Monday, November 24, 2008

ENDURANCE by Earle E. Liederman - Author and Publisher, (1926), - Chapter 5

Physical activities come under two headings—one is exercise or recreation and the other is work or labor. You often may wonder why a laboring man, performing his daily toil, does not develop into a great athlete. He surely performs more repetitions throughout the day than any physical culturist will ever attempt regularly to do. Would it not be logical, therefore, to assume that all these muscular efforts would produce enormous muscles, great strength, and almost tireless energy? If we look deeper into the physical condition of laborers we find that not one in a hundred possesses a symmetrical development. The laborer is strong, it is true, and his endurance powers are excellent, for I am sure neither you nor I could undertake to bend our backs the number of times a day that the average workman does in the performance of his duties. Yet he is easily defeated in practically every physical encounter with a trained athlete.

In the first place, though his muscles are larger than the average man's they are so accustomed to being used in the same restricted manner that they are almost helpless when required to be used in a different way. His back may be exceptionally strong, much stronger than the average athlete's when it comes to bending; yet the average athlete easily can outlift him in all feats of strength where the back is brought into play. In spite of the endurance he possesses from performing movement after movement, day after day, the average laborer would make a poor showing against a trained wrestler, boxer or runner. It is only by working slowly and relaxing between movements that he is able to keep up his daily toil for eight hours or more at a stretch.

Now let us consider the athlete. Usually he exercises for but about fifteen minutes to an hour a day. This time is spent either with the weights or gymnastic apparatus or in calisthenic exercises. He works with enthusiasm, and fair rapidity throughout his entire exercising period. At the completion of each series or movements each muscle is tired, sometimes almost to the point of exhaustion; but when his drill is finished he feels in top-top condition and like whipping his weight in wild cats. For the remainder of the day he relaxes, so far as special exercising is concerned. During this period of relaxation his muscles are given a chance to recuperate and grow. His muscles are trained by daily exercising to work in coordination, each helping the other. It is only natural for him to endeavor to excel in one or more of various sports, whether they be jumping, running, weight lifting, wrestling or boxing. He will find that his muscles will enable him to excel in these sports far above the average man, assuming that they have equal theoretical knowledge of the sports undertaken.

Pit the laborer and the athlete together in any sport whatever, and, even though their knowledge of the sport is equal, the trained athlete will come out winner on every occasion. Why? The answer is that during working hours the laborer has been working too hard, overworking his muscles and denying them the chance to build up to the degree of muscular coordination such as is possessed by the trained athlete, who relaxes most of the day. Work wears out the one while exercise strengthens the other. The laborer works for necessity, but the physical culturist exercises for recreation and to gratify his enthusiasm. The physical culturist would be no better off than the laborer if he exercised excessively, for he thereby would bring on exhaustion and overwork, just as does the working man.

A well-trained body is first of all essential to anyone interested in endurance. It would be folly to take a man who has never run more than a block in his life, out for a two- or three-mile trot. in the first place he could not last—he would collapse far from the finish. And if a man who has never exercised in his life were compelled to go quite a distance for something which must be gotten hastily to save someone else's life, it is doubtful whether the patient would survive. The man would not have the endurance nor the strength to carry him through.

I remember reading years ago, when I was a boy, about Bob Fitzsimmons, who was then heavyweight boxing champion of the world. I think it was back in 1897. He was at the bedside of his sick wife, and the doctor told him that oxygen must be administered immediately to save her. Fitzsimmons ran at top speed, late at night, from block to block, looking for a drugstore, hospital, or police station where he could get an oxygen tank. At last he found one and carried a tank of oxygen while running at almost the same speed back to his home. His wife was kept alive. If Fitzsimmons had not possessed a well-trained body and the ability to run rapidly and long, which he secured from doing his road work prior to his fights, there might not have been this story to tell.

Therefore, the advantages of a well-trained body readily can be seen in cases or emergency, whether it be in the performance or duty for others or to save one's own life. To begin with, the exercise enthusiast, in addition to having greater strength, naturally will have more coordination in his movements than will the average man, who lacks experience in physical training. The untrained man possesses little, if any coordination. In fact, instead of coordination there usually will be found muscle antagonism.

