Thursday, June 27, 2024

Message from Doug Brewer - Training with Ralph Raiola

My name is Doug Brewer and I am 63 years old and recently retired and have lived in the Tampa area since 1992.  I grew up on Long Island and played football at Lynbrook High School and the New York Institute of Technology.  I started lifting weights in the eighth grade when LHS purchased a Universal Gym (about 1972) where you chose your weight using a steel pin inserted in the appropriate hole in the weight stack. 

Around 1981 while still at New York Tech, a friend suggested I check out the Jack LaLane gym in Inwood, NY (by Kennedy Airport) as he said some pretty strong guys trained there and I could learn from them.  It was a standard gym for the time period except for one room which was reserved for powerlifting.  This is where I met Ralph Raiola, who taught me and a New York Tech football buddy, Paul Grieshiemer, how to properly squat, bench and deadlift.  Other “name” lifters that trained there were Tony Pandolfo (Mr. New York State), Lyle Alzado, a former Mr. Connecticut (forget his name), Mike Taranto (held the Oklahoma bench press record in the mid - late ‘60’s in the 275 lb. class with a lift of 485 lbs. I believe) and Dr. Ken Leistner would occasionally make an appearance.  I remember Lyle telling all of us young guys to never take steroids as they will ruin your health and I remember being very sad when I learned of his passing.  I have the Sports Illustrated cover from July 8, 1991 framed and hanging on the wall of my home office with him on the cover after he announced he had brain cancer with the caption, “I Lied”.  I remember spotting him on the bench and watching him lift 505 lbs. for a triple.  Lyle had a lot to do with me never taking PEDs even though the temptation was there.

 

I entered three powerlifting competitions with Ralph in 1982/1983 including the first (and maybe the only) Long Island Invitational at Lawrence H.S. run by Dr. Ken.  The other competitions were in Fort Lee, NJ and Gloversville, NY by Albany.  At that time, there were only weight classes with no age groups so a 25 year-old was competing against a 65 year-old as long as they weighed approximately the same.  I competed in the 181 lb. class and was your typical middle of the pack guy with personal bests of 455 lb. squat, 303 lb. bench and 501 lb. deadlift.  

 

The training schedule Paul and I did with Ralph consisted of bench and squats on Monday and Friday and deadlifts on Wednesday along with accessory movements including good mornings.  At the competitions we wore thicker wrestling-like singlets and knee wraps and not the multi-ply suits used today.  I am sure these singlets provided some help in the squat, but not much.  They certainly didn’t help in the bench and deadlift.  I stopped going to Jack Lalane in probably 1984 after I moved to Oceanside and started a moving and storage business called Brewer & Son, Inc. but continued to train, not too seriously, either in my basement or at Tom Terwilliger’s gym in Bellmore on Merrick Rd.  until I moved to the Tampa area in 1992 and got into the commercial real estate business.

 

I started serious powerlifting training again in 2015 at the age of 55 and have entered 6-8 competitions since then with my best total being 1,055 lbs.  I hope to be able to continue to powerlift into my 80’s and maybe be invited to some national competitions at some point.  When I can make it to south Florida, I train with a group of guys at Iron Therapy Gym in Lake Worth who have the same lifting spirit as the men I used to train with at the old Jack Lalane’s in Inwood 40 years ago.  I am truly blessed to have known both groups.  

 

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Monday, June 24, 2024

Ego Lifting Or Just Lifting? - By Jim Duggan

There is a popular term that people who work out like to use nowadays.  “Ego Lifting” is something that I never heard until recently.  Like many other phrases, it can have different meaning for different people.  And, like many phrases and words associated with lifting, I’m not entirely sure of what it quite means.  For instance, I have never understood the use of the word “Jacked” when referring to a person who lifts weights.  Is it supposed to be an adjective describing someone who is big and strong?  If so, does it make a difference if the person in question is drug-free or using steroids or other PEDs?  And, if he/she is not clean, then can we describe them as having used “Gear?”  Incidentally, “Using Gear” is one of my favorite sayings.  A neat and curious phrase.  It certainly is a cheerful euphemism for using steroids.  

     Incidentally, I have always gotten a kick out of some of the different phrases people use to describe those who take steroids.  Larry “Bruno” Licandro would refer to such a person as “Being on everything from A to Z.”  Legendary strength coach Kim Wood refers to steroids as “Gak,” which I think is pretty cool, too.  Tom Tedesco would refer to a user as someone who is “On the sauce.”  Over the last few years, I’ve used the phrase “Steroid-bloated druggie,” and I guess it kind of hits the nail on the head.  Of couse, Larry, Tommy, and Coach Wood were vehemently against the use of such drugs, so it’s not hard to see that those gentlemen had a great influence on how I view the whole issue.  

     I don’t mean to devote so much space to drug users, but I think the idea of ego lifting and drug use goes hand in hand, to a certain extent.  But the concept of ego lifting is something that is readily recognizable, if you train in a typical commercial gym.  Let me paint the picture:  A guy is training on a sled-type Leg Press machine.  He has loaded the machine with just about EVERY 45 Lb. plate within reach.  Imagine the machine loaded to the point where there is not room for any more plates.  Let’s just say twenty-four 45 Lb. plates ( 1,080 Lbs).  He now wraps his knees, tightens his belt, and gets in position in the machine.  He has two “gym bros” assist him in moving the weight off the safety pins.  Then, to the accompaniment of his screaming retinue, he will lower the stack roughly 6 inches or so, and then whilst using his hands to assist his legs, he will move the monstrous poundage to the completed position.  Upon completion of his “rep,” he will be cheered by his supporters while proudly proclaiming to the world that he has lifted nearly 1,100 pounds!  He will post this ( there is no way he will NOT have someone taking a video of this accomplishment, I mean, come on, this has to be shared).  Sometimes they will proclaim a new world record, as if there is a world record for such a silly movement.  If he’s lucky, at some point in his lifting journey, he will recognize how funny he looks, and correct himself.  Hopefully, before he injures himself.

     One time, years ago at The All-Natural Gym, Tom Tedesco came into the gym one night and decided that he wanted to Leg Press 1,000 Lbs, something he had never tried.  He didn’t make a big deal of it, in fact he mentioned it so casually that I didn’t realize what he was doing until he started loading plates to each side of the machine.  Even when it was loaded to one thousand pounds, he approached the poundage with  a cool professionalism that bordered on nonchalance.  I should not have been surprised, because I had never seen him display any emotion while competing.  In direct contrast to many powerlifters, he would approach each lift with a quiet confidence, confidence that had been developed through years of steady training.  As he settled in the machine ( no belt, no knee wraps), he simply unracked the weight, moved the safety handles, then slowly lowered the massive weight until his knees were on his armpits, then smoothly pushed the weight back up to the completed position.  He didn’t make a sound, and aside from myself, nobody in the gym noticed what had happened.  He could have easily done more, but he simply wanted to prove to himself that he could do it.  

