Sunday, January 31, 2010

SUPER STRENGTH (Circa 1924) - Chapter 5 - Harness and Platform Lifting - By Alan Calvert

Posted on on 28 February 2002

Illustrations are randomly selected from the book (too numerous to post them all) and are not necessarily from the same chapter.

There are so few who ever get a chance to practice this branch of lifting that it seems hardly worth while to describe it. However, it may help you to master the whole subject of super-strength if you learn the principles of back lifting. First comes the ordinary "back" or "platform lift," where the athlete gets under the weight and lifts it on his flat back. There are a few photographs available, but you may be able to get an idea by looking at Fig. 30. This shows the Canadian, Wilfred Cabana, performing a back-lift with 3652 lbs. It is customary to place the weights on a platform which is rested on two trestles (or wooden horses), and these trestles must be so high that in order to get under the platform the athlete need bend his legs only a trifle at the knees. The body is at right angles to the legs, and the hands are supported on a strong stool, or low wooden horse, the arms slightly bent. The athlete raises the weight by simultaneously straightening the arms and the legs; but most of the work is done by the legs and, therefore, platform lifting is really more of a leg lift or a "hip-lift" than it is a true back lift. So far as I know the record in the back lift is held by the late Louis Cyr, who managed to raise about 4125 lbs. There are several other lifters who have raised in the neighborhood of 4000 lbs. Most men who use adjustable bar-bells for the purpose of developing their legs and back are able to make good records in the back-lift. In writing about the present crop of bar-bell lifters in Canada, Mr. Geo. Jowett says that DeCarie can do 3640 lbs. in the back lift; Cabana has done 3652, and that an amateur, by the name of La Vallee, did 400 lbs. on the first attempt. Another man, named La Tour, did 3214 lbs., and little Marineau, who weighs only 142 lbs., has raised 2809 lbs. on his back. Every one of the men just mentioned is a bar-bell lifter as well as a "back-lifter." In Canada, lifting clubs are equipped with the proper apparatus for "back" and "harness" lifting; whereas in this country it is hard to find a club which has a "back-lifting" platform. CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE
Read More »

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Champions Have the Will to Succeed - By Bob Whelan

Reprinted with permission of Hardgainer, Vol. 10, No. 3 (November-December 1998)

A few months ago I got a phone call from Matt Brzycki, strength and conditioning coach at Princeton University. Matt wanted me to train one of his athletes of the summer. Jamie Sullivan is from suburban Maryland, right outside Washington, DC, and needed some hard training to stay in top shape for when he returns to Princeton in September. I was more than happy to accommodate Jamie.

Jamie is a member of the Princeton lacrosse team. Princeton University is the current (and three-time) NCAA national champion in lacrosse. Princeton is to lacrosse what Notre Dame and Penn State are to football. Jamie plays lacrosse year round. Success seems to follow him, as his summer league team won the championship in its league.

More than a few times, Jamie had a summer league game on the same day he had a brutal workout with me. Jamie did not want an easier workout though. I hammered him and pulled no punches. We did everything including the sandbag carry, even on game days. He was still able to play all out even after being hammered earlier in the day. Oh to be young!

A summer of preparation

Jamie focused resolutely on his main goal—to be ready and stronger for Princeton in the fall. Jamie only needs to be told things once. He listens, is polite, and works very hard. I tell him what to do, and he does it. I told him to buy motivational books and tapes, and he did it. I told him to eat a big breakfast, lunch and dinner, three snacks (e.g., a can or two of tuna, turkey or chicken per snack), 5-9 servings of fruit and vegetables per day, and drink up to a half gallon of skim milk per day. He didn’t make excuses about why he couldn’t do it. He did it.

Jamie has to be a bright kid to go to Princeton, and it shows. I gave him a copy of Brawn and a few other books to read, and he read them all in just a few days. I quizzed him on the material just to make sure he really read it, and he had! I gave him the same two-hour orientation that I give all my “regular” clients. He was extremely attentive and took notes even though I gave him several pages of handouts that covered the material. I could tell right away that Jamie would get good results because of his excellent attitude.