It is amusing to note how clumsily a beginner will dance. You can see them on any dance floor. Yet, the simple steps of the Charleston, foxtrot or waltz are easy after a little practice. Have you ever noticed a woman throw a ball? Of course, she has little cause to do so, but when the attempt is made it plainly can be seen even by the inexperienced that something is wrong, for none of the muscles concerned with throwing the ball seem to work in unison. Anyone who frequents and swimming pool will see how clumsily the beginner endeavors to learn the first rudiments of any stroke, and yet swimming is easy after one learns how. How amateurish the experienced boxer will make an inexperienced one appear. No matter what sport or pastime or walk of life you may consider, the inexperienced man or woman puts forth twice as much effort in the beginning, and this effort is clumsy and awkward, because of the fact that instead of muscular coordination there is muscular antagonism—some of the muscles opposing those doing the work actually contract instead of relax, thus hindering the action and doubling the effort.

No one can appreciate muscular coordination more than the weight lifter or the golfer. The weight lifter must stand "just so," grip the bell properly, time his movements accurately, and, when bringing the bell overhead, lower the body downward at the exactly required moment. The golfer must be in perfect form for his drive. He must work in unison from the top of his head to the soles of his feet. The slightest movement will have a tendency to displace the center of gravity of the body, thus interfering with the stroke being made, whatever its nature.

The only way to obtain coordination is by practice; and by practice I mean to exercise. In animals coordination is instinctive; but in man it must be developed. Everyone has observed the movements of a cat. They are graceful and harmonious, and yet no one ever taught a cat how to move. For a human being to obtain the grace of movement of a cat it would, undoubtedly, take years of practice. A pianist requires considerable practice before he is able to place his finger on the key he desires to strike, but when he is able to do so he does it with no less effort than a chicken expends in snapping its beak at a grain of corn.

When one masters the art of coordination, if it may be termed an art, he really possesses what might be termed muscle sense. Have you ever watched an experienced tennis player? If you have, you have noticed the wonderful dexterity with which he returns the serve or volley. He sees the ball coming toward him but he does not see the ball hit the racket. His judgment and muscle sense know just where and how to place the racket to hit the ball and he does not see the ball again until it has rebounded quite some distance away from his racket. Those of you who have played handball will appreciate what is meant by, and the importance of, this sense of coordination. I know from my own experience in playing handball, especially in a four-wall court, that the ball shoots around the walls with such rapidity that it would be almost impossible for the eye to follow its progress. But my muscle sense allows me to realize where the ball is about to come and, naturally, by putting my glove in the right place and adding a little force for the return serve, I am able to stroke the ball and control it, sometimes, of course, better than at others.

Magicians have proven to the public that the hand is quicker than the eye. But the hand or arm, as in handball or tennis, must be much quicker than the eye; for if one took the trouble to turn the head, even though slightly to allow the eye to follow the ball, he would lose control of the return serve. In baseball the batter depends a good deal upon his muscle sense; and even though his eye sees the ball coming toward him, yet, as in the case of handball and tennis, his eye does not see the ball hit the bat; but his muscle sense and judgment enable him to swing the bat where it will meet the ball—not timidly but with tremendous power, and with almost uncanny certainty, as with Babe Ruth and some of our other home-run hitters.

Last year I received the honor of becoming an Honorary Member of the Mounted Police Association of New York City and also of the Honor Legion of the Police Department of New York City. One of the requirements of the initiation was for me first to ride a mechanical horse and later a live one. I am almost ashamed to admit that I am an amateur at equestrianism. Of course, through my athletic abilities I had but little difficulty in mastering the rhythm of the mechanical horse; but when it came to find the gait of the live one I was all at sea. The bumping I received during this initiation on the live horse I painfully remembered for many days afterward. Now, if I had possessed the muscle sense gained through practice in horseback riding, I would not have been black and blue from this seemingly severe initiation. Even though I since have taken up horseback riding seriously, still my endeavors at my first attempt must have been just as amusing to those who knew how to ride, as are the antics of a fat man in a gymnasium for the first time.