     Now, who do you think is engaged in “ego lifting?”  Which brings me to an important point that I would like to make:  Just because someone is training hard and/or heavy, that does not mean that “ego lifting” is involved.  There are many lifters who are brutally strong, yet they toil away in near anonymity, content to lift for themselves and not for “Likes,” or followers in social media.  The fact that they can lift tremendous poundages is no reason to carry on like a mad banshee.  And when you consider that most of the “lifters” who do carry on can’t hold a candle to the truly strong individuals who train in a professional manner.  

     I used to enjoy watching people lift, back when I trained in a commercial gym.  I always got a kick out of a group of guys who do Deadlifts every Friday night.  They would set things up on the platform, and work through their warm-ups until they reached their working poundages.  What was funny was that as the weight on the bar increased, they would make a point of deliberately dropping the bar.  Not withstanding the fact that such behavior would result in the lift being judged “No Good,” I couldn’t imagine why they would do something like that until it hit me:  NOISE.  They just had to make noise to draw attention to themselves.  Certainly their lifting ability was no cause for anyone to notice them, but drop a loaded barbell and the whole place took notice.  A sudden, loud noise will cause everyone to stop and see where it was coming from.  It’s human nature.  Now, if having people pay attention to you is important, and that’s a big “if” in my opinion, wouldn’t it be more gratifying for it to be for your lifting ability?  I mean anybody could make noise.

     I suppose another form of “ego lifting” is that special type of individual who just has to make some outlandish claim about their ability.  The guy who claims to lift a certain amount of weight, yet when asked to provide proof of their ability, they fold like a beach chair.  We’ve all encountered the “Toppers,” those people who, upon finding out what you lift, they always come up with a number that is always a little bit higher.  Always.  Again, when it comes time to back their claims, they try to change the subject.  One good thing about competing in sanctioned competition, is that the Meet Results are there for all to see.  

    Years ago, there used to be a lifter who competed in local meets in the NY tri-state area.  He was in his forties, and claimed to have been a former weightlifting champion, powerlifting champion, as well as decorated Vietnam war veteran.  He also claimed to hold a Master’s degree as well as a PhD from a well known university.  His weightlifting claims were debunked by several prominent Olympic weightlifters who had never heard of him.  His education claims, likewise were found to be bogus ( a prominent lifter and meet director had attended and was a professor at the university in question).  And his military claims, similarly were found to be untrue by another lifter who HAD served and who had worked for the Veteran’s Administration.  Why anyone would make such outlandish claims is beyond me.  Oh, and the liar in question also claimed to have won over 300 trophies during his career.  This guy was George Santos before there was a George Santos.  If I believed in reincarnation……

     So, the next time you see someone drawing attention to themselves, either by their behavior, or outlandish claims, just try to get a laugh out of it.  It’s true that some people serve as an example of what not to do, but it’s also a fact that some people were simply put on this earth to make us laugh.






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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Full Circle: and ready to train again - By Ted Peterson

My name is Ted and I am 53 years old. You might be thinking that's great Ted, now who are you and why are you writing an article for Natural Strength?

Read on and you might understand, relate, and become motivated to press on with life and your training goals. Let me start by going back to the late 1990's and early 2000's. I was in my late 20's and early 30's. Coming out of the military I was in "good" shape and lifted weights regularly. I trained with passion and loved being in the gym pushing myself and anyone around me physically and mentally.

All that being said I hit a place in my training where I thought that I had "plateaued." I was training faithfully and taking all the popular protein powders of the era. I went to a locally owned nutrition store and spoke with an "older guy" that looked serious about his training. He didn't have a Hollywood muscle for show build, but had an I can pick up a truck kind of look. I shared my frustrations of not making anymore gains in the gym and he asked how many days a week I trained. I answered proudly that I lift weights five or more days a week. I will never forget him rolling his eyes at me and saying come here as he walked toward the books section. He proceeded to explain to me that I was training too frequently and focusing on "body parts" instead of full body, big muscle movements. He handed me several free copies of Hardgainer and encouraged me to read through them.

This is when I was introduced to the writing of "Maximum" Bob Whelan. Although there were many great articles by other contributors I always seemed to gravitate towards Bob's articles. When I began reading hardgainer back then I was 6' tall and weighed about 186. I am not going to lie, these hardgainer articles challenged me mentally. They went against almost everything that I had been taught about strength training. Train less often and quit wasting your money on protein powder!? Eat a big fat steak was, and to this day is, one of Bob's main protein recommendations. So I read hardgainer articles and began to apply the principles of Bob's coaching in them.

Beyond the training tips I found the articles to be incredibly motivating as Bob would describe the brutal sessions, toughness, and attitudes of so many he trained. I applied many of the principles and went from weighing 186 to eventually peaking at 210 pounds! 210 for me was maximizing my genetics for sure and with the increased muscle mass my strength also increased incredibly. My buddies kept asking what magic protein supplement I was on. Some even hinted that roids might be involved, which really pissed me off. Many would "work out" for two hours at the gym, yet the only thing that grew might have been their mandibles. I am no better, or lesser than any man, but my gains were steady, over the course of time, and were made through honest and consistent hard work. I wasn't going to allow people to take that from me especially after I would share the training principles, knowledge, and Bob's articles with them.

I have many life experiences and one thing I've unfortunately noticed is that many people are good with living mediocre lives and want things easy. Enough of that. Let's fast forward to injuries at 43. After 9/11 I served in the military for another 4 years and then as a first responder for an additional 15 years until cumulative injuries took their toll on me. My careers were ended, I was facing surgeries, training was reduced to doctors approving "doing cardio", and I went into a depression. At the urging of family and a couple of close friends I went to the VA and began to tackle some of the intrusive memories that I had from the types of professions I had chosen. I had to dig in mentally and I pressed on. I can't say how challenging it was and to this day I have to work on keeping my mind strong.

I met with a physical therapist, Dr. Erik Salley, from Restore Performance Institute and he said that I could be restored physically. Wait, what!? The next year and a half would be challenging and rewarding. Erik believes that the mind, body, and spirit are all intertwined. Erik went against most of the don't do anything and take these pain meds norms. Over the next year Erik would help me physically and mentally to believe that I was in fact on track to be able to train again. Eventually he had me begin training with a young man named Rian on the human performance side of the house. I can't express how grateful I am to Erik and Rian for the patience and motivation that they provided during this time in my life.

