Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Properly planning your weight training session - By David Sedunary.

I am closing in on 71 years of age and I still get nervous and anxious before I train, things I ask myself :  have I rested adequately, have I eaten enough food and the right food to give me sustained energy and strength, is my mind right, what are my goals  strengthening my body is one of my three main goals, not  to be a normal 70 year old, challenge myself, focus and use great form.  Planning a big protein and carbohydrate meal after my workout is important to me and being able to rest for a period after my hard work out tops off my training. While resting I reflect upon my workout, I rate my workout, could I have done better pushed or pulled harder and used better form and focus. Or better still did I give my all, if so tell yourself great workout, keep it up. You are awesome.

Before weight training I ensure I planned my workout correctly and have all the exercises written down in my diary, with weights used and rep goals or even weight increasements. The workout diary needs to be right and ready to go as it is my guide. I always take my small workout diary with me into the gym I train at.

What are the results we all are aiming for one may ask, normally should be an intense workout where all muscle groups are worked to failure or near failure. And the food you have fed yourself is going to encourage those stubborn muscles to replenish and get a little bit stronger and bigger, just a little bit, hopefully with God’s help. So here I go I always attempt to be in bed most nights at 10-30 pm and up at 7a m, the days before training I have eaten 3 large meals aiming for 50 grams of protein or more at each meal. 

For breakfast on the morning before I train which is normally consumed and finished at 9 am is 4 eggs, spinach, avocado, yogurt and 2 green apples. The glycogen in green apples will break down into glucose, which enters the blood and transport back to the muscles to be used in glycolysis or stored as glycogen.

Weight training for me is done at 12-30 pm every 4 th day. I then complete my diary, fill in all the exercises, weights to be used and rep goals. On the opposite page of my diary, I right in squares my goals, could be focus on form, challenge yourself, last workout of your life, make savage the body and civilize the mind, write in anything that motivates you and drives you hard during your workout.  

When arriving at the gym, whether it be away from home, in your basement or the back shed, don’t be bothered by anyone or anything especially earphones, telephones or lap top devices. Switch off and focus, workout of your like remember, maybe your last, warm up for 5 minutes and lift simple as that.

I am totally convinced that a properly planned and intelligently followed program of weight training does increase one’s life expectancy. I cannot believe that all other things being equal, a person who trains religiously will not live longer than a person who remains sedentary. I have met men in their 50’s, 60’s and even 70’s who were obviously in better shape than men in their 20’s simply because they worked out hard and they have always worked out hard.

I also believe life’s expectancy is increased through regular participation in such activities as martial arts, boxing, swimming, running, hiking, rucking, climbing and gymnastics. As well as other healthful pursuits. Getting old does not mean  demise in our health, whether emotionally, spiritually, or physically. I believe it is the opposite – as we age, we can become stronger and wiser. 

What I think is important, is not the debate about who lives longer (“the man who trains or the man who doesn’t “) but who lives better. I think that the improved quality of life that a hard training person enjoys so far surpasses that of the sedentary person that, even if the non-exerciser is a financial expert, his life is pitiful by comparison with the vigorous person’s. 

As we age, we can evolve and remember who we are spiritually and continue cultivating all those important aspects which prepare us to train hard and continuous. Diet plays an important role and is one thing we can investigate and experiment with to see what works.  I am a living testament to this, and so many others are. As we age find the time to strengthen your body, expand your knowledge and improve your health.

That is simple but achievable.

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Sunday, November 27, 2022

Professor Attila: The Father Of Modern Strength Coaching - By James Athanasiou

Professor Attila was a groundbreaking innovator, a spectacular strongman, considered by many as the greatest figure in physical culture: And for good reason. A true phenomenon, Attila shaped the careers of the finest strength athletes to cross the Earth, while being remembered as the Father of personal coaching over a century after his death.

With our modern day widespread appeal of strength training, it's easy to neglect how this life changing movement needed more than a century to be established. Many battles against criticism towards physical culture had to be won over time, and it took a great bunch of insanely strong and outlandish folks to raise the public's awareness of the benefits of strength training. And none other contributed more to this revolution than Professor Attila.

