Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Self Defense and Strength when Times Are Hard - By David Sedunary

All my life from 13 years of age I wanted to be strong and be able to defend myself. I started early, never got bullied, never backed down from a fight and never looked for a fight. My Dad God bless his soul, said, "Son there is always someone better than you, so don’t go looking for a fight.”

I started on the trail as a skinny little prick of 120 pounds, doing press-ups and chin ups, boxing with my brother, playing football against my brother with no holds barred, belting the piss out of each other until Mum said that’s enough and learning from my Dad who had 20 professional fights in and out of the Army during World War 2.

My brother was younger than me, bigger naturally, strong and tough. I used the Bull worker, and bought Joe Weiders Course when I was 16 years of age, just started my trade as an Electrical Fitter on the mine, and was scared of no one, fuck em I said to myself I am getting stronger, tougher, and can handle myself.

I started to go to the local boxing Gym with long time friend and trainer Jimmy Johns. Jimmy loved boxing and taught me heaps, but as the years went on I wanted something different: "True" self defense.

Twelve years ago I contacted Bradley J Steiner (the most knowledgeable Self defense trainer in the world bar none) via email and have learned from, and even visited and trained under Bradley in May 2014 for two weeks.

Brad taught me his style, American Combato, you know, street fight stuff, nothing fancy, fingers to the eyes, chops to the throat, hammer fist blows to the bridge of the nose, smash the balls, ear boxing, and sidekicks to the knee. One can break the knee with only 80 pounds of pressure, so why wouldn’t you do it in an emergency?

Before I met Brad I practiced my style at home always twice a week straight after Strength training. It was bag work usually 5 by 3 minute rounds of elbows, knees, an plenty of punching, straight lefts, right crosses, left hooks, upper cuts and body blows. This was my cardio plus 5 minutes on the air dyne bike at 80% max heart rate.

Now I practice American Combato twice a week for 30 minutes a time, at a slow easy pace concentrating as I have become older, doing it right so to speak. I also had several months of online training and consultations with Bob Whelan too.

I played (Australian Rules) Football from 10 years of age until the age of 32, and I feared no prick, only because of strength training and self defense mainly boxing and my own style of self defense.

Some people said I was a dirty bastard while playing football, but I knew if I didn’t get in first, they would get me, I WAS NEVER EVER INTIMIDATED. Never backed off and gave as much as I received.

I once stood up to a bully in Alice Springs, who was bad mouthing my girl friend who became my wife, I belted him and I followed him into the toilet and belted his useless fucking head in to the hand basin taps.

He kept his mouth shut in future around me, and my girlfriend.

I always trained with the weights twice a week, squats, dead lifts, behind neck presses, curls, dumbbell rows, the bench press, and dips.

Loved grip work and become strong in the hands and fingers.

Eventually got to 193 pounds and was strong for a bloke who didn’t have large bones, only a 7 inch wrist.

Squatted 285 lbs for 20 reps, and 325 for sets of 6 reps, dumb bell rows 120 lbs, and behind neck presses with 140 lbs, I love dips and could dip body weight plus 88 lbs for 6 reps.

My arms always grew to 16 and a half inches, could curl 125 lbs strictly for 6 reps.

As I have become older,  68 now, I can defend myself. I have learned to be Respectful, Peaceful, Gentle and Reserved, but know that at anytime I can explode like an atomic bomb. My training has changed a bit since I am older, same exercises just less weight and in proper style with great form, no cheating. Twice a week, once at home in my Gym and once in a local Gym where a trainer like Bob Whelan pushes the shit out of me.

I love that .. I decided to go and train at a local Gym, to add some variety and meet people as my wife of 44 years died of Lung cancer June 6th 2019.

This knocked the wind out of my sales, I lost 15 pounds of muscle and strength and it has become a huge challenge for myself to keep going, but I am slowly getting back to previous size and strength through hard work, good food and rest.

Those who have gone through it know, those who haven’t, I hope you don’t.

I know I need to keep going forward, easier said than done, I must and will. Strength training and self defense kept me sane, strong and able to handle the stresses of life.


There is no better combination of strength training and self defense in my opinion, to keep you fit, strong and ready to handle the chaos of life.

Don’t sit at home and do sweet F All, get off your arse and train, keep healthy by eating right, keeping your body and mind strong, to give you health, vigor and longevity.

Read as much you can from Bob Whelan, Stuart McRobert and Bradley J Steiner! You can’t go wrong with these 3 experts.

The Only Place "Success" comes before "Work" is in the dictionary.

Make savage the Body and civilize the mind.

The above are always in eye sight of me.

Editor's Note: Great story of life long determination my good friend David.  
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Saturday, October 19, 2019

Money in the Bank - By Burt Gam

I just now finished reading an article by a guy named Daniel Braun. Daniel it seems is a very accomplished guy. I have to begin by crediting him with the article originally featured in OP ED. Powerlifting. Dan holds a JD, LLM and is an adjunct professor. He is a Bronze Medal winning powerlifter and is a Certified Powerlifting Coach. Anyway I found the article quite interesting and feel his message was something worth sharing. The message is simple yet powerful, and to me is the heart and soul of why so many of us toil and sweat with the iron. It has to do with lasting functionality..... or loss of it as we age.

It might not have mattered in my 20s, 30s, or 40s. Not even 50. But I now realize I lift now for far different reasons than when I started. Daniel points out the stark reality that aging is regressive. Doctors measure aging not in a chronological way but rather "a loss of physical or mental reserves". He further states that this decline can come in the forms such as muscle atrophy or sacropaenia, bone mass loss, and neuro-degenerative disorders. Daniel believes that the most effective way to delay the onset of these types of markers is to perform Powerlifting exercises, Bench Presses, Squats and Deadlifts! Why is this so?

