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Monday, June 23, 2008

Hard Work Revisited: Strength and Power Points - By Ken Mannie

Ken Mannie is the Head Strength/Conditioning Coach at Michigan State University



There were so many positive responses and follow-up questions to the article Hard Work: Tough Strength training Strategies, I thought it would be a good idea to expound on the rationale for this concept and offer further perspectives.

For the sake of a quick recap, it is my opinion that even in the current maelstrom of fitness industry methodologies, there will always be that corner of sanity known as hard work. It is a corner that we like to visit frequently and consider to be a mainstay in our training paradigm.

This segment is not about specific exercises, sets, reps, volume, or any other traditional training topics. This time out I will simply discuss the intrinsic, extrinsic, mental, and physical benefits of hard work. And while the meaning of hard work tends to get lost in translation, our definition is branded with a tough mind-set and an aggressive physical approach.

Basically, this is about occasionally deviating from the aforementioned rigid, albeit necessary, training playbook to grind-out a truly demanding workout. It’s about being more concerned about the effort put forth within a set, and moving on to the next set with the same mental approach, than just about any other aspect of the workout. The theme of the training session is displayed by its aggressive nature and the fact that – in the case of strength training -- each work set is taken to fatigue (i.e., the inability to perform another rep with proper form), or just short of that point in cases where safety might be compromised.

Or, if the workout is in a setting where a challenging activity is being executed to develop mental toughness as much as any physical components (e.g., the pictured tire flip) it is done with intensity, passion, and purpose – in addition to proper technique.

Simply put, this is gut-wrenching work that tests the body, mind, and soul. It is the type of work that is designed by and for people who love to train for sake of the training itself.

Why? Because they are cut from the cloth of hard work!

Note: Remember that this discussion has absolutely nothing to do with making a wholesale change in your current system. Most of what we do readily adapts to this format, as we train very closely to this manner on a consistent basis. Therefore, the transition to an “all-out” effort on every set/activity is relatively seamless for us. In your case, maybe it will require more of an orientation period to get the point across.

And don’t be concerned with unsubstantiated comments such as, “That’s bodybuilding stuff, and it’s not conducive to power development.” Actually, this is “building the body stuff,” and it has everything to do with power development from every cellular, neural, and histological standpoint. Therefore, this is not so much a training philosophy as it is a researched, proven, highly efficient, and relatively safe approach to training. And, in the end, it is about constructing strong, powerful, durable, and mentally tough athletes. The take-home point here is that even if you normally perform workouts that are the polar opposite of what is being described here because you believe in what you’re doing and have had great success with it, then by all means stay with the status quo. If you’re more open to intermittent change-ups, then this might be an option. And here are some reasons why.

Improving Raw Material

A key component of strength training is the positive effect it has on body composition and adaptations in the nervous system. Enhancing muscle size (again, “building the body”) exponentially heightens strength and power, thus enabling greater efficiency in the execution of athletic skills. Of course, the rate and level of these skill improvements will ultimately depend upon the quality of the teaching and learning processes.

The groundwork for these improvements in the body’s raw material are initiated through the increases in actin and myosin (the tension generating units of muscle tissue), which are major constituents in force and power production. Strength training initiates the proliferation of actin and myosin, while concurrently magnifying the stability of tendons, ligaments, and other cellular variants of connective tissue.

Running parallel with these histological upgrades are the neural adaptations that, especially in the early phase of resistance training, are key components in both the strength and lifting skill improvements. This aggregate of neuromuscular implications is vast, but the elements of “excitory” and “inhibitory” messages are the ones deserving mention here. Excitory messages, as the word implies, force our muscles into action. Inhibitory messages act to hold us back and, in some cases, serve to protect us.

Example: If we are not physically capable or prepared to lift a heavy object, a neural message is sent to the involved musculature to relax, thus prohibiting the continuation of the action and risking injury.

As the athlete becomes stronger and more neurologically efficient, these inhibitory messages are gradually abated. The results include a higher proficiency in recruiting muscle fibers and eventually mastering the specific lifting skill. The latter point is critical, as the immediate improvements that are noted in the early phase of the training program – especially with novice trainees – is due in large part to lifting skill improvements.

Gradual stimulation of the musculature with progressively more difficult workloads reduces the inhibitory impulses picked-up by the sensory receptors that monitor changes in muscle length. The result: An improved economy of muscle fiber firing and greater power output. This is known as motor unit “synchronization,” and it is a major player in the strength and power game plan. Motor unit synchronization enhances the rate of force development, i.e., the speed with which a lifting movement or athletic skill is performed.

Slow Twitch, Fast Twitch, and Power Output

Our muscle tissue is comprised of a spectrum of fibers that have varying endurance and force generating characteristics.
There is ongoing discussion, research, and speculation on the extent of this spectrum and in defining a compartmentalized classification of fiber types.