Part 1: The Solid Foundations That Shaped The Legend

Ludwig Durlacher was born on July 2, 1844 in Karlsruhe Germany. His intelligence was prominent, speaking five languages and mastering the piano from an early age. However, Ludwig's destiny would far surpass these standards, as he soon steered his eyes off the textbooks and towards the gymnasium. As a child, his passion for fitness was  sparked by his interaction with the legendary Felice Napoli, the Italian Strongman that would go on to help him develop his talents.

During this era, strongmen were above all performers. Their feats of strength were backed up by a story, a stage act where they were called to steal the spotlight as either a mythical figure, challenging the limits of human potential. Bending irons, tossing with animals and heavy machinery, all the while dancing and acting on stage were the standard schedule of every Strongman Show.

Ludwig, determined to reform the standard, adopted the stage name of Attila and began performing in 1863, at just 19 years of age. The choice was no coincidence. Ludwig took his name from the emperor Attila the Hun, realising the need for brand recognition and marketing. Together with a partner by the name of "Valerie the Female Gladiator" they toured Europe and America, stunning the world with feats of strength.

Part 2: An Original And Generational Trainer 

During his tours throughout Europe, Louis made a great contribution to the Strongman scene, inventing numerous acts. His most notable ones were the Roman Column, card tearing and the "Human Bridge", which came to be known as the Tomb Of Hercules. The last lift was the most incredible act, since the lifter held a reverse plank position while balancing a full grown horse and its rider on his stomach. He's also to be credited for the invention of the Bent Press, a very tough overhead lift in which he went on to become  the first man to lift over 200lbs.

He was also the first to perform solitary strongman acts, setting the standard for the Strongman Contests as we know them today. As the years went on, Louis would harness his coaching ability to spark a new age for fitness and strength training. The fame he acquired allowed him to come in touch with the elites of his era, establishing him as a high ticket personal trainer, making physical activity more appealing than ever before. In fact, he gathered such big fame for his time that he would go on to perform for Queen Victoria in the Buckingham Palace in 1887.

By the time he opened his famous gym in Brussels in 1886, his associates included wealthy individuals like Alfred Vanderbilt and J.P. Morgan, royals from Greece, Russia and Britain. More importantly, he coached other Strongman Greats, including Louis Cyr, Lionel Strongfort and Warren Lincoln Travis: a remarkable athlete who at only 200 lbs came close to matching Louis Cyr's superhuman feats, as well as exceptional athletes of other fields, most notably the heavyweight champion James J. Corbett, the only man to ever beat John Sullivan.

Throughout his coaching, he continued to figure out innovative training systems for every individual student. His most notable piece of work was the 5 Pound Dumbbell System, a groundbreaking program demonstrating nearly 30 exercises anyone could perform that would drastically improve their conditioning. He was also one of the very first people to encourage women to take part in strength training and boxing, for the overall health benefits.

Taking a closer look at Attila's Athletic Studio and School Of Physical Culture, one can really understand the variations and uniqueness of Professor Attila's methods, truly embracing the aura of a museum. This landmark of physical culture would later be inherited by his son-in-law and Bodybuilding pioneer Siegmund Klein, who married his daughter Grace in 1924 and ran the gym up until the 70s. The amazing thing is that much of Attila's original equipment from Belgium was preserved, including his Roman Column.

Part 3: The Spirit Of An Athlete And An Innovator

However, his breakthroughs in strength training are only one aspect of Attila's brilliant work. His bright mind allowed him to revolutionise the entire strength training field by inventing the Roman Chair, the Globe Barbell and even the Plate Loading Barbell, most of which are heavily utilized by millions of people to this day. Before him, only dumbbells and various objects were used to train and perform.

More than anything, Attila emphasised on the essence of movement and physical activity. He was a very accomplished athlete outside of weight training, highly gifted in swimming, jumping and running, gathering over 200 medals throughout his competitive years. As the years went on, he became concerned with the health of New York office workers and of people whose jobs demanded that they sit down for hours everyday. His Studio was dedicated to rejuvenating such people and encouraging everyone to stay active.

