Monday, May 16, 2022

Use of a hard rubber ball; as a trigger tool - By David Sedunary

David Sedunary was a Remedial Massage Therapist for 25 years, he specialized in Trigger point Therapy, he is now retired. During his time, he has lectured and taught Trigger point Therapy to a number Physiotherapists. David practices what he preached and even now he still weight trains and regularly trigger points his own body by using a hard rubber ball. David claims he gets huge relief from Trigger point therapy.

Trigger points are hypersensitive spots in your muscles that give you less strength and flexibility.

 A hard rubber ball, or a specially designed Trigger Point Tool can be used when you have tight spots or Trigger points in the following areas: 

 Areas to trigger point are as below • Hamstrings • Shoulders • Upper back and Spinae erectors (muscles which run up either side of the spine) • Hips • Lower back Using the tool. 

Pain threshold when using the Trigger Point Tool.

As a guide 10 should be unbearable pain, 0 no pain, as you lean into the Trigger point aim to have the pain around about 6 to 7, wait till the pain fades to a 2. Then repeat once more before moving to another spot. Now onto each muscle group:

The Hamstrings. 

Always wear heavy pants and top when using the Trigger Point Tool, like a track suit. Hamstrings can be trigger pointed by placing the tool under your hamstring while sitting on a hard wooden seat. Push down on the tight spots holding until the pain fades, usually 1 minute for each area. Be sure to work up the middle/ inside and outside of the hamstring. Trigger point both hamstrings. To finish massage legs and have a hot bath. 


Wear a heavy tracksuit top.

While lying on your back on a hard floor, place the Trigger Point Tool between your shoulder blade and floor. By using your body weight lean onto the tool, finding the tight spots, release when the pain fades. Be sure to work the muscle on the edge of the shoulder blade where it attaches to the upper arm. Work over the whole shoulder blade, be sure to trigger point both shoulders. To finish lay in a hot bath.

Upper Back and Spinae Erectors. 

Wear a heavy tracksuit top 

While lying on your back on a hard floor, position the Trigger Point Tool so it fits on either edge of your spine. Work up and down the spine, from the base of the neck to the top of the bottom ribs. By using your body weight lean onto the tool, finding the tight spots, release when the pain fades. Work up and down the spine slowly three times. To finish lay in a hot bath 

Lower back. 

Wear a heavy track suit top

While lying on your back on a hard floor, position the Trigger Point Tool so it fits on either edge of your spine, just below your bottom ribs. Work up and down the spine, from the base of the bottom ribs the top of the hips. By using your body weight lean onto the tool, finding the tight spots, release when the pain fades. Work up and down the spine slowly three times. To finish lay in a hot bath. Please note: After using the Trigger Point Tool rest 4 days before working that body part again. 

There have been times when I may only wear a thin T shirt when trigger pointing my upper body and lower body. If the days are hot at times, I don’t wear a shirt at all, or pants I use the ball on my bare skin. This also depends upon the hardness of the tool or ball you are using.

Just recently I had stiffness and pain in, my lower back caused by bad form whilst weight training.

My treatment was as follows.

Day 1 I trigger pointed my spinae erectors.

Day 2 I trigger pointed my hip muscles

Day 3. I trigger pointed my lower back muscles.

I then rested for 3 days and repeated, now all stiffness and pain

has gone. 

Also, I believe for maintenance of the body one should Trigger Point the above areas every 3 weeks and include your shoulders.

To learn and study more about Trigger point therapy buy

Myofascial Pain and Disfunction

The Trigger Manual Volume 1. And Volume 2. By Janet G Travel MD and David G Simons MD.

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Monday, May 9, 2022

The Direct Approach - By Jim Duggan

The August 1968 issue of Strength and Health had numerous interesting articles which would appeal to readers.  “Russian Training Methods,” “Strengthening the Pulling Muscles,” and John McCallum’s classic “Keys to Progress” are but some of the quality material available to readers of Bob Hoffman’s flagship magazine.  They were all great articles, but there was another article that caught my eye as I was perusing the contents.  It was written by John Grimek and was titled “The Direct Approach to Bodybuilding.”

     I realize that most people will see the word “bodybuilding” in the title and assume it was geared to pumpers and posers.  I’ll admit, that was my initial reaction when I first saw the title.  But, as I began to read it, I realized that there was some sound, logical training advice being disseminated by the “Monarch of Muscledom.”  In other words, you didn’t have to be a bodybuilder to reap the benefits of reading the article from beginning to end.

