Saturday, October 17, 2020

Say No To Steroids : My Top 5 Reasons - By Burt Gam

    Greetings to all and hopefully everyone is staying safe and healthy in these risk filled and stressful times with COVID.

I want to begin this article by stating it's purpose, to dissuade any new readers of to think carefully before making the decision to try anabolic steroids. If that is anyone's intention then this column, as I am sure Bob would agree is not for you. So here goes my "Top 5" reasons not necessarily in any order of importance.

#5. It is bad for your body. Steroid use has been associated with damage to the various organs of the body. I am talking about impaired, heart, liver and kidney function. The heart for example is in reality another muscle. With excessive steroid use the heart becomes enlarged and the left ventricle thickens. This is not beneficial to the body because the heart is working harder dealing with feeding the extra body mass and fluid retention. The liver enzymes are affected, and kidney function is impaired. The endocrine system basically shuts down the production of testosterone naturally. High blood pressure, inflated LDL and triglyceride levels can result in arteriosclerosis. Steroid use has even been linked with cancer. Some effects are acute while others become chronic. There is more but I covered enough bases.

#4. It is bad for your mind. Steroid use has been linked to various mood disorders, paranoia, schizophrenia, and aggressive behaviors and other mental disorders. They are actually considered addictive, if not physically at least psychologically. A tragic example is a well known professional wrestlers who killed his entire family and then himself.

#3 It is dysfunctional. There is nothing functional about a steroid lifestyle. Muscles are meant to be stretched due to their elasticity as well as contract. In other words they must function properly to produce efficient movement. An athlete for example usually does not benefit by an increase in size unless it is accompanied by a corresponding increase in strength. With steroid use this co-development tends to develop our of proportion to each other. That is why NFL players are not just big but fast, powerful and agile. Excessive bulk is not even advantageous to most but the larger lineman if it has a negative effect on overall performance. In some cases the biomechanics of the muscle and it's angle of pull at the joint changes, not for the better. And there is nothing functional about spending your money so you can stick needles in your body, especially if you don't compete or can financially benefit in some way. Not too functional for family life or even being a normal well balanced individual. In a nutshell *one dimensional".

#2. It can shorten your life. Related to #1, steroids can put you in an early grave. The professional wrestling industry is loaded with examples of wrestlers who never saw age 50, 40, or even 30! And plenty of pro bodybuilders too. Never saw their kids grow up, have grandchildren or great grandchildren. Never retire, travel and live out their full natural lifespan.

#1. It is not sustainable. The biggest difference between a "natural" or a steroid fueled physique is in the long term the natural lifter can maintain their physique(as well as their health) throughout their lifetime. A natural hard trainer can maintain their physique well past age 60. If you look at some of the top pro bodybuilders and compare their physiques while they were using to after they stopped, they appear almost unrecognizable due to muscular atrophy and less favorable body composition. In some cases this difference is drastic. And if they had tried to sustain their usage they probably would not live to a ripe old age anyway.

    I would like to end this article with a story. "Little Frankie" as we used to call him was well, little. On a good day he might have been five foot 3. Frankie was very young, athletic and a hit with the ladies. But Franky started to change before our eyes. In a span of 6 months "Little Franky" blew up to cartoon character superhuman size. We all knew he was lifting, but his tiny frame just did not fit with the amount of bulk it was carrying. And then something strange happened. He started shrinking. ALOT. He claimed he had stopped lifting but something was off. Then he got big again. When he hit age 30 or so you could see the male pattern baldness forming in his once thick haired head. Then when Franky was in his 40s the word spread through the building like wildfire. Little Franky had been busted for distribution of steroids on federal property. He lost his job, his pension, his self respect and dignity, and probably his health. Don't be like Little Franky. Be like the bodybuilders of the past. They were strong, athletic, agile and flexible. They were the ultimate examples of good health and longevity. Reeves, Grimek, Eder, Hepburn... Always choose long term good health over a fools dream.

   Editor's Note: Great Article Burt!
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Monday, October 5, 2020

Wisdom From The Past - By Jim Duggan

     It's no secret that I've always enjoyed reading vintage weightlifting magazines, especially the old York publications.  While looking through some old Strength and Health magazines, one particular issue caught my eye.  The October 1937 issue of S&H had an interesting variety of articles.  Who would guess that information that was published eighty-three years ago would still be pertinent today?  Actually, the answer to that question is quite simple.  Anyone with an appreciation for valuable training information recognizes that good material is timeless.  Just about everybody can benefit from closer study of the classic physical culture publications.  
     In this particular issue, there were several articles that resonated with me.  The first one was Bob Hoffman's editorial.  "Home Exercise is Best" was the title.  The opening words are of particular significance today.  "Are you a person who has always wished to be strong, healthy, and well-built but has put off the commencement of training because there is no gym near you?"  
     Back in 1937, commercial gyms were not all that common.  Today, while there are plenty of gyms, for many months they were forced to close their doors due to the pandemic.  Sadly, many had no choice but to go out of business permanently.  Even with the re-opening of most gyms, many people are reluctant to return out of health concerns, or unwilling due to time constraints, mask requirements or social distancing restrictions.  So, in a way, serious Lifters are facing some of the same challenges that were around in the 1930s.  
     There are a few more useful quotes from Mr. Hoffman's editorial.  Here is a good one: "You need not make a lot of noise.  Handling the bells gently, setting them down lightly, will make you stronger than if you constantly drop them." I guess abusing equipment was an issue back then, just as it is today.  We've all seen this particular type of gym character.  Attention-seeking  yo-yos  who insist on yelling, screaming, and making as much noise as possible.  If screaming like a banshee isn't enough, then intentionally dropping a loaded barbell will certainly draw enough attention.  
     Even if you don't train at a commercial gym, a casual glance at some of the YouTube videos floating around will provide you with a laugh.  "Screaming meemies," as Dr. Ken used to call them.  And what about all these so-called world records that we see on a weekly basis?  A lifter, surrounded by his screaming entourage, approaches a barbell ( or dumbbells, or power rack), and performs a "world record." Since many legitimate contests have been cancelled or postponed,  we are subjected to these glorified "gym lifts" masquerading as world records.  And, of course,  the requisite yelling, chest bumping, adds to the drama, all caught on video.  What a joke!  Noise doesn't make you stronger, and yelling and screaming do not make the weight lighter.  Even if you are attempting a "world record," a real lifter doesn't need a cheering section.  A good rule to follow, whenever you have the urge to make a lot of unnecessary noise, is "empty barrels make the most noise."
     In addition to Bob Hoffman's editorial, there is an article by Dr. Frederick Tilney titled "Quit Making Excuses."  It seems that excuses, procrastination, and laziness have been around for a long time.  Dr. Tilney goes on to describe the Strength and Health way of life as "earnestly striving each day to get the MOST out of life."  Basically, if you're not happy with your training- or any other aspect of your life- then it is up to you to help yourself in order to change things for the better.  
     "Tomorrow is the devil's motto."  Putting things off until tomorrow will not make you stronger or healthier.  How many times have you heard someone promise to start working out tomorrow. Or next week. Or next month.  "The present time is the raw material out of which you make whatever you will.  Instead of worrying about the past, or dreaming of the future, seize the the present instead."  Sound advice for anyone who needs motivation to get going.  Wasting time equals waste of energy and vitality.  
     Dr. Tilney goes on to address those who are "getting on in years."  Even in 1937, there were euphemisms for getting older.  The only difference is, back then, forty was considered to be "older."  Fortunately, we are more enlightened about age and getting older.  And I say this not because I recently turned 56, but because so many people today are still going strong in their sixties and seventies!  And, if you are indeed "older," it is never too late to begin a weight-training program.  You can still accomplish what you want if you quit making excuses and "plunge into action." 
     There was another article by Bob Hoffman that caught my eye.   "Heavy Exercise Saves Time and Energy."  While he was making a case for his york Heavy and Light System, there was one salient point: "It's necessary to use heavy weights to get results." If you want to get stronger, you must train progressively, and that includes training heavy.
     "You can build your strength in a minimum of time and effort through heavy training for the large muscle groups and all-around training for the entire body."  Sounds familiar?  Any sensible drug-free training program is based on that concept.  While today's "muscle magazines" may feature steroid-bloated bodybuilders pumping away on isolation movements, we know better.  Apparently, so did Mr. Hoffman back in 1937.
     I will close this article with the closing line of Bob Hoffman's editorial:   "Cooler weather is coming soon.  Fall is a time for those striving to reach physical perfection.  Get into action NOW to train."

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Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Building Power Without The Powerlifts - By Jim Duggan

      The purpose of lifting weights is to become stronger and build muscle.  Progressive resistance. Strength training.  Hoisting the steel.  Call it what you want, but I am glad to contribute to a website that is devoted to building strength and getting stronger.  Years ago, Whelan Strength Training put out a t-shirt that said:  "No toning.  No chrome.  No bull.  Just the workout of your life!"  I am proud to say that I still have the shirt, because it encapsulates a very basic training philosophy.  A philosophy that I was introduced to when I first began training.  

     Anyone reading these words is interested in becoming stronger.  Pumpers and toners can go elsewhere.  So can steroid users.  "Natural strength" means just what it says.  If you are interested in drug-free strength training, then keep on reading.  