Jamie followed the same training program I outlined in the last issue, with one exception. In early August we started doing one-legged deadlifts on the Hammer Deadlift machine, instead of using two legs. Hammer Strength recently made a conversation piece to install on the back of the machine that allows you to place the non-lifting leg there to keep your balance. It’s even harder than the regular two-legged deadlift. In fact, some of my clients hate it even more than the Tru-Squat! The first use of the one-legged deadlift can produce glute and hamstrings soreness that lasts a week. Dr. Ken and Drew Israel got their conversion pieces a few weeks earlier, and just raved about them. They told me, “Bob, you have to get this!” They were not exaggerating. My clients don’t seem to appreciate my talking to Dr. Ken, because he’s always giving me ideas to make their workouts even harder!

Crucial details and the will to succeed

Most champions have the willingness to adhere strictly to crucial details like not partying too much, cutting down on or eliminating alcohol, getting enough sleep, maintaining a positive attitude, and especially keeping quality nutrition a top priority. This is why Jamie has gained 16 pounds of muscle and a lot of strength over the summer. He has gone from 158 pounds to 174 while keeping his bodyfat at around 12%. Jamie has the desire and will to succeed, which are the qualities that make a true champion.

The cause of failure for many people is that they don’t pay attention to vital details that can make all the difference. A huge factor in the success or failure of young college athletes is alcohol. Many of these athletes will do everything right except this part, and then wonder why they are not making the gains that they should. For these youngsters, if they are drinking and out late more than once a week, they can forget about getting good results and getting into top shape. Older trainees, and all hard gainers, can’t afford even one very late night each week if they are serious about gaining well. Young and gifted athletes can break some of the rules and get away with it. Hard gainers can’t. Alcohol abuse will ruin recovery ability, and ruin chances of getting bodyfat down. Alcohol use is the Achilles heel of many training programs, and the missing link in the success of many people. Coaches need to give this a lot more attention.

A large percentage of my current clients are athletes. A few are professional, but most are college athletes, with some in high school. They are my favorite clients to train because they are usually already hungry to improve, and have very specific goals. Non-athletes can learn from the behavior of disciplined athletes. Though non-athletes usually do not have the youth and natural talent of the athletes, they can still learn from them.

Pervis Ellison is back for a second summer of high-intensity training. He had a great first half of the season last year. He was named a captain by coach Pitino, and the Boston media was raving about his physical improvement. He seemed to be on the way to the comeback of the year when he suffered another bad injury during a basketball game. Hopefully Pervis will have better luck this year.

I also have a third Masimini as a client. The “boys” have a sister named Thande, who is 6-4 and 200 pounds! She plays professional basketball. Her two brothers escorted her in for a few workouts and encouraged me to train her real hard while they watched. She is currently playing for a team in France.

The high school athletes are especially fun to train because they are so eager to learn. They are easy to motivate and usually can be trained extremely hard right off the bat. They pay attention to the important details and don’t fluff anything off, especially with their parents paying for the training. The key thing, however, is that they have the will to succeed and are determined to get results come hell or high water. This makes my job a lot easier. Anyone can have this will to achieve, regardless of age or responsiveness to training.

The discipline to do what it takes, in and out of the gym, is what’s needed to get maximum results. There will be plateaus, sticking points and frustration, of course. It’s like that for everyone, though some people suffer more than others.

It’s the special will to succeed that separates the achievers from the underachievers. The achievers are more than willing to put out the effort that it takes to get results. Their minds are positive and they refuse to accept failure. They have positive self talk which is extremely important. When they have a disappointing set in terms of the number of reps performed, they don’t whine and say negative things about themselves, or what a bad day they are having. They just believe they will be stronger next time and go to the next machine with the “eye of the tiger” and their mental focus unchanged. They channel their anger into a better performance on the next set, and do not waste energy in a negative manner.

One of my goals as coach is to channel anger and frustration in a positive way. Anger and frustration are great sources of energy. Learning how to channel this energy positively is vital for maximizing your potential.

