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Powerlifting, Part One
by Bradley J. Steiner Foreword What I have termed the “Key Segments” (legs, back, shoulders and chest) are the foundation stones of a powerful body. It is more important to stress that these areas require full development, instead of emphasizing total concentration on the three powerlifts, because there are many exercises other than these three lifts that contribute to complete development of these areas. What is to be gained by unnecessarily limiting oneself? This is mainly intended as a bodybuilder’s book. A sensible bodybuilder’s book, I’d add, since the stress is on the development of a physique that gives the appearance of great power because it is, truly powerful. I always turn away from the methods advocating pump, show, and artificially inflated, bloated tissue. Believe me, such methods are only for the foolish. If you want to get the most from this field and derive the fullest measure of physical culture benefits, then you want real, solid, healthy and functional muscle. I stress functional muscle always, since muscles that cannot do anything are similar to toy guns that look real but cannot shoot. What can their value possibly be? Let us assume then that you seek the limit in power and your finest possible physique, coupled with the rugged health associated with the image of the true strongman. If we are agreed on this as our common goal then we are certainly ready to begin. The path is clear and the possibility of obtaining the goal sought is open to you, provided you are willing to put in the necessary hard work. Welcome! Introduction For the lifter interested in developing the limit in strength, along with the finest possible muscularity, powerlifting is a must. Super-strength is the result of developing to the limit the body’s muscular capacity for handling tremendous workloads. The most sensible way for a lifter to handle these workloads is through the inclusion of powerlifting in his regular course of physical culture training. Power has always been admired and greatly respected through the ages. Every culture has had respect for the man of power.
This is a real “how-to-do-it” book. The aim and purpose is to discuss methods, outline courses, and detail training techniques that lead to the development of great strength. There is no easy way to build the power you desire, and there is no shortcut. However, there most assuredly is a right way to train. It is along the lines of the ways described herein. If you follow this plan you will attain your goal of great power. Your first objective should be understanding. Therefore, give yourself time to read through, comprehend and fully absorb everything contained in this book. Read it through, carefully and with patience. Make sure the concepts sink in. Make sure you grasp the principles. Be certain that you basic questions have been answered before you actually begin training. If you read this book in the careful way suggested you will have no problem in understanding its contents. Everything has been designed to read simply, and every idea has been explained fully. You will note one thing about my approach that may not be found in other powertraining courses and books; that is, I concentrate enormously on the MENTAL ASPECTS of physical training, and that I stress the intensive development of the key segments for the best overall development and performance (as opposed to complete devotion to the three currently accepted powerlifts). There is simply no way to emphasize fully the importance of the mind in physical training. It is at least 80% of the whole picture. Therefore, unless it is stressed heavily, the student will be bound to fall far short of his full possibilities. Chapter One: Some Basic Considerations. The human body can be divided into four basic power segments when considering training for strength. If you make a careful study of the human anatomy you will find that HERE lie the roots of human muscular development potential: In the leg muscles. In the back muscles. In the shoulder girdle. In the chest area. Those four areas are the muscle mass areas. That is, the body’s heaviest strongest concentration of thick and power-oriented fibers are located in those four areas. If those four segments are fully developed and coordinated, it naturally follows that the physique will take on great strength and a full development. Formerly, it was urged that leg and back work be the primary mode of training for the lifter with aspirations toward great strength. Yet, this idea must
be expanded so that the shoulder girdle and chest area are recognized as the repositories of tremendous additional strength and size potential – which they surely are. Think for a while about every strong physique man you have seen. Think not only of bodybuilders, but of wrestlers, Olympic weightlifters and so on, men who epitomize full development and great strength. Where do they truly “shine” development-wise? If they are the best in their field they heavy, broad shoulders. They have dynamic power throughout their entire shoulder girdle segment. They have thick, heavy backs. They have mighty legs, and, their chests are deep with great muscularity. Whatever else they may have, they have those four noteworthy areas of development. The important thing for the lifter to bear in mind is that the four major segments, if they are fully developed, bring about full development in the lesser body areas. This is what always