Muscle sense really is the feeling we have of the force with which a muscle contracts and in the direction in which it acts. Without it we would not be able to place our hand or foot at the exact spot which we wished to touch. Muscle sense involves the antagonistic muscles as well as the muscles used in directly performing the movement. These antagonistic muscles must be worked to act in harmony and coordination with the other muscles before muscle sense can be perfected—the opposing muscles must be fully relaxed so that the acting muscles will be completely unhindered while they are performing; but when the need arises the muscles must be able instantly to reverse their condition and relaxation. This muscle feeling or sense can be gotten only by practice and experience; and if one never has attempted any pastime or sport it would be ridiculous for him to compete against anyone but a beginner like himself.

Undoubtedly one of the most striking examples of muscle sense is that exhibited by the juggler. Juggling requires both dexterity and balance. Many times I have attended vaudeville shows and have seen almost unbelievable stunts performed by these master jugglers. I remember one man in particular who juggled a chair, a pail, a coat, coat rack and hat—five entirely different objects of different sizes and weights. He threw them into the air and turned them around, and caught them again without dropping one. Surely his eyes could not clearly see all these objects. Therefore, he depended wholly upon his muscle sense to gain the applause of the audience.

The pianist must eliminate all stiffness from his fingers before he can expect to excel with his chosen instrument. Stiffness, if not due to some inflammatory or structural change, would indicate that the extensor muscles were interfering with the flexors. If the oarsman allowed his triceps to interfere with the pulling power of his biceps when rowing, he would not make the speed he is after and he would soon tire in the arms should he be attempting a long row.

The same thing applies to any muscle or group of muscles in the body. If the flexor and extensor muscles interfere with each other's action, it will be necessary to put forth several times the effort and energy in order to accomplish any performance. That is one reason why laborers cannot compete with the experienced student of physical culture; their muscles have been exercised in their work in a restricted manner, and there has been no coordination for refined or complex movements.

The reader may wonder what all this has to do with endurance; but I am working up to the application. I am endeavoring to prove to you, and I will, that complete control of the muscles, which includes coordination and muscle sense, must be gotten first of all before you attempt anything in the line of endurance exercise. The man who properly exercises his muscles will, first of all, keep fit and he always will have his muscles under his command, the same as a general who continually drills his troops, has them under command.

So many would-be physical culture enthusiasts forsake their exercising in disgust just because they experience muscle fever or a feeling of exhaustion the day following their first workouts. If such enthusiasts would use a little common sense and judgment and begin systematically, their attitude regarding physical development would be entirely different. A baby first crawls, then walks, and then runs. As gracefully as a cat may be, a new-born kitten is very clumsy. Everything must progress, and it is impossible to progress beyond the laws of nature. It is true that some progress more rapidly than others, just as with two individuals taking piano lessons together one will make better progress than the other.
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Old Classic Jubinville Ad

I still have lots of their equipment made decades ago at WST!
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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Five Major Facts on Player Development - By Ken Mannie

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

One to three sets of any particular exercise will provide the stimulus for size and strength improvement. The physical development of football players is a multifaceted endeavor involving several key factors. Inherited attributes are essential, as there is no substitute for genetic potential - or as coaches would put it, the "right hook-ups."

The year-round training regimen will determine the improvements in the athlete's strength, speed, conditioning, and position-specific skills.

The five major constituents in the process include: force production, anaerobic capacity, comprehensive strength training, timing, and specificity.


The power for any given activity can be enhanced by increasing the output of force over a given distance. Strength training, especially high-tension movements, can help generate this force. Such training will enable the athlete to train without the primary nemesis of force production - momentum.

A study of the force/velocity relationship reveals that controlled movement produces a higher force output. In short, by creating and maintaining tension in the tension muscle groups, you can force the muscles in question to do more work per repetition. This increased work will heighten the intensity of any given exercise set from a metabolic standpoint and produce a stimulus for proper overload. The capabilities of force can be optimally increased by selecting a lifting movement that will recruit the greatest number of muscle fibers for a designated area and executing it in an all-out manner. Granted much of the ability to efficiently recruit these units is governed by one's inherent neuromuscular proficiency, but maximal intensity will assist greatly in the process.

