Thursday, March 30, 2023

A Great Training Message - from Dick Conner

 At 85 I still train about 15 people a week.  I have trained one man for 55 years and another for 60 years.

The second man is 76 years old and still enters deadlift contests.  His goal is to lift 400 lbs in the near future.

In his last contest he pulled 378 lbs – so he is well on  his way.

The  two men never work out more than one time a week.  Even less most of the time. The  younger man is 68 and will soon bench 200 lbs.  Most guys his age have ruined their shoulders and can no longer bench.

More training is NOT the answer. I also train younger men.  Three of them are 14-15 years old and another 16. I have been training people for 65 years and so I have seen the results of all kind of ways to train.

The above said,  I want to make some statements that I know are the truth about training and about life.

#1  No one should train over twice a week.  As you get stronger, try six times a month. (Twice every seven to 10 days. (Don’t  be afraid of training less.

#2  Use a notebook and keep a record of your training.  That way you can see if you are getting stronger. If you are like me at 85, then see if you are getting worse!!

#3 If you have bad joints and find it hard to train, then try statics.

Example – Curl – hold the curl in the hardest position for at least one minute and forty seconds.  Forget about doing a second set, when you do statics.  One set done with enough weight in the hardest position will convince you not to be trying a second set. A good static workout could look like this: Chest press, pulldown, press, row, hyper extension and a leg press.

This workout is not for people with healthy bodies but for those who can not work out in a regular manner.



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Thursday, March 9, 2023

Who Is The Strongest? - By Jim Duggan

Anyone who is reading this is interested in strength.  The building, testing, demonstration of strength.  In all its forms, categories, sub-categories.  For as long as man has walked the Earth, there have been tests, challenges, and contests devoted to the goal of physical strength.  Throughout recorded history, and even before, men ( and women ) have challenged themselves as well as others, all in the name of strength.  

     We all have our individual history of getting stronger.  All of us have started somewhere on our journey through the Iron Game.  For most of us, the journey is a labor of love, and never ending.  Once we begin hoisting the steel, it’s hard to stop.  Many of those reading this have competed in various strength sports.  Weightlifting, powerlifting, Highland Games, Shot-Put, Discus, there are numerous ways to test one’s strength.  There are myriad challenges, and over the years there have been no shortage of great performers and performances.  

     I can tell you right now how I first became interested in lifting weights.  It was the Summer of 1976, I turned twelve years old in July of that year, and I eagerly watched the Summer Olympics on television.  There were many great athletes and numerous outstanding performances.  Bruce Jenner winning the Decathlon, the USA Boxing team winning five gold medals, Nadia Comenici setting new standards in gymnastics, and the USA Men’s Basketball team winning the Gold medal ( after being cheated by the Russians in 1972).  

     But, by far, the most fascinating aspect of those Games was the weightlifting.  It was the first time I had ever seen weightlifting being contested, and even though I didn’t know the first thing about the sport, I couldn’t take my eyes off these men lifting huge weights over their heads.  There was even an American lifter who would defy the odds and win a silver medal.  Lee James, competing in the 90kg class surprised everyone took second, competing against one of the greatest lifters of all time.  Incidentally, Lee James recently passed away at the age of 69, his silver medal performance is still one of the most impressive feats by an American lifter in the last fifty years.  

     It was while watching the super-heavyweights on the last night of lifting, that really influenced me.  Vasily Alexeev won his second Olympic gold medal and, on his final attempt, set a new world record in the Clean and Jerk with 255 kg.  I was immediately hooked.  It wasn’t only his awesome lifting that captured his imagination.  It was how he was described by the various television commentators.  “The strongest man in the world,” was an appellation frequently used by the the announcers when describing the ponderous Russian.  Here he was, live on television, the strongest man in the world!

     Back then, it was easy to believe everyone on television.  When you’re twelve years old, you tend to be more gullible.  Today, I’ve become more cynical in my, ahem, middle age.  And, with the passage of time, there have been many strength athletes over the years who have been described as the “strongest man in the world.”  

     Not long after the Montreal Olympics, in the Fall of 1977, American television offered for the first time the World’s Strongest Man Contest.  There were ten athletes chosen from various strength sports ( although curiously there were no athletes from the Iron Curtain countries due to politics).  There were ten events, and the overall winner, Bruce Wilhelm, was an easy and deserving winner.  Now, by this time, Bruce had established himself as a world class shot-putter, discus thrower, amateur wrestler and Olympic weightlifter, so it should have come as no surprise that he would dominate that contest.  And the fact that he repeated the following year ( against tougher competition) demonstrates how great he was in all facets of strength.  

