Monday, December 30, 2013

Multiple Mr. American Contest Winners - By Osmo Kiiha

Reprinted with permission of The Iron Master

Over the years people have formed the opinion that John Grimek was the only multiple Mr. America winner, but in reality John was the two time winner of the AAU Mr. America title. The York Barbell Company with its flagship magazine "Strength & Health" pushed the notion that only the AAU Mr. America was the true title, and refused to recognize any other contest. In fact, Bob Hoffman the head of the York Barbell refused to recognize the first AAU Mr. America contest winner Roland Essmaker (1939) since he was not a member of the York Barbell Club, very little publicity was given to Essmaker in Strength & Health Magazine. For years Hoffman told the reading public that John Grimek was the first AAU Mr. America (1940) through the pages of Strength & Health. With this type of mentality it's no wonder that little or no publicity was given to the other factions running the Mr. America contest. If it were not for Peary Rader, the editor of Iron Man magazine, this history would have been lost through the years. Peary reported on all contests, no matter who ran them, he was not into the politics of bodybuilding and tried to stay neutral. Even Joe Weider reported on the AAU contest in his magazines (not always favorably) all the while organizing the IFBB with his brother Ben. Bow I don't want anyone to get the idea that the AAU Mr. America contest winners were not the cream of the crop of American bodybuilders. These men were the best America had to offer, probably the best physiques in the world. You will notice in the list that follows this article, the AAU contest winners also won the other organizations' contests. Harold Poole was the only man on the list that never won the AAU Mr. America. He placed second in 1962 and 1963. In my humble opinion Harold Poole should have easily won the 1963 Mr. America contest, but the powers to be didn't see it that way. Below area list of all the men that held more than one Mr. America title and the name of the organization that ran it. I did not list winners of Teen-age Mr. America, Jr. Mr. America, or Over- 40 Mr. America contests.

John Grimek

1940 AAU Mr. America
1941 AAU Mr. America

Clarence Ross

1945 AAU Mr. America
1946 Professional Mr. America (run by Walt Baptiste)

Alan Stephen

1946 AAU Mr. America
1947 Professional Mr. America (run bu Walt Baptiste)
1949 IFBB Mr. America (first IFBB Mr. America winner - Weider contest)

John Farbotnik

1950 AAU Mr. America
1951 Professional Mr. America (Walt Baptiste contest)

Harold Poole

1964 IFBB Mr. America (Weider contest)
1967 WBBG Mr. Americas (called Mr. Americas to avoid legal battle with the AAU)
1968 WBBG Professional Mr. America (both contests were sponsored by Dan Lurie)

Chris Dickerson

1970 AAU Mr. America
1973 WBBG Professional Mr. America (Dan Lurie contest)

Dennis Tinerino

1967 AAU Mr. America
1978 NBBA Natural Professional Mr. America (Chester Yorton contest)

Contest Promoters

AAU - Amateur Athletic Union

The AAU Mr. America contest started in 1939 and became the most prestigious bodybuilding title in the world, but lost most of its luster by the 1980s and the IFBB became the king of the hill. Today it's hard to find out who won the current AAU Mr. America title.

IFBB - International Federation of Bodybuilders

(IFBB President Ben Weider) First IFBB Mr. America contest was held in 1949, the second one held in 1959. IFBB struggled in the shadows of the AAU for years but by the 1980s it started forging ahead of the AAU and has never looked back. Today the IFBB is the largest bodybuilding organization in the world and soon to be recognized as an official Olympic sport.

WBBG - World Bodybuilding Guild

(ran by Dan Lurie) Started in 1967m around 1979 WBBG stopped running national level contests but was involved with East Coast physique shows into the 1980s.

NBBA - Natural Bodybuilders Association

(ran by Chester Yorton - 1966 NBBA Mr. Universe and 1966 IFBB Mr. America) NBBA stayed around for a few years from 1978 to 1982, then died off.

Walt Baptiste Professional Mr. America Contest

These contests were promoted by Walt Baptiste from 1946 through 1954 (no contest 1952 and 1953). I believe they were all held in the state of California. Walt was the former editor of Body Moderne magazine.

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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Collector's Corner - By Osmo Kiiha

Reprinted with permission of The Iron Master

Over this Christmas, a good friend of mine, Joseph D'Agostino, sent me a set of postage stamps depicting weightlifters. Never one to collect stamps, I really didn't know a thing about this fascinating hobby. Nevertheless this set the gears into motion, and with some research, I found out that Olympic weightlifters on stamps is a fairly recent phenomenon.

The world's first stamp portraying an Olympic weightlifter was issued by Russia in 1949; and since then, over fifty countries have come out with stamps featuring weightlifting in their designs. By 1959, six countries had issued stamps; and by 1969, a total of 34 countries had distributed sets of stamps. Some of these nations have included the U.S.S.R., China, Cuba, and the United States; and each year, more stamps continue to appear.