The "size principle" in motor unit recruitment is the most widely accepted precept in neuromuscular physiology. It states that muscle fibers are recruited in relation to the requirements of force. This recruitment depends primarily on the intensity of the exercise rather than the speed of movement.

This is one of the major reasons why we advocate high-tension strength movements. By training in this fashion, we progressively activate the "fast-twitch" muscle fibers as we approach the point of momentary muscular fatigue. Rationale: The more difficult the repetitions in the set become, the more force we have to generate to complete those last, very intense reps.

These higher force requirements demand activation of the larger, stronger, more powerful fast-twitch units - which is one of the primary goals of the strength-training program. To accomplish this we must instruct our athletes to do most of these exercises the maximum number of times (reps).

The exception to this rule would be with movements (such as the barbell squat) that could compromise safety, or with multiple sets that are being used as the primary source of overload.

Set and rep schemes need not become overly complicated. Both scientific and empirical evidence indicate that one to three sets of any particular exercise will provide the proper stimulus for progressive size and strength improvements.

In many cases, the number of sets/reps chosen will be more of a personal preference than a dictum supported with definitive data. If your lower body rep system is in the neighborhood of at least eight and as high as 15, you are usually operating within safe and effective parameters.

Most upper body systems suggest rep ranges somewhere in the 6-12 area, a model with which most practitioners would concur. I believe that lower rep training (e.g., 1-3 reps) should be done sparingly, as low rep sets usually involve heavier weight loads, amplifying the injury potential. With good technique, the high-tension strength training protocol is at least as effective as any other and less risky than some. There are basically two schools of thought on the speed with which these movements should be performed. One school suggests ballistic-type weight training; the other, a stricter, more controlled speed with emphasis on eliminating as much momentum as possible.

For many of the reasons already mentioned, we have adopted the latter. Since both systems involve progressive overload, I would merely suggest that coaches check their system of strength training thoroughly before implementing it.

Further information on the specifics of the organization and administration of the strength program will be given in the section on "comprehensive strength training."


Football involves short, quick, powerful bursts of activity followed by relatively short relief periods. In preparing for the metabolic demands of the game, it is important to focus on the specific energy system being stressed in the conditioning drills. The major goals to keep in mind in the running workouts is to improve the players' "anaerobic capacity."

There are actually two anaerobic energy systems - the ATP-PC-LA system, which governs runs between 30 and 90 seconds, and the ATP-PC system, which manages the bursts from a few seconds up to about 30. Both have a place in the preparation scheme.

Let's say you are working with an eight-week summer-training calendar prior to your two-a-day camp period. The early phase of the program (2-3 weeks) should include 200-to-400 meter runs of moderate intensity to allow the players to adapt to both the soft-tissue stresses and the lactic acid (a by-product of the glycogen breakdown in the muscle build up) incurred with this mode of training.

Upon completion of this preparatory phase, the distances should be gradually reduced in order to shift the emphasis from the ATP-PC-LA system to the ATP-PC system. In our program, this involves runs and drills ranging from 10 yds. to 110 yds. in length.

Several variables must be monitored for quality control when training anaerobically in interval fashion. These include: Frequency, sets, reps, distance, intensity, relief interval, and duration.

* Frequency: the number of scheduled workouts per week. During the summer months, when strength training and skill-specific work are also part of the program, we plan a minimum of two and a maximum of three interval sprint workouts per week.

* Sets: A group of work and relief intervals (e.g., eight 200-meter sprints with a designated recovery period).

* Reps: The number of repeats within the set.

* Distance: Total distance covered in the workout - usually between one and two miles.

* Intensity: The individual's heart rate (H.R.) is the most practical way to determine whether the workload is inducing the appropriate response. The target H.R. for the work intervals of high school athletes is usually between 180 and 190 beats per minute, and between the mid-170s and mid-180s for the college athlete.

H.R. can also be used to aid in the timing of the relief interval. The high school athlete is usually ready for the next repeat when the H.R. drops to around 150 beats per minute, while the college-aged athlete should be ready when the H.R. drops to around 140 beats per minute.