It would seem that these three basic exercises will give most people all of the functional strength necessary to perform any tasks likely to be part of one's daily life. Growth hormone and other beneficial hormones are released, muscle and bone mass is maintained, and exercise even seems to provide a degree of neuro-protection.

Additionally, powerlifting or weight training with moderate repetitions he feels is less stressful on the body and more safe than many sports, especially high impact. Furthermore, although strength training alone may not turn you into a marathon runner or even a sprinter, it is a fact that increased strength has a positive indirect effect on the cardio-respiratory system. The chosen example is if a person can squat or deadlift twice their weight they will have a much easier time climbing flights of stairs than if the can only lift their bodyweight. Additionally, although typically performed in slow controlled fashion, increasing strength will provide the potential for increased power and speed. Dan states that a 650 pound deadlifter has a better chance of power cleaning 300 pounds than someone who deadlifts 450 pounds. Sure sounds logical to me.

And this is where it gets a bit depressing, but sooner or later age catches up to all of us. The analogy Daniel uses is a comparison between building strength and muscle and saving money early in your life, as much as humanly possible. What happens is you build(save) as much as you can in the years you have the capability to do so.As you atrophy(spend) the reserves you have built up, you will last longer than someone who did not. Dan's example is a person with a million dollars can last longer than someone with only a hundred. A strong person will decline more gradually and last longer. Here is how I see it; When you are nearing the end of your journey and you are having trouble getting off of the toilet, you will not wish you had done more cardio but rather that you had squatted more! Down here in Miami I used to jog with a retired IRS agent. I dropped out a long time ago, but I still see this guy going at it. He must be over 80 and although he can run for miles, he is rail thin. I really admire this guy, but had a vision of his beating heart being the last thing left of him while the rest of him disintegrates. But he has the heart of a 30 year old!

Anyway, I thought Daniel wrote an effective and thought provoking article with a simple but powerful message. Like life itself, everything eventually fades. But we can still be strong and healthy well into old age. And at the end of the day, for me having the ability to carry in the groceries at 85 will matter more that what I did when I was 25. Good health and strength to all as we look forward to the new year!
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Friday, October 11, 2019

The Proper Way To Train - By Jim Duggan

There is a world of difference between training properly, and just working out. Training properly will allow you to achieve your maximum potential in terms of Strength and Health. And, make no mistake, maximum strength and optimum good health should be the goals of every person who lifts weights. Of course, "Strength and Health," was also the name of one of the great magazines devoted to strength training, which is no coincidence.

Naturally, not all trainees will have the same training goals. However, whether your goal is to gain muscular size and strength, lose excess bodyweight and become leaner, or if you're lifting weights as part of a strength training program for another sport, you will want to be able to fulfill your potential. Nobody playing with a full deck wants to just "go through the motions." There are several basic principles that apply to everyone who lifts weights.

1. Progression.  Progression is the key to getting bigger, and stronger. The whole idea of "progressive resistance" rests on this principle. The goal of any strength training program is to increase the number of repetitions, or the amount of weight used, in each workout. If you are performing the same number of reps, with the same poundage, every workout, then you are NOT training progressively. Naturally, if you want to make progress, you will have to work hard. Nobody ever said it would be easy. I remember a quote from a former weightlifting champion: "It takes a very brave man to lift heavy weights." Pushing the poundages does, indeed, takes guts. But it will be worthwhile.

2. Proper Form.  Using proper form in all of your exercises will go a long way in keeping you from getting injured. Of course, injuries can be caused by other things besides poor form: insufficient warm-up, over-exertion, fatigue. Likewise, I'm not saying that using proper form will prevent you from ever becoming injured, but it will make an injury less likely to happen. Another benefit of using proper form is that it will help develop the muscles being trained. For example, if you are doing a standing barbell curl, it makes absolutely no sense to cheat by utilizing excessive swinging. Yes, you may use more weight, but you will not derive the benefits of the exercise. Likewise, if you are Squatting, all of your reps should be done to proper depth, especially if you are a competitive powerlifter. And if you are Deadlifting, and it seems today like everyone has jumped on the Deadlift bandwagon, do NOT bounce the bar off the floor between each rep, but rather start from a complete stop. And don't even think about doing a Bench Press without a pause between each and every rep. Here's a hint: If you are training for a contest, perform every rep as if you are being judged by the strictest referee in the history of the sport. This will guarantee that you will never bomb out of a meet. And it will build greater strength. Greater Strength!

3. Adequate Rest/Recuperation.  If you are training hard, then it only stands to reason that you must allow your body time to recuperate from your workouts. You can't do justice to your training if you don't recover from one workout to the next. At some point, you will pay the price in the form of overtraining and/or injury. You can't expect to make continuous gains if you don't get adequate rest between workouts. This is especially important for the drug-free trainee. That is why it is foolish - and potentially dangerous- to follow the routines of steroid-bloated, so-called "champions." As natural strength-athletes, we only have so much training energy to expend. And don't be foolish enough to fall into the trap of "body part training." The silly idea of training arms on one day, legs the next, etc.. The old "split routine" that was propagated by the old muscle magazines. Leave this type of foolishness to the pumpers, and toners. Use common sense, and devote yourself to two or three full-body workouts per week, with an emphasis on the basics.

And while I'm on the subject of the basics, remember that is is the basics that have built such legendary figures as John Grimek, Norbert Schemansky, and Bruno Sammartino. If your goal is to do pumping movements, you can't reasonably expect to develop an appreciable amount of strength. Pumped up bodybuilders usually lose their "size" once they stop training. Mere size should not be an end in itself, but, rather the combination of size and strength should be the goal of all trainees who are just starting out.