     Nevertheless, there were other people who were being touted as the “strongest.”  Superheavyweight powerlifters were approaching the 1,000 Lb Squat barrier, while the Soviet Union was still producing athletes who would dominate the superheavyweights in Olympic lifting.  Interestingly, each sport ( powerlifting and weightlifting) would claim that THEIR champion was truly the strongest man in the world.  Who was right?  Was it the powerlifters who were stronger or the Olympic lifters?  What about the WSM winner?  

     More importantly, IS there a way to determine just who is the strongest?  I remember years ago, reading an article by Dr. Ken Leistner where he stated that the strongest man in the world was living- and lifting- in relative obscurity in a suburban or rural setting.  His feats of strength were not being televised, nor reported on by the various strength “experts” who so proudly proclaim their own choice for the strongest man in the world.  

     As I have many time over the years, I tend to agree with Dr. Ken.  I don’t think there is one ultimate way to determine just who is the strongest.  While the WSM has expanded greatly over the years, and the events have become more challenging, there are still many questions.  And, some of the events, in my opinion, are not true tests of pure strength.  Throwing a keg for height, for example, is not a true test.  It obviously favors someone who is taller, and has longer arms.  Likewise, some of the other events.  And, naturally, having access to the various implements that will be contested is an advantage, too.  I remember competing in a strongman contest years ago where all of the equipment used for the contest was provided by one of the competitors.  Quite an advantage for someone to train with the very equipment that will be used for the contest.

     Another valuable opinion concerning the determination of who is the strongest came from a familiar source.  On February 8th of this year, we had our annual Bruno’s Health Club Reunion dinner at Domenico’s restaurant in Levittown, NY.  While we were breaking bread, the subject of strongman contests came up and Tom Tedesco came up with a short, to the point, answer as to how best determine who is stronger:  Combine the two Olympic lifts and the two Powerlifts in one contest and compare the aggregate of the five lifts.  Highest total wins.  

     Is this the ultimate way of testing strength?  Realistically, probably not, but it is better than most.  Very few people are proficient in BOTH the powerlifts and the Olympic lifts.  Just about every lifter has some sort of weakness or, at the very least, a lift in which he/she does not excel.  In that regard, it would seem like a fair way to determine who is stronger.  The lifting platform, like the world we live in, is not perfect.  I don’t think there will ever be an ultimate test of strength, but Tommy’s suggestion is close.

     I think that I should mention one thing, however, about Tommy’s idea of strength testing.  This is more in the line of a full disclosure.  Years ago, Tommy competed in a dual Olympic/Power contest.  He went 15 for 15.  You read that right.  He competed in two contests in one day and did not miss a lift!  I have never seen anything like that, before or since.  It’s hard enough to have a perfect day let alone have two in one day.  

     In a few days, Tommy will celebrate his 68th birthday.  Three years ago, on his 65th birthday, he performed 65 Clean and Jerks with 65kg.  This year he will do something even more impressive:  He will compete in the National Masters Weightlifting Championships in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.  Good luck Tommy Thundeer!

The picture is from our Bruno’s Reunion Dinner.  From left to right:

Chris Newins, Bill Mannino, Bob Sailor, Tom Tedesco, Jim Duggan, Dr. Rich Seibert.

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Friday, March 3, 2023

The fixation of training four to six days a week - By David Sedunary

It has always amazed me how a person can weight train 4 to 6 days a week, lift heavy, be consistent, train to failure, give your bloody all, enjoy it and benefit from it. I don’t believe it can be humanly possible unless the person per se is a genetic freak, is putting into himself steroids, or growth hormones which enable that person to recover, and to be able to have the recovery ability and fortitude to keep it up week after week and year after year. They don’t last, they can’t keep up the pace, their body falls apart mentally as well as physically. They need a chemical aid, simple as that.