Today, Russia leads the pack in stamps issued, with Hungary running a close second. The United States issued a weighlifting stamp for the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, but as far as I know, this is the only stamp that we have issued. As of yet, there are no great rarities among barbell stamps; therefore, it doesn't cost a fortune to garner a collection of all such existing stamps, including any new stamps that are issued in the future. This isn't to say, however, that they won't be more collectible in the years is as good a time as any to visit your local hobby shop to start this rich and rewarding hobby.


As most of you know, Globe Style Dumbbells are very hard to locate (especially the old Milo Dumbells). Not so long ago, I learned about Milo Triplex Bells which were manufactured by Calvert from around 1908 to 1919; at which time, the Duplex Bell made it's debut.

One striking difference between the Triplex and Duplex was that the Triplex was just a round ball with a split in the center. The Duplex had a rim in the center. The major difference between the bells, however, was that one half of the Triplex sphere was a hollow chamber that could be filled with shot. These hollow hemispheres would take about 30 pounds of shot per side. In the pre-1916 models, the shot loading port was in the curved side of the bell and was always obvious to view. After 1916, the port was changed to the inside flat side where it could not be seen on a fully assembled bell. Also, on both models, a brass tube was inserted though the hollow sphere so the lead shot would not fall out when bars changed.

Two styles of the dumbbell were manufactured - Large and Standard. The Large size was 9 1/2" at the rim and came with (2) twenty, (2) ten, (2) seven and a half, (2) five, and (2) two and a half pound plates. When fully loaded with the plates and shot, the bell weighed in at around 200 lbs. The Standard size was 8 1/2" at the rim and weighed 160 pounds fully loaded with (2) ten, (2) seven and a half , (2) five, and (2) two and half plates plus shot. Both styles came with a 5' barbell bar and two "U" shaped kettlebell handles with revolving wooden grips.

Triplex plates were scored to fit into notches built into the spheres. This prevented the plates from turning when the bells were lifted. The dumbbell handle was also unique. It had a square collar that fit into a corresponding square depression in the casting. This effectively kept the cast from revolving on the handle bars.

Today, the Triplex Bell can still be found, but they are excessively rare - the biggest problems being that the plates are long gone, or the handles are not original. Surely one hell of a find if you can get your hands on one...


The Milo Duplex Bell - Large Size - was patented September 23, 1919. This bell had two hollow spheres per side. The spheres were each 9 1/2" in diameter, except at the raised rim, where the diameter was 10 1/2". The bell came with (4) twenty, (4) ten, (4) five, (4) two and a half, and (4) one and a quarter pound plates. Empty the bell weighed sixty pounds - fully loaded 215 pounds.

A Standard size Duplex bell was also sold. The spheres were 8 1/2" in diameter; and once again, were an inch larger at the rim - coming in at 9 1/2". This dumbbell came with (4) ten, (4) seven and a half, (4) five, (4) two and a half, and (4) one and a quarter inch plates. The Standard weighed a svelte 45 pounds empty, and was 150 pounds loaded.

 Both dumbbells were finished in a heavy black enamel. The handles were solid steel and were nickel plated. A 5 foot bar and 2 kettlebell handles were also included with each set.

Prior to 1905, the Milo Barbell Company also sold other types of dumbbell designs. We will discuss these in future issues as more information becomes available...


Even before the days of barbells, men have used various means to test their strength. With the Scots, it was the tossing of the caber; among other things, the Basques practiced the lifting of stones. Before the majority of the world could discern a barbell from a car axle, carnival arcade machines were one way that one could measure one's physical prowess. These machines measured the amount of force one would exert while pulling/twisting upon a handle or lever. An example you might have seen would be the old arm wrestling machines that were popular across the country in the '50's. As one "arm wrestled" with a large wooden or plastic man, one's progress would be measured on a dial on the face of the machine. By wrestling and reading the dials one could find in a matter of minutes if one was a "sissy", "so-so", or "a real man" in a matter of moments...

In the late 19th century, arcade strength testers were very much in vogue in the penny arcades throughout Europe. With the lack of knowledge about training and how to really get strong, it was rare that you would find a man who could best one of these machines - one such man was Eugen Sandow.

In his early career, Sandow found himself nearly penniless and unable to find work as a strongman when stranded in Amsterdam. Although he had previously worked with the great Attilla, Amsterdam was a city that showed little interest in any sort of show that he would have to put on. In his book, "Sandow the Magnificent", David Chapman states that Sandow was unable to even find work for ten guilders per night. This didn't stop Sandow though - he had a solution...

