Friday, July 23, 2021

Getting Older and Stronger - By Jim Duggan

"Strength training should always be fun, but more so as one gets older." These words were written by Dr. Ken Leistner in the June 1992 issue of Hardgainer magazine. He was responding to a reader's question in his "Asking Dr. Ken" column, which was one of the first things I would read when the latest issue of Hardgainer would arrive in the mail. I felt then that he was one of the most prolific writers and authorities in the Iron Game, and I have not wavered in that opinion, even though that particular article was written nearly thirty years ago. The subject of the reader's question back then concerned the training of older athletes. Back in 1992, I was twenty-eight years old, and I was not particularly interested in how an athlete in his/her fifties should be training. Just as I'm sure younger readers will not be overly excited about what I'm about to discuss. But, in life as in lifting, things change. Three days ago, I turned 57 years old. I'm two years older than the reader who wrote to Dr. Ken back in 1992. To put it another way, I am now the same age as John McCallum's famous "Uncle Harry" from his "Keys To Progress" series of articles which appeared in Strength and Health magazine back in the 1960s. 

Back in the day, Uncle Harry was always in search of ways to find the "fountain of youth," and while such a thing might not exist, there is absolutely no reason - or excuse- for not working out as one gets older. Each year, I try to complete a "Birthday Challenge" as a way to set a goal and work to achieve what I set out to do. Last year, the biggest challenge was the 100 degree heat and oppressive humidity. This year, it was a torrential rainstorm accompanied by thunder and lightning which forced me to experience a "rain delay" about thirty minutes into my workout. But I was not going to let the weather- or anything else- stop me. 

This year, as in past years, I was going to start with my 180 Lb. Atlas Stone. Lifting it from the ground to the shoulder is one of my favorite exercises. Talk about a compound movement. It hits almost every muscle of the body. For high reps, it will leave you feeling beat up, and sore all over. The hardest part of doing this was the fact that the heavy rains thoroughly soaked the lawn, making it extremely difficult to grip and hold the stone. I literally had to dry my hands and chalk my fingers every two reps or so.
Naturally, this slowed down my pace a bit, but I was just happy that the rain stopped and that I was able to complete all 58 reps ( one rep for each year, plus an extra rep for good luck). My second movement, and one of my favorites, is the One-Arm Dumbbell Press with my Sorinex Bosco Bell. This thick-handled dumbbell can be loaded with steel shot, sand, BBs, etc. in order to adjust the poundage. For the last couple of years, I've added a pound of steel shot on my birthday to bring the weight up to equal my birthday. Naturally, this year's version of my "Birthday Bell" weighed in at 57 pounds, and once again my goal was 58 reps. Incidentally, I'm fully aware that as I get older, I will eventually run out of steel shot, or it may simply become too heavy, but I will cross that bridge when I come to it! Meanwhile, I will continue to enjoy this excellent exercise for as long as I can. 

 The last two movements of the day were performed with my 100 Lb. Anvil. Over the years, I've accumulated a total of nine anvils ranging in weight from 50-205 Lbs.. They really are an excellent exercise modality, and can be used for a variety of movements. The two movements I used are the Anvil Curl, and then Neck Extensions with my headstrap. The anvil curls were done in rather strict form. In the past, I've used a heavier anvil, but with larger anvils, the thickness of the horn and heel make it difficult to grip. And, with wet conditions, I did not want to take a chance dropping it on my foot. I can say this from personal experience, having an anvil fall on your foot is something you want to avoid. Ouch! After the Anvil Curls, I took out my Ironmind Headstrap and did 58 reps over spaced over two sets. I was pretty much torched by this point, but I wanted to end on a positive note, and strengthening your neck is something that will have positive benefits for any athlete in any field of endeavor.

Unfortunately, many strength athletes neglect neck work. Don't make that mistake. A small amount of time devoted to neck work is an excellent investment in your overall health and well-being. At the conclusion of this year's challenge, I felt as though I had been run over and dragged by a truck. But the satisfaction in achieving a goal makes up for the soreness. Afterall, we've all experienced soreness, and we all know that no matter how sore you are after a workout, it always goes away. Eventually. There is one more quote from Dr. Ken that I would like to conclude with: "The enjoyment and satisfaction that comes with training is in great part due to the results one gets from that training, and the results come from the basic, multi-joint movements. Train consistently, and enjoyably, and productively."
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Thursday, July 22, 2021

Now Accepting New Remote Clients - By Bob Whelan

For over a year I have not been accepting new remote clients. 
I now have openings. Click on GET COACHING at top of page. 
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Friday, July 9, 2021

A Simple, Effective Workout - By Jim Duggan

Over the years, I've tried just about every workout program under the sun. I'm no different than most other lifters in that regard. Books, magazines, "word of mouth" were just some of the sources of training information. Then came the internet, and an already large pool of information grew beyond our wildest dreams. Throw in the proliferation of videos that are out there- with the requisite keyboard experts- and you'll discover that when it comes to workouts, there is a limitless supply to meet an equally limitless demand. 