Obviously, these are general guidelines, and the coach must also pay attention to the "perceived exertion
" of the athletes (i.e., how "good" or "bad" the athlete is feeling during the workout), especially during the early phase of the workout program. The athlete's inability to produce the required effort in the work interval would indicate that the relief interval requires adjustment.

* Relief Interval: Allotted time between work intervals in a set, which can consist of light activity (e.g., walking) or moderate activity (e.g., jogging). The R.I. depends on the time required for the heart rate to recover to the approximate bpm's previously discussed.

Work intervals taking between 10-70 seconds to complete usually require a 1:3 work/relief ratio - which means the R.I. should be three tunes as long as it took to complete the work interval.

Work intervals taking over 70 seconds and up to 90 seconds to complete are usually given a 1:2 work/relief ratio.

Again, these are merely suggested guidelines. Each coach must assess his players' response to the workout and adjust accordingly.

* Duration: As previously mentioned, you will need an 8-10 week summer program to allow for proper progression and overload. As with strength training, you can gradually make the workouts more demanding by manipulating the sets and/or reps (increasing them), the relief intervals (short-erring them), demanding that the work interval be performed faster, or any combination of the three.


Having discussed our philosophical approach to strength training, we can now take a closer look at the specifics of the workout plan.

* Tools: The modes of exercise we use are not nearly as important as the manner with which we use them. We use a combination of free weights (barbells and dumbbells), a variety of machines, manual resistance, ropes and towels, and even sandbags

. Any tool will increase strength when used properly with some system of progressive overload.

* Exercise selection: One may choose from a broad variety of exercises. The important point is to train all of the major muscle groups (i.e., neck, legs/hips/low back, chest, upper back shoulders, arms/forearms, abdominals) in an efficient, progressive manner. We suggest the incorporation of as much variety in exercises as time, equipment, and imagination will allow. Strength training is hard work and anything that can offer new challenges to the trainee - while remaining true to guidelines of the program - should be done.

Caution: No single collection of "core" lifts can provide the magic bullet for growth and development. There are simply too many good, proven ways to get the job done, and you will have to keep an open mind to find them.

The accompanying chart demonstrates the variety we have in our system of training. It is a sample workout (Day #1 in a three-day-a-week rotation) and you will notice how it adheres to many of the principles mentioned earlier.

Also notice the feedback the trainee receives with each workout sheet: the weights used for each exercise the last time this workout was performed, the number of reps achieved on the last workout, the weight adjustment (if any) for the current workout, and a minimum goal for reps on the current workout. This system provides both an organized approach and built-in motivation for the trainee.


What we refer to as "explosiveness" is often actually great reaction time. Think about it. Isn't football a constant series of reactions to auditory and visual cues?

A player's ability to respond properly, quickly, and precisely to the myriad of information being sent to him through the keys he has been taught to "read" is of utmost importance in determining his success at his particular position.

Decreasing his reaction time to these cues is just as vital to his total development as any of the conditioning procedures already discussed.

A three-pronged approach is essential in the teaching program.

1. You must intensify the arousal level of the individual. In other words you must motivate the individual to perform his responsibilities with pride and determination! After all, what is talent without desire?

2. Reduce the number of stimulus-response choices. There are numerous ways to accomplish a task, but some are better than others and a few may be considered the best. You would be well-advised to teach your players the best responses to various stimuli. The fact is that the average person has a limited ability to acquire, store, and use "meaningful" information when it comes to learning and repeating specific tasks. In other words, teach them to do a few things very well as opposed to doing a lot of things just normally or poorly.

3. Insure quality practice with the specific task. Once the best responses have been defined, you should drill the players with both the correct cues (keys) and the appropriate reaction(s).

Repetition of the proper responses in game situations is the best way to develop the player's responses and skills. The adage, "Repetition may not entertain, but it teaches," applies here.


This leads us into the final point under discussion - specificity. In this case, however, we are speaking in terms of skills rather than responses. Regardless of the skill in question (blocking, tackling, passing, receiving, etc.), coaches must be aware of the correct meaning of the term, specificity, to avoid installing techniques that may hinder rather than aid the teaching/learning process.