     One of the most popular ways to become stronger is to dedicate yourself to the three powerlifts.  Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift.  Powerlifting has been described as the sport of super strength.  But in addition to being competitive lifts, Squats, Bench Presses and Deadlifts are excellent exercises for developing great strength.  In other words, you do not need to be a competitive powerlifter in order to reap the benefits of these wonderful exercises.  And you certainly do not need to perform endless sets of near-maximal poundages either.  High-rep Squats and Deadlifts have long been used to build strength and increase muscle mass.  

     What if you are a powerlifter who wants to take a break from the three Powerlifts?  What if you don't have access to a power rack or heavy-duty flat bench?  Or what if you want to build overall body strength with a minimum of equipment?  The last two questions are of particular importance lately since many gyms have closed due to the ongoing pandemic.  

     I'm going to list some movements that will help develop greater overall body strength.  Before I go any further, I  want to stress that heavy Squats and Deadlifts are crucial to building serious strength.  The last thing I want to do is diminish the value of these two great movements.  Indeed, any strength-training program that does not include some variation of these movements is misguided at best.  However, if you'd like to try a change of pace and/or add variety to your workouts, then give the following exercises a try.  

     1) High Pulls.  Various pulling movements have been a staple of Olympic weightlifters for years.  Any trainee wishing to increase his/her back strength and pulling power can benefit from High Pulls.  The good thing about Pulls is that you can do them in a variety of ways, thereby preventing boredom and staleness.  You can use a "clean grip," or or you can take a very wide spacing and do "snatch grip" pulls.  You can also vary the exercise by doing them from the floor, off blocks, or from various heights from inside a power rack.  I remember reading old Strength and Health magazines and seeing pictures of Norbert Schemansky doing heavy pulls from various heights.  If you have any doubts as to the effectiveness of High Pulls, kindly read about Mr. Schemansky and his accomplishments.  

     2) One-Arm Clean and press.  Cleaning a heavy dumbbell to your shoulder and pressing it over head is an excellent way to add strength and size to your shoulders.  The important thing to remember is to always use good form.  Do not turn it into a Bent Press.  Maintain a straight back, keep your forearm vertical at the start of the press, and stay as upright as possible.  No leaning.  

     3)  One-Arm High Pull.  Placing a DB between your feet, with knees bent and hips lower than your shoulders, keep your head up and drive with your legs and pull the DB up to shoulder level.  At the completion of the rep, you can lower the dumbbell all the way to the floor, or you can make it more difficult and prevent the dumbbell from touching the floor between reps.  

     4) One -Arm Swing.  Place a DB between your feet and simply swing it between your legs, then drive yourself forward "swinging" the DB up to about the height of your head.  You can also do a two-hand version of this exercise.  Again, starting with the DB between your feet, but this time grasp it with both hands.  If you're willing to make a small investment in a quality piece of equipment, Sorinex Equipment sells a "Hungarian Core Blaster" that will make the two-handed swing much easier.  I purchased one years ago and have found it to be a useful exercise.  

     5)  One-Arm Dumbbell Snatch.  Simply grab a DB with your feet about shoulder-width apart (or slightly wider).  Bend your knees, drive with your hips and pull the DB as high as you can, while at the same time straightening your knees.  Keep the DB close to your body and rotate your elbow under the weight,then lock out your arm.  

     Since these exercises are definitely NOT isolation movements, you will feel soreness throughout your body, especially your back ( upper and lower ), shoulder girdle, abdomen, and the muscles of your "core."  These are not pumping exercises , although you can utilize high reps when performing them.  That's another advantage of these movements.  You can use any variety of rep schemes and still make gains.  

     If you're looking for a change of pace, while building greater overall body power, give some of these exercises a try.  

Editor's Note: Great Article Jim as always. 

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Saturday, August 15, 2020

The Most Basic Of The Basic - By Jim Duggan

      One of the most fundamental rules of building strength is the importance of performing basic exercises.  Hard, heavy work on the basics is the foundation on which any sensible strength program is built.  If your goal is to become bigger and stronger, then you must "pay your dues" by devoting a lot of time and hard work on the basic movements.  The basics cannot be overlooked, or overstated.  In order to get stronger, there is simply no alternative.  

     For those who are just beginning, you might be asking "What are the basic exercises?"  The answer is simple.  Basic exercises are those that target the large muscle groups.  Some examples are Squats, Bench Presses, Deadlifts, and Military Presses.  As opposed to isolation movements, these magnificent exercises bring the most muscle groups into play.  Consequently, and this is very important, the basics allow you to use heavy weights.  

     While I listed several basic exercises in the previous paragraph, I would like to mention one movement in particular.  The Deadlift.  The most basic and simple test of overall body strength.  An excellent exercise, as well as a competitive lift.  Any trainee who wishes to get stronger should include some form of deadlifting in their training program.  And, make no mistake, there is no shortage of Deadlift variations to include in your program.  Regular Deadlifts, stiff-leg Deadlifts, Deadlifts off a block ( deficit Deadlifts), partial Deadlifts to name just a few.  There are also a number of specialty bars today that can be found in any commercial training facility.  Special Deadlift Bars, Trap Bars, competition bars, Open Trap Bars.  In other words, because of the many variations in exercises and equipment, there is absolutely NO reason to go stale, or lose interest in this wonderful exercise.  When it comes to the Deadlift, variety is the spice of life.

     When I say that there are special Deadlift Bars available, these bars are longer, and have more "give" than a regular  competition bar.  This "give" or "bend" allows one to use heavier weights.  You might have seen these bars in use recently.  Tere have been several professional Strongmen who have attempted "world records" using these bars.  Personally, I view most of these "records" with a healthy dose of cynicism.  Most Deadlifts that are performed in a strongman contest would never get passed in a sanctioned powerlifting contest.  In a strongman contest, lifting straps are permitted, as is hitching, or dragging the bar up the thighs.  I'm not denying that these ( mostly steroid fueled) Strongmen are brutally strong, but if you set out to accomplish something, then do it right. Or don't do it at all.

     Getting back to the basics of the Deadlift, some of my favorite deadlift workouts recently involve nothing more than a York 5' exercise bar, utilizing standard plates.  I was introduced to this method of Deadlifting by my friend Steve Weiner.  Steve is a professional performing Strongman who happens to hold the World record for bending frying pans, horseshoes, and other steel items.  He also has one of the best-equipped home gyms anywhere.  He has a great collection of vintage Iron, York weights, classic machines, heavy stones, and a heavy-duty power rack.  While we try to train together as often as possible, our favorite exercise is, you guessed it, the Deadlift.  We just happen to share a great respect for this magnificent exercise.  During one of our training sessions, our Deadlift workout consisted of five sets of the three reps on the standard barbell.  That's it.  No specialty bar. No fancy rep scheme. Just five heavy sets of three.

     Because of its short length, there is absolutely no "give" or "bend" in the standard bar.  The initial pull off he floor is pure, unassisted power.  And while we may be using less weight with this standard bar, the strength that accrues from using a short bar is real, and not a gimmick.  Incidentally, the soreness we felt the following day indicated to us that we did, indeed, work hard.  And heavy.

     So, a heavy, basic exercise, using a simple rep scheme, on the most basic piece of equipment available.  I can't think of a way to make it any more basic than that. Or any more effective either.

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Friday, August 14, 2020

Congrats to R.J. Hicks - MS Exercise Science

Congrats to writer R.J. Hicks for completing all requirements for his Master of Science Degree in Exercise Science from Liberty University.  He is also an active duty Captain in the U.S. Air Force. Great job RJ!

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Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Avoid Strenuous Activity? - By Jim Duggan