4. Make Every Workout Count.  When you go to the gym, be ready to train hard. Try to eliminate any and all distractions. This means NO cell phones. You do not need a phone while lifting weights. I realize that this is not a popular sentiment, especially in today's world, but let's be brutally honest: How is a cell phone going to help you train harder? Leave the phone, and its inherent distractions, to the toner crowd. You'll make better progress. But aside from cell phones, your workout should be a time to train, not to engage in lengthy conversations, or waste time.

While there have been many books, and articles devoted to the concept of "proper training," the four which I have described above will build a solid foundation, and establish healthy training habits. And good training habits will lead to more successful workouts, not just for today, but for years to come.
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Friday, September 20, 2019

Thick Bar Thursdays - By Jim Duggan

     Serious Lifters have known about the benefits of using thick-handled barbells for years. It's hard to say who originated the idea of using thick bars.  Their use dates back to the days of the old Strongmen from over a hundred years ago.  The use of thick bars as a training tool probably goes back to Peary Reader's old "Ironman" magazine. My first exposure to thick bars was through an article by Dr. Ken Leistner, over thirty years ago.  In the article, he described how he used them to train his clients. He mentioned how Kim Wood, the legendary strength coach of the Cincinnati Bengals, used thick bars ( and other implements) to train his players. Several years after reading the article, I had the good fortune to join Iron Island Gym, and I got to see first-hand how thick bars can build strength in a way that was different from a standard barbell.
     Dr. Ken had several thick bars in his gym. They were painted blue, and they were quite scary looking. Of course, I had to try them, and I found that they definitely added a different dimension to my training.  It was about this time when I began reading "Hardgainer" magazine.  There were articles by Bob Whelan, and Brooks Kubik which described their experiences using thick bars, and the many benefits they derived from their use.  A few years later, Brooks Kubik's classic book "Dinosaur Training" came out, followed by his "Dinosaur Files" magazine. Brooks was a strong advocate for thick bar training, and, more than anyone else, was responsible  for the resurgence in the popularity of using thick-handled barbells and dumbbells.
     Among the many benefits of using thick bars is the fact that they activate more muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the hands, fingers, arms, forearms.  Consequently, there will be a corresponding increase in strength.  Not many people think about tendons, and ligaments when training, but they play a big part in the development of strength.  Stronger hands and forearms will increase your grip strength.  Improved grip strength will translate into better performance on any movement which requires a strong grip.  Whether you're  lifting a heavy barbell, anvil, or large stone, thick bars will improve your performance and make you a better lifter.
     You can utilize thick bars with just about any upper-body movement.  While you can use them for various Presses, thick bars would be more effective for "pulling movements." Curls, and Deadlifts immediately come to mind when you try to incorporate thick bars into your workouts.  You must be very careful when using them for overhead Presses, for obvious reasons.  For many years I used thick bars for overhead work.  In fact, in 2000,  at the York Strongman Contest, one of the events was an overhead Press for weight.  The bar used was a 2" axle, lifted from a rack.
     By far, my favorite upper-body thick bar movement was doing Bench Presses inside a power rack.  Pushing a thick bar off the chest from a motionless starting point is pure, unadulterated power.  There's absolutely no comparison to doing a typical "touch and go" bounce press found in a typical commercial gym.  Incidentally, if you are planning on using thick bars for Bench Pressing, it is vitally important to only do them inside of a power rack where the pins can be set to catch the bar, in the event of a missed rep. Always train safely.
     For the past few weeks, I have been using my thick bars for various movements.  I like to vary the exercises from week to week, just to avoid boredom.  However, the challenge of doing the Lifts with a thick bar has made for an interesting change of pace.  Here are a few movements which I have been doing:
1) Trap Bar Deadlift.  I recently purchased a 2" Thick Trap Bar.  The thing is a monster.  It weighs 45 Lbs., but feels much heavier, if that makes any sense.  A couple of months ago, on my 55th birthday, I did 400 Lbs. for 75 reps in a little over 50 minutes.  I had hoped to get 100 reps, but two torn calluses on my hand made it impossible ( did I mention that this bar is a monster?)  Recently, I've been using the Trap Bar off a 2.5" block. I suppose the modern term is "deficit deadlift," but I prefer to use the phrase "deadlift off a block."  However you wish to describe it, it is an intense movement. I usually work up to a heavy single or triple, then drop the weight for a high-rep back off set.  By the way, each rep is done with a pause between each rep. No bouncing off the floor! I encourage you to do your reps strictly.  You will develop better strength through proper form, rather than relying on momentum. In other words, don't cheat.
2)  Thick Bar Deadlift off the Block.  About a year ago, I purchased a 2" revolving olympic bar from York Barbell.  It weighs 25kgs ( 55 Lbs.) Let me tell you, this bar is a beast! By standing on a 5" platform, I do Stiff-Leg Deadlifts for sets of ten.  Of course,  the rep selection can vary, but I prefer the higher reps.  I perform the movement by lowering the bar just above the floor, and then raise the weight upward.  This keeps continuous tension on the muscles throughout the movement.  It really taxes the grip, especially when using a double over-hand grip.
3) Thick Bar Curls.  Again, I use the York 2" revolving bar.  Between the thickness of the bar, and the fact that the bars revolves, it is an intense exercise. While I've never been a big fan of direct arm work, this is my favorite way to perform barbell curls.  For further variety, you can do Reverse Curls.
4) Thick Handle Dumbbell Rows.  These are simply dumbbell rows, but performed with thick-handled dumbbells.  There are many brands available, but I use mu Ironmind Dumbbells. Naturally, you will not be able to use as much weight as you would for regular DB Rows, but the intensity, and difficulty of the movement makes it a worthwhile change of pace.
     These are just a few of the movements you can do with thick bars.  Naturally, there are many different exercises, and with a little creativity, you can come up with an effective routine.  Unfortunately, most commercial gyms do not have thick bars, so you might have to resort to buying your own, and training at home.  The general public has never really embraced the idea of lifting thick-handled barbells and dumbbells.  One of my favorite lines from "Dinosaur Training," and believe me there are MANY great lines from that book, goes something like this: "Muscle Pumpers and drug babies wouldn't touch a thick bar on a bet."  Don't follow the crowd.  If you can get your hands on a thick bar ( pun intended), then by all means do so. You'll be glad you did.
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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Heavy Weights vs. Light Weights - By Jim Duggan