Part 4: The Unique Bond With Sandow

One day, a young lad walked into his gym in Brussels. The 19 year old Friedrich Muller was first employed by professor Attila as a janitor, but as time progressed, he had the opportunity to showcase his incredible strength. Attila soon realised the raw talent he had in his hands and worked his life to made the young man into the legendary Eugen Sandow, training him in his spare time and guiding his strongman career at his own gym in Brussels in 1886.

After opening his gym in Bloomsbury in 1889, Attila continued to train Sandow. Around the same year, he encouraged him to enroll in his first ever strongman contest. This legendary event would go down as one of Sandow's most notable victories, beating both Charles Sampson and Cyclops.

From then on, Attila and Sandow would perform on stage as a duet, allowing one to benefit from the other's fame and thus strengthening their bond as a student and teacher. Even though they eventually fell out, no one can deny how both men built one another. Sandow had the backing necessary to unfold his talent, while Attila gained the fame and the knowledge necessary to kickstart his coaching career.

Part 5: The Passing On Of Attila's True Inheritance 

Throughout his life, he always rocked a light compact frame. At the peak of his career, Louis measured at 5ft 4inch and 175 lbs in bodyweight, matching and surpassing the performances of much heavier competitors, giving more credibility to the effectiveness of his teachings.

His modest and kind personality never allowed him to take credit for his incredible work. The desire to preserve the Sandow myth, alongside the lack of biography elements left Attila in the shadows. As Bob Hoffman, another Iron Game great, once observed:

"The modest Attila deigned to remain in the background, never seeking publicity, for he had built a better mousetrap and the world beat a path to his door. . . . Modern strength athletes owe more to this man than to any other.” 

Sadly, in 1924, father time came down knocking on Professor Attila's door. He died peacefully that year, running his gym and changing people's lives for the better till the last breath. Always modest and focused on muscle building for everyone, he never once seeked credit for his remarkable contributions.

His true heritage however was given to none other than the generations after him. All the teachings and strongman feats done throughout his life could not match the impact his methods had on our understanding of coaching and our appreciation for physical fitness. So the next time you think of the forums and the people that helped you come closer to achieving your goals as a strength athlete, take a brief moment to say "Thank You" to Professor Louis Attila.

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Sunday, November 6, 2022

A Different- But Familiar- Training Philosophy - By Jim Duggan

    For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a fan of strength.  Even today, at 58 years old, there is nothing I enjoy more than lifting weights.  Like any respectable drug-free lifter, I usually lift two or three days per week.  One might think that the “off days” would represent a substantial void that would remain unfulfilled.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

     I love reading about strength, especially vintage books and magazines.  I love talking about strength and training, especially with those who share my fascination with the world of weights and strength.  I love writing about strength, and have been doing so for a long time.  In short, when it comes to the Iron, I can’t get enough!

     “Rock, Iron, Steel” was written in 1998, so I don’t think you could accurately describe it as “vintage,” but in many ways it is a classic.  It was written by a gentlemen named Steve Justa, from Harvard. No, not THAT Harvard.  Steve was from Harvard, Nebraska.  Published by Ironmind Enterprises, Inc, it soon became a favorite of the many readers of MILO magazine.  No less an authority than Dr. Ken Leistner described the book as a “must read.”

     If you can get your hands on a copy of this book, I highly recommend doing so.  Now, I want to make it clear that I don’t completely agree with everything in the book ( pitchfork lifts, shovel lifts, barrel lifts) but that’s alright because the wonderful thing about reading about other strongmen is that you can pick and choose what you feel is important, and that with which you do not wish to spend your time and effort reading.  Besides, there is enough quality information to satisfy any strength fanatic.

     There are fourteen chapters in the book covering a range of topics like “Lifting for Strength and Endurance,” “Partial Movements,” and “Carrying Weight,” to name just a few.  However, I’m going to focus on Chapter 12, “Training Philosophy and Attack Plan.”