For this discussion, we will simply refer to them as slow twitch (ST) or fast twitch (FT) fibers.

Muscle fibers are recruited (i.e., called upon from a cadre of neural pathways to perform a task) according to what is known as the “size principle of motor unit recruitment.” The activation is initiated with the ST fibers, which are smaller, and incrementally advanced to the FT fibers, which are larger.

Initially, if the force requirements are low, the ST fibers are more than capable of handling the load, regardless of the speed of movement (i.e., “explosive,” or more controlled).

As the force requirements are heightened to a level where the ST fibers can no longer sustain the effort, the FT fibers are activated to continue the task.

FT fibers generate more force and can do so in a shorter period of time than ST fibers. However, keep in mind that the key precept in FT activation is the force requirement, not necessarily the speed of movement.

In terms of strength training movements, it may be your preference to lift relatively light to moderate loads in a fast manner due to your background or as predicated by the chosen exercises. Even so, you would be well-served, in my opinion, to insert workouts now and then that require moderate to heavy loads performed with the “intent” to move fast on the raising (positive) phase, and purposely controlled on the lowering (negative) phase.

The fact that the load is “moderate to heavy” will usually inhibit a rapid external rep. However, because there is an inverse relationship between movement speed and muscle force production (known as the force/velocity curve), it’s a good bet that the targeted musculature will generate a high grade of force.

Additionally, if possible and within the parameters of safety, execute the set to the point of fatigue for fiber recruitment purposes. Obviously, there are movements and equipment modes where this method would be contraindicated, but those are fairly evident and can be identified with good judgment.

Final Rep

The donnybrook over training issues including movements vs. muscles, free weights vs. machines, fast vs. controlled speeds, ad nauseam, has no end in sight. That’s a good thing, however, as the differences in opinion stimulate discussion and encourage further research. Hard work, on the other hand, has few detractors and infinite benefactors!

TIP FROM THE TRENCHES

Coaches, kick-start your metabolism! OK, all of you coaches 30 and over, let’s skip the stages of denial and anger regarding your plummeting metabolism and go immediately to being pro-active in doing something about it. The fact is that after age 30, our body’s metabolism slows down by about 2% per decade, due in large part to a loss of muscle mass. Unfortunately, it is possible to lose as much as 50% of our muscle mass between ages 20-90, with an exceptionally high rate of loss from ages 50-70. This dilemma leads to fewer calories burned and more stored body fat. For women in menopause, the metabolism is slowed even further. While there is no one sure-fire answer to reverse this process, there is a battle plan that, if followed with consistency and perseverance, can be a great help:

Note: Since individual differences are certainly prime considerations in any health prescription, consultation with your primary care physician is a must in order to eliminate the possibility of any underlying problem.

• Eat breakfast every day – This will ignite your metabolism and rev it up for burning calories. When you skip meals – especially breakfast – your body has a tendency to store more calories as fat. Also, there is a tendency to overeat at other meals when you skip the ones that should have preceded them.

• Eat frequently (“graze”) – As crazy as it may sound, eating small amounts of food every 2-3 hours helps to keep you metabolic fire lit. Therefore, you will burn calories at a fairly constant rate throughout the day. Just an asterisk, here: Remember the term “small amounts” of food when proceeding with this suggestion.

• Eat “lean” protein – Lean protein sources (e.g., skinless poultry, fish, non-fat dairy products, beans, certain nuts, and the leaner, less-marbled beef cuts) can boost metabolism when eaten in moderation. The recommendation here is to consume no more than about 1/3 of your daily calories from these sources.

• Exercise frequently – Most recommendations here are in the 30-60 minute range of moderate to vigorous physical activity (primarily of an aerobic nature) on most days of the week.

• Strength train at least 2-3 days per week – Remember that one of the primary reasons for a lower metabolism is muscle loss. Resistance training can counter this loss and is especially important as we age. Heavy weights and competitive style lifts are not necessary, just a good total body plan that addresses all of the major muscle groups.

• Get adequate sleep – Being too tired to exercise and binging on snack foods as a “pick-me-up” are two pitfalls of inadequate sleep. More research must be done in this area, but some experts are concerned that a lack of sleep may affect appetite-regulating hormones. The bottom line: Stay as well-rested as possible.

Ken Mannie mannie@ath.msu.edu


Physical Culture Books.com

Real Men Do Grip Work - by Bob Whelan

Originally Posted on NaturalStrength.com on December 1, 1999

Reprinted with permission of The Iron Master

All those (past and present) who are "one of us" do grip work -- period. Toners and buffers don't do grip work. In fact, they've never heard of it! In "Spa-Land" you will find every type of gadget, gimmick, or "miracle" supplement, but you won't find thick bars, weaver sticks, telegraph keys, steel suitcases, or even wrist rollers. Even the most "roid-pumped" freaks won't bother with grip work -- the cosmetic payback is too low for them. They are interested only in things that make them look good for the bar scene. Only the serious, dedicated, knowledgeable, proud, and few understand the importance of it. Grip work separates the men from the boys and the phonies from the true "men or iron." I believe that grip work should henceforth be known as the litmus test for membership in the Iron Game/Physical Culture Fraternity.