     For the past five days, the daily weather forecast for the New York area would contain the warning" avoid strenuous activity," or the ever-popular "limit your time outside." Heat waves during the middle of July are not uncommon, and avoiding strenuous activity is usually sound advice when the temperature is in the mid 90s.  But, what if it's your birthday, and you plan on doing your customary "birthday challenge workout?"  Birthdays come but once a year, and it's not my fault that I was born during the hottest part of the year.  And for my 56th birthday, I had planned on doing something special, since I am now officially "over the speed limit."
     I have been doing my birthday challenge workouts for nearly fifteen years now.  When I was younger, I was always amazed at some of the feats that Jack LaLanne would perform on his birthdays.  And while I am not about to swim the length of the Golden Gate bridge while handcuffed, or perform thousands consecutive push-ups, I always want to mark the day by doing something meaningful.  This year was no exception, so I decided to do the following:
1) One-Arm Dumbbell Press with 56 Lb. "Bosco Bell."
2) One-Arm Kettlebell Row with 56kg kettlebell.
3) Anvil Curl with 125 Lb. Anvil
4) 180 Lb. Stone ( lift from ground to shoulder.)
5) York Krusher
     My original plan was to do each movement for 56 total  reps, in sets of 6-10.  I set up the first four movements, and would rotate through each one.  The York Krusher I would save for last, since it was the easiest to do.
     The One-Arm DB Press is one of my favorite movements.  I usually include it in my "Deck of Cards" workout, which I originally wrote about in September of 2016.  The "Bosco Bell" is a loadable thick-handled dumbbell that I bought from Sorinex.  It is an excellent piece of equipment, and I highly recommend getting one. You can load it with lead shot, sand, or BBs.  Mine is currently loaded to 56 Lbs.  I had originally had hoped to be able to do 112 reps for my birthday, but the combination of heat, humidity, and fatigue caused me to rethink strategy, so I stopped at 84 reps.  I was a bit disappointed, but the Rows, Curls, and Stone really smoked my arms, back, and shoulders. As the saying goes "Wait 'till next year!"
     The Kettlebell Row is something that I usually don't include in my workouts.  I've never been a big kettlebell advocate.  I much prefer good old-fashioned dumbbells or the newer Center Mass Bells ( CMBs).  I have to say, though, that the kettlebell row is an effective, and brutal, exercise.  I've done dumbbell rows with over 130 Lbs., but the 56kg kettlebell was more than enough to handle.
     Over the years, I have enjoyed using various anvils in my workouts.  Dr. Ken Leistner and Kim Wood were writing about the virtues of anvils decades ago, and I was fortunate enough to follow their sound advice.  I have nine anvils ranging in size from 50 Lbs all the way up to 206 Lbs.. I've used them for Presses, Curls, Carries, and neck work with my neck harness. I chose to use the 125 Lb. Anvil today because it weighs close to 56 kg( in keeping with the 56 theme.) Also, it is plenty heavy, and I don't think I can strictly curl my 150 anvil. At least, not yet!
     When it comes to my birthday, stones hold a special place in my heart.  Actually, I enjoy lifting stones throughout the year. I've even found a way to incorporate stones into my "Deck of Cards" conditioning workouts, and I could not have been more happy about the results.  This year as in years past, I decided to do one rep for each year ( plus I add an extra rep for good luck!) Lifting the stone from the ground to shoulder takes a toll on the skin of your forearms, not to mention your shoulder.  However, I decided long ago to not use gauntlets on my forearms. Embrace the discomfort is a familiar theme when it comes to strength training, and a high rep stone workout on a hot day will drive the point home very convincingly.
     After the four basic movements were completed, and after changing my shirt several times and drinking several liters of water, the last thing to do was to do 56 reps with my York Krusher.  I like my Krusher, and feel that it is an effective movement, even though this particular piece of equipment is almost as old as I am.  I also did it in part as a tribute to Bob Hoffman. My birthday is July 20, but it was on July 18, 1985 that Bob Hoffman passed away.  This year was the 35th anniversary of his passing.  So after the heavy work was done, I did two sets of 28 reps on my York Krusher as a tribute to the "Father of American Weightlifting."
     After I was finished, I was spent. The heat and the weights made for a powerful combination with which to contend.  I'm glad that I got through the workout, and I'm happy to report that while I was sore the next day, it was the soreness that accompanies the sense of accomplishment one feels after setting out to complete a difficult task.  I'm equally glad that I didn't pay attention to the weather forecast telling me to avoid strenuous activity.

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Monday, July 13, 2020

My 10 Undeniable Truths of Weight Training for Beginners - Part 6 - Train Drug Free - By RJ Hicks BS, CSCS

It makes my blood boil to see how fake the weight training industry is in regards to steroids. Time and time again, I see young trainees make tremendous gains in a short period of time. In May he’s a wimp and by September he is a monster. Weight training and good genetics isn’t what did it. Bob Whelan and I talk about drug use all the time. He has personally seen many lifters who were average lifters but less than a year later he couldn’t even recognize them because they were so massive. All to say they got back into training hard and ate well? It’s all BS.

People aren’t fooling anyone who is in the know. There are no training secrets, routines or luck that comes into making drastic gains quickly. Anyone that says so is lying to you. People in the know, know it’s the drug that you are on making those gains, not your training and diet.

It pisses me off to see a guy get 10 years of training results in 1 year when I have to work so hard for years to make a third of his gains. It is cheating the time and effort it takes to earn real results. I have no respect for people who submit to drug use to produce results. They are in training for egotistical purposes only and have no desire for good health.

Steroids first started to become noticed in the early to mid-1950’s after the Helsinki Olympics. They were originally created to increase aggression and strength levels in the Nazi forces to enhance their warfighting, but after the war the Soviets discovered the drugs and began applying it to their athletes to improve their competitiveness. It took the US almost a decade to figure out how the Soviet Union could become so dominate in Olympic lifting, track and field and other events hosted at the Olympics seemingly overnight. But once we did, it didn’t take long until they became popular in bodybuilding and the strength sports in the USA and worldwide.

Through most of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s there were plenty of authorities in the field speaking out against the use of steroids. Bob Hoffman and John Grimek had numerous articles published in their magazines “Strength and Health” and “Muscular Development” that spoke of the dangers of drugs. Peary Raders “Iron Man” also had many authorities who were openly condemning steroid use, to include Peary himself! Unfortunately, less and less is being said now of the matter to steer those interested in weight training away from drugs.

Bob has told me many times the 90s and early 2000’s was a resurgent of good training information. There were many great magazines and newsletters available at a time after most of the good information had faded in the mid 80's. “The Steel Tip”, “Hard Training” “Hard Gainer”, “The Dinosaur Files”, "Milo" and “The Iron Master” were packed with great training advice, but many of the authors hardly touched on drugs. They assumed you were training natural, but never took a hard stance. There were really only three people during this time who were strongly against drugs. Bob Whelan, Stuart McRobert and Brooks Kubik. They were main people to carry the torch of the anti-steroid movement throughout the 90's and early to mid 2000s.

For the last 15 years, Bob has been one of the only people to be adamantly against steroid use. It’s too bad most people don’t know about The most popular weight training websites people visit today are filled with nothing but drug users and BS drug user routines. This is all the masses are ever influenced by, gimmicky training. Be part of the few in the know and read the great training information on this site and truly understand the meaning of drug free training.

The days of “Strength and Health” and “Physical Culture” are long gone. Strength training is now a money-making industry not a health industry. There is no regard for vigor and longevity for many in the field. Most of the guys seen on the front cover of magazines, in the T.V. commercials or big-name websites are using drugs. It is a quick way of making you believe what they are selling will produce those results. It is all a lie. None of their gimmicks or supplements are going to produce the desired results for you, only natural training will.

Dick Conner had a great talk at one of Bob’s Clinics on drug use in powerlifting. When asked about an infamous barbell club that I will not mention, he directs their success solely to the use drugs, gear and perfecting the power lifts technique. That the reason behind the high frequency and volume of the lifts is a learning process to develop perfect technique. High bridging on the bench, rising your chest to the bar, cutting the squat depth short an inch by taking a wide stance and sitting back. None of these techniques are making your stronger, than are decreasing the amount of work you have to do each repetition. Everyone one of their powerlifters takes steroids, it’s a must to train there. No one is shy about it there, but most don’t realize that’s where the huge poundage comes from. The use of drugs and wearing the latest "Gear" plays a dramatic effect on the amount of weight you can move. On Natural Strength Night on Mind Force Radio with Bob, Dick talks about a 350-pound natural bencher just by going on drugs and wearing gear can easily become a 500-pound bencher. That 150 pounds has nothing to do with getting stronger, it is just all just BS. He closes off at the podcast stating all the chains/bands, high volume, percentage training does not make enough difference in training results to matter. It is all just fluff to disguise what is really producing their results.

I don’t care how many championships so and so coach won or successful athletes they produced, if they train with drugs their methods will not work the same with you. Drug training and natural training are two completely separate activities. The drugs allow you to train completely different than if you were not on them. It’s the drugs that causes the body to grow bigger and stronger in these trainees, not the training and recovery. They enhance you genetically, weight training doesn’t do that. Any routine will work if enough drugs are taken. That is why so many drug routines are crap, most drug users never learned how to properly train.

The effects of steroids on your body should be reason enough never to try them It is like playing Russian Roulette with two rounds in the cylinder. There is a good chance they will kill you and a greater chance that regular steroid use will ruin your health. It is not some supplement you will excrete out; you are literally altering your cellular structure as Bradley Steiner puts it on Natural Strength Night. It is a dangerous substance and should never be used except in extreme medical purposes under a qualified medical doctor.

Look at the WWE as just one small example. The WWE has had a major drug problem since its inception. Many of their athletes have tried at one time or used drugs regularly to improve their physique and performance. You can look on google and easily find tons of articles listing all the former stars who have had premature deaths related to drug abuse. Chris Benoit, Macho Man, Eddie Guerrero, Brian Pilman and the Ultimate Warrior are just a few of the names that are sadly on just one of these lists. These drugs can destroy your health and do so quickly. Mood swings, depression, injury to tendons and ligaments, heart disease, and high blood pressure are just a short list of the harmful effect’s steroids can cause. No healthy individual should ever take them.You can maximize your physical potential without subjecting yourself to the dangers of steroids

 There are some phenomenal natural lifters who can make lift as much as one on steroids, but they are the exceptions. Men like Marvin Eder and Paul Anderson are the exception to the and vast majority. With a 500 pound bench and 1000 pound squat respectively, these lifters were magnificent and should be remember as such. In the history of the world they are probably the strongest weight lifters ever. Their numbers may seem forgotten because they are dwarfed by huge numbers the drug lifters are putting up today. It's a shame that their incredible feats go unnoticed and they don't get enough praise.  I remember an ad in the old "Strength and Health" from Bill Anton called "Bill Anton Big Bench"  He was one of the first few men to have a 400 pound bench, and incredible feat at the time that is still deserving of a lot of respect.. People look at a 400 pound bench like it is nothing now because everyone is on drugs. This is a completely fabricated illusion! Not everyone's genetics will allow such progress. Only the few genetically gifted can obtain such lifts naturally, and that is okay.