So here I was back in the gym. At first I was just excited to be back in the gym training and then I had a "what am I doing at 53" moment. I am at a different place in life, what are my training goals? I believe I have more in the tank and remembered Bob Whelan's coaching articles. I went to Natural Strength.com There they were, so many of the articles and kick ass motivated attitudes that I remembered, and I knew that I had the itch again and I want to train with goals.

I reached out to Bob in an email and to my surprise he responded. I say surprised because in my mind this has got to be one of the most sought after strength coaches in the country and he took the time to email me. I shared where I was at in life and about my desire to train with some purpose again. Bob scheduled a phone consultation with me and my goal was to shut up, listen, and have a pen and paper ready to write. I did plenty of writing, but we also enjoyed some great conversation about life. Bob is the real deal. He does not care to impress anyone, he is exactly the person behind the articles that I read 25 years ago. He is very direct, which I appreciate, and he is very genuine and passionate about coaching people to better themselves physically, mentally, and spiritually. I was humbled when he asked me to share some of my story and now with a fresh set of coaching notes I look forward to the hard work and making progress with my training. Thanks for allowing me to share and I encourage you to not give up, get after it, no matter what chapter of life you are in. Thanks "Maximum" Bob!
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Friday, May 17, 2024

The Trap Bar and Dr. Ken - By Jim Duggan

By the Fall of 1987, I had been competing in drug-free powerlifting for two years and had been subscribing to Powerlifting USA magazine since the previous Summer.  As a young lifter, I couldn’t get enough powerlifting.  Whether it be training, competing, or simply reading about the sport, my whole world revolved around the three lifts and  how to improve them.  Looking back, I realize that was not a healthy outlook to have, and that there is much more to life than Squats, Bench Presses, and Deadlifts.  Although, nearly thirty-seven years later, I am still an avowed strength fanatic.  I just don’t follow powerlifting, for reasons stated in previous articles.  But anything related to building, measuring, or the discussion of strength and I am instantly transported back in time.

      Looking back at the October issue of PL/USA, there were the usual articles about training, upcoming contests, and of course, the meet results section.  I have to admit, it was kind of cool the first time I saw my name in a contest report.  I guess that can be attributed to inexperience, and I’m glad that I got over that phase relatively quickly.  But one thing that I never got over was reading quality, no-nonsense articles about getting stronger.  And when it came to quality strength training articles, few authors can compare to Dr. Ken Leistner.  Even today, his articles have withstood the test of time.  Quality information never goes out of style.

     This month’s “More From Ken Leistner” column focused on the Trap Bar.  Back in 1987, the Trap Bar was still relatively new to the lifting world.  In the article, Dr. Ken wrote that the inventor of the Trap Bar was a gentleman by the name of Al Gerard.  But it was Kim Wood, the long-time strength coach of the Cincinnati Bengals, who convinced him to try one.  By his own admission, Dr. Ken initially thought that the Trap Bar was “another scam.”  Sometimes it takes some convincing from a legendary strength coach, even for someone like Dr. Ken.  I’m glad that he took the advice, because when I joined Iron Island Gym a few years later, the Trap Bar quickly became on of my favorite pieces of training equipment.  Come to think of it, the first time I ever SAW a Trap Bar was when I joined Iron Island.  Yet another reason that I’m glad I joined.  

     During the course of the article, Dr. Ken goes on to describe the results that his trainees got from using his newest piece of equipment.  Even some of his lifter who had back problems were able to use the Trap Bar because it allowed them to use proper form throughout the lift.  “The distribution of the weight is closer to the body’s center of gravity, making lifting more efficient and less stressful.”  

     Naturally, Deadlifts with a Trap Bar became a staple of my training, especially during the “off-season.”  It’s a great way to build back strength, while at the same time providing an alternative to regular Deadlifts.  I’ve always found that if you stick to regular Deadlifts from the floor for low reps for an extended length of time, you will inevitably reach a point where you will grow stale and/or overtrain.  It’s just the nature of the beast.  Of course, you can devote some time to high-rep Deadlifts, but how many powerlifter want to do high reps in the Deadlift?  I know in my own experience, thirty years ago I thought that anything over three constituted “high reps.”  As I mentioned earlier, I’m glad that my thinking has changed over the years.  

     One of the interesting things about the Trap Bar is that it can also be used for other movements.  Shoulder shrugs are an obvious example of another movement which can be performed with the Trap Bar.  Shrugs with a standard bar have been an effective “assistance exercise” for years, but with a Trap Bar the movement can be done a lot more comfortably than with a straight bar.  If you’ve never tried shoulder shrugs with a Trap Bar, try them.  You’ll never go back to using a standard bar again.  

     Another great way to use a Trap Bar is to use it for Overhead Pressing.  The “parallel” grip, with the palms facing each other allowed for a more efficient pressing movement.  I’ve actually used a Trap Bar for standing Presses inside of a power rack.  At the time, I was preparing for a strongman contest in which one of the events was a log bar press.  Since there were no logs- or even log bars- to be found, the Trap Bar inside of the rack provided for a similar grip which was to be  used in the contest.  Of course, you can also use the Trap Bar for Bench Presses, too.  If you can fit a flat bench inside of a power rack, you will have an effective way to stimulate the same muscles used in a conventional Bench Press.  Plus, the parallel grip will be “user friendly” for your shoulders. In the years since this article was first published, many equipment manufacturers have designed machines which feature a parallel grip, for the safety of those who use them.  But if you don’t have access to machines, all you need is a Trap Bar.

     Over the years, the design of the Trap Bar has changed.  Gone is the original diamond shape.  In its place is a hexagonal design that works just as well.  As I said earlier, Iron Island Gym had one of the first Trap Bars, but eventually Dr. Ken had a special one designed exclusively for the gym.  It was a custom made Trap Bar which featured slightly thicker handles, a larger inside area ( for those individuals who had trouble fitting inside a conventional Trap Bar), and it weighed in at a massive 40kgs ( 88 Lbs).  This thing was a monster.  Just moving it around constituted a workout in itself.  I fondly remember doing high rep sets with Drew Israel on numerous occasions.  To paraphrase Nietzsche, “That Which Does Not Kill Me Makes Me Stronger.”  

     To take things a step further, about five years ago, I purchased a thick handled Trap Bar.  The handles ( the entire bar in fact) is a massive two inches thick!  It is a beast! And since I bought it, I have used it religiously.  You not only get the benefits of a Trap Bar, but you also have the advantage of thick bar work, which has been discussed frequently over the years by numerous strength writers.  I’ve been trying to really push the poundage, and have been happy with the results.  