     Everyone who has ever hoisted the steel has his/her own training philosophy, and Steve Justa was no exception.  My own opinion is that it is impossible to be exposed to a surfeit of information from which to pick and choose.  I will describe some of his personal philosophy with the exception of the information relating to diet and eating.  If you are seeking nutritional advice, consult a registered dietician or nutritionist.  Don’t listen to medical or nutritional advice you hear in the gym, unless of course you are fortunate enough to train with doctors and other medical experts.

     “Positive attitude, will power, consistency, belief, visualization, sacrifice.”  These are the tools that will build strength.  This should come as no surprise.  If you’ve been around the Iron Game for any length of time, you have probably employed most if not all of these concepts.  The harder you work, and the more consistently you train, the better your chances of achieving your goal of greater strength.  The power of belief is crucial in building confidence.  However, I’ve always felt that the key to developing a belief in yourself lies in demonstrated ability.  You have to prove that you are capable of doing something before you have the right to have self-confidence.  There are no shortcuts.

     “Training includes experimenting; learning to listen to your body; setting long range and short range day-to-day goals.”  There have been many articles devoted to the importance of persistence in lifting weights, and in the achievement of goals.  The importance of staying focused cannot be overestimated.  Various authors have endorsed the idea of “Conceive, Believe, and Achieve,” over the years.  While this might seem trite, it’s important for anyone who has experienced the ups and downs of trying to achieve a seemingly difficult goal.  It’s also important to remember that everybody is different, so don’t blindly follow someone else’s training program.  Additionally, don’t compare yourself to others.  The only person you’re competing against is yourself.  

     “Listen to Your Body.”  This concept is important to anyone who lifts weights, but it is especially important for older, drug-free lifters.  You can save yourself a lot of frustration, overtraining, and injuries if you just follow this often repeated warning and listen to your body.  If you’re not sufficiently recovered from your last workout, take an extra day to allow your body to recuperate.  A missed workout here and there will hardly matter in the grand scheme of things.

     “Think smart.”  This goes hand in hand with listening to your body.  It also ties in with consistency.  Small improvements in each training session will add up to great gains over the course of months and years.  Let’s face it, most of us are in this for the long haul.

     When you set a goal for yourself, and then develop a strategy for achieving your goal, you must apply yourself by means of a consistent and progressive program of workouts.  Every once in a while you will have that “lousy workout,” but you have to stick with the program and believe in the system.  But never ignore the signals your body is sending you.

     What exercises work best for you?  Which ones don’t?  Steve Justa has his own exercises- most of them are familiar, some are unique- but all of them work for him.  While it is beneficial to “change things up” occasionally, for the most part you must stick with the movements that bring the most success.  Spoiler alert:  Tricep pushdowns and cable crossovers are NOT exercises that are covered in the book!

     It should come as no surprise that a lot of thought should be devoted to your workouts, but there is such a thing as overthinking something.  A simple warning from chapter 12 “When it comes time t lift, then lift, don’t talk.  You’ll never get stronger thinking about training.  You must train.”  This is just plain common sense but, as has often been stated, common sense is not always common.

     If you’re patient and give it time, you will adapt to- and succeed with- any type of sensible workout program.  It’s when your body begins to adapt that you’ll begin to see progress.  “All great lifters learn to generate consistency and patience.”  Consistent, progressive workouts over time are the “secret” to getting stronger.  Another salient point that he makes is that it’s better to do less work on a consistent basis than to do a lot of work from time to time with no order or consistency to your training.

     I realize that most of these ideas are not new.  They have covered been covered in other articles, sometimes even by me, but they are worth repeating.  After reading the book, you will find that the training philosophy followed by Steve Justa is similar to that of many lifters and strength athletes.  He may use different methods and exercises to achieve his goals, but the general idea is remarkably similar to that which has been used by many lifters through the years.

     I recommend reading this book to one and all.  While I don’t endorse the idea of carrying sections or railroad track in mud, or building makeshift backlift platforms, by following the lifting philosophy set forth in the pages of the book, you will find that they reinforce the ideas that have been promoted by various authors. 


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