Take a look at the guys you respect, the ones who have a passion for what they preach. Take, for example, Kim Wood, Dr. Ken, (the late) Vic Boff, Osmo Kiiha, and Randy Strossen, just to name a few -- they are all into grip work big time. (The late) Coach Bob Hise II (Mav- Rik), who is a walking Iron Game encyclopedia (and who began his competitive Olympic lifting career in 1929), states, "Everything starts with the hands. The first thing I do when I take on a new lifter is stress the importance of grip work. You will never get close to doing your best without it. You need strong hands for every lift -- even squatting."

Our Iron Game heritage is filled with stories that feature the old-timers doing serious grip work. Take, for example, John Davis' clean of 308 with a 2" thick bar; Bob People's deadlift of 725-3/4 with both palms forward; Al Berger doing pinch grip chins from his 2x12 ceiling beams; Hermann Goerner's one-handed deadlift with 727-1/2 pounds; and Thomas Inch's one-handed deadlift of 172 pounds with a 2.47" inch thick handled dumbbell. Warren Lincoln Travis, with just his right middle finger, lifted over 600 pounds. Ask Vic Boff about the importance of grip work. He was a champion at the art of finger twisting, which was very popular years ago. John Grimek set the record in the weaver stick lift with 11 pounds with his right hand. Apollon's thick axle bar is still widely talked about today. Ian Bachelor could crush metal beercaps between his thumb and each of his four fingers.

Guys who do grip work are tough and are proud to have strong, hard, thick, callused hands. Serious grip work builds mental toughness, too! Do an entire workout using just thick bars of at least 2" in diameter, and you'll see what I'm talking about. Could you imagine Steve Stanko worrying about his hands "getting too rough"! Stanko used to cut leather making lifting belts for Bob Hoffman at York. One day, the knife slipped, and he deeply cut the palm of his hand, putting the knife almost all the way through it. He had a big meet scheduled a few days later, and everyone thought it would be impossible for him even to compete. It was a bad cut and took many stitches. He not only competed, but he won, setting a new National Record in 1938. During the contest, according to Bob Hise, the stitches broke and his hand was bleeding profusely. To "plug it up" he used a handful of chalk, and with his grip at half strength, he still won! All that grip work paid off for Stanko. His toughness was typical of men of that era. It is a shame to see what has become of most "modern men." (Now they complain that their spray aftershave hurts!)

If you train with the regular Olympic bar,(or the few good plate loaded machines), at least don't use wimpy supportive gear (i.e., straps, hooks, etc., and God forbid, gloves); you might as well be wearing a flashing sign that says "wimp!" Make your hands hold the bar; they are the weakest link in your muscular chain. You have to get them stronger. They will never get stronger if you use supportive gear. If you do not yet have any thick bars in your gym, I strongly recommend that you add them to your program. Your forearms and hands will be throbbing by the time the workout ends. In fact, you may not be able to do a whole workout with them right away. They are that tough! The wrist roller is also a must and can be easily made. Do it palms-up and palms down. Implement the telegraph key, weaver stick/lever bar, and plate loaded crusher into your program too.

Hammer Strength sells thick bars and IronMind sells everything dealing with grip work including all types of devices to build both pinching and crushing strength (Titan's telegraph key is a must) as well as bars. You don't have to train to be another Rich Sorin or John Brookfield to reap tremendous benefits from doing grip work. Consistency is the key; an extra 10 minutes at the end of your workout, or even less if you use a thick bar, will reap tremendous benefits. If you can't hold the bar, you can't lift it! The biggest names in the Iron Game, past and present, put a primary importance on grip work. My friend, Bob Hise knew most of them. Remember his words, "Everything starts with the hands!"

Physical Culture Books.com

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Bob Whelan's Expert Q & A

With permission of Hardgainer.

What do you think of the book Muscletown USA, by John D. Fair?

In my opinion, although it unfairly treated Hoffman too negatively, Fair's book is excellent. It's full of historical information and is a fascinating read. The facts in it can't be disputed, but some of the negative things about Hoffman were unfairly portrayed. The same effort wasn't made to dig in detail into the personal lives of other major characters in Iron Game history.

I don't know of any new book coming out with a more positive spin on the York/Hoffman side, but I'd love to see it. The problem is that Fair seems to go out of his way to show Hoffman's bad side. He seemed biased towards Joe Weider and cynical/negative about Hoffman. Factual information can still be unfair.