Sneaking through the dead of the Dutch night, Sandow went around to every arcade strength tester he could find in Amsterdam and proceeded to pull the levers on the machines until they broke. Sandow did this on three separate occasions; in doing so, he managed to cause quite a furor with the Dutch press, who assumed that it was not one man who was "vandalizing" these machines, but instead some sort of gang bent upon the ruination of Amsterdam. When he was finally caught, Sandow's publicity stunt had paid off - no one could believe one man could be strong enough to destroy the arcade machines single-handedly. This led to a tremendous popularity for Sandow all over Amsterdam. The man who was once unable to make ten guilders a week found himself making twelve hundred!

Recently, Southeby's of New York put the largest collection of coin-operated penny arcade machines ever assembled up on the auction block. Among all of these wonderful machines were several strength machines, probably not a few unlike those Sandow busted as a young man.

A "Standard Grip Testing Machine" circa 1897, with a cast iron figure of a balancing man managed to bring in a whopping $107,000; a Caille cast iron "Apollo Muscle Tester" one cent amusement machine sold for $48,875.

The first thing that one realizes is that these machines are totally out of the price range for the average collector; machines are still out there, however, for the individual willing to put in some time to look for them. I was able to purchase a four way strength machine for $200, that needs a great deal of work, but when fully restored it should be worth around $1000. Also, for Christmas, my wife gave me an old amusement park grip-tester machine. Fully restored it should manage to fetch close to $1500. Who knows what these machines will be worth around twenty years from now? One word of advice though, if you do happen across an arcade machine, don't end up breaking the arms in a display of strength. Eugen Sandow isn't around to care anymore, and you'll be out a thousand dollars.


Around 1957, Howard Cantowine, former wrestler and Paul Anderson's booking agent, had some hundred dollar bills printed up. Each bill looked like the real thing, except that it was labelled as "Confederate Money", and each bill had Paul's picture printed in the lower right hand corner. These bills were used to advertise Paul's new course, "Easy Steps to Giant Strength - 68 pages plus wall charts." I have never seen these bills. Does anyone out there have one?


Most of us have heard the story of how the Cyr Dumbbell ended up in Bob Hoffmann's posession, and how it came to rest in the York Hall of Fame in York, PA*. Reading the October 1961 "Mr. America" magazine, it bluntly states that the one and only original Cyr Dumbbell reposes in Ben Weider's office in Montreal, Canada.

The article claims that all other "Cyr Dumbbells" are simply copies of the genuine article duplicated from the original pattern with Cyr's permission. It goes on to state that nearly all of these imitations are heavier than the original, due to the techniques of the different molders. They range in weight from 202 to 210.

Apparently, the original pattern was made of wood and repeated molding in damp sand caused it to warp; thus, the lamination came apart, and this is supposedly in evidence upon close examination of later castings.

Who really has the Cyr dumbbell? Is it York Barbell, or is it Ben Weider? Perhaps one of our readers has the answer.


One of the most interesting Olympic lifting series ran in Joe Weider's "Muscle Power" from January 1953 through January 1958 - 56 issues. It was during these years that Charles A. Smith was the weightlifting editor of the magazine. Charles was listed as a consulting editor of the magazine in the August 1950 issue of Muscle Power and was named the weightlifting and consulting editor in the August 1955 issue. Mr. Smith was a prolific writer about the iron game, turning out hundreds of articles during his stay with Weider. I counted 14 articles about Doug Hepburn that Charles wrote in Muscle Power. Every single issue carried page after page of lifting reports - from "how-to articles", to star profiles, to contest results. It was all there.

Actually, Muscle Power started with the Sept.-Oct. 1946 issue (Vol. 1 No. 1). The early issues carried some lifting articles, but nothing like the later ones; so if you want to add to your knowledge of Olympic lifting, try to find some old copies of Muscle Power. One thing that I do hate to add, is that Muscle Power mags are not easy to find and the cost could be from $7.00 - $12.00 per copy. Happy hunting!


January Maxie Heber
February Anthony Terlazzo
March Johnny Terpak
April Sigmund Kline/Tony Sansone
May Wilbert Scharzberger
June Woman Running on Beach - No Name
July Connie Caruccio
August Woman Playing Ball on Beach - No Name
September Man Standing With Outstretched Arms - No Name
October Barton Hovarth
November Anthony Terlazzo/Johnny Terpak
December John Grimek
January Anthony Sansone
February George Kiehl
March Jimmy Jackson
April Motter & Davis
May Emile Bonnet (French)
June John Grimek
July Elmer Farnham
August Siegmund Klein
September Ed Zebrowski
October Man Holding Olympic Bar At Sleeve - No Name
November Gord Venables
December Jesse James (Pro-Wrestler)

*Chief Moquin of Drummondville, Quebec, traded Bob Hoffman the dumbbell for a York Olympic set.

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Saturday, December 28, 2013


Reprinted with permission of The Iron Master

          This month we will discuss how to shoulder heavy dumbbells for incline pressing. I have found that in order to press heavy dumbbells on the incline bench, one must learn to shoulder the dumbbell relatively easily in order to conserve energy for the actual pressing of the weight.