     I would like to mention one other thing insofar as today’s generation of Trap Bars.  It has become something of a pet peeve with me.  I’m talking about the Trap Bars with raised handles, which decrease the range of motion.  Some of these bars have handles that must be well over six inches above the normal height of the bar.  Some are even  higher!  As I have mentioned in previous articles, if you are lifting on a bar with raised handles, then you are NOT doing a Deadlift.  You are doing a PARTIAL lift.  Or Rack lockout.  Do yourselves a favor and turn the handles over and do a FULL movement.  And, it goes without saying, you should never use straps in order to use more weight.  Instead, concentrate on working on your grip strength.  

     I will close with a direct quote from Dr. Ken’s original article:  “The Trap Bar can not make a champion out of just anybody, but I do believe that it can help to improve one’s deadlift significantly, if used properly.”  Truer words were never spoken.  And, interestingly, it’s not the first- or last- time that I found myself in total agreement with Dr. Ken.




     


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Sunday, April 21, 2024

More From Dr. Ken Leistner - By Jim Duggan

When I joined Bruno’s Health Club in the Summer of 1983, my primary goal was to be able to get stronger in the three powerlifts.  Even though it would still be a couple years before I would make it to the platform, I tried to find as much information as I could on how to improve my lifting.  There was a lot of motivation around because not only was Bruno’s a gym that was devoted to serious lifting, powerlifting was still being featured on television from time to time, and of course Muscular Development magazine offered numerous articles about the sport of super-strength.

     By far the most important event insofar as popularizing the sport, was the introduction of Powerlifting USA magazine.  Even though it was only available by subscription, every once in a while one of the lifters at the gym would bring in a copy.  Sometimes Larry would post a photo-copy of the “Workout of the Month,” on the wall outside his office.  As I mentioned before, powerlifting was still seen on television, so there were a number of lifters who were quite popular at the time.  When I began to subscribe to PL/USA in 1986, I gained a new appreciation of the magazine, and its contents.  

     One of the most intriguing features was “More From Ken Leistner,” Dr. Ken’s monthly column.  These articles were not simply sets and reps, or how to improve your Bench Press.  Dr. Ken offered much more than just a workout.  Each month he provided the readers with his opinions on the sport, the people who ran the sport, and good, sound advice on how to become the best you can be.  The fact that he “pulled no punches” made his column even more enjoyable to read.  There is something about a person who writes from the heart that is just inherently appealing, especially to those who like to lift.  

     Naturally, when someone is outspoken and honest, he/she will undoubtedly ruffle some feathers along the way.  There were- and still are- a lot of big egos in the sport of powerlifting.  But I always found it refreshing to read the words of someone who told it like it is.

     Even though I began subscribing to PL/USA in 1986, over the years I have purchased back issues for the purpose of gaining access to the great articles of the past.  And let me tell you, there was some good stuff from the early 1980s.  I have already written about the Finnish Deadlift Routine, and I will have more to say about it in a future article.  But now I want to discuss Dr. Ken’s column from the November 1982 issue.   

     In this particular column, he addresses the topic of frequency of training.  Forty plus years ago, the question of how many days per week to train was brought to the attention of readers who were interested in getting stronger.  Fast forward to 2024, and the question of how often to lift is still paramount in the minds of those who “hoist the steel.”  It is especially important for natural lifters.

     It’s not hard to imagine the reaction of lifters back then when they were being advised that they can get stronger by training two, or at most, three days per week.  Even today, it is difficult to convince young trainees that two or three workouts per week is all you need.  In fact, more than that would constitute overtraining and leave you vulnerable to injury and burnout.  Split routines, “bodypart training,” and other ridiculous ideas are the norm today, as they were back in the 1980s.  And with the dissemination of bogus training advice being made worse through social media, things don’t look promising.  

     Interestingly, Dr. Ken mentions the fact that most people spend too much time in the gym.  He even speaks of those who spend the majority of their time in the gym socializing, and just “hanging out,” instead of training hard.  Substitute “texting” for “hanging out,” and you get a picture of the typical commercial gym today.

     “Two days a week gives you as much, if not more, latitude than training three days per week.”  At first, it may seem like a strange statement but if you think about it, it makes complete sense.  By only allowing yourself two days to train, you have no choice but to choose your exercises with care.  In other words, you cut out the movements that are excessive, “trim the fat” so to speak.  This gives you more time to devote to the big, basic movements.  

    For the competitive powerlifter, he alludes to the fact that if you train the three lifts on the same day, you will be able to simulate what you will be doing the day of a contest.  For many years, while preparing for a contest, I would Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift on the same day.  Usually on Sundays.  Because these movements are, obviously, very demanding, I didn’t do any “assistance” movements on the same day as the “Big Three.”  This prevented me from overtraining.  It also had another beneficial effect.  On contest day, I was accustomed to doing Squats, Bench Presses and Deadlifts on the same day.  I was never fatigued because my body was used to the physical demand required from doing all three lifts on the same day.  To put it in simple terms, train the way you compete.  If you’re only accustomed to doing only deadlifts by themselves during your workouts, then you will probably not lift as much at the contest when you have to “on” for three separate lifts.  “If training is not a whole lot different than a meet, in terms of gearing up physically for two or three major lifts in the same session, you won’t be on strange ground when it’s time to throw down the gauntlet.”  Or to put it more succinctly, “expect no miracle at meet time.”

     This particular article by Dr. Ken also delves into the area of recuperative abilities insofar as it relates to training. Although this information was originally intended for powerlifters in the early 1980s, the basic premise is valuable today for everyone who lifts weights.  This means that you must know what works for you and, more importantly, what does not.  Do not blindly follow some routine posted by a well known lifter or athlete.  As I mentioned before, the “Workout of the Month” was a popular feature, but even back then, I was careful to make sure that any workout that I followed would have to be adapted to suit my own physical ( and psychological ) limitations.  Back in the mid 1980s, a very well-known lifter was idolized and praised to no end. His every workout was broken down, and examined to no end.  God knows how many lifters tried to emulate him, with little or no success.  Since the “champion” in question lived at home with his parents, did not work and was on every PED from A to Z, it’s not difficult to understand why so few aspiring lifters benefitted from his “expertise.”

     Drug-free lifters of any age need to be careful with their choice of assistance exercises.  Again, this comes down to what works for you.  I’ve mentioned in previous articles that one of my all-time favorite movements is the Good Morning exercise.  There are many people for whom this is not a good movement.  But I’ve never had a problem with them.  On the other hand, the Hammer Deadlift machine, a fantastic machine, is most definitely NOT for me.  Each time I’ve tried using it, I wound up wrenching my back.  Yet, countless others have used it without issue.  Don’t try to figure out why, just do what works for you.