People usually dig deeper into personal negative things if they don't like you, and omit some of the positive things. (The opposite applies if they like you). If you can keep that in mind, Muscletown USA is a great book.

I love Hoffman. His influence got me started in all this when I bought my first copies of MUSCULAR DEVELOPMENT and STRENGTH AND HEALTH, in 1964, when I was ten years old. I admire the man and won't let Fair's book change my admiration for Hoffman. I'd like to see the same dirt-digging effort put into a book about other leading Iron Game figures, past and present, to help balance things.

Past Training Beliefs

What's the best description of how the old-timers really trained?

The only real absolute about the oldtimers is that they trained naturally, hard and progressively. They may have had crude equipment and limited information, but they made the most of what they had. If you take a close look at old Iron Game literature, you'll find a common theme: health, strength, vigor and longevity.

Cosmetic results, although mentioned, were clearly secondary. The cosmetic results were believed to be the end result of "doing the right thing," and were a reward for effort, discipline and a lifestyle commitment. The titles of the popular books and magazines reflected these values. There were STRENGTH AND HEALTH, HEALTH AND STRENGTH, PHYSICAL CULTURE, STRENGTH, THE STRONG MAN, and numerous other titles.

Compare these titles to the best-selling training books and magazines of today-the difference is astounding. The pioneers of Physical Culture were not just body beautiful posers. They were strong! Eugene Sandow and others competed in various feats of strength. They had to make do with crude training facilities and equipment, but they made the most of what they had. They had to endure the wrath of society, as attaining health and strength was not a trendy thing to do in those days.

This is how the term health nut got started (they were definitely not called buff!) Even though they had far less information available, they swore by the information they did have. How many of us truly can say we're using the information we have? Jack LaLanne was so dedicated that he trained his mind to visualize disgusting images at the very thought of junk food. Cosmetic results were seen as the reward for correct living and hard training.

Many of our Physical Culture forefathers went beyond physical health and were concerned with mental and spiritual health as well. Peary Rader frequently wrote articles about spiritual health; and Bob Hoffman and Bernarr MacFadden, in addition to writing about training, wrote about practically everything dealing with health and happiness, including moral issues.

We now have much better overall equipment, gyms, and nutritional and health knowledge. But we also have the horrendous mess of drug abuse. Public acceptance/involvement of training is much higher now. But most of the training principles have been around a long time.

There's nothing really new as far as strength-training principles are concerned. It just gets re-packaged. Read the "Letters from Chas" on NaturalStrength.com, and his articles in old issues of HARDGAINER, as he repeatedly covers this topic. There's no single training philosophy that defines the old-timers. Klein, Maxick, Cyr and Grimek trained differently, just as individuals today train differently. Chas stated that none of today's training principles are really new. The only exception I can think of that may be considered new is the concept of very slow speed training.

Arthur Jones - Methods & Writing

I'm curious as to what you think about Arthur Jones, his writing and strength training methods. Also, do you consider yourself an advocate of HIT?

I have a great deal of respect for Jones, and consider him to be one of the brightest minds in the history of strength training. I didn't discover him right away though. My early influences were mainly from York (Hoffman and Grimek), Brad Steiner and later from the original IRON MAN from Peary Rader.

In the late 1970s I was temporarily influenced a great deal by Heavy Duty from Mike Mentzer, but later realized that he just paraphrased and repackaged Arthur Jones' theories, so it was really Jones I was influenced by. I don't agree with everything Jones says, but most of it. He definitely had a big impact on my beliefs.

I frequently use multiple sets, low reps and barbells. I believe how you train depends on the goal of your training. A powerlifter has to do low reps, multiple sets and use a barbell. A basketball player doesn't. I don't believe you have to go to failure to get good results so long as you train progressively. It depends on the goal of your training and your circumstances.

When it comes to training stimulus, I'm mainly a poundage guy. A lot of HIT guys never talk about poundage, it's always only about going to failure. I always put poundage (in good form) first, ahead of going to failure or anything else as far as training stimulus goes. Although I'm a big supporter of going to failure, and controlled speed of motion training (for some trainees), for me they are clearly secondary to load progression.

I have a broad view of strength training and can see many ways that work. I don't feel the need to try to persuade people to do exactly what I do, nor do I get personally offended by differences in training philosophy other than those which use drug support. The most important thing is that you're natural and trying to train hard and lift heavier. If so, we're brothers, and there's no need to argue about minor details.

Conclusion

In strength training, it's all good as long as you follow the sensible rules of safety, progression and recovery as expressed in HARDGAINER. If you do power cleans or don't do them, I don't care so long as you don't get hurt. Same with odd objects, going to failure, etc. Just don't get injured!