When you commit to being a natural trainee you refuse to ever try drugs. You are in this to be strong and healthy, not for egotistical purposes. Natural training is about maximizing your physical potential the right way. You don’t listen to the quacks in the field who are involved in the drug scene or illicit drug training. Natural training is a completely different activity than drug training. Drug training works for drug users not natural trainees. All of the golden era bodybuilding splits, secret soviet training, long periodization cycle percentage training can be traced back to drugs and are of no use!

Listen to the few good voices in the field who are natural trainees and commit natural training to their core philosophy. Build your body to be strong and healthy. Maximize your physical potential the right way, without drugs Trust the advice of Bradley Steiner, Bob Whelan, Dick Conner, Stuart McRobert, Brooks Kubik, Jim Duggan and the many great natural lifters before them that preached drug free training. Your body will thank you for it, for years to come.

Editor's Note: Great Article RJ! One of my all-time favorites. This information is rare today and badly needed.
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Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Are You Really Working Out? - By Jim Duggan

Peary Reader's Ironman magazine was published from 1936 through 1986. He published articles on all facets of the Iron Game. Weightlifting, Bodybuilding, Powerlifting, just about every strength endeavor was covered in the pages of his magazine. Ironman was generally considered to be the least biased of all the various "muscle magazines." Mr. Rader was a true Physical Culturist who not only wrote about having a balance of mind, body, and soul- he actually lived such a life. The great authors who wrote for his magazine are too numerous to mention. Needless to say, if you can get your hands on some old issues of Ironman ( before 1987), I encourage you to do so. You will be glad you did.

Recently, while looking through some old issues, I came across the March 1985 edition. The editorial was written by a gentleman by the name of Ivan E. Bright, Jr.. It was titled "Are You Really Working Out?" It struck me that this was a valid question to ask, even though it's been over thirty-five years since the original article was written. Incidentally, one of the great things about Ironman in those days was that Mr. Rader would present articles from authority kany different and diverse viewpoints. He had many outstanding guest editorials over the years. In this particular editorial, Mr. Bright relates a recent workout that he had in a gym. While at the gym, he had encountered an acquaintance named "Ed," who was also at the gym to work out. Or so he thought.

While Mr. Bright was doing heavy Bench Presses for sets of five, his friend Ed was at the front desk, talking with the owner of the gym. Eventually, Ed made his way to the Pec-deck machine, and did a few light sets. After his Bench Presses, Mr. Bright proceeded to several sets of heavy Presses. Ed, meanwhile, was still jaw-jacking, this time at the water fountain.

I think you see where this is going. One person engaging in a heavy workout, while another is basically wasting his time. Ed is a classic example of someone who thinks he works out by virtue of the fact that he simply shows up at the gym. But merely showing up doesn't make you a lifter. The contrast between these two individuals- one working hard, while the other is doing nothing- is something that plays out in every gym, every day. It also leads to a couple of important questions.

1) What type of trainee are you?

2) Do you actively "train" when you work out or are you simply "going through the motions?"

Before you answer those questions, it is important to note that you don't necessarily have to belong to a commercial gym to waste time. You can be in the comfort of your own home and still be "spinning your wheels." Cell phones, social media, texting, and tweeting are the domestic equivalent of jaw-jacking at the water fountain.

To avoid wasting time, you have to decide what it is you want to accomplish from your training session. Do you want to get bigger, strongr, and healthier? If so, then you have to determine whether your workout is sufficient. If it is not, then quit kidding yourself.

If you want to train more productively, then you have to be serious and dedicate yourself to the goals that you have set. You also have to commit to a training program which consists of basic, heavy movements. There is no need to train six or seven days per week. "Body part training," which is a by-product of six day per week training, is a waste of time. Training body parts is something that originated with steroid users, and has no place in the training regimen of a hard-training natural lifter.

Something that goes hand in hand with basic, heavy workouts is the recognition of the importance of adequate rest and recuperation. Getting sufficient rest between workouts is crucial, especially for drug-free trainees. Two, or at most, three workouts per week are more than sufficient for most Lifters.

When it's actually time to train- be it at home or in a commercial gym- then do it. Don't waste precious time doing things that will impede your progress. One of my favorite sayings goes like this: "Time is the only thing of real value that you possess. Don't waste it." Only you know whether you're working out hard enough or not. Are you really working out?

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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Health and Strength for Today - By Jim Duggan

     "It's a great life if you don't weaken."  These are the opening words to an article written by Dr. Frederick Tilney in the March 1936 edition of "Strength and Health" magazine.  Since we are currently in the third month of a worldwide pandemic, it's easy to forget that health issues existed over eighty years ago.  But, believe it or not, before Joe Dimaggio played his first game for the Yankees, before World War II even began, people sought to become stronger and healthier.
     Strength and health are priceless possessions.  Unfortunately, like many gifts, we usually don't appreciate what we have until they're gone.  Instead of wishing, dreaming, and hoping to get stronger and healthier, start doing something about it today.  Forget about tomorrow.  Never mind about next week, or the week after.  The best time is now.  The only time is now.  Take action today that will make you stronger, and will improve your health.  Use the beginning of a new month- or the beginning of Summer- to wake up to the possibilities and pleasures of greater strength and abundant good health.
     Even though most commercial gyms are still closed, don't let that stop you from working out.  Adopt an attitude of "My quest for strength will not be denied!"  Besides, all serious Lifters realize that most commercial gyms are a joke when it come to serious training.  And with the warm weather upon us, you  can train outside and reap the benefits of fresh air and sunshine.  Vitamin D is good for the immune system, and who couldn't use a boost to their immune system today?
     Please don't fall into the trap of believing all the "experts" on the internet.  You don't need countless burpees, planks, or pistol squats.  Use common sense and concentrate on the basics.  Hard, heavy work on the basic exercises will negate any need to read the nonsense you'll find from most online trainers.
     Just as important, don't pay any attention to the so-called celebrities who constantly post pictures and videos of their home workouts.  Many of these "action hero" actors are steroid users who owe their physiques to drugs and/or plastic surgery.  And don't fall for the false notion that you need a personal trainer to achieve your goals.  Most trainers are merely "rep counters" and cheerleaders.  You don't need anyone other than yourself.
     During the last few months, while everyone has been in "lockdown mode," there has been plenty of time to reflect on things and take stock of your habits and actions , while at the same time take better care of yourself.  Naturally, when confronted with an abundance of free time, it's only natural to take stock.  But it is also a golden opportunity to learn to respect your body, all aspects of it.
     Needless to say, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the large amount of information available at the click of a mouse, or by pressing a key.  Don't become overly dependent on what you read or hear from others.  Don't rely on someone else to work out or take care of your health.  Ensure it yourself by attending to your health and strength requirements each and every day.  One day at a time.
     It requires no more effort to form a good habit than a bad habit.  Make a conscious decision to cultivate better habits in all aspects of your life.  Instead of lifting weights merely because you ought to it, resolve to work out because you want to do it.  One of the many things for which I am grateful is the opportunity to still enjoy lifting weights after over forty years devoted to our beloved Iron Game.  I love to work out, and I have never looked upon a workout as something that is required ( I hate that word.)  I approach each and everyntraining session as an opportunity:  I get to lift today!  How lucky are we  to be able to lift weights ( and stones, anvils, etc.) and enjoy what we do?
     I would like to offer one more piece of advice.  When it comes to working out, just do it.  Don't talk about it, or go on social media to proclaim it to the world.  The internet is filled with self-proclaimed experts who constantly preach about their training, yet these same people look like they've never touched a barbell.  Don't be a keyboard lifter.
     One of my favorite all-time athletes was Rocky Marciano.  The only heavyweight fighter to retired undefeated.  The "Brockton Blockbuster" was renowned for his unbelievable punching power, stamina, and conditioning.  His 49-0 record ( 43 knockouts) has not been matched.  Yet, unlike most of today's athletes, Rocky never bragged or blew his own horn.  He was a humble, unassuming champion, whose favorite Italian saying was: " Fa i fatte e no parole," which means "Do it. Don't talk about it."
     When it come to lifting weights and working out, don't be a talker.  Set out with unflinching determination to do it.

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Monday, May 4, 2020

When The Gym Is Still Closed - By Jim Duggan

In a previous article, I discussed various ways to train without going to the gym. At the time, a little over a month ago, commercial gyms in the New York area had been closed for two weeks. Here it four weeks later, and the gyms are still closed. Just when - and how - they will reopen is anybody's guess. But there is absolutely NO reason for you to abandon your workouts. If you are truly determined to make it work, then you will do whatever it takes to get the job done.