     I've often said that there is no shortage of training information available today.  In the past, you would have to wait for the various "muscle magazines" to arrive at the newsstand.  If you were like most trainees, you had a favorite magazine that you used to follow the various champions, the way they trained, and other "breakthroughs" in the world of Strength.  Usually, once you got your hands on a magazine, you would read it from cover to cover.  Then, having devoured everything contained within the pages, you had to wait another month for the next issue to arrive.  Obviously,  that isn't the case today.  We have instant access to any and all online authors and articles.  A plethora of information is only a click away.
     Unfortunately, while there is a vast quantity of training articles, the actual quality leaves something to be desired.  Most, if not all, of what's online is not written for the serious lifter in mind.  And the "muscle comics" that are still in print are no better.  They are of little use to people who want to LIFT.  Toning, pumping, shaping, and "judgement free" training seem to be the order of the day.  But what if you want to get bigger and stronger? More importantly, what if you want build drug-free strength the right way?
     I recently came across an article which addressed the age-old debate of heavy exercise versus light training.  The author was about to embark on a strength-training program, and was describing his introduction to the world of lifting weights.  Instead of summarizing the article, I will repeat some of the main ideas that he brings up in the article.  These ideas are certainly useful, and will be helpful to anyone who lifts weights, regardless of their level of experience. 
     "Every system was supposed to be the best."  How many times have we heard that? High volume, Low volume, Nautilus, High Intensity, Super-Slow, Abbreviated Training,  Six Sets of Six, Five Sets of Five, etc..  It can get pretty confusing, especially for a beginner. But the main thing to remember is that no matter what philosophy you subscribe to, it won't be worth a damn if you don't work hard.  That means training consistently and progressively.
     "To obtain muscle of any size and strength, one has to use those muscles against heavy resistance, ever greater resistance, and that the muscles have to be forced to do harder work."  Hard work. Poundage progression. Progressive resistance means just that.  If you are not increasing your poundages on a consistent basis, then you are doing something wrong.  Don't be afraid to push the poundages.  If you are seeking to gain size and strength, that is the only way to make gains. You're not going to get there with milk and cookies.
     "Muscles quickly become accustomed to the work demanded of them.  It is necessary to make demands of the muscles, to make them overcome more and more resistance."  It's not easy to push yourself to bigger poundages. Years ago, a famous Weightlifting champion said that  "The weight must not be feared. It must fear you." It takes a brave person to lift heavy weights. Sometimes a training partner can provide the impetus to push past boundaries that were seemingly unreachable.
     "Don't make the mistake of using weights that are too easy to handle."  If you train in a commercial gym, you will see a lot of things that will cause you to shake your head.  Guys doing Standing Presses with a 55 Lb. barbell, then sitting around for five minutes texting on their phones. And they wonder why they can't gain.  If you want to be able to lift heavy weights, then you must lift heavier weights than what you're using now.  And you have to work hard.
    "The best results are to be had by including in the training program exercises which involve all the muscles."  I saved the best for last.  Only movements which bring all the muscles into play make the internal change that build size and strength.  Training the large muscle groups stimulate the entire body to grow bigger and stronger.  In other words, isolation movements are definitely out.  Good-bye cable-crossovers, and tricep pushdowns.  Hello Squats, Presses, and Deadlifts. We're all familiar with people who have made great gains in size and strength by utilizing a program of heavy Squatting.  Years ago, my friend Larry Licandro gained fifteen pounds of muscle by doing just three exercises: Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift. No Pulldowns. No curls.   Too many people waste their time doing isolation movements that bring little-if any- increase in size and strength.  You can do concentration curls from now until the cows come home, but if you're not Squatting or Deadlifting, you will not gain.  Leave the wimpy exercises to the pumpers and toners and hit the multi-joint movements. The exercises that have built men from John Grimek to Norbert Schemansky.
     The ideas presented in the article that I'm referring to can be invaluable for anyone looking to get bigger and stronger.  One more thing that I'd like to add is that the original article from which these ideas came is from the September, 1937 issue of Strength and Health. The title of the article was "Heavy Exercise Is Best." Truer words were never spoken. Yes, over eighty years ago, trainees were interested in getting bigger and stronger.  And the answers were readily apparent way back then.  And over the years, countless thousands have benefited from a common sense approach that emphasized hard work, basic exercises, and heavy weights.  No gimmicks, no personal trainers, no fancy equipment.  It worked back then, and it will work today.
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Friday, July 19, 2019