     There are words of wisdom sprinkled throughout the article that can apply to any person who “hoists the steel.”  “Vigorous effort must be applied if results are to be obtained.”  This falls into the category of being a no-brainer.  There isn’t a lifter anywhere who has succeeded without putting hard work over a long period of time.  There have been articles, magazines, and books dedicated to the importance of hard, heavy work on the basic exercises.  There isn’t a lot that needs to be said to support the importance of vigorous, hard work.  You can make the case that hard work is the sine qua non of success in the Iron Game.

     “Proper amounts of rest and sleep are also needed for faster recuperation of size and energy, but an excess of either should be avoided as they can produce sluggishness.”  The importance of adequate recuperation between workouts cannot be overstated.  This is especially important for drug-free lifters.  Many trainees who try to emulate the routines of the so-called “champions” from the muscle comics will find themselves overtrained and/or injured.  Following a six-day-per-week double split, as advocated by some steroid bloated druggie, will inevitably lead to failure.  The sad part is that most people don’t realize that you can build tremendous strength by lifting two or three days per week using full body workouts.  By giving your body two or three days of complete rest between workouts, you will recuperate and recover so as to be able to make continuous gains without fear of growing stale or getting injured.

     While proper rest between workouts is essential, it’s important to realize that there is such a thing as too much rest.  By all means, allow your body ample time to recover between training sessions, but don’t take things to the extreme by not training enough.  This comes down to knowing your body, and what works for you.  This leads to another important point.  

     “Select the type of program that you need, plan it wisely and sensibly.”  Choose exercises that work for you.  Do not pick exercises, or follow routines, just because others do them.  If you try to imitate someone else, you will wind up being a poor imitation.  If there are movements that do not work for you, then avoid them.  Years ago, when I trained with Drew Israel, he was a big advocate of the Hammer Strength Deadlift machine.  He purchased one for his home gym, and encouraged his clients to use it.  It was a beautifully engineered piece of equipment, but there was just one thing.  I couldn’t use it without hurting myself.  I tried it twice, and both times I wound up hurting my back.  I’ve never used again, even though there have been countless trainees who have made tremendous gains with it, but for me it was a losing proposition.  On the other hand, I’ve always used the Good Morning exercise with great benefits.  Many people frown upon Good Mornings, but I’ve never had a problem doing them.  Not a single problem, and I’ve been doing Good Mornings for years.  Basically, do what is best for you.  

     “The secret then is to provide the muscles with enough exercise and the kind of exercise they need to respond.”  While finding the right combination of exercises, and incorporating them into an effective routine, may seem like an endless quest, it is hardly a secret.  Back in the late 1970s, Leonard Nimoy hosted a show that explored various mysteries and discoveries.  I’ve often wondered if some lifter ever thought of inventing a show called “In Search of The Perfect Workout Routine.”  It would probably be a big hit with everyone who has ever wrapped his/her hands around a barbell.

     All kidding aside, we are all searching for a program that will stimulate gains, provide adequate rest, and build strength.  Some of us have been at it longer than others, but we all share a desire to get stronger and a routine which will provide us the means of achieving our goals.  When this article was first published in 1968, John Grimek was 58 years old, and he was still “slinging the Iron.”  He would continue going strong for another thirty years.  Sometimes it pays to revisit the old magazines and learn from the greats of the past.

     As I write these words it is Spring 2022, and I am proud to say that a bunch of lifters from Bruno’s Health Club were able to get together and have a reunion at our favorite restaurant, Domenico’s in Levittown, NY.  Due to the pandemic, and subsequent restaurant restrictions, this was the first time in over two years that we were able to meet up, even though a few of our group were unable to make it.

    Seated, left to right, Dr. Richard Seibert, Jim Duggan, Al Diaz,

    Standing, left to right, Bill Mannino, Chris Newins, Tom Tedesco.

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Monday, April 18, 2022

Training when times are tough - By David Sedunary

Times are tough all the time, life is challenging whether one likes it or not, but recently the last 4 years have been that extra bit tougher for me. My Father who was an ex-World War 2 veteran and ex professional boxer said to me 38 years ago when my son had a massive epileptic seizure at 7 months of age, and has struggled ever since. “Life is tough son, it is tougher for some than others, it is going to be extra tough for you and your wife, so prepare yourself”. That was 38 years ago, and he was right.