I can tell by the noise my clients make while they train whether or not they are using positive or negative energy. If they sound angry and vicious when they train—like a wild lion roaring—I know they are in the proper mind set. But if they make a whining, moaning sort of sound, I know they are in a negative mode. Some highly focused and motivated people train without making much noise, as noted by Dr. Ken in issue #55, but the noise they make is still the “right” type.

When someone is in negative mode, I usually immediately end the set and give him/her a lecture on the spot about how the mind must be in gear to train, or else it’s better to go home and not even bother. You need all the energy you can muster when training hard. You can’t train productively if your mind is in negative mode.

Many of my non-athlete clients don’t have this proper mental attitude right away. I stay hard on them and don’t smile or act friendly to them until they have developed the proper mental attitude. It is usually someone’s lack of positive expectations and selling themselves short at the start of training that is the biggest obstacle for me to overcome. Once they start to think properly, then at least they are giving themselves the chance to get results. If they have a negative attitude, however, they have no chance.

Age is only a number

I am 44 years old, but am told by many people that I look and act at least ten years younger. This can make things interesting. Frequently, new non-athlete clients only in their mid to late thirties come in with a negative attitude and say things like, “When I was your age I could train hard and do squats and deadlifts, but you’ve got to remember that I’m 37 years old!” I usually get a good laugh and tell them that they are “still in puberty,” or “you still need acne medicine.”

The first thing I do is change their outlook and attitude about training, or encourage them to train somewhere else. I believe that there are two types of age: chronological age that you can’t do anything about but which is only a number, and biological age that you can do something about. I keep telling the older guys that by training they are “youthing,” not aging.

Keep your expectations realistically high and don’t sell yourself short. Of course it may take a while to build up your conditioning and strength safely, but what matters most is that you make a start and believe in improvement. The mind—through having positive expectations and a positive attitude—is by far the most important factor determining training success. Pay close attention to major factors such as alcohol use, sleep and nutrition that could be your Achilles heel. It is, however, the lack of a positive attitude that is usually responsible for not paying attention to the crucial details. With the right attitude you will get all the details in good order.
Read More »

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Training Strategies - By Bob Whelan

Reprinted with permission of Hardgainer, Vol. 10, No. 2 (September-October 1998)

It takes most people about three weeks of working out at Whelan Strength Training before they are able to complete my one-hour planned workout. Some take longer, and some such as young well-conditioned athletes will come along a lot quicker.

Once they have completed the initial conditioning phase and are able to perform the planned work, my number one goal as coach is to get them through it every time. I would be hurting their training if I flattened them before all the training at any given workout was done. Knocking someone out early in a workout is easy—the human body can only take so much. Any coach can do that, but a good coach tries to get each trainee through the entire workout. That’s the hard part. If a trainee goes down, I want him or her back up in a few minutes, to finish. I really want my charges to stay on their feet till the end of each workout. I want to push them to the edge of the cliff, but not over it till the work is all done. If they stay down after the last planned set, that’s okay because they have finished the work.

Achieving this requires different techniques for different people. Some need an extra minute of rest at a few points during the workout. Some need positive strokes, and some need a kick in the ass. Some like or need a lot of shouting, and some don’t. Some need a goal drilled into their head. They need a target because they have trouble thinking in terms of “going to failure.” I usually give such trainees a high number that would be hard to reach, so they will go to failure. But they need a number, just like a “smart bomb” needs a chimney and not just a building.

Other people don’t want to know the weight on the bar or have any knowledge of their previous best performances for reps, because this puts pressure on them. I lie a lot to these people. I’ll tell them the wrong weight (usually that it’s lighter) or don’t tell them the weight or reps until they are done. I frequently give them wrong information on purpose so they won’t know what to expect. My goal with them is to take the pressure off. Some people respond well to pressure and some don’t. It’s the coach’s job to learn what motivates each athlete. The coach should still push to get the best out of each trainee, but use a different mental technique in doing so, when necessary.