Remembering Ralph Raiola - By Jim Duggan

     Over the years, much has been written about some of the elite lifting gyms that have gained a reputation among Lifters and Strength Athletes.  While many, unfortunately,  have gone by the wayside, a few are still operating to this very day.  I've often lamented the fact that I have the "pleasure" of belonging to a commercial gym.  While I am fortunate to be able to train at home for the most part, one of the things I miss is belonging to a great lifting gym.  There just aren't many around, at least here in Long Island.  That wasn't always the case, though.  I had the good fortune of belonging to two great gyms in the past.  The first was Bruno's Health Club, which operated from 1980 until 1989.  The second was Iron Island Gym, where I trained from 1992 until 2008.
     Iron Island was simply the finest gym I had ever seen. If you speak to anyone who trained there, I think you will get the same response. It had everything you would want in a gym: great equipment, convenient hours, immaculate facilities, and an atmosphere that had to be experienced.  Naturally, a big reason for the excellence of any gym is the people who run it.  And Iron Island Gym had two of the absolute best in Dr. Ken Leistner, and Ralph Raiola.  These two gentlemen were childhood friends who became business partners and created the finest lifting facility that any of us had ever seen.
     Earlier today, I received the sad news that Ralph passed away yesterday at age 72.  How sad that these two legendary figures would pass away within a few months of each other.  It is definitely the end of an era.  And while there may never be another Iron Island Gym, the memories of that special place will live on.  And while people usually associate Dr. Ken with Iron Island, Ralph played a big part in the success of the gym.  Indeed, after Dr. Ken had left the business, Ralph continued to run the gym for almost another ten years.  While I have many memories of Ralph, perhaps my warmest memory of him occurred during the very darkest of times.
     In the days following September 11, 2001, I had stopped going to the gym. I don't think it's necessary to explain why. However, up until that point, I had been going to the gym every day.  Whether it was to lift, or simply do my thirty minutes on the Stairmaster, I was at the gym every day.  Naturally, in the days immediately following 9/11, there was little time, interest, or incentive to work out. But several days later, on Friday, September 14, I decided to go to the gym early in the morning,  before I reported to work.  If nothing else, lifting weights would provide temporary relief from everything that had taken place.  I'll never forget walking into the gym that morning.  It was very early, and even more quiet than usual. As I walked through the door, Ralph spotted me from behind the front desk.  He sort of did a double-take, then ran out from behind the desk and hugged me.  He then began to cry, as he was hugging me.  He even kissed me, and tried to tell me how happy he was to see me.  It was hard for him to speak, because he was crying so hard, but words were not necessary. I could feel what was on his mind, and in his heart.  I tried to inject some humor and said something like "Ralph, people may get he wrong idea." But he was just so glad that I was alive.  Since he hadn't seen me for four days, he assumed that I had been among the missing. I don't remember the particulars of my workout, and, really, it wasn't important what I did that day.  I was just glad that I went to the gym that day.
     During a time when raw emotions were the order of the day, Ralph restored my faith in human nature, and restored hope when there had been little cause for hope. I'll never forget what Ralph did for me that day. And I'll never forget a man who was as big-hearted as he was big.  RIP Ralph.
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Monday, July 15, 2019

Understanding and treating type 2 Diabetes - By Dr. Jason Fung

Dr. Jason Fung is a Canadian nephrologist. He's a world-leading expert on intermittent fasting and Keto, especially for treating people with type 2 diabetes.
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Monday, July 1, 2019

Lifting Belts: Good or Bad? - By Jim Duggan

     A lifting belt is something that is found in the gym bag of just about every person who trains with weights. Different styles, leather or suede, metal buckles or velcro are just some of the options available to trainees.  But are lifting belts really necessary?  Do you really need to be wearing a belt from the moment you walk onto the gym floor?  For years, beginners were taught that wearing a belt was necessary to support your lower back and prevent injury.  This was especially true if you were doing Squats, Presses, or Deadlifts.  Quite often, the various muscle magazines would endorse the notion that the use of a belt was absolutely essential to remaining injury-free.  Never mind the fact that just about every magazine advertised - and profited from the sale of- lifting belts.  If you were to believe the "muscle comic books," a lifting belt was the sine qua non for better, safer workouts.
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Thursday, June 20, 2019

My 10 Undeniable Truths of Weight Training for Beginners - Part 3 - Balance your training routine - By RJ Hicks BS CSCS

A common theme I come across when discussing training with individuals is the lack of balance in exercise selection in their routines. Many people believe they are training all their muscles, when they only truly train half or focus on training the primary muscles used in a given activity and ignore the rest. If you want to get as strong and muscular as possible, take up a balanced approach.

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Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Embracing The Deadlift - By Jim Duggan

     Not too long ago, the US. Army decided to overhaul its long-standing physical fitness test, in order to improve fitness, reduce injuries, and better demonstrate strength.  Read those last three words again: Better demonstrate strength.  STRENGTH.  What we train for, what we admire, and respect. What we enjoy reading about ( and writing about, too!). And just what movement has the Army chosen to most effectively  test the strength of its soldiers?  Why, none other than the Deadlift.  Actually, to be more precise, the Trap Bar Deadlift.  More about that in a few minutes.
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Thursday, May 2, 2019

Squats For Bigger Arms - By Jim Duggan

     The title of this article is from the April 1970 edition of Muscular Development magazine.   It was originally written by Sterri Larsen.  Who is/was Sterri Larsen you might ask?  I have no idea.  A Google search produced no answer.  Under his byline in the article, it states that he was a bodybuilding authority in Norway.  That is all I have on Mr. Larsen.  It doesn't really matter who he is.  What matters is that he wrote a great article, which contained information that is as relevant today, as it was nearly fifty years ago.
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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Natural Encouragement - By Vince Vaught

