Sunday, October 25, 2009

Nightmare on Seventh Street - By Bob Whelan

Reprinted with permission of Hardgainer, Vol. 9, No. 3 (January-February 1998)

A few months ago Eric Weinstein and Drew Israel drove all the way down to Washington, D.C., from New York City (and drove back the same day) just so I could put Eric through a workout. Drew wanted me to hammer Eric hard like the workouts we had together at my place last year. Eric wanted it that way, too, and was expecting the type of grueling workout that would make Freddy Krueger proud.

Eric is 33 years old, 5’9’’ and a solid 195 lbs. He’s the throwback type—tough, motivated, strong and extremely polite. I’ve gotten to know him, Dr. Ken, Jim Duggan, Jamie LaBelle and other members of the “Iron Island gang” pretty well from my visits to Drew’s place, and Drew’s several previous visits here. Eric and I have trained together at Drew’s a few times, and then gone out to Peter Luger’s Steak House after the workout. This is not a regular habit for any of us, just a tradition when we all get together.

Eric has been training with Dr. Ken since he (Eric) was 16; he has also trained with Drew for several years. So it goes without saying that Eric has excellent mental focus, and flawless form. Since I knew Eric was a high-intensity-training veteran, I did not have to use the same caution that I would with a beginner off the street.

Eric wanted me to put him through a workout on my turf, to add to his collection. Some people collect stamps, others collect coins. Eric collects workouts. I knew that Eric was used to being hammered by Dr. Ken, so I didn’t want to let Eric down. I was pulling no punches and planned on giving Eric a workout to remember.

I had the Marine cadence cassette blasting, and after the cv warmup, static holds for his whole body, and a few warmup sets on the machines to be used. Drew and I were shouting encouragement. Eric was psyched and ready! I had him begin with the Southern Xercise Horizontal Tru-Press with custom (Sutherland) 2.5-inch thick handles. The handles alone weigh 30 lbs. Eric went to failure at 10 reps with 140 lbs, and his chest was in real discomfort. (This machine uses about half the poundage of free-weight bench presses, and is a real ego killer!)

Then it was over to the Hammer Iso-Lateral Row for a set to failure with 200 lbs followed by a few forced reps.

As soon as he got off the Hammer machine I had him go to the 2-inch thick bar for a high-rep set to failure with 75 lbs in the reverse curl, with special emphasis on lowering the bar slowly (at least 5-6 seconds per negative). As soon as he hit failure he put the bar down and gave his hands a shake. Then he picked the bar right back up for a set of regular curls (palms up) to failure, again with emphasis on lowering the bar very slowly. As soon as he put the bar down it was back to the reverse curl for a final all-out set. I then let him take a one-minute rest.

Eric repeated this sequence of Horizontal Tru-Press, Iso-Lateral Row and curls two more times, to failure. On the third (last) time he pushed (in the Tru-Press) and pulled (in the Iso Row) for ten seconds in a static contraction after reaching muscular failure. The reverse curls got his forearms bulging and swollen with blood. His hands, wrists and forearms were so “nuked” that he had a hard time holding onto the handles of the Iso Row on the third series.

As soon as Eric had put down the bar after the third series, it was “Get right up!” on the Hammer Iso-Lateral Leg Press for one set to failure with 430 lbs. Each rep was done with a dead-stop pause at the bottom. The seat was set near the “tightest” position so that Eric’s knees sunk into his chest at the bottom. After 10 reps he was breathing like a steam engine, and paused to take ten deep breaths. He made it to 15 reps and then started to scream on every rep. Drew and I were screaming too! “C’mon Eric, get to 20! One at a time...puuussshhh...” Eric made it to 20 reps, and was shaking. A few reps later he started to moan between the screams, as he approached the end of the set. He paused to take about fifteen deep breaths and kept the set going, with each rep being an all-out, painful, life-and-death effort. He made it to 30 reps before collapsing in the machine. He then rolled to the floor and stayed there for a few minutes. The set was a great effort! Most people would have stopped at 15 reps.

Most people would have been KOed and done with training right now, but not Eric. I knew he would bounce back. He was used to this type of training from all the brutal stuff Ken and Drew do to him. This was just a regular training day for Eric! After a few minutes of rest, we continued. Eric did a few high-rep sets to failure on the Hammer Behind Neck Press with 160 lbs, then a few sets to failure on the Hammer Pulldown with 170, each with a ten-second static contraction on the last set. I threw in some manual resistance for his shoulders, some grip work, and some calf work.

We then went to the Tru-Squat as we wanted to finish with some “ground-based” training. (My tongue-in-cheek definition of “ground-based training,” as coined by Jamie LaBelle, is “ending up on the ground” after a hard set, and has nothing to do with having your feet on the ground.) Eric did a set of 20 reps with 200 lbs, which was even harder than and took more effort than the leg press set. After the twentieth rep, Eric was on the ground for about ten minutes.

The Tru-Squat is one of the best ground-based training tools because it trains you “into the ground.” (For those not familiar with the Tru-Squat, it is an ego killer because you can use only about half the weight of barbell squats.)

After the long rest, Eric felt better. The main course was over. Now it was time for “dessert.”

We went outside to sandbag alley where I store my sandbags. Eric was exhausted, but got a second wind after the needed rest and a big glass of water.

He wrestled with the 200-lb bag and carried it over the course of 225 feet in well under the ten-minute time limit. He only put the bag down a few times, and probably could have done 225 lbs. He had been practicing the sandbag carry with Drew, and wasn’t coming all the way down here unless he got his name put on the bag.

Drew has been training with over 300 lbs in the sandbag carry. Rumor has it that Drew will attempt 350 lbs to set a new Whelan Strength Training record at the second annual Capital City NSCA Clinic (see ad after this article). Big Melvin Tuten holds the current record of 325 lbs, which he got in his last workout before reporting to the Cincinnati Bengals in July.

Eric slumped for a few minutes against the fence that borders the alley, to let his racing heart and steam-engine breathing get back to normal levels. He did a great job today and worked extremely hard, but was glad the workout was over. All he wanted now was a good meal and a good bed! I put his name on the bag with a magic marker. We were all hoarse from screaming.

Shortly afterwards we headed for Morton’s to watch Drew (6’4’’ and 310 lbs) set new world records. Nothing like it after a brutal workout. Good workout, good food, good friends; ah, life is good!

“Maximum” Bob Whelan runs Whelan Strength Training in Washington, D.C.
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: bobwhelan@naturalstrength.com
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Bob Whelan

Bob Whelan

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