I see the various modes and methods of strength training as tools in a tool chest. A craftsman can collect and use many tools to perform his art. Only a fool would throw useful tools away and insist on using just a few tools. Different tools can be used for different people. Some need low reps and multiple sets due to their goals, and some need one set to failure.

Regardless of the method used in strength training, I always put the greatest emphasis on load or poundage progression. Effort without progression is no better than calisthenics or manual labor.

Visit Hardgainer.com!



Physical Culture Books.com

JOHN GRIMEK WAS THE MAN

By Bob Whelan
Reprinted with permission from HARDGAINER magazine issue #59, March-April 1999

For all of my training life I've had the quiet comfort of knowing John Grimek was around to inspire and motivate me. He was my all-time Iron Game hero, a legend of unparalleled achievements, but who was universally described as a "good guy" by everyone who had the honor of meeting him. He was a guy you could really admire, look up to and respect not only for his titles or measurements, but as a man.

His pictures have always been on the walls of my gym, even if it happened to be my bedroom or garage. I have several of his pictures on the walls at Whelan Strength Training, from various decades of his life starting with the Mark Berry posters showing John in his early twenties, until several decades later showing his body even more muscular and better, with only his face showing signs of age. For my money, he was the best, a legend-the man! This greatest chapter in Iron Game history came to a close on November 20, 1998 when John C. Grimek passed on at age 88.

Vic Boff summed it up well when he stated, "For over five decades, John C. Grimek has been heralded as the Monarch of Muscledom throughout the world. He was the greatest combination Iron Game athlete-physique star, bodybuilder and strength performer-of all time and certainly the most popular, inspiring millions. He was a major influence in the lives of every top bodybuilder. He was the only bodybuilder in history who was never defeated in a contest. His charisma was so outstanding that everyone in the Iron Game wanted to meet him, shake his hand or get an autograph. His obliging patience was endless."

Grimek was also the only man to win the Mr. America title twice, and was also a member of the 1936 US Olympic weightlifting team. He won the Mr. Universe in 1948 and the Mr. USA in 1949. He was also an expert swimmer, diver, acrobat and muscle control expert. He was also very strong, and capable of a 400-pound jerk.

John probably did more to advance strength training in academia, teaching and coaching than anyone-especially as a legitimate method for training and preparing athletes. The all-prevalent musclebound myths of the day were largely dispelled and reversed by his awesome demonstrations of flexibility, grace and speed while working with Bob Hoffman and other members of the York Barbell Club. Modern strength and conditioning coaches may not have had a profession if not for John C. Grimek.

I began to train, involuntarily at first, at age 10. I was a good baseball player and was batting around 600 in little league. I just came home from a game and as soon as I got in the door, my father asked me, "How many hits ya get, ya bastard?" He had his usual beer in hand and was in his typical semi-intoxicated state.

"Three!" I proudly replied.

"How many home runs?"

"None," I replied.

My introduction to training was when my father responded, "You weak son of a bitch. Get on the floor and do pushups."

I did only three, and he really tore into me for that. I usually managed to make a positive out of most of the negative childhood situations with my father. He made me do pushups every night before bed, and soon I began to love the exercise because I felt stronger, which in turn raised my confidence and self-esteem; and I began hitting some home runs. Soon I was doing 90 pushups in a row.

I put up a chinning bar in the basement and was up to 18 in no time. I made a wrist roller. I walked around constantly squeezing rubber balls to strengthen my wrists because that was what Ted Williams did. I was hooked on training at an early age.

It was during this time that I bought my first copies of STRENGTH AND HEALTH and MUSCULAR DEVELOPMENT magazines. I was buying baseball cards near a magazine rack and a cover caught my eye. MUSCULAR DEVELOPMENT was a new magazine at that time (1964), and John Grimek was the editor. From my first glance of him, I was in awe, but greatly inspired. I always read every word in MD a liked it even more than S&H because of Grimek's influence. (I didn't even know about iron man till a few years later.)

I continued to lift cement blocks and copper tubing stored in the cellar, and did pushups, chins, dips between chairs, wrist roller work, situps and other calisthenics until I got my first York 110-pound barbell set for my birthday at age 13.

I was a fanatic and devoured everything related to training I could get my hands on. I was sad when I'd read all the articles in a new issue. I couldn't wait till the next month so I could ride my bike to the apothecary in Sherborn, Massachusetts, and buy the next issue.

I can remember the smell of the ink in the new issues. I had to hide the magazines because my father thought all the bodybuilders were "musclebound," but I knew better. My biggest heroes were Bob Hoffman and, especially, John Grimek. I still have a deep affection for and loyalty to the tradition of the York Barbell Company, and tremendous respect for its pivotal role, since the thirties, in the development of the Iron Game. To this day I will only buy York weights.