Last month, I mentioned several ways to train without the use of weights. Make no mistake, you can build a remarkable degree of fitness with bodyweight exercises. You can build strength, fitness, and develop a superb level of conditioning. But, let's face it, if you're like me, you want to LIFT. Progressive resistance. Hoisting the steel. Call it what you want, just so long as you add weight to the bar. Quite honestly, I'm getting a little tired of seeing internet "experts" encouraging me to do countless burpees, planks, and other toning exercises. Not that there isn't a time and place for such movements, but the name of this website is Natural STRENGTH.

I realize that many people simply do not have access to barbells and dumbbells, let alone various exercise machines when the gyms are closed. However, with a minimum amount of equipment, you can continue your workouts, build strength, and maintain a desirable level of health. Strength and Health. A familiar theme. Barbells and dumbbells are all that is required to design an effective weight-training program.

Please note that the information that I'm presenting here is directed at those trainees who have minimal equipment at their disposal. I'm well aware of the large number of "celebrities" who post pictures from their home gyms. I could never fathom how anyone would be motivated by a steroid-bloated "athlete," or "action hero" sharing pictures of themselves in a palatial gym. Can anybody really relate to that? Most people I know do not train in a 10,000 square foot "home gym." Ignore the phonies and concentrate on creating a positive training environment for yourself.

All you will need to get started are the same things that have been building stronger bodies for decades: Free weights. Quality barbells and dumbbells are all that is required. Throw in some determination and persistence and you will get through the gym closures with flying colors.

If you're limited to just a set of adjustable dumbbells, there are many exercises you can do to get stronger. Please note that I'm not talking about pumping and toning exercises. Curls, triceps kickbacks, and other such movements should be reserved for the toners. I'm talking about exercises that will make you stronger. And one of the all-time best dumbbell movements to build strength is the DB Clean and Press. This has been a staple of many a strongman over the years. Simply clean a pair of DBs to your shoulders and perform a strict press. Then lower the DBs to the ground. That's one rep. If done for higher reps this movement will serve as a great overall conditioner, in addition to building great strength. You can also use this as a general warm-up, as it will hit just about every muscle in the body.

There are two other dumbbell exercises that I've enjoyed over the years: Dumbbell Deadlifts and Dumbbell Power Cleans. Performing Deadlifts with a pair of dumbbells is a great way to train the lower back. It is particularly useful for a powerlifter who is between contests. It's an excellent "off-season" assistance exercise. One or two heavy sets of 10-12 reps is a great way to build usable strength that will translate into a bigger deadlift. If you want a particularly intense workout, then try doing one all-out set of 20-30 reps. Naturally, proper performance demands that you do not bounce the DBs off the floor between each rep. Do each rep strictly and under control.

An effective alternative to the dumbbell deadlift is doing power cleans with heavy dumbbells. Multiple sets of low to medium reps or one all-our set for maximum reps will give your back, traps, and shoulders an intense workout. I would like to add a note of caution. If you are using adjustable dumbbells, make sure that you use a set of heavy-duty collars, and that the collars are securely tightened before every set. This applies to all dumbbell exercises.

Another one of my favorite dumbbell exercises is the One-Arm DB Clean and Press. This exercise is especially useful if you have limited time and/or space ( although, in light of current circumstances, most people should have sufficient time on their hands.) In any event, you can select a number of reps that you wish to complete, and then try to achieve that number in a certain amount of time. A couple of years ago, while spending a few days on vacation, I brought along a 50 Lb. Center Mass Bell, which I purchased from Sorinex. One morning, I decided that I was going to shoot for one hundred reps in 30 minutes. It was an intense workout, but I was able to finish in less than thirty minutes. I had the rest of the day to enjoy, and was still able to get in a workout. For the rest of the day, I felt a sense of accomplishment for not having neglected my workout. I also felt pretty darn sore!

As for barbell exercises, there should really be little need to describe what can be done with a barbell. Deadlifts, Clean and Presses, Bent-over Rows are a few effective exercises. One high rep set of Deadlifts, followed by a set of overhead Presses is an intense way to stimulate your entire body. And no special equipment is necessary. If you happen to have a flat bench or squat racks, then you can add those movements to your routine, providing, of course that you ALWAYS use a spotter when doing those exercises. Remember, safety first.

Naturally, barbells and benches will will take up more room and require more space than a set of dumbbells. If you are lucky enough to have a garage or basement, then you can easily fashion a home gym. If your living area is tight,my oh may have no alternative than to lift in your living room or bedroom. I've done many deadlift workouts in my living room over the years. Again, whatever it takes. Performing strict movements will save your floor ( a good set of bumper plates wouldn't hurt either!)

There is yet another alternative to lifting at home that can be highly beneficial for those who want to strengthen their lower bodies. Billy Mannino, a member of Bruno's Health Club from way hack, recently shared a workout that he does with his daughter. They drive to an empty parking lot, and push their car. Car pushing has been around for a long time. All it takes is a large, open area to push your car. Billy alternates pushing forwards and backwards, and says that, by the end of the workout, his legs, particularly his quads are fried. Car pushing is an excellent substitute for Squats, or can be performed after your workout as a "finisher." I had almost forgotten about car pushing until Billy sent a video of himself and his daughter pushing their car through an empty parking lot. If you live near a large, open parking area, and want an intense lower-body workout, then give it a try.

When, and if, commercials gym open again is still undetermined. If you dedicate yourself to your workouts, and adopt the attitude that "nothing will stop me from lifting," you can continue with your workouts without interruption. Hopefully, those who train at a commercial gum will be able to go back soon. But if things remain the way they are, you can still lift, and get stronger while being quarantined.

Editors Note: Thank You Jim. Great article.
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Tuesday, April 14, 2020

My 10 Undeniable Truths of Weight Training for Beginners - Part 5 - Strive for poundage progression using good form - By RJ Hicks, BS, CSCS

As a beginner, one of the biggest tips I can offer you is to strive for poundage progression in all of your exercises, utilizing good form. I say strive, because you cannot always add weight each workout and that is okay. Just because you’re not adding weight each workout doesn’t mean the program is not working. It takes time to lift poundage’s you’ve never lifted before.

There is no need to over-complicate your training program and base your poundage progression on time. Drug -free trainees cannot predict their bodies ability to handle heavier weights by looking at a calendar. You cannot just add 5 pounds a week to your lifts, because the workout told you too. Many programs get away with adding weight this way because they train with far too light of a weight. It is a total waste of time and energy to back off the weights the heavy weights just to several weeks later return to the same weight. It’s just false progression. True poundage progression means you are lifting a weight you have never done before. Time does not dictate your strength levels, how you decide to train and recover does.

Think the phrase, “lift heavy weight, then try to lift heavier weight” until it is ingrained in your mind. Training progressively means just that. You are trying to lift heavier weights to keep your current weights from getting easy. Lifting heavy means, you are lifting the greatest amount of weight you can properly handle in good form for the correct number of repetitions. It is not based on anyone else’s performance just your current ability and goal. Once the repetition goal is reached in good form you add some weight. This keeps the weight from getting too easy so that your muscles are continually challenged. If you are lifting as heavy as possible for the proper number of repetitions and don’t add weight each week, who cares! It is the constant attempt to improve your poundage that builds great size and strength

Do not overlook importance of using proper form in your weight training if you’re looking to maximize your strength. No momentum should be used to help raise the weight. Never try to quickly reverse or bounce the weight to gain momentum to start the next repetition. Pause momentarily in the muscle contracted position. Squeeze the barbell to your abdominals momentarily during barbell rows before lowering the weight. Do not drop the weight at the top of the contracted position. Slowly reverse the direction of the weight and use the same muscles that got the weight up to lower the weight back down. You never want the weight to fall down into the start position. Lifting the weight up is only one half of the lift, make sure you lower the weight as well. Lastly, be sure to raise and lower the weight through the muscles full range of motion (fullest range of motion that is safe for you). If you only train part of the movement you only train part of the targeted muscles.

The amount of repetitions and sets prescribed doesn’t matter if you lift the weights haphazardly. It is more important to perform the repetitions correctly with heavy weight you can handle then to bombard the muscles with a ton of volume or weight that is past your current lifting ability. You must make your training count!

Consistently battling with heavy weight without cheating may seem to be a slow method of building strength, but it will reward you will great strength if you can keep with it. Ignore the short-cuts and miracle methods that will try to distract you from this truth. There are no quick fixes for strength for natural trainees. Stick to the advice of the old-time strongmen from long ago and strive for poundage progression using good form.

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Thursday, April 2, 2020

When The Gym Is Closed - By Jim Duggan

In the July 1980 issue of Ironman magazine, there is a column written by Bradley Steiner, which was devoted to answering questions sent by readers of the magazine. Bradley Steiner, as many readers probably know, has been one of the most prolific Iron Game writers for over forty years. In this particular article, he responds to a reader who, because of a hectic travel schedule, is unable to train at a commercial health club. He goes on to mention several ways to exercise without weights and equipment. However, before we get into training, he wrote some words that are very appropriate today.

In the second paragraph, he wrote the following" "Problems in Weight Training, as just about in everything else human beings do, are inevitable. Part of your satisfaction in training should be derived from your resolve to overcome your problems, and succeed in spite of them."