The last 4 years have been especially tough. 1. I contacted a virus which caused atrial fibrillation of the heart 2. After many bouts of AF, I had a Cardiac Ablation 3. Then my wife got small cell lung cancer and died after 8 months of treatment and care by me. 4. 12 months ago, my left hip gave way and I had it replaced. 5. Today I continue to care for my son, who is mentally and physically disabled and has 6 epileptic seizures a month. 6. Covid struck and I have been ostracized at times because of my beliefs. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me as I always count my blessing as I have strength, and health now, and achieved much in my life. 

I have trained in weight training since the age of 16 years and still continue now as I am 70 years young. I have played Australian rules football from 8 years of age till 33 years of age, administered Australian rules and coached it. Have trained under Brad Steiner in self defense since 2010, and visited him for 2 weeks training under him in Seattle in 2014. I have been blessed. Weight training, self-defense , physical and mental fitness have kept me sane so to speak. After selling my home and down sizing in 2022 , I became down mentally and physically and the pressures had caught up with me so to speak. So decided to seek guidance from my friend Bob Whelan , who has steered me in the right direction spiritually, mentally and physically, through his brilliant coaching methods. 

Bob told me that the difference between most happy successful people and most unhappy people is not the lack of problems. Everyone has problems. Most happy successful people learn to manage their problems and not let problems destroy them. You do the best every day to deal with them but don't DWELL on them. You become what you dwell on. He gave me a list of books to read including a daily Bible. So I got back on the right track Mentally, Physically and Spiritually through Bob Whelan’s Coaching and friendship. 

I have had to change my training as I no longer barbell or machine squat or deadlift. This program will help those who can no longer Barbell Squat or Deadlift or don’t wish to, to preserve their hip joints. The reason for this is I want to conserve my hip which has been replaced 12 months ago and also the other hip which may need to be replaced in the future. (I hope not if I care for It.) My strength training is completed every 5th day without fail, cardio is twice a week, once on the air dyne bike pushing hard for short intervals over 30 minutes and a 30 minute walk with my pet dog Tan twice a week. Once a week I practice American Combato which I learned from Bradley J Steiner after visiting and training under Brad in 2014 for 2 weeks. This keeps my hand in, and one always needs to be prepared. 

Workout is as follows the big 7 I call them : 5 minutes warm up on the air bike 1. Horizontal push, 1 warm up set 1 work set machine press 2. Horizontal pull 1 work set dumb bell row 3. Vertical Push 1 work set seated machine press 4. Vertical pull 1 work set lat machine pulldown 5. Barbell Curl 1 work set 6 .Bodyweight squat for time under load, usually 12 reps takes me 2 minutes to complete and my legs are shaking like they used to when I could barbell squat 285 pounds for 20 reps, when I was 50 years of age. 7. Glut ham machine 1 set slowly for 12 reps. Tinkering as Maximum Bob (my coach) calls it • Neck, Grip, which I love, C Raises, and ab work . • All the above completed in under 1 hour. • At times I walk out of my home gym and feel like I can pull a tree out of the ground even at 70 years young. • Diet : • I eat 3 meals a day of protein enriched food, with green vegetables, salads, nuts, yogurt, fruit, eggs, oats, meat, fish and chicken. No sugar or man made carbs. Take vitamins and minerals, drink plenty of water, no alcohol, lots of rest, sunshine and outdoor stuff. I still work once a week. • Keep my mind strong in spirit by reading the bible, prayer, reading the old classics such as those by Napoleon Hill, David Schwartz, Jordan Peterson, Og Mandino. Listening to Joel Osteen. My goals in life as I age are to 1.To strengthen my body, 2.To improve my health, 3. To expand my knowledge. Simple but achievable and rewarding.

                                                              David with Bradley J. Steiner
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Thursday, April 14, 2022

The Best Exercise Equipment - By Jim Duggan

     “One can get exceptionally strong using basic exercises, limited facilities, minimal equipment if the work was of very high intensity and remained progressive.”

     The above quote is from the May 1986 edition of The Steel Tip.  I always enjoy reading quality training material, and it doesn’t get much better than Dr. Ken’s The Steel Tip.  If you ever get the opportunity to obtain back-issues of this great magazine, I encourage you to do so.

     I was even more fortunate to have had the opportunity to train at Iron Island Gym from the time it opened in 1992 until 2008.  I’ve often mentioned that Iron Island was the finest training facility I’ve ever seen.  Naturally, the equipment was first-rate, but the atmosphere and training environment also contributed to an incredible lifting experience.  An experience that I’ll always cherish.