     As I write these words, it’s just over five years since Dr. Ken’s untimely passing.  I don’t think it’s possible to accurately discuss just how many people benefitted from his wisdom, expertise, and generosity.  I was fortunate enough to train at Iron Island Gym shortly after it opened in 1992.  Every time I see my vintage “Iron Island” 45 Lb plates, or my stack of Steel Tip Magazines, or my vintage Hardgainers that he generously gave me, I am reminded of a man for whom I had a great deal of respect and admiration.  And I’m proud to say that I have not wavered in that opinion over the years, and never will.  

Continued Rest in Peace Dr. Ken.





Editor's Note: Great article Jim. I started reading "More From Dr. Ken Leistner" in the early 80's too when I was still powerlifting and coaching it. I would make a copy and staple-it on the gym bulletin board for the lifters to read. I loved that column and it was the main reason I subscribed to PL USA. I have a pair of those same plates from Dr Ken too. Drew Israel brought them down when he visited me in the mid 90's and wrote about it in one of his HG articles.


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Friday, April 5, 2024

Training Progress Message and Instinctive Pyramids - From Tim Stevenson


Hello Bob,
I just wanted to let you know that progress is awesome, and not just bench. Squats and deads have been very linear in progression, had a rough patch for a couple workouts where they were really getting tough to punch out my 20 and 15 rep goals, but was making it, last couple workouts, squats and deads have felt very good with the added weight, been really paying attention to enough calories and drinking whole milk without restriction, just listening to what my body tells me it wants. I’ve gone from 203-210 in the past 5 weeks, still very comfortably wearing 33” waist wranglers and XL-XXL shirts with absolutely no visible difference in leaness, so my assumption is, we’ve added a solid 6-7lbs of lean mass.
My bench just keeps progressing upward using the instinctive pyramids. I use 8 rep, 5 rep, doubles, singles, and burnouts, alternating specific sequences week by week. I believe abandoning a heavy 12 rep goal has helped my progress tremendously. The rep ranges have been lower, with the pyramid scheme, and increased strength has come nearly every workout. 

So Bob, I just wanted to thank you again for all I’ve learned from your work. I thought I really knew something about working out before I found you, but between you, super squats, Jim Duggan, and Dick Conner, I’ve learned a great deal more, and much more valuable info because your guys’ findings have not been skewed by results of drug users, so I can’t thank you guys enough for what you have made available through coaching, podcasts, and articles. I’ll be devising a new set of questions to run by you on another coaching session here in the near future. I enjoy listening to your Natural Strength Night podcast while I’m working, but I’ve heard them so many times now, I can probably repeat them verbatim! 

Thanks again Bob.


Editor's Note: You are doing great Tim. Keep up the heavy and hard training. Thanks for the kind words too.   


 

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Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Supplementary Exercises - By Jim Duggan

Strength and Health was one of my favorite magazines during my early lifting days.  By the time I joined Bruno’s in 1983, the best days of S&H- as well as American weightlifting- were certainly in the rear view mirror.  Nevertheless, York’s flagship magazine was still capable of putting out quality issues that were devoured by the many long-time readers who couldn’t get enough of the old York gang.  Larry was most definitely a “York Barbell Man,” and it should come as no surprise that there was a stack of old muscle magazines lying around his office area.  Every once in a while, I would close the gym for Larry when he wanted to get away early.  During those times when I watched the gym, I would look through the old issues.  One that caught my eye was the September 1984 edition of S&H.  

     As always, there were many quality articles in that particular edition.  There was an article devoted to the passing of the great John Davis, who had passed away during the Summer of 1984.  Bob Hoffman’s editorial addressed the issue of “devalued gold medals” from the recent Los Angeles Olympics, since those games were boycotted by Russia and the Eastern Bloc.  Of course, there was the monthly Kilo Conversion Chart, which seemed to be in EVERY issue of the magazine. There was an article devoted to the training regimen of former NY Jet great Joe Klecko, who was just recently inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  The “Iron Grapevine” described Jan Dellinger’s visit to the Pittsburgh Steelers training camp that Summer.  For many years, Jan was the heart and soul of York Barbell, and his expertise on all things related to Muscletown is unsurpassed.  He is also one of the true, great gentlemen of the Iron Game, who happens to still be active in the sort today.  When I read his portion of this magazine, I was a bit envious.  During his visit to the Steelers’ camp, he was able to hang our with Jon Kolb, the legendary Offensive Tackle and World’s Strongest Man participant, who happens to be one of my favorite strength athletes.  But that’s another story.

     On page 56, there was a regular feature written by Michael Yessis devoted to Soviet Training.  Dr. Yessis is a renowned strength coach, trainer, and author.  For many years he was the “go to guy” when it came to how the Soviets trained their lifters and athletes.  Anyway, this month’s article discussed “Supplementary Exercises.”  In previous articles, I’ve written about “assistance exercises” for the various powerlifts.  I’ve always believed in the effectiveness of proper assistance movements as a way to build strength for the three lifts.  While each lifter has to select what exercises are best for him/her, there should be no doubt that some sort of supplementary movement should be used.  They are unequaled in overcoming weak points.  

     In this particular article, Dr. Yessis recounts a visit with Soviet coaches, and how they provided him with a list containing 64 supplementary exercises that their coaches utilized.  You read that right- 64 movements!  Naturally, different movements were used in different phases of their training.  General physical preparation (GPP) and specialized physical preparation (SPP) were the two phases of a lifter’s training that were described.  Naturally, some movements were devoted to GPP, while others devoted to SPP.  What was interesting was that a number of movements were used for BOTH phases of training.  

     I am definitely NOT going to describe all 64 movements.  But I will discuss some of the more popular movements.  These are exercises that have proven their worth over the course of many years.  Additionally, you do not have to be a champion Olympic weightlifter to benefit from doing these exercises.  Anybody who is interested in getting stronger can benefit from using some of these exercises.  Hopefully, these movements are familiar to everyone reading this.

     Hyperextensions are a common exercise used by the Soviets “back in the day.”  What’s important to note is that they are still a fantastic exercise.  I have used them at various times in the course of my own workouts.  They can be used as a warm-up as well as an assistance exercise.  High reps at the beginning of your training session will thoroughly warm up the muscles of your lower back.  Of course you can add resistance by a plate or dumbbell behind your head.  

     There is one salient point in the original article that I would like to emphasize.  “Technique receives receives a great deal of emphasis in the Soviet system.  They believe that correct technique will lead to proper development of the muscles.”  Do your exercise properly, and don’t be in a rush to add weight to the detriment of proper form.  You’ll not only increase your muscular development, but you’ll reduce the chance of injuries.