When I first began lifting weights, the most popular source of training information was the various "muscle magazines." Each month, I would read the various magazines and try to absorb as much as I could. When you're fifteen years old, it's difficult to separate fact from fiction, and truth from fallacy. Naturally, as we get older and gain more experience, it becomes easier to differentiate between common sense and bull. And as we all learn at some point, common sense isn't always very common. When I began competing in powerlifting, I subscribed to Powerlifting USA magazine, like most Lifters did. There were two features of that magazine that I looked forward to each month. The first was the "Workout of the Month." Each month, a well known lifter would publish a detailed workout geared to an individual lift. The lifter/author would give a step-by-step and rep-by-rep description of his/her training. There was one very big drawback to these "workouts." If you were a drug-free lifter, you simply could not expect to follow the routine of someone who was not "clean." That statement was true back then, and it is true today. I can't make it any more clear than that. A drug-free athlete simply will not be able to train like a steroid user and make gains without risking overtraining and injury. Unless, of course, you make adjustments for volume, recovery, etc.. 

The second main feature of PL/USA, and my particular favorite, was Dr. Ken's column "More from Ken Leistner." I began reading his column in the 1980s. I always felt that his articles were straightforward and contained an abundance of common sense information. His monthly column in "Muscular Development" magazine were equally informative, as well as entertaining. I devoured anything written by him that I was able to get my hands on. When I joined Iron Island Gym, in the Winter of 1992, I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Ken. As I've often stated, Iron Island was the finest training facility I've ever seen. It was a lifter's paradise. Dr. Ken was a remarkable man for whom I have a great deal of respect. And even though he passed away two years ago, I will always cherish my brief association with Dr. Ken. My only regret is that I didn't get to know him better. 

During my years at Iron Island, Dr. Ken treated my the same way he treated other lifters, which is to say, generously. I still have a stack of "Hardgainer" and "The Steel Tip" magazines which he gave me years ago. His monthly "Question and Answer" column in "Hardgainer" was one of my favorite features of that great magazine. Incidentally, as "Maximum" Bob Whelan has mentioned in a previous article, "Hardgainer" is back in business. If you haven't already done so, check it out. Anyway, the simple, effective workout that follows was written for me by Dr. Ken back in 1993. I was preparing for the Kell Classic Deadlift contest and had asked him for some training ideas. Here is the program he laid out for me: Day One. Deadlift 1x5, 1x5, 1x2, 1x1 Trap Bar Deadlift 1x15 Kell Horizontal Row 1x10, 1x6 ( Kell made a Row machine. Bent-over rows can be substituted.) DB Shrug 1x12, 1x10 ( Iron Island had DBs up to 200 Lbs!) Thick Bar Curl 1x8, 1x6 Day Two. Squat Warm-up, 1x10 Assistance work as necessary. I would usually alternate Good Mornings, Weighted Hyperextensions, and an Upper-body movement. As you can see, in terms of workouts, it's as basic as they come. I followed the workout pretty strictly, and didn't deviate from it with the exception of adding some auxiliary work on the second training day, as mentioned above. The most important thing to point out, is that I did not add training days. Two days were more than enough work. It may seem strange to some people that you can build strength by lifting only twice per week, but it is absolutely true. One salient point that Dr. Ken would always bring up was that you can train hard, or you can train long. But you can't do both. Truer words were never spoken. I'm proud to say that Dr. Ken's program, written on a piece of legal paper seen below, helped me to pull an easy 312.5 kg Deadlift on the day of the meet. Basic workouts have been a staple of my training for many years, and I am grateful to people like Larry"Bruno" Licandro, and Dr. Ken Leistner for being positive influences on my training. Influences that have endured over the years. Give this workout a try for a couple months. I think you'll be happy with the results.
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