     I mentioned the excellent equipment that Iron Island offered.  Tons of free weights, heavy-duty squat racks, power racks, dumbbells up to 200 Lbs, and an incredible assortment of bars.  Olympic bars, power bars, thick bars, specialty bars, you name it.

     There was also a large array of machines.  Now I realize that there are many die-hard free weight enthusiasts who shudder at the mere mention of machines.  As someone who competed in powerlifting for many years, I used to feel the same way.  That is, until I joined Iron Island.

     The machines that Dr. Ken had were all solidly built and designed to be efficient, safe, and effective.  Hammer Strength, Nautilus, Kell, Southern Exercise were just a few of the better known brands that could be found on the gym floor.  And as I gradually began using these training modalities, my opinions about machines changed.

     The free weights vs machines debate has been around forever.  But the main thing I learned from guys like Dr. Ken and Drew Israel was that there are advantages and disadvantages to every training tool.  Also, and this is very important, your muscles do not know the difference.  This is where intensity and progression fit into the equation.  

     You can be doing traditional Deadlifts with a barbell, or you can be using a machine like the Hammer Deadlift machine.  If you are training hard, your lower back, legs, and hips will not know the difference.  If you train hard enough, you will get stronger.  GET STRONGER.  In other words, it’s not the tool you use, but rather it’s  how you use what you have.  If all you have is a barbell, weights and a power rack, there is no excuse to not train hard.  After all, we all know you can make amazing gains in both size and strength using only those three items.  On the other hand, you can have access to the most advanced, most well equipped facility in the world, but if you’re not willing to train hard and heavy, then you will simply not make gains.

     The pandemic, and the subsequent closing of many gyms, has forced many people to become more imaginative and creative when it comes to their workouts.  Training at home, with minimal equipment, will challenge even the most dedicated lifters.  But if you are really determined to get stronger, then you will find a way to do it.  There are countless stories of lifters who have had to adapt their workouts to the changing times.  

     Even as the global pandemic has, hopefully, begun to subside, there are other current events taking place that have caught the attention of people everywhere.  The current situation in Ukraine has dominated the news for the last six weeks.  Interestingly, events in that area of the world have reminded me of something I read about several years ago.  It certainly reminds me of the qualities of determination, imagination, creativity, and good old persistence.  It also reminded me of the debate about the efficacy of various training modalities.

     Kachalka outdoor gym is located on Dolobeskyi Island in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine.  While the news from Kyiv has not been good lately, I am reminded of an old video that showcased a legendary outdoor training facility that has been around for over fifty years.

     The “gym” itself is located on an area of about six square miles on an island in Kyiv.  There are about 200 pieces of makeshift exercise equipment, constructed almost wholly of scrap metal and machine parts.  Some of the scrap iron was left over from the second world war.  Benches, racks, crude machines and other exercise equipment are outside for the use of anyone wishing to train.  As you can imagine, there is no juice bar, sauna, or tanning center.  The equipment is outside, exposed to the elements, as are the lifters who train there.  

     The people who train there are a strong and dedicated bunch.  I doubt if you will see any spandex or lululemon gear anywhere. What you will find are men and women with a fierce desire to lift weights.  There are numerous videos available to see how popular this outdoor gym is, and I would say that it would be difficult not to be motivated by seeing people using equipment which we may consider to be crude.  However, these very people are making gains that would make any lifter proud.

     I’ve seen articles where Kachalka is described as Ukraine’s version of “Muscle Beach.”  I’m not so sure about that.  Personally, if given the choice between the pumpers and toners in Venice, California and the hardcore trainees at Kachalka, I’ll take the outdoor gym in Kyiv.  Before the war, the fierceness and determination of the Ukrainian people was exemplified by the people who worked out at Kachalka.  Hopefully, the war will end soon and the only grit and determination we see from that part of the world will be confined to the various machines found in the outdoor training area.  May they be hoisting the steel again soon.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Secrets That Bring Success - By Jim Duggan

     The Spring of 1953 was a significant time in America.  Dwight Eisenhower was several months into his presidency.  The New York Yankees were embarking on what would be their fifth consecutive world championship.  And in May of that year, Strength and Health magazine would put out an issue that that would have to rank among the very best ever published.