     Hip Belt Squats are another exercise described back in 1984.  By standing on boxes and having the weights hung from a belt around their waist, a great deal of strength was built for their lifters.  Naturally, today there are specially made Hip-Belts that can be easily purchased.  They place no undue stress on the lower back, and can be used by those who have difficulty doing regular back squats.  Overhead Squats and Lunges are also mentioned, but I’m not sure about their efficacy.  If you have the flexibility and are able to do overhead squats then perhaps they can be utilized.  I’ve never been able to do them, and I feel that there are other movements ( Hip-Belt Squats, Hammer Leg Press, Weighted Step-Up) that are safer and more effective.  Lunges seem to be have gained a resurgence in popularity.  And while they may be effective in developing a greater range of motion, I’m not sold on their effectiveness as a strength builder.  But as in anything else insofar as it relates to lifting, you must do what works for you.

     Good Mornings are mentioned as both a warm-up and as a part of a main workout routine.  I can think of few- if any- exercises that are more effective at building lower-back strength and development.  I’ve always liked doing Good Mornings, and they have played a large part in my workouts over the years.  Again, I would like to emphasize that Good Mornings are not for everyone.  If you can do them safely without injuring your back, then break into them slowly, and always use proper form.  If they are not for you, then do something that agrees with you.  Nobody knows you like you know yourself.  Never do an exercise that can cause pain or injury.  

     Parallel Bar Dips are also mentioned.  I can’t think of a more effective way to build upper-body strength than dips.  You’ll not only increase your Bench Press, but you will build all-around power in your shoulders, arms, and chest. I’ve always liked doing dips.  When I was competing, I never did Incline Presses, but I did do plenty of dips.  They are a fantastic movement. The key, of course, is to do the exercise properly.  Slow, controlled reps with NO bouncing at the bottom should be the aim of anyone doing this great movement.  In other words, don’t follow the YouTube warriors who hang weights off their waists and bounce up and down in half-repetitions.  Your shoulders will thank you as you get older.  Incidentally, the original article claimed that former World and Olympic champion Yuri Vlasov supposedly performed dips with 100kg of additional weight.  

     The last supplementary exercise is one that I have never really used, but I mention it because it was supposedly a favorite of the late, great Vasily Alexeyev.  The French Dumbbell Curl was believed to prevent elbow injuries.  According to Soviet coaches, he used them with high repetitions. I was not aware of Alexeyev doing these, but since he trained primarily by himself, who’s to know?  If you want to give them a try, I would recommend that you don’t try to go too heavy.  

     Supplementary exercises played a vital role in the training of Soviet weightlifters, and the large variety of movements was responsible for a large part of their success.  Of course, there were other factors which contributed to their success on the lifting platform, which I will not discuss here.  But for someone who is determined to get stronger, assistance movements are vital to not only increasing your lifts, but in building all-around strength.  The movements I listed in this article are still popular here in the United States nearly forty years after the original article appeared. 





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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

THE MEANS OF WEIGHT TRAINING SUCCESS - LAYOFFS - BY DAVID SEDUNARY

Your success and making your body as good as possible, so that it better serves your needs is within your reach. It is yours to attain, providing you follow the means to success and the selection of exercises as follows. 

LAYOFFS.


A person who endeavors to build their body to a stage that they are genetically able to do so, must understand how muscles are developed, if he or she wants to continue without a week’s rest. One needs layoffs in training on a regular basis, if these layoffs are not planned and instigated, injuries may occur, and mental staleness will set in. When mental staleness or injuries sets in, a person tends to give up and become a lazy person so to speak and all training is forsaken. Your muscle fibers and mind need a chance to recuperate and rest, which will enable the muscle fibers to break down and rebuild with adequate stimulation, nutrition, and rest.


Some weight training enthusiasts are willing to follow advice from so called experts whether in the gym or online, if you are making gains on full body movements twice a week, you can get twice as many gains on four times a week. This sort of approach and madness leads to staleness and overtraining downright lunacy. Instead of sticking to twice a week and resting a week or two every 8 to 10 weeks, the trainee is encouraged to ingest anabolic steroids or other chemicals to aid recovery so that they can train more often. If you have been reading my articles so far on weight training success and you want to build strength and a fine physique you will need to take regular layoffs.


As funny or unorthodox as it may seem, the days you rest before you train again are a form of a short lay off. If you were to train hard, attempting to increase the weight used very slightly or the reps on a full body workout of the legs, back, chest, shoulders, and arms, you breakdown the muscle fibers of the muscles being trained. Therefore you need three to four days rest of no weight training before you do it again. This breakdown of muscles fibers is needed to make your training effective and productive.


Gains in size and strength will occur only if the muscle fibers are overloaded in correct form and focus broken down and repaired to get larger with adequate rest and recuperation between workouts. The fibers are given sufficient time to rebuild. Just recently I trained a young person in full body workouts once every 4 days. His second workout was not as productive as his first, he used the same weight but his reps in good form were down, and he looked tired. I asked what he did for his rest days, and he said he worked his back and shoulders on one of his rest days. This splitting the body parts and training them when he should have been resting resulted in overtraining and lack of recovery to train hard again. His muscle fibers had not had time to breathe and rest.



MY EXPERIENCE, BOB TO THE RESCUE.

Scheduling layoffs is different for everyone, depending upon your   circumstances of life. There are many factors which can contribute to when you are due to have a rest from your training, one cannot keep gaining indefinitely, it is not possible. I speak of my own experience last September I moved to a seaside town 400 kilometers from my home of Broken Hill. From October 2023 until January 2024 I was extremely busy manually building new fences and, lifting carrying and pushing in my yard. Renovating it so to speak. I was getting tired and worn out, I continued to weight train once every fourth day, and do cardio to a lesser degree. Coach Bob Whelan could tell I was wearing down and suggested I take two weeks rest from all activity, therefore weight training and cardio. I said to Bob maybe one week Bob, Bob said raising his voice two weeks David, you need it. It is great to have a coach and friend such as Bob Whelan who can observe and offer suggestions to help. 


As Bob suggested I took two weeks off and took my Fox terrier dog Tan for a walk every day for 30 minutes. Layoffs soften your body as Peary Rader once wrote and told me, Peary said “your body needs it David, time to rest and recover. Well the results are amazing; I have gained 3 pounds in bodyweight and am stronger in all lifts after six weeks since my layoff.


We can do one of two things:


 1. Continue to push and to workout, and thus go stale and stay stale, until you lay off training out of necessity or

 2. Layoff and thus recuperate adequately, so that when you commence training it becomes an upward climb. I have found the period between start and peak or layoff time is about 8 weeks. It is rarely less than six weeks, and I know of no person in the weight training game who can train for more than 12 weeks before a rest is designated. So the range is six to twelve weeks. You will know by experience, and after some alert observations by yourself when it is time to take a break.