Ignore anyone who claims you can duplicate a football skill with a weight-training movement (the concept of specificity). Remember, specificity implies exactness - not similarity, but exactness.

In other words, if A is specific to B, then B is specific to A. If a lifting movement can improve a football skill, then the football skill should improve the lifting movement. You can't have it just one way when it comes to specificity.

Remember also that most football skills are "open" in nature, meaning that they involve actions that occur "on the run" and require responses to varying feedback. As coaches, you are well aware of the fact that your players are often taught to change or adjust a technique based on the cues they receive after the snap.

The motor-learning literature refers to these as "forced-paced" skills and they add tremendously to the degree of difficulty in both the teaching and learning processes. It also reinforces the tenet
that to get the desired results, you must practice it in the anticipated circumstances.

The point I am making is that the only realistic way to develop a skill is to practice it with precise accuracy as often as possible in game-like situations.


These tips on football preparation are not meant to be a panacea, but rather one systematic, practical, and scientific approach to assist in the development of your players. Each coach must add his own philosophy and personal touch to the formula.

Remember, it is only a recipe. And the success of this recipe, or any other, will be ultimately determined by you (the cook) and your players (the ingredients).


E.L. FOX: Sports Physiology (2nd edition), Saunders College Pub., 1984

E.L. Fox, et. al.: "Metabolic Responses to Interval Training

Programs of High and Low Power Output", Medicine and Science in Sports, 1977

R.A. Magill: Motor Learning: Concepts and Applications (4th edition), Wm. C. Brown Pub., Dubuque, Iowa
, 1993

D.A. Winter: The Biomechanics
of Human Movement, Wiley and Sons Pub., 1990
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Thursday, November 20, 2008


With permission of Hardgainer,Vol. 7, No. 2 (September-October 1995)

To obtain maximum results from your training program, you must prioritize your training energy. Many people are simply moving equipment around and not using their energy productively. Simply burning calories will not produce muscular size and strength gains. Before every workout, you must first get your mind in gear to train. Secondly, always use good form. Don’t expect a pat on the back for it; it is a given. Third, apply your focus and perfect form to progression.


The mental aspect of training is more important than any physical element. We have all read how important concentration and focus are to productive training. How many of us, however, have taken the time to really practice and apply it to our workouts consistently? That is one reason why I have no mirrors in my gym. If you train with proper focus, you will be too busy working to look at yourself. Look at yourself later.

If you are truly focused, you attack the equipment with viciousness. I have a sign on the wall that says, “Be here now!” Put everything not related to training out of your mind until the workout is over. The worst things to talk about during training are problems, as this puts you into a negative mental state. Everyone has their share of problems. Successful people have the ability to focus on what they are doing now. The problems will still be there for you to think about when the workout is over.

Training focus should be narrow, internal. I find that it helps to put a mental time limit on a “period of insanity.” For example. if you are doing a set of Trap Bar deadlifts, figure out how much time it will take to perform the set in perfect form (let’s say one minute). You now have a better mental target for your energy. Before doing the set, visualize yourself successfully completing the set in perfect form. Concentrate on going all out for the next minute, as if you have a gun to your head, as if you are on national television or, as I refer to it, as if you have put yourself in a temporarily insane state.

To maximize your physical potential, your mind must be singular of purpose, and focused like a laser beam. If your mind is split, you will never come close to doing your best. Remember this simple phrase: “If your mind is right, the weight feels light!” (If your mind is not right, the weight will be a bitch; but that doesn’t rhyme.)


We could also call this segment “Repology 101” as my friend Dan Riley, conditioning coach of the Washington Redskins, has coined this subject. The proper execution of the repetition is the single most important physical element in productive training. Intensity and progression will not yield maximum results unless they are performed with perfect form. Swinging around heavy weights will not produce results. Your muscles must control the weight without excessive momentum.