     A casual glance at the Table of Contents provides a glimpse of the vast amount of useful information contained within the pages of this particular issue.  “Training for the Squat Clean and Press,” “Basic Exercises are Musts,” “Improve Your Pressing Power,” are just a few of the gems offered for the perusal of the readers of Bob Hoffman’s flagship magazine.  My personal favorite article was written by John Grimek, “Secrets That Bring Success.”  

     In his article, Mr. Grimek makes it very clear that there are no secrets to lifting and building muscle, per se.  There are no secret exercises or training routines.  But there are, indeed, “secrets” when it comes to making progress and getting results.  Mr. Grimek mentions three secrets.  Persistence, Exercise Knowledge, and Mental Aspects of exercise.  “If ever there were any secrets in this game, there you have the three essentials, the application of which may mean the difference between success and failure.”

     Persistence is something that I’ve written about before.  Back in October 2016 I wrote an article titled “The Power of Persistence in Training.”  Persistence is one of the best qualities that any lifter can possess.  Especially for those just starting out in the Iron Game.  Progressive effort and hard work are crucial, yet at the same time it is important to recognize the signs of staleness, and to know when it is time to give your body time to recuperate.  This is especially important for drug-free lifters.

     “The knowledge of exercise properly applied” can have several meanings.  Applying one’s knowledge means to know your body and what works for you and, more importantly, what doesn’t.  Nobody knows your body like you do.  This is why it is so important to not try to imitate or copy other lifters.  Exercises or programs that work for some people may not necessarily work for you.  Determining the most effective training method is crucial for anyone who works out.  However, it is especially important to recognize when enough is enough and avoid overtraining.  Again, as drug-free lifters, we must avoid doing too much.  Sometimes it’s wiser to train smarter, not harder.  

     The last secret, “mental attitude,” is the least understood of the three mentioned in the original article from 1953.  It is often considered unimportant to most lifters, and therefore it is often overlooked by many people who would otherwise benefit from such advice.

     “If your mental attitude is definite and cheery, success can be achieved faster and with greater certainty than if your outlook is pessimistic and dull.”  I don’t think that Mr. Grimek meant that we should walk around the gym with a perpetual smile and whistling a happy tune all the time, but you should definitely be optimistic and expect success.  Naturally, it’s easier to be optimistic when your training is going well.  This is where persistence and a well-planned routine will be of great benefit.  When your workouts are going well, then it should be easy to have a positive mental attitude.     

     “Keep in mind your goal and always aim to achieve the pinnacle of success.”  In other words, keep your eyes on the prize.  Don’t lose sight of the reason you’re hoisting the steel.  Are you looking to gain muscle mass?  Are you trying to increase your lifts?  Never forget what you’re trying to accomplish.  Picture yourself being successful.  Then put forth the physical effort to achieve your goals.

     Obviously, your goals have to be realistic.  And just as obviously, as drug-free lifters, we have to be sensible.  Don’t try to emulate some steroid-bloated freak that you saw on Youtube.  If you are currently capable of a 300 Lb squat, it would be foolish to focus on 600 Lbs initially.  Work your way up to setting- and achieving- more reasonable goals.  Try to work up to 350 Lbs, then set your sights on 400 Lbs, and continue to keep your goals manageable.  It may sound trite, but slow and steady wins the race.  By setting small, realistic goals, you will be able to make consistent progress whie at the same time staying focused on the bigger picture.  As you keep working towards your goals, your confidence will increase and your chances of success will greatly improve.  Ambitious goals, combined with hard work, will keep you forging ahead and provide you with stronger motivation.  

     Towards the end of the article, the Monarch of Muscledom gave some timeless advice.  “Let me assure you, outside of the qualities I mentioned earlier in the article, there aren’t any super-secret exercises to produce miraculous results overnight.  One thing is true however, certain exercises are more favorable to some than others, primarily due to leverage and structure, but anything more than that is self-inflicted.”

     Yes, there are secrets in the Iron Game, but they don’t come in the form of a particular exercise or new piece of equipment.  Rather, it means that you must apply your knowledge to your advantage.  “Let your mental attitude be a force towards success and achievement.  It can be yours if you WANT to succeed.  Wise advice from the most legendary Iron Game figure of the twentieth century. 

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Thursday, February 17, 2022

My First Set of Weights - By Jim Duggan


  The Summer of 1976 was a special time for me, and the United States of America.  On July 4th, America celebrated its bicentennial, and I celebrated my twelfth birthday a couple weeks later on July 20th.  Something else would take place that Summer which would have a lasting impact on my life.