          There are many popular methods used to shoulder a set of dumbbells - some working better than others. One is to clean the weights from the ground or hang, and then sit down and push the dumbbells up. The main problem with this method is that one quickly becomes limited with what one can clean. If one were to continue for any length of time with this method, one's press would quickly overshadow one's clean.

          The most common technique seen in most gyms today is to sit on the bench - dumbbells resting on the legs - and then kick the 'bells up one at a time. You can also get a couple of lifting partners to hand off the heavy dumbbells - this method probably being the most inefficient of all, if for no other reason than it being a sure way to make your training partners scarce when the time comes for your next set. Here again, you are limited by the strength of your partners, and the whole balancing act of handing over a bulky set of dumbbells becomes a colossal waste of time for all involved.

          As a sideline, something else to consider is the strength of the bench you'll be using. Is it strong enough to handle your bodyweight, plus the additional load of the dumbbells? The worst thing imaginable would be the entire bench collapsing in mid-set -- ouch!! The bench you use should be ideally able to support a minimum of 600 lbs. in the 30 - 40 degree setting; which I think is the ideal angle to incline press.

          Another item to think about is the stability of the bench. Will it tilt or fall over once you kick the dumbbells up? Every gym seems to have a different style bench for inclines, so learn how your bench behaves before attempting heavy dumbbell work. If you skip ahead to the photo sequence, you will notice in Ex. 1 how my bench is constructed - the seat angle moves upward as the angle of the bench decreases, so that when the dumbbells are lifted on the legs, I am actually sitting on the edge of the seat perfectly balanced.

          When I was going full bore ahead with my training in earlier days, I included a great deal of pressing movements/dumbbell work with each training session. These sessions were usually fairly heavy, and for the most part, were without a training partner - this led to the necessity of me coming up with a way of cleaning dumbbells that not only practiced economy of motion, but would not unnecessarily fatigue me before my lifts. This method is illustrated in the following photo sequences...

          Beginning with Ex. 1, you will notice that the dumbbells are placed in front of the bench. This allows you to grasp the dumbbells, deadlift them to your legs just above your knees and then sit down (Ex. 2) on the end of the bench. It is very important to have the dumbbells under control and well balanced (Ex. 3) before going on to the next phase...

          Looking at Ex. 4, you will see that both of the knees are kicked up at the same time as you lean/fall back onto the bench and push the dumbbells up to the shoulders. This is fairly simple, but it is probably the most
difficult part of the procedure. It is also important to pull hard with the hands (like a seated clean), in order to make the movement as fast as possible. Not unlike a real clean, the faster you get the bells into position, the easier the remainder of the lift.

          Once the dumbbells arrive at the shoulder (Ex. 5), the palms should be turned facing forward (Ex. 6), and at that time, the pressing can begin (Ex. 7) and the lift can be completed. When replacing the dumbbells, the sequence simply needs to be reversed. This method of cleaning dumbbells does take a certain amount of practice, but is a very natural movement once you get the hang of things. Of course, it goes without saying that you should master the technique with lighter dumbbells before going ahead with heavier training.

          By using this method, I was able to bring up two 170 LB dumbbells (at 216 BWT) for the press. My best complete incline press with dumbbells was a two rep lift with two 152 pounders. Of course, this was before my shoulder surgery, but I guarantee once you really learn this method you'll never go back to anything else. Happy Training!!!

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Use of the Trigger Point Tool for recuperation after or before strength training or sport - By David Sedunary

What are Trigger points

Trigger Points are hypersentive spots in the muscles, which give you less strength and flexibility, they block the muscles , and upon movement are painfull.
An example maybe " I reach back to get my wallet out my back pocket and have pain and less flexibilty in the back of my shoulder blade (rotar Cuff area)".  Normally you will have Trigger Points in the Infraspinatus muscles .
The  Trigger Point Tool can be a baseball, or a hard rubber, (not a tennis ball as it is too soft) it  is to be used when you have tight spots or Trigger points in the following areas:

  • Hamstrings
  • Shoulders
  • Upper back and Spinae erectors (muscles which run up either side of the spine)
  • Hips
  • Lower back

Using the tool

Pain threshold when using the Trigger Point Tool
As a guide 10 should be unbearable pain, 0 no pain, as you lean into the Trigger point aim to have the pain around about 6 to 7, wait till the pain fades to a 2. (normally hold the ball in position for the count of 10)
Then repeat once more before moving to another spot. 
Now onto each muscle group:

The Hamstrings

You may want to wear  heavy pants and top when using the Trigger Point Tool, like a track suit.
Or if your muscles are hard you can apply the trigger point tool (the ball) to bare skin.
Hamstrings can be trigger pointed by placing the tool under your hamstring while sitting on a hard wooden seat.
Push down on the tight spots holding until the pain fades, usually 10 seconds  for each area.
Be sure to work up the middle/ inside and outside of the hamstring.
Trigger point both hamstrings.
To finish massage legs and have a hot bath.  