happens when the training method stresses compound exercise as opposed to isolation movements. I am here speaking not necessarily of development with regard to pure bulk. Rather, I am speaking for the development of full, powerful muscularity. The argument that too much work on the basic, heavy exercises fails to produce a shapely body is utterly false. Heredity, diet, posture, etc. have the final say regarding how “shapely” you eventually look. Your choice of exercise movements, per se, has little to do with this matter of muscle shape. Remember, your muscles don’t “know” what exercise is being used when you train them. Doing heavy military presses works the shoulder girdle. Doing lateral raises also works this area, however, with the basic press you can strive for much greater poundage increments and a more complete and natural muscle involvement, and, as a result you will build much greater strength. The effect on the muscle’s appearance of shapeliness is little affected by the particular exercise you do. In fact, providing your inherent characteristics make you prone towards the “right” appearance when flexed, and provided your diet is right, there is every reason to believe that the heavier and more basic exercises will produce superior “shapeliness.” This point, again, must be carefully and clearly understood: the type of exercises you do with weights will have an effect on the development of a muscle’s size and usefulness, and a muscle’s power and strength. But, the effect upon its appearance of shapeliness is negligible. Diet and heredity mean everything here, and since diet is the only factor under your control, I suggest you begin to appreciate its importance. Think of exercise as a basically simple but brutally hard aspect of your program to develop strength and size. Don’t ever make the mistake of believing in some strange, “secret” programs or any other such nonsense. And above all, do not think that the training is everything! It is vitally important, power and strength
won’t be built without it and the physique cannot be built unless workouts are done seriously, yet: when all is told the exercise program is the simplest part of the overall course of action. It must be blended harmoniously with other items. The coming chapters will explain each item and teach you how to coordinate their employment for your maximum benefit. Back to those Key Segments again. Legs, Back, Shoulders and Chest. Remember them and impress their importance upon your mind. Then consider the following . . . The fundamental method of working the legs is by having them do a “Push Away” type of movement. That is, when, for example, you squat, you are pushing, basically, with the legs. This effort of pushing is made more difficult by increasing the weight on the bar. The harder you push, the greater the developmental effort. The shoulders and chest function as “Push Away” groups, too. Presses (overhead and bench) are basically push movements. Lying laterals require a push or forward-thrusting type motion, etc. The back “Pulls”. Rowing is a “Pull To” movement. So is deadlifting. So is cleaning. So is snatching. Chest, shoulders and legs PUSH. Back PULLS. Remember that. From that basic working principle of the muscles derives the basic developmental principle. The greatest exercises are the ones that cause the greatest basic effort. The core powerlifts – deadlift, squat and bench press – are, naturally, extremely valuable, and I’d say even essential to an effective all-round strength-building program. Yet, there are many other exercises and exercise variations that need to be understood and applied in training. You will learn many, and you’ll be taught how to apply them. Standing presses, for example, while not considered “powerlifts” are a 100% necessity for overall shoulder girdle development. That’s just one example. There are many more. It is not enough merely to concentrate upon the key segments of the body to effectively assure the attainment of our goal. It is necessary to work those segments to their utter limit. This does not mean that every workout should be a maximum effort, but it does mean that from time to time the limit attempt must be made. Otherwise, there will be no progress. Training, in other words, FLUCTUATES. It does not continue on an ever-increasing, steadily upward, straight-line climb. It begins, builds up, hits a maximum effort-output, then drops back so that you can recuperate. And then it starts that upward climb again, towards a new maximum. It is crucially important that you, as a student of physical training, understand this clearly. Otherwise, you will expect progress to continue indefinitely, which it of course cannot do. This leads to great disappointment, as I have found with many