Few people use good form. Few people pause at the chest (with no bounce), keep their butt on the bench, and push the weight all the way to lockout when bench pressing. Few people go all the way down without swinging when curling. Good form, once you are past the beginner stage of training and are “potty trained,” should be automatic. Doing a set to muscular failure does not give you the right to get sloppy with your form. You go to failure in perfect form. Any reps done in a sloppy fashion do not count. If one of my clients does a set of 20-rep squats and 5 of them were not to the maximum depth that is safe for that person, he only gets credit for 15 reps.

Lower the weights slowly and under control, and use as full a range of motion as is safe for you. Many trainees routinely cut 3” or so off their range of motion on almost every lift they do, under the pretext of keeping constant tension on the muscles. If you use toner techniques to work your muscles, then the weight is too light. The resistance should be all that you can handle. Using the fullest (but safe for you) range of motion is a classic rule of training, but seems to have been forgotten by many. Do not go getting carried away though and hyperextend or forcefully grind your joints at lockouts. I am talking about regular basic exercises here, not rack training where partial reps are productive and planned.

I think that using focus and good form is a matter of pride. You can spot halfway across the gym people who know what they are doing. It shows in their demeanor. Once you can apply focus and form naturally, you can put all your energy into progression.


As all Hardgainer readers should know, progressive resistance is the key to muscular gains. You should have a rep goal for every set, and when you reach that goal, add weight. Keep detailed records of all your workouts. Nothing should be haphazard. Get some small discs and use them. They are truly “little gems,” as Stuart calls them.

It’s the resistance that tears the muscle fibers and causes the micro trauma that is needed for hypertrophy. If you go fishing and pull in a 100-lb tuna, you need at least a 100-lb-test fishing line, or else it will break. Pulling in that tuna, just once, proves that you have a line that is strong enough. Your muscles are like millions of microscopic fishing lines. When you use progressive resistance, you force your body to repair itself, during recovery, as if you were getting a thicker and stronger line. If you can pull in a heavy tuna, you don’t have to prove that the line can pull in goldfish. When training for strength, you automatically increase your capacity for muscular endurance. But when you train for muscular endurance (toning) you don’t increase your capacity for strength. (Toning is like fishing for goldfish. You can pull goldfish in all day, but the line is still weak and will snap when a bigger fish takes hold.) Your muscles will only grow as thick as needed to cope with the resistance you make them use.

Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times, but he kept swinging the bat and hit 714 home runs. He did not let the strikeouts bother him. He kept swinging. People only remember the home runs. You will have many workouts where you cannot increase your poundages. But you don’t quit. You keep at it. You learn about how to cycle your training intensity. You learn how to avoid going stale. You learn how and when to make changes that sustain motivation and progress.

Striving for progressive resistance over the long haul yields great long-term results. If you are working as hard and intelligently as you can, you will get your share of poundage increases. You may have to adjust your increments from pounds to ounces as the years go by, but keep on striving.
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" I do not feel alone in the training world."

Hello Bob,

Just a quick message to thank you for a great website. I have read some of your articles in the Hardgainer publication by Stuart McRobert. I train on excersises such as the big three and the overhead press and at 56 years old I reckon I'm the strongest man in my village. I have my gym in the garage and have a powerrack and numerous weights and bars. I wish that I had gotten my computer earlier than I did cause now I do not feel alone in the training world. keep up the good work.

All the best,


Thanks Eddie. Keep training hard.
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Roy Hilligenn, Mr. America of 1951

Bob - Here's a little write up on Roy Hilligenn in case you missed it.

Roy Hilligenn, Mr. America of 1951 died in Augustt 2008 at the age of 85. Roy was one of the strongest men pound for pound & stood 5'6" and weighed 173. In 1951 he equaled the world record in the clean and jerk at 375lb. He unofficially lifted 405lbs at a slightly higher body weight. Roy was known for his tremendous stamina. He trained in body building three days a week - But trained twice a day! On the alternate days he trained in the Olympic lifts. This he did before each contest. This was because they ran Body building contest in conjunction with Lifting contests and Roy wanted to compete in both. What's more, Roy was a lifelong Vegetarian. He built that super body on vegetables and fruit. That gives one pause. Roy Hilligenn was know for his thick curly hair, always a smile showing his white teeth and one of the greatest six packs to be seen - and thats the way I want to remember him.

Joe Merrete
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