While lying on your back on a hard floor, place the Trigger Point Tool between your shoulder blade and floor.
By using your body weight lean onto the tool, finding the tight spots, release when the pain fades.

Be sure to work the muscle on the edge of the shoulder blade where  it attaches to the upper arm.
Work over the whole shoulder blade, be sure to trigger point both shoulders.

To finish lay in a hot bath.


Upper Back and Spinae Erectors

For working the muscles which run either side of the spine, I always recommend that taping two balls together, allowing a gap where the two balls join, this gap fits where the spine is. 

While lying on your back on a hard floor, position the Trigger Point Tool so it fits on either edge of your spine.
Work up and down the spine, from the base of the neck to the top of the bottom ribs.
By using your body weight lean onto the tool, finding the tight spots, release when the pain fades.

Work up and down the spine slowly three times.

To finish lay in a hot bath

Lower back

This is when you have pain radiating across the top of the hips, and each side or one side of the lower back, just above the tops of the hips, and below the bottom rib.

While lying on your back on a hard floor, position the Trigger Point Tool so it fits on either edge of your spine, just below your bottom rib.
Work up and down the spine, from the base of the bottom ribs the top of the hips. (hold each spot for 10 seconds before moving on)
By using your body weight lean onto the tool, finding the tight spots, release when the pain fades.

Work up and down the spine slowly three times.

To finish lay in a hot bath

Please note:

After using the Trigger Point Tool rest 4 days before working that body part again.
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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Muscular Weight Gain - By Jay Trigg

Many beginning trainees desire to increase their Lean Body Mass, and have this as the primary, if not only, goal in mind when beginning a training program. I suppose it is human nature to want to have large muscles and the appearance of power and capability. It was certainly the reason I started lifting weights (at a measly 115-120 lb.), and is the reason that a great majority of men start lifting as well. There has probably been more ink spent on this subject in muscle mags than any other topic, from Bob Hoffman, Peary Rader, and Charles Atlas all the way to Joe Weider and the supplement muscle shams of today. Muscle gain comes hard for a natural lifter, and anything over the "normal" level of BW is extremely difficult for most lifters to achieve without resorting to steroids and other drugs. Not difficult in the sense of "it can’t be done", but difficult in paying the price under the iron to get it and keep it. This is particularly true of the ectomorphic lifter. This is the type of male whose "normal and untrained" bodyweight might be 130 lbs., or less, at a height of 5’8" or taller. This is not an individual who would be sick or ill at this weight (although they may look sickly), but the individual whose body type and genetic makeup have him "locked into" a body frame and metabolism that does not support much in the way of muscle mass. For these lifters, it can be extremely frustrating to train with weights, to seemingly no avail. Frustrating when their lifts fail to increase after weeks of trying, and the lifts were not much to begin with. Who, reading this, can identify (whether from personal experience or observation) with the lifter who joins the gym and begins a simple (or very complicated) routine? His friends, also beginners lift much more than him even initially. He can barely bench press the bar and a few 5 or 10 pound plates. They manage to throw up 135, so it at least looks like they have something on the bar. Our lifter can manage 3-4 reps in an awkward squat with 60-70 lb. His friends, within weeks, have 150 and 160 on the bar, and are getting 10, 12, even 20 reps. If the lifter is typical, he will quit the gym and never return. If he is tenacious or hardheaded, he will almost certainly (without common sense to be a foundation to his will) fall into the trap of super supplements and super routines. He will, as many including myself have done, be an avid student of supplement advertisements and the various soft cover training books put out by the muscle publishers. He will be a veritable expert on the benefits of various foot spacing on Smith Machine squats. He will know why it is better to supinate, rather than pronate, the hands when performing a set of concentration curls. He will know the proper dosage, frequency, and contraindications for every pill, powder, and potion sold on the "muscle shelf" of his local health food store. And, likely as not, he will not gain a pound of muscle for it all. In all reality, I can hardly blame this individual for this plight. Having "been him" at one time, I can certainly understand how one gets there. It speaks of a certain level of sincerity and desire, but also of a level of ignorance and possible laziness, that is deadly to his goals.

There is, however, hope. He is looking for a home, and he is in the right town (the gym). He merely needs to find the correct address and to move in. He will likely need to find the "old neighborhood", the one where the houses were built back in the 40’s and 50’s. Where the houses, albeit dated and old fashioned, are also still standing after 50 or 60 years of weathering the storm. It is here, and likely only here, that he will find the comfort of making gains.