students. Better to accept the fact that Nature has her own way of permitting you to progress towards your objectives, and let it go at that. Don’t try to impose some idea you might have, in all your wisdom, about “the right way to progress” upon your body. Adjust to Nature’s way. She won’t adjust to your way. Instead, learn all you can about the ways of nature recuperating and regenerating and work within the sanity of this framework. Your plan of training, then, will center about the maximum development of the key segments of your musculature. It will proceed by working up towards new limits of effort output, and it will stress concentration of effort on the basic exercises. There may be some other work devoted to the balancing and strengthening of the other muscle groups via lighter and lesser assistance movements, but for the most part you will train simply, heavily and sensibly. You will find, when you do, that so long as your diet is right the “lesser” muscle groups will almost “fall” into place, development-wise, with only relatively little attention. Unquestionably, this carryover benefit of the bigger exercises for the lesser muscle attachments is one of the greatest virtues of such a mode of approach in training. The squat, as a basic body exercise, serves as a truly perfect example of just what a basic movement, properly worked, can accomplish for you . . . The squat might normally be considered a leg exercise, and a superlative leg exercise it undeniably is. There is no other movement you can do that even approaches the squat in leg-building value (except, of course, front squats, which are, after all, SQUATS!). Okay, so the squat is great for the legs. Why is its carryover value so great? The squat, when employed as I shall teach you to employ it in this book, achieves the following: 1.) Tremendous development of the entire leg structure. 2.) Tremendous development of the hip (gluteus) muscles. 3.) Fantastic gains in bodily endurance, cardiovascular efficiency and all-round “inner strength.” 4.) Great expansion in the chest – superior by far to what even a program of specialization on pullovers could achieve. 5.) Expansion in the shoulder girdle, thus increasing enormously the potential for upper body gains. 6.) Increase in one’s SENSE of power, in one’s overall, basic FEELING of physical prowess. 7.) Increase in one’s psychological willpower. 8.) Development to a significant degree of the lower (lumbar) back muscles. I’ve always been a squat nut so I naturally had to pick the squat as a good example. But what about, say, deadlifting? This particular movement will:
1.) Build grip and forearm strength (as well as size) to an extent that will surprise you, if you work hard on the movement. 2.) Develop low back muscles AND upper back muscles that are literally rock hard and as strong as spring steel. 3.) Develop the hips and legs by the partial squat action entailed by the performance of a deadlift movement. 4.) Build endurance. 5.) Stimulate general strength gains throughout the entire body. Are you beginning to see the treasure house of benefits awaiting you when you adopt a schedule of training along the lines I am advocating? The basic bench press develops triceps infinitely better (and safer) than any triceps “specialization” exercise you may have seen or read about. It builds great frontal deltoid strength and power, helps to increase the wrist and grip strength, and enormously affects the hefty pectoral muscles, as well as expansion of the chest cavity. That accounts for only the BASIC THREE power lifts. But we’re concerned with TOTAL physique development – the UTMOST – possible. There are other basics we’ll be working with. The type of training we are concerned with in this book is the type that produces every desirable physical quality. You seek not only a powerlifter’s strength but a bodybuilder’s shapeliness, and an athlete’s coordination. Therefore your plan must be rounded. BASIC, to be sure, but rounded, to achieve the goals desired. Remember that the key segments must be worked in two fundamental ways to produce the sort of physique we are trying to build. First, each segment must be fully developed by specific concentration upon IT. Then, the basic segments must “learn” to work together, fighting gravity and poundages, so that all-out limit attempts involving coordination can be made. If the purpose of this book were merely to make a powerlifter out of you, then we might deal solely with the basic three lifts. But you need, and will get, more. When the body is worked in this well-rounded way you end up, after putting in the necessary sweat and toil, with the enviable status of having a body without any weak links. You will more than likely find that one of the powerlifts becomes your favorite, and that there are one or two other basic training movements that your particular structure favors – but because nothing is essentially neglected, you’ll not end up like some unfortunate men who follow too-limited methods and have, as a result, fantastic development in one area, but next to none in some other areas.
So, before going on to our next chapter, in which you will come to understand some more important factors in strength development, let me urge you to always think in terms of total, rounded, balanced and complete development. Even if you only think, right now, that one body area or one physical quality is your true goal, concentrate on full development of the body-machine that you have possession of at this time. This will give you lasting, lifetime power, a fine physique, and the athletic capacity to do anything you wish and everything you must. Study this book carefully. Each section was designed to provide a clear lesson in itself, and each will contribute tremendously to the course of your progress. I therefore suggest that you be certain of your understanding of this first chapter before passing on to the next. Remember, our key points here are . . . UNDERSTAND the key segments for power-bodybuilding and how they basically function as either PUSH or PULL groups. UNDERSTAND the need for a basic and essentially HARD form of training that FLUCTUATES, for best results. UNDERSTAND the need for BALANCED, total training and development.