     On July 17th, the Summer Olympics would take place in Montreal, Canada.  It was the first Olympiad that I would take an active interest in watching, and there was a lot to see.  Nadia Comaneci dominated gymnastics, Bruce Jenner won the decathlon, and the American basketball team won the gold medal, after having been cheated by the Russians four years earlier.      

     But the event that stood out for me that Summer was the Weightlifting.  Each night, a different weight class would be highlighted.  And while the American team struggled, there was a lot of great lifting to get excited about.  Some of the dominant performances in the heavier classes left an impression on me that remains to this day.  

     It was while viewing the heavy classes that I was bitten by “the Iron Bug.”  I just couldn’t get over the fact that such powerful men walked the earth.  Can you imagine being twelve years old and seeing these athletes hoist over 500 Lbs overhead?  As the television announcers proclaimed, these were the strongest men in the world.  And I wanted to be a part of it.  

     There was just one problem.  I needed a set of weights.  The good news was that the local sporting goods store sold a 110 Lb set for about thirty dollars.  The bad news was that I did not have the money to pay for it, but there was hope for me.  That Summer, I had begun mowing the lawn of our elderly neighbor, Mrs. Johnson, for six dollars per week.  There was light- and weights- at the end of the tunnel.

     Fortunately- or unfortunately, depending on your point of view- Hurricane Belle struck Long Island about a week after the Olympics ended.  It enabled me to earn extra money from Mrs. Johnson, cleaning her yard from the storm damage left behind.  Additionally, since I had been a big help to my parents, it was decided that I would only have to come up with half the price of the weights.  I was in business!

     I’ll never forget the day we drove home from the store.  The five foot bar ( which looked even longer!), the two dumbbell bars, and, of course, the large box containing the various plates.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but my Dad carried the large box into the house by himself.  No dolly, or hand truck.  I was too young to realize how impressive that was.

     From that very first day in August1976, until the day I joined Bruno’s seven years later, my training took place in the enclosed porch of my parents’ house.  It was sweltering during the Summer, and during the Winter I froze, but I didn’t care.  I just wanted to lift.  Even if I didn’t know what I was doing, I wanted to lift.  And, with my Dad’s encouragement, I rarely missed a workout.  “Just keep lifting” he would say to me.

     As I got older and stronger, we would drive to the nearest place that sold gym equipment and bought additional weights, not to mention benches and various attachments.  Eventually, the porch of our house resembled a small gym.  But rather than get upset, my Dad would still encourage me.  “Just keep lifting.”

     After I joined Bruno’s, the weights in the house kind of gathered dust over the years.  Bruno’s, The All Natural Gym, and Iron Island are the three commercial gyms I’ve belonged to over the years.  During that time, I’ve competed in Powerlifting and Strongman competitions.  I’ve met and lifted with some of the legends of the Iron Game, but I’ll always remember my introduction to the world of weights and lifting.  And I’ll never forget how it all began.

     Two weeks ago, on January 29th, my Dad passed away suddenly.  No matter how you prepare for that awful day, it still hits you like a tidal wave.  It’s been said that losing someone you love can seem to diminish your own existence.  Perhaps.  But there will always be precious memories from which to draw strength.

     One particular memory of my Dad has been documented on this website by Bob Whelan.  It was in the article “Training and Eating in the Big Apple.”  On July 20, 1996 I turned 32 years old.  That night, “Maximum” Bob, Drew Israel, Howard Menkes, and myself went to the famous Peter Luger Steakhouse, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  While the four of us were eating, I happened to look up and there was my Dad!  He was in uniform and on duty ( his firehouse was a few blocks away from the restaurant).  He took the time to stop by and surprise me on my birthday.  He later confessed that he also wanted to see just how much steak the four of us could “put away.”  I don’t think he was disappointed.  But I sure was happy to see him.  It remains one of my favorite birthdays.

     Over the years, I’ve admired many Iron Game figures.  Bruno Sammartino, John Grimek, Bruce Wilhelm, Jon Kolb to name a few.  But the man who has had the greatest and most enduring influence on me is my Dad.  He is also the person who made it all possible. At his funeral, I concluded my eulogy with a simple statement:  He was a hell of a man.

