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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