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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