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Monday, January 3, 2022

Training Essentials - By Jim Duggan

In the June 1936 issue of Physical Training Notes, Mark Berry wrote an article titled “A Talk

On Training Essentials” which appeared on the second page. Anytime I see the word

“essential” written anywhere I take notice. Naturally, a gifted wordsmith realizes that certain

words and phrases will attract the attention of readers. The old “muscle magazines” are

famous – or infamous – for using words like “Bombing,” “Blitzing,” “Blasting,” etc. in order to

entice prospective muscle-heads. Even today, certain phrases designed to grab your attention

and cause you to read further, as well as advertise some of their bogus products. The bottom

line is, words are powerful tools, especially in the hands of a skilled writer ( or someone who

writes for mainstream muscle magazines!).

Mark H. Berry published his Physical Training Notes monthly for approximately one year.

And while he did actually advertise barbells and other equipment, the information he

disseminated during the short run of his magazine was useful, pertinent, and has stood the test

of time for the most part. Other articles in this particular issue include “Towards Lifting

Proficiency,” “Dietetic Absurdities,” as well as several photos of a young John Grimek.

Anyway, back to “Training Essentials,” the prime essential is that trainees “put forth some

effort. He must train with religious regularity.” Regular training is an absolute must if you want

to make progress, no matter what your goals may be. This was true 85 years ago, and it is true


Mr. Berry continues by saying “There are literally hundreds who regularly undertake barbell

exercises who do not persist for longer than a few weeks.” As we embark upon a new year,

how many people will make a resolution to start working out only to fall by the wayside within

aa few weeks? In addition to being persistent, you must also have the discipline and

determination to stick to your workouts and accomplish what you set out to do. Missing

workouts, skipping meals, or not training hard will inevitably lead to failure.

Another valid point that is mentioned in the article is the importance of following a workout

routine designed for the entire body. Apparently, the foolish idea of training individual

bodyparts ( Chest Day, Arm Day, etc.) was around even back in the 1930s. What nonsense! “I

am a believer in the harmonious development of the entire body.” The article goes on to say

that many trainees have increased the size of their arms as a direct result of heavy leg work. In

other words, forget about endlessly pumping your arms and instead, hit the squat rack. Heavy

Squats will add size to your entire body, including your arms. Many years ago, when I was

training at Bruno’s, Larry Licandro once devoted an entire Summer to just three exercises:

Squats, Bench Presses, and Deadlifts. No other movements except for the three powerlifts. He

did nothing else. Guess what happened? By the end of the Summer he had gained twenty

pounds ( from 210 to 230 ). A twenty pound increase in bodyweight without having done a

single curl!

Mr. Berry refers to another training concept that has been very effective over the years:

High Rep Squats. “The Deep Knee Bend has been found most valuable as one of the training

methods; nothing less than twenty repetitions should be employed. He even goes on to

suggest doing more. Forty, fifty, or even more reps! Can you imagine going to the gym with

the goal of doing a set of fifty Squats? The mere thought is enough to scare off most people.

The most I’ve ever done is an all-out set of 30 reps, years ago at Iron Island. I thought I was

going to die. I can’t imagine doing fifty. However, the important thing is that even back in

1936, the importance of high-rep Squatting insofar as it relates to gaining muscular size was

widely recognized and accepted . Over the years, many diverse authorities have confirmed the

effectiveness of doing sets of high-rep Squats to failure. Dr. Ken Leistner, J.C. Hise, Peary Rader,

John McCallum are but a few of the proponents of doing Squats for high repetitions.

There is another salient point in the article, and it is the underlying principle of lifting

weights. It is the law of progression. Whether it’s adding weight to the bar, or increasing the

repetitions, the whole idea behind progressive resistance training is, indeed, to make progress.

Sometimes you simply have to force yourself to add weight to the bar. “It is wise for the more

experienced culturist to adopt the progressive system when he reaches that bug-bear of all

weight enthusiasts- the sticking point.” Is there any lifter who has NOT experienced the

dreaded sticking point or plateau? The occasional sticking point is inevitable, especially for

drug-free trainees. If it becomes increasingly difficult to continue to add weight, then try

increasing the repetitions, even if means lowering the weight on the bar. “Sooner or later, you

will be enabled to progress on poundage and through dropping down on repetitions be capable

of continuing to progress.” Many times it’s easier said than done, but we must always keep our

eyes on the prize: Poundage Progression.

Effort and Regularity.


Whole Body Workouts.

High Rep Squats.

Poundage Progression.

These five “essentials” are the key to any effective strength training program. They’ve been

building strength for a long time, and will continue to do so for many years to come.

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