Exercise sequence

Exercise sequence is a big factor in the success of many of my clients. Many people cannot do justice to the rest of their workout if they do legs first. Do not get hung up on absolute rules such as “always work larger muscles first.” That is just a general guideline. There are other less popular theories of exercise sequence such as pre-exhaustion, which is usually the opposite of working the largest muscles first. And there is the bodybuilding philosophy of work out the weakest body part first, or working first the parts of the physique that need the most improvement, in order to bring about symmetry. Exercise sequence varies from individual to individual and boils down to performance strategy.

You’ll usually do better at what you do first or at the beginning of a workout, but you don’t want to do anything first that greatly alters (or ends) the rest of the workout. The philosophy of working the largest muscles first is good in theory and in practice for many people, but for some it’s a disaster. When training for “general fitness” it’s easy to train the larger muscles first, but for really intensive training a few hard sets of deadlifts or squats could mean lights out for many trainees—workout over!

This is especially true when doing multiple sets. Remember that many “larger muscles first” advocates (who train in a high-intensity fashion) usually do just one set to failure per exercise. Single set training to failure is tough, but two or three sets to failure for a lower-body exercise is suicidal for many people if done at the beginning of a workout. If you do multiple sets and feel impaired after doing legs first in a workout, try doing legs at the end of your workout. Your upper body will thank you for it.

You are also supposed to enjoy your training. If you like to do legs first, fine. But if it’s agony for you and impairs the rest of your workout, don’t do it.

My number one goal as a coach is to get my charges through the planned workout. I don’t want them to do just squats and be done. I also don’t want them to be impaired to the point that they are weak in upper-body exercises because they are so wiped out. I’ve found that upper-body exercises don’t affect the lower-body exercises nearly as much as vice versa. Many if not most of my charges do their squats, deadlifts and leg presses after everything else is done. That way, if they go down and are KOed, it’s the end of the workout and everything else has already been done, so nothing gets sacrificed.

Alternate push and pull

A rule that I follow is using an equal number of pushing and pulling exercises at each workout. I usually perform a pushing and a pulling exercise for the horizontal and vertical planes for the upper body at each workout, and rotate the leg press, deadlift and Tru-Squat. (This may, however, be too much for some people. You may respond better to training the horizontal and vertical planes just once a week each.) For some advanced trainees I employ the Hammer Deadlift and Leg Press at the same workout, e.g., see Thursday’s workout (on page 21).

It’s a good idea to alternate the pushing and pulling exercises so there is built-in recovery between exercises even though you are not actually resting. You’ll lose too much strength if you do multiple pushing or pulling exercises back to back, e.g., overhead press followed by the bench press. I usually have my charges perform three exercises in a row with no rest between sets, and then have them take a minute off. If there is a leg exercise in the group (squat, leg press or deadlift) it will be put last in the group of three exercises. If there are two leg exercises in the same workout, a longer rest is allowed after the leg exercise in the first grouping.

Change-of-pace days

I’m a big believer in employing a “strategic” change-of-pace day once in a while. Mixing up your training is helpful and makes exercise fun. It’s also plain smart. When you establish certain traditions on certain days of the month or year you really look forward to those special days, and get motivated. Motivation is the key to training success. The main three change-of-pace days I use are fifties day (several to-failure sets per exercise that add up to 50 reps, e.g., 15, 12, 10, 7, 6), breakdown day (e.g., to failure, strip off weight, more reps to failure, and then another cut in poundage and a final string of reps), and slow-cadence day.

Motivation is also developed by the sandbag and farmer’s walk. In my experience people will “kill” themselves just to get their name put on the bag. I’ve had people drive five hours to Washington, DC, just to try to get their name put on the bag, or to try the “walk of doom” around the block in downtown DC with 100-pound dumbbells.

When you mix it up, remember that this strategy is still part of the overall plan, so it’s not haphazard. I’ll go two or three weeks and have a planned change of pace day. These days incorporate the same exercises that would have been done on that day, but performed in a different manner to usual—usually fifties day, breakdown fashion, or very slow cadence. Because this is planned, I’ll check back to the last day the same special workout was performed, and provide goals (or lie about the poundages) for those who need it.

