anyone spoken of the feeling of accomplishment after completing a rigorous strength workout? For many runners and joggers, there is this fear that life as we know it will come to a screeching halt if they miss just one running session.

Fortunately, for those of us who lift, the prospect of skipping a workout, as unpleasant as it may seem, does not signify the beginning of the end of the world. "Tomorrow is another day." That is one of the great things about strength training. While runners may hate themselves for missing a trading session, lifters generally have a more forgiving nature. There is no need to beat yourself for missing a workout. In fact, there are times when it may be advantageous to take an extra day of rest. Or two. Lingering soreness, excessive fatigue, mental burn out are all valid reasons to take some time off from your workouts.

Please note that I'm not talking about "blowing off" a workout because of plain, old laziness. Sometimes, you just have to simply get up and do it. Regardless of what life throws at you. On the other hand, if you have been making steady progress, and your training is going great, one of the most difficult things to do is to take some needed time off in order to prevent overtraining.

If you are going away- whether it be for business or pleasure- there are a number of options available if you wish to stick with your workouts. For one thing, many hotels have an exercise room or fitness facility. Notice I did not use the word "Gym." Most persons who are serious about strength training would be hard-pressed to get a decent, heavy workout in a hotel exercise room. Most of these facilities, are equipped with one or two treadmills, an exercise bike, dumbbells up to around 30-40 Lbs., and maybe a cable crossover or lat machine combo. You certainly would NOT expect to find a York Power Bar, 100 Lb. plates, or Power Rack ( although, if anybody reading this has ever actually found these things inside a hotel, please let me know where it is!)

So, here you are. Away from home ( and the gym.) And you want a challenging workout. If you are in a large city, you can always search for a local gym. There are still places that will charge a daily fee. While you might feel out if place in a strange gym, a good lifting environment will make you feel right at home. After all, a good Power Bar is like an old friend! But what if you're not in a major city, and there is no local gym nearby? There are ways to overcome this dilemma.

One of my all-time favorite places to visit is Montauk, NY. It is located at the very end of Long Island's South Fork. It's known for beautiful beaches, incredible fishing, and scenic hotels. It's just a great place to visit, especially during the Summer months. This year, we visited during the first week in September. For the second year in a row, we stayed at the Ocean Resort Inn, a lovely motel just steps away from the Ocean. There are many interesting things to do, but one thing that I was determined to do was to get in a workout. To accomplish this, I would need to bring along my own equipment. As well as some imagination.

Among the luggage that I packed were two 50 Lb. Center Mass Bells ( CMBs). They are made by Sorinex. They come in sizes up to 100 Lbs., and I'm happy to say that I have every size above 50 Lbs.. They are sort of a cross between a Dumbbell and a Kettlebell. Like everything else made by Sorinex, they are super-strong, and extremely useful. I've had them since they first came out, and I think that they are an awesome strength-training tool. I've always been a strong believer in heavy Dumbbell training. However, I've never been a big fan of using Kettlebells. I just never got caught up in the whole fad when it was popular about ten years ago. However, I really like using the CMBs. They can be used for Presses, Curls, Swings, Farmer's Walk. Just about anything you can do with Dumbbells, you can do with the CMBs, and they can easily be incorporated into any strength-training program.

Anyway, after lugging my CMBs up to our room, I planned my workout for the next morning. I decided to use the CMBs as part of a "Deck of Cards" workout. I've written about these workouts before ( September 2016) and am a firm believer in their effectiveness. The workout that I planned would be as follows:

Diamonds= CMB Clean and Press

Hearts= CMB Alternate Curl

Spades= Leg Raises

Clubs= Side Bends w/ CMB

While this is not exactly a pure strength building workout, it combined elements of strength training along with the cardio effect of trying to complete the workout in as short a time as possible. Going from movement to movement, with no rest, is a challenge. About halfway through, I had to catch my breath for about one minute. I had done four consecutive Hearts for a total of over thirty curls, and I had to try to get some blood flowing again! Other than that, I had a surprisingly good workout. What made it even more challenging was trying to be extra careful and to let the CMBs down as gently as possible. I didn't want the guests in the room below to complain to the management!

This quick, simple workout routine provided me with an effective workout. And, like most satisfying workouts, it was a great way to start the day. And while I wouldn't necessarily recommend traveling with DBs or CMBs, on the other hand, it's a helluva lot more convenient than strapping a Power Bar to the roof of a car!

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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