Alright. Enough Harry Paschall and J.C. Hise talk. How do you do it? How does a guy who wants to pack 20, 30, 40 lb. of muscle weight on a body that is reluctant to add 5 lb. do it? How does a rank beginner pack on the pounds? And how can you, Mr. Trigg, with your prime physique (ha-ha-ha) tell me how to do so, when you have never experienced such frustrations? I may tell my story later, but today I will tell the story of Mr. DB (Delibabu) Chakrapani. DB is one of my trainees. DB is 25 years old, Indian (not American Indian, but India-Indian), and started training at a bodyweight of 118 lb. at 5’ 9" in height. This was a gentleman well past his puberty, and into adulthood. He had never had any significant bodyweight, and was not recovering from a lingering illness. His joints are all small, and his bone structure is quite light. He is a textbook case of ectomorphia, and he wanted to get big. When he walked through the door, I gulped hard, because this was a test case of any "weight gain" program I could devise, and there would be no hiding the fact if it didn’t work. Luckily for me, I didn’t have to dust off any tomes to find and old-school program for weight gain. Those books are always open around here. Here is the very basic program that DB began on, and utilizes today.

Two days a week

Day one:

Stiff Deadlift
Nautilus pullover
Overhead press (parallel grip "log bar" from Reflex)
Chins (assisted in the beginning)
Dumbbell bench press
Curls with Apollons Axle

Day two:

Nautilus leg curl
Nautilus pulldown
Nautilus overhead press, Duo-Poly
Nautilus compound row, Duo-Poly
Nautilus preacher curl
Bench dips
Side bends

Yes. DB is squatting twice a week. Yes, he is overhead pressing twice a week. Yes, he is using "foo-foo" or "pumping" exercises like leg curls, pulldowns, and preacher curls. Yes, he is also busting his buttocks under a real live bar, in squats and overhead presses.

He is using a "15 or 20" rep scheme on the squats. Meaning we worked him up from 10 reps to 20 reps in the squat at his initial weight. We then added 5 lb. and had him do 15 reps. Next workout we had him do the same weight for 20 reps. Next workout we added 5 lb. and had him do 15 reps, and the same weight for 20 the next workout, and so-on. He DOES NOT work to failure on the squats, although his last 3 reps are generally reps that the average human being would quit on. He works a strict 15 reps ONLY on the stiff deadlift, adding 5 lb. per week. Everything else (abs excepted) he works to absolute failure, or in the case of the Compound Row, until he can no longer hold the handles back, in the Duo-Poly fashion. What has all of this accomplished for DB? What has our ectomorphic poster boy been able to claim as his reward? The obvious is strength increases from workout to workout. He is getting the perfect (for him) mixture of intensity and rest. He is currently being neither underworked nor overworked. He would tell you he is being overworked every workout, but that is the nature of the task at hand. But his recovery abilities are not being taxed at this time. DB is also registering a 3 lb. gain a week in bodyweight. I know. It amazes me as well. In fact, it makes me supremely jealous. And his diet is "fair" at best, as culturally and physically he is not a big eater. He doesn’t tolerate milk well, and beef causes him digestive problems. So he eats lots of fish, chicken and vegetables. I can only imagine what his weight gains would be if he went on an "American Style" food blitz. But, as well, his dietary practices are very healthy and are minimizing fat gain. So we can assume that his weight gains are almost all muscle.

There is nothing "magical" about the above routine, other than the magic of the squat, deadlift, and overhead press. And the routine is definitely a routine that caters to the new trainee. It might not work as well for the more advanced trainee, although the principles are ironclad. But we are speaking of the new trainee. As well, DB invokes more intensity and effort in the workout then he has ever done physically in his life before. It is very much work for him, and exhausting work at that. He is constantly pushed, as around here we live and work by the mantra "at least one more rep or one more pound than last week". So, DB gains. He isn’t ready for a magazine cover. He will not be lifting in the Senior Nationals this year. And he isn’t the strongest guy in town. Yet. But he has gotten a handle on what it takes to succeed in the weight game, and is succeeding as a result.

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Monday, October 14, 2013

Needs Help Finding Christy Book: Real Strength, Real Muscle

Dear Mr. Whelan,

I've been a great fan of yours since ever I first read your articles in Hardgainer. The sound principles that you and other Hardgainer writers have promoted through the years continue to guide me to this day, so I must thank you for your valuable insight into the iron game.

Anyway, I have a somewhat unusual request, and thought that you might be able to help me. It might be a long shot, but I thought I would try anyway, since I have exhausted all other options.

For several months now, I have been trying to buy a copy of the late John Christy's book "Real Strength, Real Muscle", which he used to sell on his site, However, his site seems to have gone down sometime in early 2013, and apparently it was the only source for buying that book, as I couldn't find any other online merchants selling it, and all the third party recommendations were leading back to his own site, now unavailable.

