Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Basic Workout That Builds Strength ........ But Not Showy Beach Muscles - By Jim Duggan

     There are many different training philosophies, developed over many years by a wide assortment of authors, trainers, exercise aficionados, experts, and hucksters ( yes, I said hucksters.)  Many of the training guidelines that have been used over the last fifty years or so are quite useful, and have helped countless thousands of people build strength, health, and muscle mass.  Of course, there are quite a few that are nothing but a bunch of damn bull----.  I'm not going to go into an argument over what method of training is better, but if you're reading this article on, then there's a good chance that you're not here to read about pumping or toning.  If you're like me, you don't pump, you LIFT.  And you train with the goal of not toning, but of developing STRENGTH, building MUSCLE, and maintaining your HEALTH.  All of the long forgotten virtues of Physical Culture.
     Several months ago, I decided to change my routine just a bit.  Nothing major.  I have always believed in training hard on the basic exercises, getting adequate rest, and trying to maintain progression on the main exercises.  And while some  exercises might have changed from time to time, I still devote most of my energy to the lifts that develop overall body strength.  Looking back at my training over the years, my routine has changed from the days when I was training for powerlifting.  Believe it or not, there was a time when I trained solely on the three powerlifts.  I would train exclusively on Squats, Bench Presses, and Deadlifts with nothing else.  It was-and is- a good routine for a competitive powerlifter.  But, obviously, this is not a balanced program, and certainly not conducive to overall development.
     Like I said, I started this program several months ago, and have been quite pleased with the results.  I utilize two different routines.  I alternate each routine on different training days.  I usually like to take two or three days between workouts, depending on how I've recovered from the previous workout.  One thing that is very important is to listen to your body.  This is especially important for those over the age of forty.  Proper rest/recovery becomes increasingly important as we get older.  And it should go without saying, that as natural strength athletes, we must be particularly attuned to what our bodies are telling us. The routine is as follows:

First Workout Day:
     Squat      3 x 10
     Dumbbell Press    3 x 6-12
     One-Arm DB Row   3 x 8-12
     Neck Work (Headstrap)  2 x 20-30
Second Workout Day
     Good Morning Exercise   6 x 6
     One Arm DB Press   3 x 3-8
     Barbell Shrug     3 x 6
     Side Bends      2 x 20
On both training days, Sit-Ups are done for one or two sets of 50 reps.

     A couple of notes about the exercises:  The Squats can be done for higher or lower reps.  If you wish to do the twenty-rep Squat workout, then by all means have at it.  You can substitute barbell rowing for the dumbbells, just please, please, please do them properly. Not like they are performed in most commercial gyms where they bend over at around 45 degrees and use a palm-up grip while using baby weights.  Do them like they were done by the lifters/strongmen of years ago and don't be afraid to handle heavy poundages.  As far as the Good Mornings, I've decided to try to really push them for a while.  I'll get back to deadlifting in the Fall. Right now, I want to see how high I can get my training poundages in this exercise.  I've been doing them for years, and I've never had a problem doing them.  However, this goes back to a previous paragraph:  Listen to your body!  If Good Mornings aren't for you, substitute another exercise.
     There is another reason why I have temporarily taken a break from deadlifts during the Summer months.  It involves one of my favorite "assistance movements."  Stone lifting.  The warm weather is an excellent time for me to go into the backyard and attack my granite stones.  Whether you refer to them as Atlas stones, McGlashen stones, or just big ol' rocks, they make an excellent exercise.  I have five stones- 145, 180, 220, 260, 300.  I will usually warm up with the 145, then work up to the 180, and the 220 for most of my work sets.  They can be used as a finisher, or as a workout in themselves.  Or they can be used for something else entirely.
     I turned 51 years-old on July 20, and I wanted to challenge myself in a meaninful way.  What better way than with granite stones?  My goal was to pick up and shoulder the 180 Lb. stone as many times as I could in sixty minutes.  After a brief warm-up, I attacked the stone.  I would do five or six lifts, then catch my breath and continue. It started out pretty well, and as I reached into the thirties, I still had a lot left in the tank.  It wasn't until I hit about 50 that it started to become an effort.  Not to mention the skin on my forearms becoming torn.  When I hit 60, I still had some time left, so I made an all-out effort to reach 64.  Why 64?  That's the year I was born, 1964.  I had about a minute left, and decided to call it a day.  I felt pretty good, very sore, and had nice raw forearms.  And while I don't necessarily recommend doing something like this all the time, it is definitely a nice change of pace.  And a nice way to challenge yourself.
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