In our small group we should be thankful for one another as we cling to the
original purpose of what it was intended to be about. A healthy lifestyle and increased
strength through the disciplines of consistent hardwork with the use of weight training
equipment. It was and still is our objective. There's an existing respect & appreciation among
us who never crossed over. We're the ones who have stuck to the theme of health and are
satisfied with who we are. The old school purist never feels inferior or envious of what's
happening with the drug enhanced crowd. In the modern fitness & wellness culture most
people understand the difference and quietly feel sympathetic towards individuals who
made bad choices. After decades in the strength section of fitness, one can assume he's heard
and seen almost all of it...... except, a justified legitimate reason for chemical enhancement.
              The Natural Strength enthusiast has to discard all methods contrary to what's already been
proven effective. One must believe in what works and having followed those instructions also
believe in theirself. It takes confidence to embrace the challenge of out doing what you did before.
Keep on believing and don't waste time. You're doing the right things, proper nutrition, enough
sleep, and a generally clean lifestyle and along with that, the common sense not to over train in
volume or frequency.
             In pursuit of new strength levels a main issue is avoiding injuries & setbacks along the way.
One should be comfortable in knowing which compound exercises their body tolerates and the
particular technique required for them. Training forward comes easier when you're not working
around aggravated body parts. Consistency is key to achieving your goals, with that in mind, learn
how to minimize injury risk.
             It's hard to imagine anything goofier than training hard without a lifestyle to support your
expected progress. Worse yet would be someone doing everything right and the only thing holding
them back is the workout itself. Over the years many times a misguided young bodybuilder would
ask me how its done. What he really wanted to know was, could he expect to be like me someday,
20 years from now when he's my age. Well, no help was given unless they promised to put everything
aside, forget the past, believe,  and commit to my instructions.
             They were prescribed a 2-wk rest and provided with an abbreviated version of what they had
been doing. Without exception everyone who followed the plan got back to me with an amazing
testimony of new strength levels and muscular growth. Like me, they learned to appreciate quickly
what a difference it makes when a program is designed to ensure recovery and how the body responds.
              Having experienced good progress with a split routine in the past, there were still concerns
about overlap when doing Squats or Dead Lifts later in the week. If you've already hit upper body real hard,
how can you do Squats or Dead Lifts(which are both whole body efforts) within 2 or 3 days the
same week without interrupting recovery. Granted, these are concerns limited to those serious about
becoming stronger and they're the ones capable of training hard enough to overtrain.

              This is an example routine to be tweaked for your personal use and performed in a High Intensity
Abbreviated style. Rest instinctively after each workout. You should be ready to train again in
less than a week without fear of overlap. If not, you'll know it, just take an extra days rest.

The 3-Routines to rotate are "A", "B", & "C" in order. Do "A" take 5 days or so to
              rest and do "B" then rest again appropriately and do "C". If 5 days rest between isn't
             enough you'll realize soon enough. Obviously more rest could be required based on
             activities and other demands in life. Even at max intensity you should typically feel
             ready to workout again within 5 or 6 days, for sure by the 7th day in most cases.
                        Clearly this program is designed for those with the cultivated ability to train
              hard. The ones who really do something to the body, can't risk overlap, and are
             totally reliant on recovery to be consistent.
                        Honestly though, this comes with a warranty and it will work for everyone. The
             beginner, the one starting over, the veteran, and you too!!

                             "A"                             "B" "C"
             overhead bar press                              chin up 30 degree Inc Bench press
             trap bar dead lift                                      dip rows
                     pull up                                chin up bar squat
             overhead bar press                                 dip 30 degree Inc Bench press
             trap bar dead lift                                  calf press  rows
                    calf press                         Romanian dead lift bar squat
                   leg curl                                     Leg press 45 degree back extension
            seated DB curl                                     bar curl calf press
                                                                                                                                      arm curl: choice

                                Note: as mentioned before, tweak it a little for personal needs but leave
                                things structured the same.
                                             * upper body heavy as possible in the 5 to 8 rep range in strict form
                                             * Squats & dead lifts work it in the 12 to 16 range, keep the same load
                                                and see what you can get on the 2nd set. If your trap bar has high                                             
                                                Handles have a heavy day and a heavier day on the high side next                                                                                           
                                                Time and occasionally do a static hold at end of 2nd set
                                            **for upper body go to positive failure most of the time, do some
                                                 beyond failure cheat reps or negatives every 3rd or 4th workout
                                            **upper body: plan your micro load increases according to rep
                                                 accomplishment of a collective 10 in the two sets (or your
                                                 preference) & occasionally do a flush set with a reduced wt. after
the 2nd set.


Great article Vince!

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Sunday, April 14, 2019

Tribute to Dr. Ken - By Linda Jo Belsito

Kathy, Sol, BariAnn, Bari, Doris, Greg, Kevin, Family and Friends.

As I sat down to write about my memories of Ken, I wasn’t sure how or where to begin. My mind has been flooded with 40 plus years of so many memories. How can I put all of this into words? As I read the tributes over the past week the recurrent themes I read were: He was a Dr. of Chiropractic, dedicated father, husband, son, brother, grandfather, friend, mentor, motivator, coach, great man, real, honest, smart, author, gentle, brilliant, motivator, pioneer & historian in the iron game and strength world. He was all of those things and more to me, as I called him my brother from another mother.

I received a call last Saturday afternoon on my way home from my gym which he helped me build.
All of us have some piece of equipment from his home gym or had something donated from someone he contacted to help us build his legacy. We will carry on his traditions of paying forward in the world of strength training.

Nothing made his chiseled face light up more than when he would give you a new piece of equipment, t shirt, steak, or slip you some cash as you walked out the door. Paying it forward was something he did constantly. He still is by asking us to donate to the kids in his community he has helped for so many years.

Beth and I worked for Ken and Kathy in his Chiropractic office from 1986- 1992. We were reminiscing, about the basement gym, the juke box, where he and Kevin allowed us to pick a song to train to after everyone else was done. 60 minute Man comes to mind. What he did for so many was taught us how to find that inner strength, mentally and physically. He lived that life, he had this charismatic way of making you want him to bring you to that next level. He would not give you any leeway, he would not ask you to do anything he had not done, or wasn’t willing to do along with you. If your goal was to get stronger, he was going to get you there.

I was blessed when he came into my life over 40 years ago at a local powerlifting meet on Long Island. I have to be honest, I was a little afraid of this guy with tattoos, who was running the meet. I guess he saw potential. He introduced himself “ I’m Dr. Ken”. He gave me his information in case, I wanted to get serious. I had no idea that in a short time I would be calling on him for help. I took him up on that after a squat work out when I attempted 225 lbs., pulled something in my low back. I went to the ER, where the physician said, “ women don’t lift weights! They gave me pain meds, told me to sit on ice and heat, rest and don’t lift.