 Train hard and consistently right up to the point just prior to hitting those pre staleness workouts. You need never, never again, ever go stale.

After a designated lay off you will experience the rewards I have achieved.

During the layoff one should exercise, do not do exercise which breaks down the muscle fibers. I would suggest doing exercise such as swimming, walking, hiking, bike riding, Layoffs are also a suitable time to read and learn of ways to improve, mentally, physically, and spiritually. There is one point I wish to raise is if you are a younger person and wish to gain size and strength or an underweight person, I suggest no exercise on rest days or during a layoff, just rest, sleep and eat naturally of course. Only weight training needs to be done.


During a layoff do not eat ponderously, control your intake of starches and fats, these can cause you to gain excess flab. Live on lean meats, fish, lots of fresh raw vegetables, fruits, and poultry dishes. Control your diet, exercise gently and enjoy yourself.






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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Come See a Great Strength Training Clinic - Syosset, NY - By Jamie LaBelle

Contact Jamie LaBelle for more information.   jcoach4134@gmail.com




 

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Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Training Atmosphere - By Jim Duggan

By the time I joined Bruno’s Health Club in the Summer of 1983, I had been lifting consistently for several years.  Each month, I would purchase the various muscle magazines.  My favorites were the York publications, Muscular Development and Strength and Health.  I had a particular reason for reading Muscular Development:  Each month, it would have a feature dedicated to powerlifting.  Usually results or highlights of the big contests- the Senior Nationals, World Championship- or sometimes even a feature about one or more of the better known lifters of the day.  Usually at the bottom of the page, there would appear an advertisement for “Powerlifting USA,” the monthly magazine devoted exclusively to the sport of powerlifting.  Try as I might, I could never find it in the newsstands or bookstores.  Much like Peary Rader’s “Ironman,” it was nowhere to be found.

Three years later, I was competing in drug-free powerlifting contests, and at the 1986 NY State Championships, I was able to find copies of PL/USA for sale!  A famous lifter, who also sold lifting equipment and supplies, was selling copies at a table where he was hawking his goods.  Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to read through the magazine.  But more importantly, I cut out an ad and mailed in my subscription.  A couple weeks later, PL/USA began arriving in the mail every month, and it would continue for over twenty years.  

     Powerlifting USA didn’t have the history or depth of the classic muscle magazines of the time, but it did have what I coveted:  complete coverage of the powerlifting scene.  The Table of Contents was like a menu of good reading.  Contest coverage, upcoming events, The Workout of the Month, Interviews with the biggest names in the sport, For the Record ( a listing of national and state records), and one of my favorites, Dr. Ken Leistner’s monthly column, “More From Dr. Ken.”  

     I confess that the first thing I would turn to would be the contest results section.  I always wanted to see the coverage of meets that I participated in, but I would also go to the Upcoming Events section, in order to see if there were any contests coming up that I would like to enter.  When I had time, I would then turn to Dr. Ken’s column.  His articles were usually substantial and contained a lot of useful information.  There was always a lot to digest and I always took my time reading his monthly article.  Little did I know at the time that I would someday get to meet Dr. Ken and train at his famous training facility.  But since Iron Island Gym didn’t open until 1992, I had a few years to wait, and so I had to settle for his monthly column.  

    Occasionally, an article from another author would catch my eye, and offer useful information.  It was from an article in 1981 where I found the Finnish Deadlift Routine, a program that I use to this day.  I also remember reading about the Russian Squat Program that I also tried.  I’ve lost count of the total number of routines that I experimented with over the years, but suffice it to say that I got my money’s worth over the years.

    Back in the Fall of 1982, the was an article title “Training Atmosphere,” written by a gentleman named Don Pfeiffer.  It was part of a series of articles under the “Startin’ Out” section, dedicated to beginning lifters.  As I was looking through some old back issues, this article caught my eye.  We all want to train in an atmosphere conducive to progress and improvement.  In the opening paragraph of the article, you can readily grasp the main point:  “The right training atmosphere can make all the difference in the world.  It can help you realize your potential much faster.”  

     Mr. Pfeiffer also offers a definition of training atmosphere, so that there can be no doubt:  “Proper training atmosphere can be defined as the conditions that are necessary so that one can reach his/her potential in the least amount of time.”  He goes on to briefly describe various types of gyms and training facilities.  He even makes references to “Toner” and “Pumper” type gyms, and advises the reader to avoid those types of places.  At the end of the article, he lists the conditions that are necessary to maintain a positive training atmosphere.

     “There must be no horseplay or clowning around when you train.”  When I trained at Bruno’s, there were a lot of fun times.  The list of characters who trained there was long and distinguished.  Topping the list, of course, was Larry himself.  There were a lot of laughs, and a lot of funny stories came out of that place.  Unfortunately, I cannot repeat most of them, but when it came time to train, everybody got serious.  

     “Train hard.  There is no substitute for hard work, and it is contagious.”  I can’t speak for everybody, but I get inspired when I see someone lifting hard.  I remember seeing some old training tapes of Dr. Ken training cadets at West Point.  If you can’t get motivated in the presence of people lifting hard and heavy, then perhaps it’s time to take up tennis or golf.

     “Enthusiasm.  The more you enjoy your workouts, the more you’ll benefit from them.”  Like hard work, enthusiasm is contagious.  Who would want to train in an atmosphere where the vast majority of trainees sleepwalk through their workouts.  Naturally, we’re not always going to be “on” each and every workout, but you should look forward to- and enjoy- each and every training session.  At some point in life, you will come to appreciate the time spent “hoisting the steel.”

     “Be helpful.  If you show genuine concern for a fellow lifter, he will reciprocate.”  If you train in a place where there is a lifter just starting out, it makes sense to help him/her as much as possible.  Follow the Golden Rule.  More importantly, it’s important to give back to the sport.  We’ve all been carried on the shoulders of others who have come before us.  Nobody who has lifted for any length of time can truthfully claim that he did it all on his own.  We’ve all had training partners, mentors, coaches, and others who have been there for us.  Be there for others.

     “Heavy Lifting.”  I saved the best for last.  “ If you want to be strong, you must lift heavy weights.  There is a great psychological benefit from watching others handle heavy weights.  The sights and sounds of heavy lifting can spur you on to greater lifting achievements.”  I can think of no better atmosphere to be surrounded by than in the presence of strong lifters hoisting massive poundages.  It doesn’t have to turn into a lifting contest in the gym, but the sight and sound of someone moving huge poundages can only help to make you work harder, dig deeper, and fight for every rep.  