As I am writing this, we are in the midst of a global pandemic. Where I live, Long Island, New York, all non-essential businesses have been ordered closed. This includes commercial gyms. For over two weeks now, those who train at a commercial gym have had no place to train. If that doesn't qualify as a problem to your training, then I don't know what does.

However, as Mr. Steiner so eloquently explains, we should resolve to overcome our problems and succeed in spite of them. Those words were true nearly forty years ago, and they are even more pertinent today. He goes on to offer more useful advice:

"So....when a problem arises, pause, examine it, come to grips with it, and work through it. Never give up or become discouraged. Remember, a quitter never wins, and a winner never quits." Thank you, Mr. Steiner, for your words of wisdom and inspiration.

Now, the main topic of the original article was how to maintain an exercise program when you can't get to the gym. The answer, as you might expect, offers numerous exercises that can be performed in a hotel room, with no special equipment required. For those of you who, like many of us, have been restricted to our homes for the last two weeks, there are several ways to stay in shape and exercise. This will, of course, be a radical change for anyone who is accustomed to using weights, and specialized exercise machines. Unfortunately, sometimes the real world intrudes upon our weight-training existence. Rather than just throw in the towel, we must be willing to adapt, and do whatever it takes.

Here are a few suggestions on how to work out in the confines of your home. To begin with, if you are used to walking or running on a treadmill, you can easily make the adjustment and do your road work outside. Naturally, in light of the concept of "Social distancing," you may have to make a concerted effort to avoid other people, but there is absolutely no reason why you can't get in a brisk walk.

Naturally, doing heavy Squats will be impossible without weights, but there are options available. Bodyweight Squats done for high reps, can develop a level of conditioning that might not be possible when you are continually lifting heavy weights for low reps. You can add variety to your bodyweight Squats by substituting Hindu Squats, or Lunges. Another viable option is Step-ups. Weighted Step-ups have been used by Olympic Weightlifters for years, but what I'm talking about is Step-ups done for high reps. I was originally introduced to these by watching Bob Backlund perform them back in the early 1980s, when he was one of the greatest pro wrestlers of that era. Mr. Backlund was always one of the strongest and best conditioned athletes of his time, and Step-ups became a staple of his exercise routine. Ironically, because of his travel schedule, he developed a routine that he could use that consisted of two movements. Step-ups and the Ab Wheel were the mainstays of his exercise program, and he was able to build a level of conditioning that was truly incredible. An Ab Wheel is a relatively inexpensive piece of equipment that will pay huge dividends in strength and conditioning. Mr. Backlund would perform many hundreds of Step-ups, and hundreds of Ab Wheel rollouts in one workout. I can enthusiastically recommend that you begin with less. Start slowly, master the correct form, and gradually build up the reps. If you've never done them before, you will be surprised at how sore you will feel the next day. As for the Step-Ups, all you need is a box, bench, or platform that is between 12" and 14" in height. Obviously, it should be sturdy enough to hold your bodyweight. If you are handy, you can build one out of wood, cement blocks, or any other strong material. You can do sets of 50-100 reps. Or you can do them for time, and shoot for going for fifteen or twenty minutes without stopping.

No home-based, bodyweight workout would be complete without an old standby. I'm referring to Push-ups. There are many variations that you can do to avoid boredom. Hindu Push-Ups are an excellent alternative. You van also elevate your feet to make regular Push-Ups more difficult. You can also place a heavy chain around your neck, or have someone place a weight on your back to increase the resistance.

Another staple bodyweight movement is Sit-ups. Again, no equipment is needed. Hook your feet under a bed, or couch ( or have someone hold your feet down.) Doing one or two sets to failure will be enough to keep your torso strong. If you get bored with Sit-Ups, you can always substitute Leg Raises.

Push-Ups, Sit-Ups, and Squats do not require any equipment. The following movement does, but it is relatively inexpensive, and is one of the best investments you can make in your training. I'm talking about Chest Expander Cables. If you've never tried them, then you are definitely missing out on an excellent training modality. Cables are an excellent way to build functional strength. There are many places where you can purchase cables, and numerous excellent cable courses available. You won't regret the time spent training with cables.

With the many exercises from which to choose, how do you arrange them into an effective exercise routine? Actually, it's relatively easy to combine different exercises. One of my favorite ways of training is doing the "Deck of Cards" workout. I had written about this back in September 2016. You can pick any four movements, and give yourself an intense workout. There is no need for special equipment. All you need is a deck of cards and an imagination.

Imagination and determine will be the keys to this, and any other exercise program. In a future article, I will outline a program that can be done using nothing but a barbell, and a pair of dumbbells. In the meantime, make up your mind that you will not let a quarantine deter from working out. You will be able to get fit, and strong using nothing but your body. And when the gyms re-open, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you did not give in to fear, and that you were able to overcome the problem of not having access to specialized training equipment. Good luck to all of us.
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Thursday, March 12, 2020

What's Wrong With Flipping Truck Tires? - By Jim Duggan

There is a popular chain gym, which prides itself as not being a gym. It is a place where you will not be judged. In an effort to attract members, they go to great lengths to explain that no matter what you do at the "gym," you're OK, and everything will be right with the world. To make sure that they get their point across, they actually discourage people who might lift heavy weights from joining. The term "lunk" was introduced and there was an old commercial where a "lunk alarm" would go off as a way to deter serious lifting. The outside world may judge you based on your achievements, appearance, or success, but inside the walls of the gym which isn't a gym, you will not be judged. Everybody is special. Everybody gets a trophy.

Thankfully, most sensible people realize the foolishness of such thinking. I remember reading a biography of a famous bodybuilder, and there are are a couple sentences which, when I read them, hit the nail on the head. The author, Laurence Leamer, wrote the following: "The gym is not a place to sing hymns to the glorious equality of human beings. In the weight room, the stark inequalities of men are on view." Anyone who remembers their first visit to a serious gym can attest to the accuracy of these words.

Now, I am certainly not saying that a person should be judged by their degree of muscle mass, or how much weight they can lift. But what is wrong with a person trying to improve themself? Is it a crime to challenge yourself with heavy weights in an effort to get stronger? Afterall, isn't that why people begin to lift weights in the first place? Poundage progression means adding weight to the bar. As the weight adds up, you will get stronger. This means that you will be at a greater level of achievement than you were before. It also means that you will be ahead of someone who is just starting out. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, provided, of course, that you go about things in the right way. Practice proper gym etiquette, and never forget where you came from. Never lose sight of the fact that no matter how strong or well-developed you are now, you were a beginner once. In the past I've shared a gym with people who were world-class lifters, who were some of the most humble, down-to-earth individuals I have ever known. I've also had the misfortune of witnessing juvenile behavior from pumper/ toner /wannabes with elevated opinions of themselves.

Poor behavior in the gym notwithstanding, there is absolutely no reason to condemn serious Lifters. Please note that I said "serious," rather than "hard-core." The phrase "hard-core" can have a negative connotation, and is often associated with steroid use. "Serious" lifters has a more positive meaning when it comes to Lifters, and lifting. If a man or woman comes to the gym, trains hard, is respectful of other members and respects the equipment, then nobody should have reason to take issue. Or be outraged. Or sound the "lunk alarm." I realize that in today's climate, everything is offensive, and everybody's a victim. And seeing someone train hard and heavy will certainly cause indignation and outrage among certain people. Call it the victim/snowflake/crybaby mentality. But let's be brutally honest. The weights don't owe anybody anything.

One of the more popular recent commercials consisted of a couple walking into a gym, and the owner/manager proudly states the he "flips truck tires." An obvious reference to a popular event in Strongman contests. The "Tire Flip" has been a mainstay in Strongman contests for years, popular among competitors and fans alike. Competitors love it because it is an event that involves the muscles of the lower back, legs, and hips. The areas of the body from where true power originates. Fans of Strongman- and there are many- enjoy the Tire Flip for the same reason. It takes a strong man or woman to flip heavy tires. And, let's face it, seeing large, heavy tires get flipped around looks impressive. And as the tires get larger, the visual impact becomes even greater.

Aside from being an event in Strongman contests, flipping tires is an excellent exercise. It can be easily incorporated into the routine of any serious lifter, or strength athlete. Obviously, if you are training for a strongman contest which has a tire-flip event, then you must "event train," with equipment that resembles the actual event. However, if you're not a competitive strongman ( or strongwoman), you can utilize a heavy tire and make tremendous gains in strength.

When I trained at Iron Island Gym, there were several large tires in a lot behind the gym. The two larger tires were 530 Lbs., and 710 Lbs, respectively. Many times after a workout, I would go outside, and flip the 530 Lb. tire back and forth. It was a great "finisher." Ten or twelve flips after a heavy Squat and Deadlift workout was an excellent way to fry your back and legs. Usually, ten reps was enough, but there was one day when I set out to do a lot more. On July 20, 2007, my 43rd birthday, I did 50 reps with the 530 Lb tire, as part of my birthday challenge workout. It was an exhausting endeavor, but I felt a real sense of accomplishment after fighting for fifty reps. The 710 Lb. tire was another matter altogether. The most I was ever able to do with that monster was a couple of singles. The 530 pounder was the perfect size, and I've often lamented the fact that I have no access to large tires since Iron Island closed. I'd love to have one in the backyard. The fact that the "judgement-free" people don't approve of flipping truck tires only reinforces my belief in the many benefits of using such an effective training modality.
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Tuesday, March 10, 2020

5-4-3-2-1 Blastoff For Old School Strength And Size - By Burt Gam

Over the years numerous so called "training systems" have been utilized, some with good results and others not so much. Many of these simply disappeared as fads or got lost in the shuffle. One of the best ones in my opinion is known as the "5-4-3-2-1 weight training system". It was very popular back in the day by experienced trainees and was known to produce spectacular gains in strength. One of its earliest writings appears to have originated with the "Father of American Weightlifting" Bob Hoffman and the "York Barbell and Dumbbell System. How Bob stumbled upon it is unclear, but his belief was that the way to might and muscle was to perform 15 quality repetitions of a given exercise, similar to 3x5 or 5x3 training methods.