Example core program

1. Horizontal Tru-Press (bench press): 3 x 8
2. Hammer Iso-Lateral Row: 3 x 8
3. Hammer Shrug: 3 x 15
4. Nautilus Power Plus Military Press: 3 x 8
5. Hammer Pulldown: 3 x 8
6. Tru-Squat: 2 x 20

1. Hammer Chest Press (incline press): 3 x 8
2. Hammer Pullover: 3 x 10
3. Hammer Deadlift: 2 x 10
3-4 minutes rest after the deadlift
4. Hammer Seated Dip: 3 x 10
5. Dumbbell Curl: 3 x 8
6. Hammer Leg Press: 2 x 20

On change-of-pace days we usually don’t perform shrugs or curls.

Warmup sets are additional to the sets listed above. For both core workouts, “finishers,” which include the sandbag carry, farmer’s walk and grip work, are performed at the end of each session, time and energy permitting.

Do not use change-of-pace days too often. Stay the course for at least two or three weeks on your core workouts before you inject a change-of-pace session. If you are over forty, or a beginner, think twice about fifties days. They should be reserved for young athletes and trainees in very good shape who enjoy this sort of grueling challenge. But even for them, fifties days or other types of extreme high-rep work should not be performed more than once a month. Some people, however, should never do this sort of training because it’s too grueling for them.

I would not make changes to the overall core plan (i.e., core workouts interspersed with a change-of-pace session every few weeks) for at least 3-4 months. Give it time to work and time for you to learn from it. Forget the micro-cycle nonsense. Keep good records—write down everything and learn from your records. After 3-4 months, try some changes. Try different exercises, rep ranges or even speed of motion if you are so inclined. Don’t be afraid to experiment sensibly. Do not always do 20-rep squats for a while. Train for 3-4 months using one rep range and then 3-4 months using another rep range. Find what works best for you. Enjoy your training and train smarter as well as harder.

Mental training

As I’ve mentioned in other articles, I strongly encourage my clients to read motivational/positive thinking books, and listen to motivational cassette tapes. The world is largely negative. The more positive reinforcement, the better. Learning how to think like a champion will have a big impact on your training and life in general. I especially recommend The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz. Order it from a bookstore. You can get motivational tapes from Nightingale Conant, 7300 North Lehigh Avenue, Niles, IL 60714, USA. I especially recommend The Psychology of Winning by Dennis Waitley, but anything from Zig Zigler, Norman Vincent Peale, Og Mandino, Tony Robbins or Robert Schuller is also very good.

Nutritional strategy

Beware of “nutritionists” (who are not registered dieticians) and personal trainers who give nutritional advice. Never take the advice of minimum-wage clerks who work in health food stores. Consult only a registered dietician. One of the most respected RDs in the world is Nancy Clark. She is the nutritional consultant to the Boston Red Sox and Boston Celtics. She offers seminars, books and various helpful nutritional flyers that are the real deal, not the latest hype. Write to Nancy Clark, Sports Medicine Brookline, 830 Boylston Street #205, Brookline, MA 02167, USA.
Read More »

Friday, January 1, 2010

Dinner after the 2nd CCSC in Jan 98

"Watching Drew Israel eat is like listening to Pavarotti sing." - Fred Cantor

The "Capital City Strength Clinic Gang" at Morton's Steak House in Washington, DC after the 2nd CCSC in Jan 98. Drew just inhaled about 50 ounces of steak, a basket of bread, and any side order left on the table! Watch your hands if they are on the table, (they might get a fork stuck in them!) L to R: Andrea Rippe, Drew Israel, Rene Jarrett, Victor Peck, Bob Whelan, Jan Dellinger and Jay Spaid.

Way Back Archives: Capital City Strength Clinic
Read More »
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:

Vintage Bodybuilding Literature

Vintage Bodybuilding Literature
Oldtime Strongman Books

This site does not provide medical advice. We assume no liability for the information provided in NaturalStrength articles. Please consult your physician before beginning any exercise or nutrition program. Copyright © 1999-2024 | All Rights Reserved.