In my hometown gym where I train, I observe and take note, when a new person starts training, the instructors have them training 4 to 6 days a week.  They split their body parts at each work out and do at least 4 sets of each exercise use incorrect form and focus. Chest is standing cable pullovers, seated machine fly’s and a bench press a total of 12 sets none worked to failure.  Arms are tricep pushdowns, concentration curls and machine bicep curls again all 4 sets each, never I repeat never using good form and focus. In between each set 3 minutes rest and sometimes longer, which normally involves chatting on facebook, or talking or catching up on the local gossip, non-training talk using the mobile phone, and looking at themselves in the many mirrors.

There are different types of split systems, the most simple split system involves training four days per week. Here is an example: Monday, Thursday: chest, shoulders, upper arms, calves and abs. Tuesday Friday back, thighs, forearms, calves, and abdominal muscles. He is an example of six   days a week : Monday, Wednesday, Friday abdominals, chest, shoulders, upper back, forearms and calves, then Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday abdominals , thighs, lower back, upper arms, forearms and calves. Each muscle group is trained three days a week. 

It’s a known fact when we are in the gym, we break down the muscle tissue, it grows bigger and stronger during rest. The blood stream, which is like a river feed the muscle with nutrients. The blood should be full of nutrients, not chemicals or harmful substances, to replenish and encourage new growth, and tissue enlargement. Of course one needs adequate rest at least 3 to 4 full days of rest, that rest may encompass walking, or hard cardio once or twice a week, swimming or martial arts . But at least rest from weight training and breaking down muscle tissue.

At 71 years of age I am full of discipline, strength and vigor after 4 days of rest from my full body workout, and that is after 55 years of training twice a week , and at times every 5th day. Yet when I talk to people who attend and train six days a week, they lack enthusiasm, vigour, discipline and seem to me would rather be home making a cup of tea and watching the idiot box. Today after my workout a twenty one year old man came in the gym, “training full body “ I said to him, “no “ he said I am bored at home thought l would come to the gym and train my chest and arms. Why not full body I said. “That’s too hard not for me,” the young bloke said. Is he going to be training for health, strength, and longevity in 50 years’ time, I doubt it.

Everyone is in a hurry to attain the ultimate physique. The bloke who is in the gym 4 to 6 days a week say’s I got results training my arms twice a week if I train them 4 times a week with twice as many sets I should get twice the results lies, lies and lunacy. When you bench press, lat machine pull, dumb bell row, overhead press you work your arms. When you squat with 250 pounds on the bar and the bar is on your back shoulders blades back, your indirectly work your upper back and rhomboids, and all the other stabilizing muscles of the body, abdominals, hips , legs ,side obliques and lower back.

I appreciate the pressing need of the aspiring bodybuilder for fast muscular development. He wants the ultimate in size and muscularity and will do almost anything to attain his goal. My advice is: do anything but stop short of the total lunacy of overtraining four to six days a week, and drug abuse.  People who have taken doses of steroids and other chemicals permanently damage their health and in numerous cases have brought about untimely death.                                     

One would best achieve the finest results from training full body once every 4th day, or if you are younger than I every 3rd day. I am a prime example of a man in his early seventies who has trained since 16 years young. Four years ago I suffered a virus causing me to have an atrial fibrillation attack and heart failure, my heart rate went to 180 beats per minute and was irregular for 10 days, which could have caused a stroke. Six months after my wife whom I nursed and cared for, for 8 months died of cancer, and next my left hip needed to be replaced. I lost weight and muscle going from 187 pounds with a 36-inch waist to 165 pounds, and looking like death warmed up.

With the help of Bob Whelan, I now weigh 184 pounds with a 34 inch waist, I train full body every 4th day, and the three days in between I walk for 40 minutes twice and push the air dyne bike once,  hard for 30 minutes.  I eat over 3000 calories a day and 160 grams of protein. At 71 years of age I can do it training twice a week, so imagine what a viral, healthy younger person can do. Ask Bob Whelan he knows he has trained many a person building them into a human superman, training twice a week or twice every 7 to 10 days.

If you have any brains train full body twice a week, and stay well away from all harmful substances. If you train 4 or even 6 days a week you are living in the gym. My motto is getting in, get the work done and get out. Go home rest, eat big and nutritiously, stay away from alcohol and all drugs. It is a well-known fact if you want a long strong life, strength train in moderation, therefore twice a week, condition your heart and lungs and be strong mentally and spiritually.

What a recipe for success.

Don’t say ... Do!

Editors Note: Thanks for the kind words David. You did all the work. Great job!

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