Friday, December 13, 2019

More Work and More Weight - By Jim Duggan

"Weightlifting has proven to be the best means to attain your physical desires." These are the opening words of an article written by Bob Hoffman in the April 1942 issue of "Strength and Health" magazine. The title of the article is, appropriately enough, "More Work and More Weight is What You Need." You can imagine how this caught my eye, as I was looking through the table of contents on the first page of the magazine.

The article itself is geared to the trainee who is not entirely satisfied with his progress insofar as it relates to getting bigger and stronger. Mr. Hoffman mentions several of the "superstars" of that era. Men like Louis Abele, Steve Stanko, and, of course, John Grimek. Every serious fan of the Iron Game will immediately recognize these names. They are, rightfully, held up as shining examples of the benefits of lifting weights. They were - and are - inspirations to all who "hoist the steel." But Mr. Hoffman makes an interesting point: "The men who have succeeded, the weaklings to begin, men who were small, weak, and ailing, are the ones who have gained the most and continue to gain,"

There are several reasons why people succeed when it comes to strength training. Perhaps the number one reason is that they train progressively. There is a reason why it's called "progressive resistance training." Sometimes we lose sight of this simple truth. Adding reps to each set and weight to the bar. Poundage progression. If you are using the same weight on all your exercises as you were six months ago, then there is something wrong. Constantly strive to handle more weight.

Another reason why people succeed is that they are persistent. If you dedicate yourself to a regular routine, and you don't miss workouts, and you push yourself to work hard, then you will be successful. To be a successful strength athlete - or to be successful in any endeavor- one must be willing to work hard. Even when you don't feel like it. Especially if you don't feel like it. When it comes to lifting weights, you must overcome the inevitable plateaus, stay the course, and keep pushing.

One of the things that Mr. Hoffman mentions is something that is as true today, as it was nearly eighty years ago: " Most men expect too much in too little time. To gain, you must put plenty in your strength and health bank." This may sound a bit hokey, but how many times have you seen someone start a weight training program with great enthusiasm and then lose interest after a short time? People embark on an exercise program, they go all out for a while, and then they burn out. This very scenario will be playing out in commercial gyms across the country in a few short weeks, once the new year begins. People who haven't lifted anything heavier than a fork for the last six months, will all of a sudden try to become Jack LaLanne. When they don't see immediate results, they will inevitably quit. Nothing good ever comes from quitting. Actually, there is one good thing: The gym will be a lot less crowded!

There is another quote by Mr Hoffman that caught my eye: "If a man will continue to train intensively and wisely, he will continue to improve until an advanced age is reached." Of course, in the 1940s an advanced age was considered to be fifty years of age. Today, there are countless strength athletes who train hard, and who are in their sixties and seventies.

Now, what happens when you hit the inevitable "sticking point?" If you've been lifting long enough, you've experienced the temporary plateaus. There are several solutions. Taking a short break is one, of course. But what if you just don't want to stop training? According to the article, you can simply replace barbell movements with dumbbell exercises. Embarking on a heavy dumbbell routine, if only for a change of pace, will challenge your body in a different way. For example, if you've hit a sticking point in your Deadlift, you can try doing Dumbbell Deadlifts for a while. There a few things more intense than a set of high-rep Dumbbell Deadlifts. An all-out set of twenty or thirty reps will challenge even the most experienced lifter.

There is one more valid point that Mr. Hoffman mentions in his article. It has to do with keeping a journal or log, to keep track of your workouts. The importance of keeping a training notebook has been covered by numerous Iron Game authors, and cannot be overstated. By keeping track of each workout, you can chart your progress. Exercises performed, sets, reps, poundages can be easily recorded in a simple notebook, or daily diary. Personally, I've been keeping track of my workouts for over thirty years now. Whether I was training for a contest, or trying to gain, or lose weight, each training session has been recorded. There a few things more gratifying than looking back over your workouts and seeing the progress that you have made over the course of a year. If you are trying to lose weight, or gain muscle mass, you can even keep track of your food consumption, and make it easier to count calories.

As I write this article, there are less than three weeks left in the year.  While 2019 is almost over, there is absolutely no reason why you can't get a head start on the New Year. Promise yourself that nothing will stop you from achieving your goals. Make 2020 a year of great Strength and abundant Health.
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