What I wanted to ask was, considering that you were an acquaintance/friend of his, if you maybe have any extra copies lying around and were able to part with one of them, or if not if you have any ideas of online options for purchasing his book, or at least some contact information (an email address maybe) where I might get ahold of someone (perhaps a family member) to inquire about the possibility of purchasing his book. Since I found noone on eBay selling this, this may be my last remaining chance to maybe get ahold of a copy.

Thank you for your time, any help would be greatly appreciated.

Best regards,
Emanuel Mihaiescu  

Thanks for the nice message Emanuel. 

If anyone can help Emanuel find a copy ...  please contact him at email:   

elsydeon at gmail dot com
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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Tru Squat Machine Wanted & Beefy Buffalo Bar for Sale

Hi Bob,

I cannot do TB DL's anymore.  The pull on my upper body, makes me move at the L5 and causes me alot of pain. I have to be very selective. Most people with this disorder are alot less functional than I am.

I can do Squats with a ball up against a wall and I am fine. I can even do the hip stuff etc, but anything that consists of carrying anything with  my upper body, is a no-go. I can do curls seated and standing, but when standing I have to keep the knees bent and maintain PERFECT form. No overhead pressing etc. I can use a hip sled with no issues as well.

Basically looking to sell the Beefy Buffalo Bar for 400.00 plus S&H.  Its mint and I can take pictures for those interested. If someone has a TRU SQUAT and they want to part with it and would like to work out a deal, then let me know. The BBB's are 589.00 new as you know and this one looks it. I have taken well care of it and have not used it in 7 years due to my back situation. Its been hard. I used to squat double bodyweight with it for reps, but no longer.

IronMind Beefy Buffalo Bar in mint condition. Asking 400.00 plus S&H. Email for pictures.  Looking for a Southern Xercise Tru Squat machine. 

If you have one or know of anyone who does, let me know. I cannot do heavy squats anymore due to Spondylolisthesis.

Please contact Troy at:
Thank you Bob, I sure appreciate it!
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Beginning Weight Training - Setting Up the Program, (Part 2) - By Jay Trigg

Exercise Selection

In setting up the program, we want to insure that the trainee benefits from the best selection of exercises and set and repetition scheme. Therefore we must be diligent in this process, and very receptive to the trainee’s specific needs, wants, and limitations. In the previous article we talked about learning about a trainees physical limitations. These are the first consideration in choosing exercises. For example, in my opinion, extremely overweight or detrained persons should not be doing free weight squats, deadlifts, bench presses, or overhead presses. Why such a harsh assessment? Not because of any problems I have with those exercises, but rather with the problems that can come about with their use by the above individuals. Obese individuals are typically “stationary”. Meaning that they rarely move around in their daily activities. Many sit at a desk all day, drive home, and sit on the couch or in an easy chair until it is time to go to bed. Their daily “motion” may be limited to trips to the bathroom or bedroom, and the necessary walking to get from one room to the next at work. Flexibility is poor, balance is poor, and strength is poor in “unused” ROM. Asking this individual to do a squat, even a “non-loaded” deep knee bend, is an exercise in futility, embarrassment, and possible injury. Better to place them in a machine exercise, with a “locked” movement and ROM, and allow them to gain strength over time, to the point that they gain the necessary strength, flexibility and confidence to do a correct squat. There is never a rush to get a severely detrained individual into free weight exercises. It is doubtful that a person 150-200 lb. overweight will be entering a powerlifting meet in the next 12 months, so don’t be in a rush to have them doing the “big three” as if they had to catch up to the competition. Rather get them “in motion” and slowly and patiently increase general conditioning, flexibility and strength to the point where you can move into compound exercises safely and comfortably.

With trainees in their mid to late 30’s and up who are not severely detrained, I find it best to begin a weight training program on machines, with some light free weight movements (curls, stiff leg deadlifts, dumbbell bench press). Many of these trainees are capable of learning and completing free weight moves very quickly, and can be moved into a more balanced routine (approx. 50% machines and 50% free weight) in several weeks. My experience has shown, however, that very few individuals who are non athletic and past the late 20’s in age can properly perform a squat or deadlift the first time in. Calf and hamstring flexibility, balance, and coordination all work against this move (and many others) in the beginning. I find it better for me and the trainee to work to some good intensity with machines, and come back afterwards to practice the squats, deadlifts, and other moves. The client is warm and loose. He or she has just “successfully” completed the primary workout and has been encouraged and complimented on their effort and performance (you do encourage don’t you?). They are in a prime place to begin to learn a new skill. These would be very light, low rep moves. Not another workout, but a skills training. This process can be a short one, lasting only a couple weeks, or it may stretch for some time with those who have poor flexibility or strength.