Powerlifting, Part Two
by Bradley Steiner You have probably seen pictures of such magnificent physique/power specimens as Franco Columbu, Reg Park, and so forth. Perhaps it was their example that inspired you to begin training. In any case, have you ever asked yourself this question: “What is it that makes so-and-so such an OUTSTANDING example of superhuman strength and physical development – an example that stands above even the majority of those who train hard and regularly?” Without in the least wanting to discourage you I must point out that training, attitude and diet can take you only so far. The men who hold the top positions in great physique development and outstanding power were born with the potential to achieve what they now possess. By this I do not mean that they were born with their DEVELOPMENT. They certainly were not; they all had to work brutally hard to achieve it – but they were born with INHERENT POTENTIAL to ultimately become what you, today, see them as. HEREDITY is one factor in the development of an extremely powerful and magnificently developed body that you just cannot control. Paul Anderson, for example, would never have “become” the strongest man in the world unless he
had been born with the physical structural potential to build such strength. Very hard work over many years is necessary for anyone who aspires to reach their ultimate potential; but only heredity can decide to make those hard years of work turn you into the greatest. Do not, therefore, begin your struggle by believing in a lie, no matter how popular it may be or how much you wish to believe it. There are continual claims made year after year by pseudo teachers and physical culture “experts” that promise to make you Mr. Universe in a short time, or a powerlifting champion by year’s end etc., etc. If you ever follow any of these “courses” they will only discourage you. You won’t gain anything close to what the ads claim and, more than likely, you’ll get so disgusted you won’t give yourself an honest chance of enjoying the benefits of following more sensible and legitimate methods. Nature made you what you are. You start out with a certain basic “type” of body, and an inherent potential to develop it to some, as yet, undetermined level. All right. Be satisfied with knowing that if you conscientiously follow proper methods with determination you will achieve the maximum development possible for you. If you have the potential to develop into one of the best then you will begin to see evidence of this fact after about eight months to a year’s time of steady, hard and correct training, coupled with a proper lifestyle and diet. Even with a favorable potential and with other apparent advantages it is not possible to judge too soon that you’re destined for the ultimate in strength and development. The majority of people are not hereditarily capable of building a world championship physique, or hoisting world record poundages. Yet, I have never met one single individual who wasn’t capable of improving his present level of development and strength. The training principles are the same, no matter what you are hereditarily. You require good, basic exercises, a balanced nutritious diet, ample rest, and a strong will coupled with a positive, optimistic spirit to succeed. And by succeed I always refer to developing yourself to your own maximum – I am not indicating victory over others. Think of yourself as the special, unique individual you are, requiring the same method of basic training that all human beings require in order to develop great power and a fine physique. Then apply those basic training methods to yourself, and determine to actualize every iota of potential that you were born with – THAT’S the way to go about training. The Bone Structure Question In my writings I have always stressed the relationship of bone structure to ultimate growth; strength and physique-wise.
There are three basic bone structures: small, medium and large. They are characterized by heavy, thick wrists in the big-boned individuals, and decreasingly smaller wrist and ankle girths in the medium and small-boned people. Extremely small-boned individuals cannot hope to become world powerlifting champions. They can become very powerful, surprisingly powerful in fact – and they can often develop physiques that are by far superior to their heavier-boned, non-training friends; yet they can’t become world champions. The reason is simple. There are many extremely big-boned men who also train hard and follow the right bodybuilding and powerlifting methods. Inevitably, those better-suited to it make better gains. Bone structure cannot be altered. It needn’t be such a thorn in your side, either, if you’ll view training and self-development as I’m trying to get you to see it. Accept the fact of whatever physical bone structure you have. Make the best of it. In 1943, a strongman/athlete by the name of Jules Bacon won the Mr. America title. He was the first small-boned man to do so, and very few after him followed. I mention this, and point out his example for two reasons: One, to show you that outstanding achievement in training is possible for a small-boned man. Two, to point out that there is little likelihood of a very small-boned man winning top honors in modern times. So, if you happen to be small-boned, realistically accept the fact. Train hard, live right and see what happens as the months go by. You’ll be wise to continue hard training always, but not to invest yourself too heavily as a physique or lifting competitor. If you are a Reg Park or Paul Anderson that’s entirely a different story. Simply put, view what you see, hear and read realistically. Do not shoot for 19” arms if your wrists are 6” and you stand almost six feet tall. Forget about being a powerlifting champion if after a year’s hard work your best squat is 200 pounds at a bodyweight of 185 pounds! You will always be able to improve. You can get very, very strong and become exceptionally well built. But only a relative few people can hope to become the top men. That, in case you haven’t thought about it lately, is why they’re considered “tops” to begin with! An exceptional physique or ultimate strength – in the nationwide or worldwide sense – is just that, a rare, exceptional and unusual thing. It is the result of factors not entirely within the control of the champion himself, or the mentor who may have helped him with his progress. Many champions do not realize this themselves, just as many geniuses simply don’t understand why everyone can’t understand everything they so easily understand. It is difficult, sometimes, to be truly objective about things. Energy
