Friday, October 1, 2021

Training Liberation or Wisdom From Bradley Steiner - By Jim Duggan

Over the years, I've written articles based on material obtained from old issues of Strength and Health magazine, usually from the 1930s and 1940s. I've always believed that quality training information is timeless, and that we can all benefit from the wisdom of the past. Naturally, common sense training advice is not limited to a certain period of time. I recently looked through an old issue of Muscular Development from August 1988. What I found interesting about this magazine was that this issue was definitely NOT before my time. Indeed, in 1988 I was 24 years old, and had been competing in Powerlifting for several years. Additionally, by 1988, Bob Hoffman had been dead for several years, and John Grimek had retired. But guess what? There was still useful, pertinent training advice written by some of the most prolific Iron Game authors. A casual glance at the contributing authors of this edition of MD shows names like Dr. Ken Leistner, Jan Dellinger, and Bradley Steiner. Any list of the most talented Iron Game writers off all-time would include these three gentlemen. Incidentally, I would also include "Maximum" Bob Whelan, and Brooks Kubik to this list as well. 

Back to the August 1988 edition of Muscular Development. There is an article titled "The Liberated Trainee," written by Bradley Steiner. Mr. Steiner passed away almost a year ago. He has been rightfully described as one of the greatest strength training writers ever. He always advocated sensible training with an emphasis on hard work, determination, and desire being the keys to success. And he was against the use of steroids and PEDs. Many people claim to be against drugs, but Mr.Steiner actually had the guts to speak out against them. Many people pay lip service to being against steroids, but people like Brad Steiner and Larry "Bruno" Licandro didn't just talk the talk. They walked the walk and fought the scourge of steroids. In this particular article, Mr.Steiner details the challenges faced by the vast majority of trainees. He refers to these people as "hardgainers" but he could very easily be referring to those lifters who are drug-free. He brings up a number of valid points which i would like to share.

"The saddest thing is being a hardgainer and quitting because you feel that it is useless to expect satisfactory gains." If you are a "hardgainer," or if you are drug-free, there is absolutely no reason to quit if gains are coming slowly. You can build impressive size and strength without the use of drugs if you are willing to work hard. In addition to working hard, you must also work smarter. Do not blindly follow follow the routines of the so-called champions. Most, if not all, of these "champions" are steroid-bloated druggies. Learn to listen to your body and learn what works for you. "Hardgainers require very limited programs and carefully controlled schedules of exercises." 

Mr.Steiner hit the nail right on the head with this statement. Training bodyparts, with endless sets on a six-day-per-week program is a sure way to overtraining, burn out, and injury. Many new trainees simply can't believe that you can make great gains by lifting only two, or at most three, days per week. "Start thinking in terms of simple, brief, and intensive workouts." Another solid statement. Squats and Deadlifts are the bedrock upon which the most effective strength-training programs are built. Developing the legs, hips, and lower back will build great all-around strength. In other words, pumping your arms and "pecs" may build showy beach muscles, but it will do little in terms of building overall body piwer. "A hardgainer's program should be built around Squats, Presses, Deadlifts, and Bent-over Rows." Truer words were never spoken. Naturally, you can make substitutions based on leverages, age, past injuries, etc., but if you wish to build strength then you must include some form of Overhead Press, a heavy pulling movement, and leg work. Concentration curls, triceps pushdowns, and other useless exercises simply will not get it done. 

"Do not organize a drawn-out program of training if you are a hardgainer." Another spot-on observation. If you are drug-free your body will not be able to recover from long, drawn-out workouts. A few hard, heavy sets on the basics is all you need to get stronger. If you train at a commercial gym and suggested abbreviated training to the vast thong of pumpers and toners you would probably be considered some sort of weirdo. But you probably walk into the gym, perform a few heavy sets of Deadlifts, Presses, Rows and be finished while the toners are still sitting around and texting their friends. "Don't grind away at any exercise to the point where you're ready for a stretcher." A common sense piece of advice. 

As drug-free Lifters, we only have so much energy to expend in any given workout. Even on a wonderful exercise like the Deadlift, you can reach a point of diminishing returns. Don't do too many sets of any movement, no matter how strong you may feel. "Be sure that heavier weights and not more exercise is your main goal." Heavier weights. Poundage progression. Adding weight to the bar. The key point of progressive resistance training is increasing the resistance. If you're not adding weight to the bar, then performing additional sets will not help. It may even hurt. Poundage progression is the "since qua non" of any strength training program, and don't let anyone tell you differently. "Avoid any tendency to train with any degree of frequency that forbids rest days between hard sessions." This was mentioned before. Give yourself adequate rest between workouts. By rest days, I mean days of NO lifting whatsoever. 

How many rest days between workouts? Again, everyone is different. Some people, due to age, work sschedule, etc., require more rest than others. Listen to your body. Nobody knows you like you do. If you haven't sufficiently recovered from your last workout, give yourself an extra day it two. Your body will thank you. " Discouragement is your worst enemy." If you love to lift, then it will be easy to maintain your enthusiasm. Many hardgainers have been able to develop great strength. You can too. Don't allow the occasional bad workout to deter you from achieving your goals. There is one other point that Mr. Steiner mentions throughout the article, and I will conclude this aarticle with his words regarding steroids" "Never use them!"
Does modern bodybuilding make you sick? You should write for Natural Strength! I always need good articles about drug-free weight training. It only has to be at least a page and nothing fancy. Just write it strong and truthful with passion! Send your articles directly to me: bobwhelan@naturalstrength.com
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