I called Ken and told him what happened, and in Ken fashion, he said, “F**K that, get in here, I will adjust you and you will be back in the gym this week. “ And I was.

He has helped athletes of all walks of life. Many came to Ken wanting to train. But he gave us so much more. He made us all stronger, not only physically but mentally. He could explain the how and why, we needed to do something, due to his knowledge in the Iron Game that goes back so many years. But we all remember the experiences of those high rep workouts, where we either hit the bucket, or would attempt to stop, and his words were “ I didn’t tell you to F** ing stop”.

We did HIT training back then, which I incorporate every now and then with my athletes.

I traveled with Ken doing lifting exhibitions on Hammer equipment, did seminars, visiting colleges, and he also would take me to competitions to get the experience I needed in PL since he believed I could be a champion one day. He taught me how to find that inner strength. He let me figure out what it meant to be a mentally and physically strong in a world that did not yet accept female strength athletes.

Something he always demonstrated was unbelievable stamina, resilience, and a never quit, positive attitude to a degree where we questioned if he was human? Does he eat? Does he sleep? I could never figure that out. But believed in him and he would always greet me with a big hug and That great smile.

What I do know is, when he did eat, it was for the masses and he loved good food. He introduced me to Peter Lugers, steak tartar. He invited me to Thanksgiving dinner and asked me to help make smashed potatoes, which was a back and tricep workout. He would have summer strength events and BBQ’s, and pudding pie fights with the kids in the backyard of valley stream. We would train in the cold garage fully clothed, but completed the workout only to come inside and have Kathy waiting with something great to eat. His legacy will live on in everyone he has touched, mentored or trained. From local high schools, college, pro teams to helping produce an Olympic Champion Derrik Adkins.

He made us mentally and physically strong. He gave me unconditional love, friendship, guidance, and always followed through on anything I asked of him. He made me a better person and my successes in life and lifting I can say are because of him.

I find myself doing what he did for me with my athletes, young kids, children, and most recently the wounded warriors, marines, and Army soldiers who come into my gym to find that strength. I make it a safe place for all. I expect as he did that you train well, stick to the program and make the most of that training time.

All of us who have had the opportunity of training under Dr. Ken, know the lessons we have learned from him. We all can probably recite the stories he would tell about back in the day, when strength training for him consisted of lifting steel beams, sand buckets, in his garage, and the stories of trips he took to York Barbell to pick up equipment in a massive snow storm back in the 60’s.

What amazed me about this when I read it, is that the rack he picked up on that trip, he gave to me for my home gym back in 1986. I have it in my gym now. Beth and I worked for Ken and Kathy as their rehab nurses, in Valley Stream and it was some of the best times of our lives. Not only did we get great experience and learn, but he would always have perogies, cheesecake, steak, or Graters Ice Cream, to help us get stronger, after a workout.

Ken was real. He said what he felt. He was misunderstood by many, but to those of us who he loved, you knew you were loved. This man would give you anything to help you succeed, or put you in touch with those who could help you.

If he is listening now, just hear this. We didn’t tell you to Fucking STOP!

To say I will miss Ken, is an understatement. I will miss his hugs, calls, emails, that great laugh, and of course the events he held at his home. His absence is felt by us all. Our hearts are broken, But I know every time we step in the gym, now more than ever, we will be living his legacy and paying it forward as he taught us to do. I know we will meet again someday at his “Iron Island In the Sky”.

In Strength, LJ your sister.

Editor's Note: A Great Tribute to Dr Ken Lindo Jo! 
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Thursday, April 11, 2019

Much Respect and Rest In Peace Dr. Ken - By Bob Whelan

I really only knew Dr. Ken in a professional way, mostly in the 90's when we both wrote for some of the same magazines and he contributed a chapter for my book IRON NATION. I also got the idea of having a puke bucket in my gym after watching a few of his training video's! It sure beat cleaning the mess! If I had lived in the New York area, I believe we would have been the best of friends. I met him when I visited Iron Island Gym with Drew Israel in the mid 90's and had a chance to speak briefly to him and see his great world class gym. I wrote about this visit in Hardgainer. A few phone calls and emails pretty much sum up our personal relationship. We really did not know each other well, but I always had the greatest amount of respect for Dr. Ken. He was a unique personality and the people who knew him best absolutely loved him. I loved reading his articles and always wish that I had the chance to go to one of his epic Thanksgiving dinners. I heard so many great things about them from many of our mutual friends. I consider him to be one of the greatest and most influential writers in the history of physical culture. He will be missed. Much respect and Rest In Peace Dr Ken.
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Sunday, April 7, 2019