This background information is important because it should help you to understand the magnitude of the thrill I had in April 1976 when I drove to York, Pennsylvania, and met John Grimek. For an Iron Game/Physical Culture enthusiast, this was the equivalent of a baseball fan meeting Babe Ruth. I'd hoped to meet Bob Hoffman too.

I remember looking at all of Hoffman's medals and spending an hour or so in the museum section downstairs. I finally got the nerve up to ask if I could meet Bob Hoffman, but was told he was not in that day. I still regret not meeting him. But Grimek was upstairs in his office, and I was told that he would be happy to see me. My heart raced as I walked up a creaky staircase to his office. I sheepishly knocked on the office door and politely referred to him as Mr. Grimek.

Mr. Grimek invited me in and was extremely friendly. I was only 21 at the time and was completely in awe. At first I was surprised because he was well into his sixties at the time, but most of the photos I'd seen of him were not recent. He was in great shape, though, and I could tell that he still trained hard and regularly. He had his shirt sleeves rolled up, and I could see his huge biceps in full glory. He looked at least 20 years younger than most men of his age.

He asked me as many questions about my training, and my life in general, as I asked him. He seemed genuinely interested in me and I was impressed at how approachable and kind-hearted he was. He answered every question I had and was in no rush to have me leave. He signed an autograph for me that I guard with my life and proudly display on a wall of my gym. After asking every possible question I could think of, and spending about 30 minutes in his office, I felt I might start to be a pest. I thanked Mr. Grimek for his time, shook his hand, and let him get back to his work.

Dispelling myths

It wasn't until fairly recently that the term "musclebound" has finally been put to rest. You may hear it once in a while now, but mainly by ignorant people. Most people today believe that strength training is beneficial. It wasn't always that way, and as a kid growing up I would always hear about it and be discouraged from lifting. I never believed it was true, mainly because of the hard work and courage of John Grimek and Bob Hoffman, who told me the truth.

On April 4, 1940 Bob Hoffman brought several members of the York Barbell Club, including John Grimek, to Springfield College. Dr. Karpovich, of Springfield College, had been influential in pushing "musclebound" theories throughout academia, and was making most athletic coaches shy away from training with weights. Strength training was being seriously threatened, and John Grimek was instrumental in turning this around. After Grimek was introduced to the panel, the pompous academics sneered at him and seemed to mock him at first, believing he was nothing but a big clumsy oaf with limited movement and "bound" muscles.

Grimek went right up to each of them and said, "Can you do this?" He then proceeded to contort his body into every stretch and bend possible, and reportedly could come close to touching his elbows to the floor while keeping his knees straight! Each of the academics gave a pitiful performance of flexibility when responding to his challenge, to which Grimek replied, something to the effect of, "You're musclebound, not me!"

Hoffman then had Grimek and others perform all kinds of feats including one-arm chins, handstands, backbends, jumping splits and numerous stretches. After Karpovich had witnessed this, he was stunned. By the time Hoffman and Grimek got through with Karpovich, he changed his position to, "There's no such thing as musclebound."

Hoffman went further and challenged any athlete in any sport to compete against his York Barbell Club in any physical test outside of their own specific sport. The challenge was widely publicized. There were no takers, mostly because of the larger-than-life image of Grimek and the fear that he would humiliate any challenger.

Our responsibility

John Grimek was larger than life, much like John Wayne was. John was what the Iron Game and Physical Culture are really all about. He was the essence of how things were and how things should still be. When you think of John Grimek, you think of the glory days of the Iron Game before drugs ruined the honest competition, and the brotherhood.

The "good guys" in the Iron Game today have a sacred duty to carry on the tradition that John Grimek stood for and which Vic Boff and others still represent. Give no respect to steroid users-they are scum. Take down their pictures. Always keep your focus on good health as the primary motivation for your toil, and build muscle the old fashioned way-earn it by hard work and dedication, like John Grimek did.

"Maximum" Bob Whelan runs Whelan Strength Training in Washington, DC.


Physical Culture Books.com

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Training Truths That Should Be Said - By Bradley J. Steiner

I'd just like to make some points that I hope will benefit some of the newer and less experienced visitors to your site. This is very basic, but it's also rarely emphasized today. Because it's true, it should be said:

• The turn off that bodybuilding took a few decades ago, when it went the "steroid/size/nut route" was truly tragic. Just look at how it has, literally, made the word "bodybuilding" an emotive one! Mention "bodybuilder" and the majority of those sane people under the age of 40 who hear it will conjure an image of a gender-challenged, overbloated, grotesque, drug-consuming freak, and they will likely be gripped with nausea. And who can blame them for having such a reaction? Gone is Grimek, Eifferman, Stanko, Park, Jowett, Sipes, Abele, etc. etc. and so forth. And the REAL Masters of the Iron Game (ie men like Rader, Hoffman, Paschall, and McCallum) have been replaced by goons.