Some trainees may best benefit from only machines. One of my trainees is a middle-aged woman with severe rheumatoid arthritis. Due to poor flexibility and joint strength, she utilizes a “machine only” program, using the lowest possible resistance and high reps. She will use 25-30 reps on each exercise, increasing the weight by only 1 lb. per week, if she make all her reps. We must be very careful with her joints, so we err on the side of caution in everything we do. However, her strength is improving and her flexibility has increased to the point that she can utilize a Nautilus overhead press and Pullover in her workouts, where as in the beginning she had to use a broomstick for those muscle groups. She also has only 1 finger on each hand with any “gripping” ability, so machines are ideal for her situation.

In summary for that section is that trainees can benefit from the “good” free weight moves (squats, deadlift variations, bench press, overhead press, curls), and should utilize them when possible. Yet, one should not be too quick to move them into free weights if conditioning is poor to start with. If free weights are all that is available, be very conscious of limitations in strength and flexibility and be aware and alert to immediately take control of the weight, and possibly the trainee if the exercise or load proves too great for them. We must always remember that intensity is relative to the condition, abilities, and state of mind of the trainee. We should press for excellence and effort, but not at the expense of safety or common sense.

Possible beginning, intermediate, and advanced exercise selection:

New trainee:

Nautilus Leg Press
Nautilus Leg Curl
Nautilus Pullover
Nautilus Shoulder Press or manual resistance shoulder work
Cable Row
Chest press
Dumbbell curls
Skills coaching for squat and deadlift

Intermediate trainee:

Stiff deadlift
Leg extension
Nautilus Pullover
Overhead press, dumbbell or barbell
Nautilus Compound Row
Close grip bench press with 2” bar
Reverse Curls with exercise bar or EZ curl bar

Advanced trainee:

Stiff deadlift
Nautilus Pullover
Overhead Press, barbell or dumbbell
Weighted chins or towel chins
Weighted dips
Thick bar curls, followed by manual resistance curls with rope or towel

Now of course, none of the above are claimed as “the ideal routine”, but only used to represent a movement from an early reliance on machines, to a more mixed routine, to a routine with some fairly complex and skilled movements. This is also not to say that machines are not effective, or as effective for an advanced trainee, compared to free weights. I prefer a mix myself. But again, the idea is for trainees to learn to crawl before they can walk, and machines teach that skill far better than most free weight exercises and with less potential for injury. With advanced trainees on a machine centered program, one can get terribly wicked with intensity generating techniques and muscular failure sets. Wicked enough to have many less motivated trainees ready to find a good “barbell only gym”. Conversely, millions of trainees have gotten brutally strong and fit with nothing more than a barbell and some space to use it.

Individualizing routines calls for some imagination. If your trainee only has access to 5-10 basic machines, a squat bar, and a set of dumbbells, you only have a few variations on exercises, without delving into weird isolation exercises (one-arm-reverse-triceps-adduction across the neck). While very basic routines can be effective and intense, trainees often get bored with doing the same old grind day in and day out. The obvious choice for full body workouts (which is what I enjoy using for myself and trainees) is to have 2 weekly workouts, doing different things each workout. For example (for lower body):

Day 1

Stiff Deadlift

Day 2

Leg press
Leg Curl
Leg Extension
Leg press
(or go ahead and make it the “Filthy Five” as advocated by Ken Mannie in his section of Bobs page)

One could also move to a 3 or 4 workout rotation, keeping workouts at twice weekly, and each workout being done about 2 times a month.

First workout:
    Squats, high rep
    Stiff deadliftsSecond workout:
      “Filthy Five”
    Third Workout
      Heavy trap bar sets, 2-3 sets of 5
      Super-slow leg press (20 second reps)
      Super Slow leg curl (20 second reps)
    And lastly, “special days”, as advocated by Bob Whelan. Such as “50’s day” (50 rep sets), or “barbell only days”, dumbbell only days, and circuit days. My favorite circuit, by the way (it is always better to give than to receive, however):Dumbbell or trap bar deadlifts (15-20 reps; heavy and hard, but not to failure)
    Nautilus Overhead press (15-20 reps; duo-poly and to failure)
    Nautilus pulldowns (15-20 reps, to failure)

    Run this cycle by having the trainee run through it twice with progressing weights and 5-6 reps for a warm up. Then run them through it 3 times with no rest between sets (or at least minimize the rest between sets with a whip and pistol). Finish with some abs and light grip work. Takes about 15 minute to complete with a wimp like me, and about 10 minutes with a motivated lunatic. Floor time is variable, however.

    In summary, one should be careful in deciding exercise selection for new trainees. We want most everybody to progress to the point when they can do complex and skill oriented moves, however it isn’t always the case that it can happen immediately or even quickly. We should also be aware that even our better-conditioned trainees might need a break in period where exercise selection is simple in performance, and that more skilled moves are taught as an adjunct until they are strong and confident enough to make them the backbone of the routine. Lastly, we should be aware that the same old workout grind, day in and day out, could become tedious and even halt progress. We must be willing to experiment and be flexible in exercise selection and order.

Let Bob Whelan be Your Personal Coach
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