This comparison may have been somewhat flawed since these training methods theoretically produced different training effects. Nonetheless it has been proven to be quite effective. It was used frequently in the 1960s and 1970s by lifters seeking maximal strength gains. It was a favorite among powerlifters, and in fact was used by former powerlifting champion and writer Dr. Mauro Di Pasquale. In 1969 he wrote about this training method in none other than Bob Hoffman's Muscular Development magazine. This system has endured the test of time as a tried and proven method with a strong emphasis on the concept of progressive overload. When I first became "serious" about lifting and sought to educate myself, I bought and read a book called "Inside Powerlifting" by Dr. Terry Todd in 1977. The program was mentioned in the book and became the foundation of my training program for the core lifts. My main purpose at that time was gaining maximal strength which at that time was also useful in my job as an Air Force Firefighter. But something unexpected happened. I actually got a lot bigger too! Over the years this period of growth was probably the largest I have ever experienced. So I figured that this program was for real. To be fair, some of this growth was probably attributed to expected large initial gains. But it was clear to me that although being quite taxing it flat out works for strength and probably was useful as a hypertrophy tool as well when not overdone.

What makes it so great? First off is simplicity. This system is very easy to implement and track progress on the main lifts based on the principle of progressive overload. The idea is to perform several warm-up sets of an exercise with light to moderate weights before proceeding to the work sets. The first work set is the lightest weight performed for 5 reps with a weight you could do for say 8 reps or so. Each successive set diminishes by one repetition with a concurrent increase in weight by about 2.5-5 percent depending on your strength level. This process continues for each subsequent set and culminates with the last set performed for 1 repetition with the maximal weight possible. After successful completion of all reps the next workout would see an increase in the amount of weight for each set and the process continues. This is called "Neural Preparation" because it teaches the muscle to prime itself for a maximum effort while reducing the risk for injury. Psychologically, this system is useful because in the lifter's mind those dreaded reps are diminishing with each set so each set seems more palatable even though the amount of weight on the bar continuously goes up. Because of this, each set becomes more intense, so intensity is the main driving force for growth rather than volume. It is always emotionally gratifying to set personal records on a fairly frequent basis, and this method can produce those kinds of results.

One limitation of this training method is that it seems to work best when used on multi-joint compound lifts like "The Big Three", presses, rows, and so forth. It does have some limited uses on certain isolation exercises such as barbell curls, but those types of exercises seem better suited to more traditional set and repetition schemes utilizing more volume. It also might be a good idea to rotate out every so often to that type of training to alleviate boredom and add some variety and give the body a rest from the grind. Care should be limited to the number of exercises assigned to this protocol in a given workout to one or perhaps two, as it is very intense and overdoing could increase the risk of injury or cause gains to stagnate. The following is a sample program using the "5-4-3-2-1 Training Method".


1. Deadlifts 5x5
3. PULL UPS 3x6-8
8. AB WORK 2x15


3. LEG PRESSES 3x8-10
4, LEG CURLS 3x10-12
7. CALF RAISES 3x15-20
8. AB WORK 2x10-12


1. SQUATS 5x5
3. LEG PRESSES 3x10-12
5. LAT PULLDOWNS 3x12-15
6. DUMBELL FLYS 3x10-12
8. AB/CORE WORK 2x 8-10

Now it should be apparent that there are a number of ways to implement this program and allow for flexibility of program design depending on individual preferences. Variations could include experimenting with different exercises for strength or hypertrophy emphasis, rotating core exercises every so often, alternating this program each week with more traditional programs, adding/deleting exercises for variety and so on. It is fine to be creative since there is really no one right way to run this program as long as the basic guidelines are followed. Experiment and learn as you go along.
Finally, it is important to realize that no one program works forever no matter how good it might be. But this program is a great staple in any intermediate or advanced program. Although I was "technically a beginner when I did this program in 1977, I soon realized how taxing it was and required adequate warm-up to avoid injury and really was better suited for more advanced lifters than myself. This program is best run after perhaps a year or more of solid training and gaining technical experience and perfecting exercise form. This disclaimer is important because as previously stated the program can be brutal and is not for the faint of heart. But if you are fairly advanced and would like to rejuvenate a stagnating program and gain some decent "OLD SCHOOL" size and strength, why not give the "5-4-3-2-1 Weight Program" a try. You will be very happy with your gains I promise you.

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Monday, March 2, 2020

Get Stuart's New Book - By Bob Whelan

I was very impressed with Stuart's latest Book, A MAN DEVOURED. It took a lot of courage to expose his own flaws and struggles and lay it out in the open in an honest public way. This book was sort of a surprise and is not easy for me to write about but I gained even more respect for Stuart after reading it.

I have known Stuart for almost 30 years. I was a regular writer for his great magazine HARDGAINER from 1994 to 2004 so I already had a great deal of respect for him. I have read almost all of his books and consider this one to be one of his best. It is well organised and surprisingly easy to read. Stuart bares his soul and exposes his demons and does not hold anything back.

This book is sure to help those who struggle with Orthorexia, Muscle Dysmorphia and OCPD, but it will also help anyone who just wants to have better relationships, and a more balanced and happy life. I highly recommend this book. Well done Stuart!
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Thursday, February 20, 2020

Readers Question Answered - By Jim Duggan

Readers Question:

Hi Bob: Another great article by Jim Duggan about the trap bar. Maybe you can get Jim or another great writer to write an article about the Texas Deadlift Bar or similar type deadlift bars. Example would the bar be worth purchasing if you not a powerlifter and just want to change things up. In other words would there be any advantage to using that type of bar over a regular oly power bar for the basement lifter. Keep up the great work! Thanks, Steve ...

Answer From Jim Duggan:

If you're not planning on competing in a Powerlifting or Deadlift contest, then I don't think it's necessary to purchase a special Deadlift bar. These bars are becoming increasingly popular, and are being used in various competitions. It seems like a new "world record" is being set every other month on these things. So, if you are planning on entering a meet in which a Deadlift bar will be used, then it would be a wise idea to become familiar with the equipment that will be used. There is a different feel to these bars, especially as the weight increases past 400- 500 Lbs. or so. Since the goal of a contest is to lift as much as possible on that day, not being familiar with the equipment will place the lifter at a disadvantage. But if you don't plan on competing, then a regular Olympic bar will more than suffice. Real strength doesn't require special equipment.

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Sunday, February 16, 2020

The Trap Bar - By Jim Duggan

I was first introduced to the Trap Bar back in 1992, when I joined Iron Island Gym. Prior to that, my only exposure to the Trap Bar was through the pages of Powerlifting USA Magazine. I remember advertisements, and even an article written by Dr. Ken Leistner extolling the benefits of this unique piece of equipment. However, until I finally tried it for myself, I was still "in the dark" as to the advantages of using it.

I'm not going to chronicle the entire history of the trap bar, but I will review a few relevant facts. To begin with it was developed and invented by a gentleman by name of Al Gerard. Mr. Gerard was a powerlifter- and a damned good one at that- as well as an engineer. The original design was diamond-shaped, whereas today's models are hexagonal in shape. In fact, many people refer to it today as a "hex bar." I prefer to call it by its original name: The Trap Bar.

When the trap bar hit the market, the advertisements listed several advantages of using it. I will list a few here:

When deadlifting with a trap bar, the weight is located in a more efficient- and safer- position, relative to the center of gravity. By standing inside the bar, the weight is located to the rear of its normal path of movement. This reduces lower back strain, thereby lessening the chance of injury.

During a trap bar deadlift, the spine is closer to vertical than when using a straight bar. For most people, this will result in vastly improved leverage. Moving the wright closer to the body improves balance, and less effort is required to move the weight off the ground. Most conventional deadlifters find that they can use more weight using a trap bar than they can with a straight bar. In my own experience, my best contest deadlift was 688 Lbs, but using a trap bar, I was able to pull 715 Lbs.. Sumo-style deadlifters may find that they have a different ratio between the two movements.