     Years ago, at one of the York Strongman Contest I competed in, before the Truck Pull event, I remember meeting two powerlifting legends who were being honored at the Hall of Fame.  I had the pleasure of speaking to them, and they were actually cheering for me as I pulled a truck for time over the prescribed distance.  It’s hard to describe just how inspiring that was to be in the presence of two former world champions.  

     I’m not saying that you have to train with world champions, but as Mr. Pfeiffer stated in this article from over forty years ago, if you train in a serious, enthusiastic environment with people who are willing to train hard, lift heavy, and help others then you have indeed found the ideal lifting atmosphere.





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Thursday, January 18, 2024

THE MEANS TO WEIGHT TRAINING SUCCESS - THE SET–REP SCHEME AND SELECTING THE PROPER POUNDAGES - BY DAVID SEDUNARY

Your success and making your body as good as possible, so that it better serves your needs is within your reach. It is yours to attain providing you follow the means to success and the selection of sets and reps and proper poundage. 


It is important to pick the right exercises, but what is needed is the right use of the right exercises. Therefore picking a suitable set and rep scheme is the secret of your success. Arthur Jones once said it only takes one shot to kill an elephant, so therefore he advocated 1 set to failure. A lot of trainees who have had years of experience lifting weights can use the one set to failure with satisfactory results. What is failure is it when your goal is 8 reps, and you get to 8 compete the rep and attempt to move it and the bar edges forward an inch in good form and focus and you are unable to move any more.


 I believe one must first know what set and rep scheme works for them, and this takes time to work out and experiment. Are you suited and can gain from high reps, low reps, and multiple sets? Having trained and spoken to many people who weight train 6 to 8 reps is about perfect for general strength and development. I preferred 15 to 20 reps for deadlifts and squats one set and for the rest of the exercises it was 6 to 8 reps. Calves and abdominals 15 to 20 reps as the calves being so far from the heart needed more reps to encourage blood flow to that muscular area. 


The main reason I preferred higher reps for squats and deadlifts was the heart and lungs had to work extra hard and this suited me greatly for improving my metabolic and endurance conditioning for Australian Rules Football. The result being I rarely suffered injuries. I have always preferred and advocated for people whom I trained to perform 2 to 3 sets per exercise. One warmup set, and two hard work sets. Or one warmup set, and one work set or hard set. Do not wear yourself out warming up, the aim of the warmup sets is to recruit the muscle fibers for one all-out effort.


During my twenties and thirties I had success using the 5x5 five sets of exercise, Reg Park used this 5x5 system often. One can use the same weight each set, and complete five sets with that weight or progressively use more weight each set of five, your lasts set is an all-out effort of five. With this system of 5x5 I only used three exercises per workout, Workout 1# deadlift, dips and dumb bell rows, Workout 2# squats, press behind neck and barbell curls simple, short, and effective. Whatever rep and set range you use; you need to ask yourself did that rep or set range satisfactorily work my body to ensure I get results. Not just a pump but actual results, if we are honest with ourselves, we will know.


Now that I am 72 years young, I vary between normal speed reps of one set to failure and slow speed reps or 8 x 8. Please let me explain the above in further detail. Normal speed is taking 2 seconds on the positive part of the rep under control, and focus with a 1 second hold, and 4 seconds on the negative part of the rep, with a 1 second hold before you start to positive part of the rep.   For example in the seated machine chest press, one takes approximately 2 seconds to push the weight away from the body, hold the weight for 1 second and lower the weight back to the chest taking 4 seconds under control and focus. My goal is 10 reps before I increase weight.


The 8x 8 speed using the seated shoulder press machine for example, I take 8 seconds to raise the weight above my head under control and focus, hold for 1 second at the top and lower in 8 seconds, hold for the count of 1 second and raise again in 8 seconds. With this version of rep cadence obviously I use less weight. My goal is 5 reps before I increase weight. These two versions of reps and speed of reps was an excellent suggestion from coach Bob Whelan, and it works fine, never had an injury.


SELECTING THE PROPER POUNDAGES.

Just last week in the gym I train at; a young bloke came up to me while I was doing standing barbell curls using 55 pounds for a set of 9 reps and said, “that weight looks hard for you even though it is only light.”  I said to him “It may appear light to you, but it feels heavy to me.” What is important is not the weight used, but the weight you select to use for the exercise that works the targeted muscles, without cheating or throwing the weight about. Therefore using excellent form and focus.


After a planned lay off a week, whenever I came back to training, I always started my weight at 70 % of my final workout weight. I would gradually increase so over two to three weeks I was back where I was before or maybe a bit heavier. I noticed the two weeks when I was using lighter weights with perfect form, I looked bigger and felt stronger. I said to myself is the rest, giving my body a chance to rejuvenate and grow or is it the lighter weight used enabling me to use better form, focus and target the muscles with intensity. Now I realise it was the latter, use a weight that you can lower in 4 seconds, rest a second at the bottom, get it up in a controlled 2 second rest 1 second at the top and lower in 4 seconds.


One of the great experts in weight training was George F Jowett whom I read a lot about. Jowett had an ultra / rugged, muscled shapely body and was athletic to back it up. One of the main things Jowett taught when working with students who wanted to build muscles using weights was: DON’T LET YOUR DESIRE TO LIFT MORE GET IN THE WAY OF YOUR NEED TO LIFT CORRECTLY. One would be wise to learn from Jowett’s teachings.


 I can recall from the very first issues of Stuart Mc Roberts hard gainer magazine , Stuart wrote numerous times that after several years of hard consistent training a drug free lifter of 5 feet 9 inches in height with a muscular bodyweight of 182 pounds  with a 7 inch wrist, should aim for a 300 pound bench press for 1 rep  a 400 pound squat for 1 rep and a 500 pound deadlift  for 1 rep .To achieve these poundage’s in good form is impressive lifting in my eyes.


If you were able to achieve the above at the same bodyweight or even 8 pounds heavier you would be barbell curling 120 to 130 pounds for reps ,   standing barbell pressing 150 pounds for reps , or pressing  66 pound dumb bells overhead with each hand for reps , bench pressing 220 pounds for reps, deadlifting 250 pounds for reps,  dumb bell rowing with 120 pounds in each hand for reps, Using 170 pounds on the lat machine pulldown machine for reps. This is all drug free lifting, for a man who trains twice a week, has a family, and works at a full-time job. Compete against yourself, no one else, remember you will always be as good as most and better than some. Be better than you were yesterday, not as good as or better than someone else.

Stick to the above, continually attempt to lift more weight in good form and focus, and you will need to buy bigger clothes.



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