It seems to me that one of the greatest services that can be rendered by those of us who love the healthy activity of bodybuilding — as it was in the 1920's, 30's, 40's, 50's, and throughout most of the 1960's — when the goal was genuine strength, vigorous good health, and physical efficiency and fitness, is to do what YOUR SITE (ie Bob Whelan's) is doing; so POWER TO YOU, BROTHER!

• If I may put in a recommendation (for which I do not receive compensation!) that is a sincere one, purely for the benefit of those who are looking for the real deal in training information: Check into Bill Hinbern's marvelous enterprise. Bill has reprinted many of the priceless classics of physical training, and anyone who wants to experience the kind of joy that we who were fortunate enough to get started RIGHT in this field knew, when we first picked up a barbell, should buy those old books and study them. Cancel the magazine subscriptions to those damn pharmaceutical catalogs and gay rights propaganda rags, and purchase the wisdom that once was "mainstream" — a long time ago, when this Country and the bodybuilding we love were both a helluva lot saner and healthier!

• Don't make training too complicated for yourself. Don't keep looking for miracle programs, special routines, super diet plans, or supplements and other gimmicks that are simply conning you, if you are a confused beginner. Just map out a good all round routine of six to ten exercises, and train hard on them, three times a week for between 40 and 90 minutes. The squat, press, rowing, dead lift, bench press, curl, simple calf work, shrugs, abdominal work, and perhaps some dabbling (judiciously!) on one or two other odd exercises from time to time as interest suggests, will do it for you. Honestly — that's all you need. Two or three sets is plenty.

• Be realistic. The late genius Arthur Jones always pointed out that those few who become "world class musclemen" are "genetic freaks". This is not an insult. It simply acknowledges how unusual it really is for a person to possess the genetics that is required to become world class in physical development. THAT'S NOTHING BAD! It's not cause for discouragement! Use the Greats as inspiration; and then become whatever YOUR genetic potential allows.

• Always come back to SOUND TRAINING PRINCIPLES, basic equipment and exercises, a good diet, rest and recreation, and a healthy attitude as the royal road to physica excellence. It isn't "secret", it isn't "mysterious", it isn't anything that YOU CAN'T HAVE FOR YOURSELF, AND FOLLOW AND BENEFIT TREMENDOUSLY FROM IN YOUR OWN LIFE.

• If for whatever reason you haven't yet settled into a serious program of training, do it now. There will never be a "right time" or a "better moment" to begin. Just get started. The biggest hurdles in this game are all mental, not physical. Heck, bodybuilding isn't even expensive to pursue; it's affordable by anyone.

If you ever "once trained" and are reproaching yourself and feeling regretful, just realize that everyone makes mistakes and has regrets. GET BACK INTO IT NOW. In three weeks you'll be congratulating yourself for your wisdom!


This Article Was Written By Bradley J. Steiner

Professor Steiner's American Combato Site




Physical Culture Books.com

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Welcome and Introduction - By Bob Whelan

First, some news about my websites. NaturalStrength.com was attacked by hackers in March. They inserted a virus that destroys information into the site. We are working to get it repaired. The old store and inner circle were also destroyed. We are now two thirds back and will be better than ever soon. We have a new inner circle at www.NaturalStrength.Net and a new store at www.BobWhelan.com. Both are better than the previous products but are still a work in progress to get re-established. The main site, NaturalStrength.com had well over a thousand articles on it and was a 9 year compilation of work and money. It had a lengthy "page one ranking" on Google for "strength training" and it took thousands of dollars of webmaster fees to build it. I also paid a typist to type out all of those old classic books and put them online. I believe we were able to save most of the data on back up.

Over the summer we'll be converting the old site to an ARCHIVES site and get it back up and running . This new blog can be seen as the beginning of the NS.com comeback. This will probably serve as the temporary NaturalStrength.com but could also be the permanent home page with the ARCHIVES of the old site attached to it (once repaired.) We'll see how it goes. Thanks for all your support!