The Trap Bar is quite versatile. In addition to Deadlifts, other movements can be performed using this strength-training tool. Obviously, deadlifts are the primary trap bar exercise. But, just as with a straight bar, there are many ways to keep it interesting. High reps, low reps, or any combination of rep schemes, can prevent boredom or becoming stale. If you are a competitive powerlifter, the trap bar is an excellent adjunct to your deadlift training. Naturally, if you are preparing for a contest, you must use a straight bar. But the trap bar is a great way to build useable strength, particularly during the "off-season" when you are not training for a meet. High reps done to failure, will strengthen your back, without placing undue strain on your spine. Now, what exactly is meant by "high reps?" When I used to compete in powerlifting, I used to consider anything above five to be "high reps." Over the years, I've allowed myself to become a little more open-minded as to what "high reps" really mean. When I trained with Drew Israel, we would sometimes do sets of ten, with one minute between each set. Other times we would do one all-out set of twenty reps. Another popular rep scheme which we did was to do three sets. Two sets of fifteen, then a set of ten. With only one minute between sets, you can imagine how wiped out we felt at the end of the workout. Incidentally, the most reps that I've ever done on a trap bar were done at contest. One year, at a trap bar "rep-off" contest, I did 400 Lbs. for 28 repetitions. Another time, at another contest, I did 460 for 22 reps. Somehow, over the years, I have never been able to break the elusive thirty rep barrier. At least not yet!

At the opposite end if the spectrum, you can do partial reps with very heavy weights. Recently, I've been doing deadlift lockouts using a trap bar. My friend Steve Weiner introduced me to this, and the results have been impressive to say the least. Steve has an extra long trap bar which fits in a power rack, but you can perform these off of elevated blocks with a regular trap bar. There should be no need to mention the merits of doing heavy rack work. The time and effort that you devote to heavy partials will pay off in the form of great strength. The type of strength that cannot be developed through toning and pumping.

Speaking of the power rack, there is another great exercise that you can do with a trap bar. Overhead Presses. By placing the trap bar in the power rack, resting on the pins set at just below shoulder level, you can grab the handles with the palms of your hands facing each other. In other words, the parallel grip. Similar to when you do dumbbell presses. But, unlike dumbbell presses, it's easier, and safer, to do trap bar presses inside the rack. And by standing inside the trap bar, you can lower the bar to a point that is below that which is possible when doing Standing Presses with a straight bar.

Shrugs are another exercise that can be done with a trap bar. As with overhead Presses, standing inside the bar will make the movement smoother and safer. There is no need to drag the bar up the body, as you would when shrugging with a straight bar. There is also a tendency to cheat, or use excessive "body english" when doing regular barbell shrugs. The Trap Bar eliminates this since the weight will be moving in line with the spine, producing a smoother movement.

Deadlifts, Presses, and Shrugs. These exercises should be part of every Lifter's routine. The Trap Bar provides a safe - and interesting- alternative to these movements. Any experienced trainee will tell you that sometimes a change of pace is needed. For a competitive lifter, the trap bar provides that change with a little something extra. It's just outright effective.

In the decades since the trap bar burst on to the lifting scene, there have been many variations to the original design. I've already mentioned the change from a diamond shape to a hexagonal. There are also bars which are longer and heavier. Some of the newer models have raised handles, to shorten the range of motion when pulling off the floor. There are even new "open" trap bars which are not fully enclosed. I don't really go for these new gimmicks but there is one new version that I have really enjoyed. Last year, I purchased a thick-handled trap bar. The entire bar, including the handles, are two inches in diameter. It is a beast, and turns a deadlift workout into a brutal test of grip strength. Lately, I've been using it on alternate weeks. To make the exercise even more difficult, I place a five inch block inside the bar, and pull off a deficit. It makes for an interesting- and tough- workout.

So, the trap bar deadlift is less stressful on the spine, allows for the use of heavier weights, is easy to learn how to use, and is quite versatile. Therefore, it may be safe to assume that a trap bar should be a staple in every commercial and home gym. Sadly, that is not the case. Just about every person who lifts weights can benefit from using a trap bar. If your gym does not have one, ask the owners/ managers to invest in one. If you train at home, a trap bar is one of the best additions you can make to your gym.

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Thursday, January 30, 2020


The Death of a young friend from suicide has prompted me to write this story and maybe try in some way to get out to others who suffer depression , anxiety and have thoughts of suicide and even commit it. I would enjoy helping others to become Mentally and Physically stronger throughout their life. People often say to me . you are strong, are wired with a stronger fuse, resilient, never give in , don’t need help , you can do it alone.

That isn’t right I have often called out for help, but they are right I have mostly kept strong using my own tactics as others should try to do , in some way that agrees with them. And after completion makes them feel better and having achieved something.

Firstly as you get to an age to understand yourself and the trials and tribulations of life , or work out who you are and where you are going, you need to tell oneself three things. This has been my Philosophy throughout my life especially the last 37 years.

My three beliefs below are my pathway to a more peaceful and tranquil life, get them fixated in your brain then act upon them:

Life is tough whether you like it or not, it is tougher for some than it is for others.

From the day you are born , you are going to get kicked in the face , some get kicked harder than others, some think it is hard but it is soft compared to how others are kicked. But unfortunately you are going to get kicked in the face, that is a truth of life.

Prepare yourself for the two above points and the challenges life brings you, do it , don’t put it off, don’t say do. By looking for weak options such as drugs , alcohol, legal drugs and cigarettes, is a quick fix which leads you down the path to further depression and negative and like threatening thoughts.

I believe the set backs in life have helped me to become stronger, firstly my son became ill at 7 months of age , he got whopping cough, was immunised and all the trouble started , he had an Epileptic seizure which lasted 3 hours, looked as though he wasn’t coming out of it , but he did.

Since then and he is now 37 years of age , suffers epilepsy ( approximately 72 seizures a year ) and is physically and intellectually disabled, lives alone with 24/ 7 help. It was a tough ride, for my wife and I throughout 35 and a half years, and still is for me now as my wife died from lung cancer in June 2019.

Having had to care for her for 8 months , was torture for her and me, it has left a mark, like a tattoo from a prisoner war camp, it won’t go away, I just have to push forward like we all do when things get tough, and look for ways to make my life a slight improvement on the day before, or as it is now.

Before the death of my wife in February 2018 I contacted a lung virus which caused my heart to race and my heart beat to become irregular, and I now suffer with Atrial Fibrillation, take medications first time ever and have some bouts of AF, which scares me some.

So getting back to points 1 and 2 what did I do about it then 37 years ago and what am I still doing about it now.

Three things I have worked on which have pathways into other helpful areas are:




A triangle which needs to remain even at all times to have a better and more full filling life. I will look at each separately and show you how each area falls into others areas , and how important each area relies upon the other.

Training, strength training, running, hill walking, biking, boxing, self defence , swimming keep moving do it every day moderately or once or twice a week hard, and have easy movement days the remaining days. This will squirt good , feel good chemicals throughout the body , making you high in a healthy way, serotonin is the drug produced the feel good drug, great for the brain and enabling to feel good about yourself.

Head up and shoulders back, strong muscles move the bones, and training or exercise encourage blood flow throughout the body , giving us needed oxygen and energy.

I love strength training, Self Defence, have done it since I was 16 years of age, walking and working in the yard.

When younger and able to squat 300 pounds for 20 reps, had me believe I could handle any challenge which came my way, strong , body strong mind.
Training makes me feel great, I can handle the face kicks better , and the challenges are weaker. I train for :  (a) Health, (b) Longevity, (c) Vigour.

To achieve the above I 1. Strength train, 2. Train for self defence, (3) Keep body fat low. (4 ) Maintain cardio vascular fitness, (5) Keep flexible, ( 6) Remain free from injuries, ( 7) Keep my mind strong and positive.

“Make savage the body and civilise the mind”

“Every man should have a set of weights in his shed and a punching bag and never stop using them”.


One needs to eat a healthy diet, supplying yourself with all the necessary nutrients, and avoiding all white sugar and flour , and man made processed food. Never , never smoke , drink alcohol in small amounts or eliminate it as it is a depressant in larger doses. I eat three good sized meals a day evenly spaced , lighter meal at night, when hungry I eat fruit , nuts and maybe a milk drink. If you don’t eat healthfully and regularly , you will have no energy or strength to train and your training will suffer, and then you may give it up and fall further into depression. Keep moving and eating the right food. Investigate , what works for you and makes you feel and look good.

Read , books, visit the Dietician they are the experts and have completed University so should know.


Rest is the last side of the triangle and just as important as the other two, if it is not followed , the triangle becomes uneven and weak, and will faulter causing you to give in, and become ill. Have late nights through alcohol abuse etc, you won’t train and feel like eating, no training no feel good , no energy, lack vitamin B , and you feel worse.

Go to bed same time each night say 10-30 pm and up at 7pm as an example, do some movement for 15 minutes after you rise and are awake, don’t eat before bed, you will sleep better, what are animals doing in the forest when the sun goes down , resting and sleeping, as we should all be doing. I enjoy as I have got older 68 years young at the time of writing , a sleep and meditation for an hour each day.

All the above ingredients , with educating yourself therefore reading and writing up positive affirmations to boost your self esteem such as :

I deserve to be happy and successful

I have the power to change myself

The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary

Make savage the body and civilise the mind.

Don’t say do

Keep moving ,and always go forward

Never Never give in

Will keep you strong and on the right pathway, it has kept me on it , and at times I have wandered off as we all have, but I keep finding ways to get back on the right path, as I don’t want to stay off as it leads to a deep state of depression.

Hope you can stay of the right path and Train, Rest and Eat right , it is a simple way that has worked for me, since the age of 16.

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