Dr. Ken Remembered - By Jim Duggan

    It would be difficult to overstate the impact that Dr. Ken Leistner had on the world of Powerlifting, and Strength Training.   As a chiropractor, strength coach, writer, and gym owner, he influenced countless Lifters, and Iron Game devotees over the years.  Earlier today, I received the sad news that Dr. Ken had passed away, at the age of 72.
     Several of us from Bruno's discussed the impact that Dr. Ken had, not only on us, but on the world of weight training.  Chris Newins put it best when he said: " He was a mentor and friend to so many."  Truer words were never spoken.  He certainly had an impact on my life insofar as it relates to training.  There will undoubtedly be numerous tributes to Dr. Ken over the coming days, and rightfully so.  I think it is accurate to say that he was one of the most influential figures in the world of Strength and Lifting.
     My first introduction to Dr. Ken was through the pages of Powerlifting USA Magazine.  His column, "More From Ken Leistner," was a regular feature.  It was also one of the first things that I would read.  His no-nonsense, straight forward, no bull style of writing was perfectly suited for those of us who love to lift.
     Dr. Ken wrote for many magazines over the years.  Just about every Muscle/Lifting/Strength publication benefited from his expertise.  And readers like me were all the better for it.  His own publication, "The Steel Tip," was years ahead of its time.  I'm glad that I have a complete set of back issues,  which he generously gave to me.  One of my favorite articles of his appeared in Muscular Development magazine.  It was titled "Unorthodox Power Builders."  It described how one can become brutally strong by lifting odd objects.  Back then, lifting I-Beams, Anvils, or Torpedoes was not something that was generally done by trainees. This particular article was focused on lifting heavy anvils.  It must have made an impression on me since I am the proud owner of nine ( yes, nine) anvils ranging in weight fro 50- 206 Lbs..
     The first time I ever met Dr. Ken was in the Winter of 1992, when he opened the world famous Iron Island Gym.  I had the pleasure of speaking with him for about twenty minutes. At the time, I was 27 years old, and I thought I knew a lot about lifting.  Boy, did I have a lot to learn, and I could not have have picked a better place to learn, nor a more knowledgeable person to learn from.  You could just feel his passion about all things strength related, and he wanted to provide the very best facility for those who shared his passion.  I think if you ask anybody who trained at Iron Island, you will get the same answer:  It was the best lifting gym that any of us had seen.  The atmosphere, equipment, environment, and energy of that place could inspire anyone.  I have often said that if you couldn't get motivated at Iron Island, then you ought to be embalmed.  Dr. Ken and Ralph Raiola created a gym that was second to none.
     My first experience with High Intensity Training was through Dr. Ken.  At the time, he was writing articles for "Hardgainer" magazine. He was kind enough to give me a stack of back issues.  Looking back, Hargainer was one helluva training magazine.  And, just as with PL/USA magazine, his column was the first thing I would read.  Incidentally, during the mid 1990s, Hargainer could boast of having Dr. Ken, Bob Whelan, and Brooks Kubik as regular contributors.  Imagine, three of the most knowledgeable and talented Iron Game writers on the same magazine at the same time!
     I can't begin to imagine just how many lifters and Strength coaches have been influenced by Dr. Ken.  I certainly learned a lot from him.  I still have his monthly "Iron Island Insights," that he wrote for the members of the gym.  As I've often said, quality training information never goes out of style.  In fact, I still have a hand-written Deadlift program he wrote for me in 1993.  It was a program that helped me to a personal best of 688 Lbs., which I pulled at a meet at his gym.  The trophies he gave out were made from actual I-beams.  I cherish the program, and the trophies I received to this day.  More importantly, I will forever cherish the memories of a great gym, and a man who made a difference in the lives of those who benefited from his talent, passion, and wisdom.  I would like to offer my sincere condolences to his family, relatives, and many friends.
Rest in Peace, Dr. Ken. And Thank You. 

Editor's Note: Thank You Jim for the great tribute to Dr. Ken. I had a great deal of respect for him. He was an Iron Game legend and one of the best strength/ muscle writers in history. He will be missed but his influence on weight training will long remain with us.
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Saturday, March 30, 2019

The 3 x 3: Oh, How I Love Thee! - By Rick Rignell

Whenever I’m looking for a quick, simple, metabolically challenging workout, I usually turn to the 3 X 3.  If you’re not familiar with it, a 3 x 3 consists of a multi-joint leg exercise, a multi-joint upper body pushing exercise, and a multi-joint upper body pulling exercise.  Examples of each of the three categories are listed below:

Multi-Joint Leg: Squat, Leg Press, Deadlift

Multi-Joint Upper Pushing: Bench Press, Incline Press, Military Press, Dip

Multi-Joint Upper Pulling: Row, Pulldown, Chin Up, Pull Up

The three exercises are performed in 3 cycles with as little rest as possible between exercises.  In other words, do a set of squats, then go immediately into a set of bench press, then immediately to a set of rows.  Then it’s right back to squats and so on until all three cycles are complete. As far as reps go, you’ve got some flexibility.  A common recommendation is to start with 15-20 reps on the legs and 10-15 on the upper body. If you hit muscle failure on each set, your reps then may end up looking something like this:

First Cycle: Squat = 20, Bench = 15, Row = 15

Second Cycle: Squat = 15, Bench = 12, Row = 12

Third Cycle: Squat = 12, Bench = 8, Row = 8

You can keep the weight the same on each set, increase it, or decrease it as necessary to hit the desired rep goals.  My personal preference is to keep it the same for all three cycles and of course, the number of reps completed on each cycle will decrease.  Regardless, I take each set to the point of muscle failure (or very close). My current favorite 3 x 3 routine is performed entirely on Hammer Strength machines as follows:

V-Squat: 15, 12, 10
Iso Horizontal Bench: 8,6, 4
Iso Rowing: 8,6,4

I prefer slightly higher reps for the lower body and slightly lower ones for the upper.  I take the V-Squat within 1-2 reps of muscle failure ( prefer not to get stuck at the bottom of a squat movement), and take each upper body set to failure. During the third cycle, I go to failure on the upper body sets, rest 20 seconds, then go to failure again.  Then, if time and energy permit, I do this “finisher”:

Using one pair of dumbbells, complete 3 cycles of the following exercises non-stop:

  1. Biceps Curl
  2. 2-arm Shoulder Press
  3. Single-arm Shoulder Press
  4. Negative Hammer Curl
  5. 5 Push ups

Specifically, curl the dumbbells to your shoulders, press both overhead, alternately press each, lower both with a hammer grip, then set them down and perform five push ups.  Repeat the cycle 2 more times. Some colleagues and I learned this finisher at an outstanding strength and conditioning clinic at Michigan State University a few years back, and chose to name it “MSU Upper Body Finisher” out of respect.  I highly recommend the 3 x 3 workout. Use whichever combination of exercises and reps best suits you, and get after it!

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