Physical Culture Books.com

Spartan Strength - Ken Mannie - Bio

Ken Mannie enters his 20th year as Michigan State's head strength and conditioning coach for football, while additionally directing and overseeing the strength and conditioning programs for all men's and women's sports. A 40-year coaching veteran, Mannie is the longest-tenured head football strength and conditioning coach in the Big Ten Conference. Mannie's "Fourth Quarter" and "Bottom Line" offseason conditioning programs have been a significant reason for Michigan State's success in the Coach Mark Dantonio era, as the Spartans have earned a school-record seven consecutive bowl bids, including a victory in the 2014 Rose Bowl Game over No. 5 Stanford. Mannie is a certified strength and conditioning specialist with the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association (CSCCa), the National Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association (NSCA) and holds an honorary certification with the International Association of Resistance Trainers (IART). In May 2002 at its annual conference in Salt Lake City, the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association awarded Mannie the title of Master Strength and Conditioning Coach (MSCC). Mannie is also a professional member of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE), and the American Association for Health Education (AAHE). He has been a keynote speaker and roundtable participant at several national conventions and seminars. In both 2006 and 2007, Mannie was named to Who's Who Among America's Teachers in recognition for his numerous and ongoing educational efforts in the field of strength and conditioning and in bringing awareness to the anabolic drug abuse problem in sports. He has been recognized and is widely-published on his adamant stance against performance-enhancing drugs. In June 2007, the Varsity S Club inducted him as an honorary member. He has written more than 300 articles and four book chapters on the various aspects of strength/conditioning, speed/power development, sports nutrition, motivation, athletics, and the anabolic drug abuse issue. Since 2000, Mannie has written the monthly column "Powerline" for Coach and Athletic Director, the nation's oldest and most prestigious coaching publication. He is also a frequent contributor to the Championship Performance newsletter. He also serves on the advisory boards for the National Strength Professionals Association (NSPA), the information-based Athletic Strength and Power (ASAP) website, and the Ultimate Strength and Conditioning website. Mannie has coached numerous All-Americans, as well as a host of players who went on to have highly successful NFL careers. Additionally, he has served as a consultant to several NFL teams on training equipment, program design, and the organization and administration of testing protocols. Two of Mannie's former graduate assistants are currently strength and conditioning assistants in the NFL: Mondray Gee (Seattle Seahawks) and Aaron McLaurin (New York Jets). Prior to his arrival at Michigan State, Mannie spent nine years in a similar capacity at the University of Toledo (1985-94). He worked for Nick Saban in 1990 when the Rockets won a share of the Mid-American Conference title and finished 9-2. He served as a graduate assistant along with Mark Dantonio at Ohio State in 1984, working with the Buckeyes' Big Ten championship football team. A native of Steubenville, Ohio, Mannie taught and coached on the high school level for 10 years (1975-84). He spent nine of those years at his alma mater Steubenville Catholic Central where he coached football, wrestling and track. He began his coaching career as a student assistant at Akron in 1974, working with the offensive guards and centers. A former walk-on, Mannie became a three-year letterman and two-year starter at offensive guard for Akron from 1971-73. He played on the 1971 Zips' team that finished 8-2 and ranked eighth nationally in the Division II polls. He earned his bachelor's degree in health and physical education from Akron in 1974 and received a master's degree in physical education and health education with an emphasis in exercise science from Ohio State in 1985. Married to the former Marianne Saccoccia, he and his wife have a daughter, Alaina
Prior to his arrival at Michigan State, Mannie spent nine years in a similar capacity at the University of Toledo (1985-94). He worked for Nick Saban in 1990 when the Rockets won a share of the Mid-American Conference title and finished 9-2.

He served as a graduate assistant alongside Mark Dantonio at Ohio State in 1984, working with the Buckeyes' Big Ten championship football team.

A native of Steubenville, Ohio, Mannie taught and coached on the high school level for 10 years (1975-84). He spent nine of those years at his alma mater Steubenville Catholic Central where he coached football, wrestling and track.

He began his coaching career as a student assistant at Akron in 1974, working with the offensive guards and centers.

A former walk-on, Mannie became a three-year letterman and two-year starter at offensive guard for Akron from 1971-73. He played on the 1971 Zips' team that finished 8-2 and ranked eighth nationally in the Division II polls.

He earned his bachelor's degree in health and physical education from Akron in 1974 and received a master's degree in physical education and health education with an emphasis in exercise science from Ohio State in 1985.

Married to the former Marianne Saccoccia, he and his wife have a daughter, Alaina Antoinette (19), who is a student at Michigan State.

THE MANNIE FILE

YEARS AT MICHIGAN STATE: 20th. Joined staff on Dec. 8, 1994, from Toledo.

PREVIOUS COACHING EXPERIENCE: College -- Graduate assistant at Ohio State (1984); head strength and conditioning coach at Toledo (1985-94). Also coached and taught at the high school level for 10 years.

EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in health and physical education from Akron in 1974; master's degree in health and physical education with an emphasis in exercise science from Ohio State in 1985.

PLAYING EXPERIENCE: College -- Three-year letterman and two-year starter at offensive guard at Akron (1971-73).

BOWL EXPERIENCE: Coach -- 1985 Rose Bowl, 1995 Independence Bowl, 1996 Sun Bowl, 1997 Aloha Bowl, 2000 Florida Citrus Bowl, 2001 Silicon Valley Football Classic, 2003 Alamo Bowl, 2007 Champs Sports.
BODY • MIND • SPIRIT