People who participate in physical training always have more energy than those who do not exercise at all. However, there are certain individuals who are born with an unusually high level of energy. They seem to never tire. Now, you can develop and increase your energy level, and you can assist the increase of you energy by proper mental training, but you cannot acquire anyone else’s unusually high store of “drive”. Jack LaLanne is a perfect example of an energetic man in the physical culture field. He is exceptional. Part of his energy and abundant drive is, undeniably, due to his regular, vigorous exercise habits, and his adherence to near-perfect dietary habits. However, if Jack LaLanne didn’t have an unusually high inherent potential for energy output, he just wouldn’t be the same human phenomena that he is. Please understand that. And don’t think for a minute that Jack’s poor health and bad dietary/exercise habits in his early years put the lie to what I’ve said. Not so! In his youth it is true that Jack LaLanne did have a poor beginning – but only because he had failed to live and train properly (a not-uncommon thing for youngsters). His inherent potential responded when he changed his health and living habits. Had he never become the dedicated physical culturist that he did become, Jack LaLanne would have remained a member of that vast army of people who are born with the blessings of potential, yet who stifle the potential there through self-neglect. Yes, a person with poor natural energy levels will develop lots of drive and great energy through proper living and physical training. A person with great natural energy will turn into a human dynamo. That’s the way it works. Take an average guy and put him though college and he will, if he tries hard, acquire a good, basic education and a broad understanding of the roots of many academic disciplines. But take a born genius and put him through college and the end result will be something closer to a phenomenon. In body or in mind, it’s the same thing. We can all improve greatly, but only the rare individual can reach the top. This hardly makes it fruitless to be an active, enthusiastic participant, since there are no losers in this game whatever. Your bone structure will have a deciding effect more on how much weight and size you can effectively carry, than it will have on how much power you can develop. For strength is at least as much a function of mental concentration and will power, as well as one other item, muscle tissue quality, as it is a function of the muscle’s size, per se. Muscle Fiber Quality It is only partially true that “the bigger a muscle becomes the stronger it automatically is.” Sometimes, yes, and sometimes, no. More often than not the strength of a muscle is determined by its size, an by the quality (not quantity, but quality) of its fibres, as well as the degree to which your physiological system permits your brain to effectively direct “commands” to the muscle in question.
Fiber quality is inherited. It can be improved, of course, by adequate nutrition, etc., but it is, in some individuals, inherently superior to others. What are some indicators of fiber quality? How quickly do your muscles “spring back” after a hard workout? How long do your muscles stay “sore” after a hard workout? If you overwork severely, how long does it take for you to recuperate. Some few people can do it with one good night’s sleep. Others need a full week’s layoff. How “hard” are your muscles when flexed? The harder and denser they are, the greater your muscles’ fiber quality probably is. Are you able, from time to time, to PUSH – hard – on a set, using heavy weights, without “hurting”? The answers to these questions will help you to understand how your muscle “quality” stacks up. The greatest aids to improving the quality of muscle fibers is a balance of perfect nutrition, adequate sleep and rest, good circulation and deep breathing. Mental States The mind, as I’ve said thousands of times in articles and books, is your master! If there is a single source of great power within you it is in your mind. Learn to control and direct mental energy and power, and you have but to set your mind on what you wish physically in order to attain it. Medical science has accepted the fact that the state of a person’s mind can have as direct an effect on his body as an actual administration of medicine in the treating of disease. Time and time again doctors encounter individuals who, through the force of their resolve and willpower conquer illness within their body. There have been cases where medicine has failed and where the will of the patient has destroyed disease within the body. There have been thousands of recorded instances – in every field – where the proper state of mind has decided victory for an all but totally lost cause. The power of the mind must not be overlooked. Aside from whatever religious beliefs you may hold there is a very practical aspect to mind control. It has application in art, science, business, in every field of human endeavor. In physical training it is half the battle. What is the “right” mental state for the individual bent upon achieving greater physical power and muscular development? It is a state of expecting to succeed. One must continually hold in one’s mind the vision of the goal one wishes to achieve, and then one must apply the principle of confidently expecting to attain
that goal. It is a state of mind that will not admit negativism. This last part is allimportant. Mental states are tricky things. On the one hand, your mental state is under your full control. But, on the other hand, living in this gosh-darn crazy world, your mind is subject to continual bombardment from others – others who, because of a less than fully satisfactory life are only too glad to pour out their negativism on you. So you must learn to be on your guard, always. Is it selfish to always be concerned with your own interests like that? Yes, it is. And what is wrong with being selfish? If you are not selfish, pray tell, upon whom are you supposed to turn for your welfare? Your family? Your neighbors? Your friends? Who? And why are they qualified to look out for your interests while you are not? Nonsense! Be selfish! If you are not selfish you will merely live the life of being a timid, idiotic follower. When people snarlingly, that’s right, snarlingly accuse you of being selfish what they are really whining is: “You should be serving my self-interests instead of your own – doing what I deem ‘right’ or ‘appropriate’ or ‘suitable’ or ‘proper’ or ‘acceptable’ instead of what YOU deem thus.” No, people will never admit that this is what they mean – but it is nevertheless what they do, in fact, mean. Learn that you must take control of yourself by learning to accept your mind as your own “boss”. Think in terms of how you can serve your own positive selfinterests. Your success in training (or in anything else, for that matter) lies in that direction. Optimism is just as easy to maintain, and a hell of a lot more comfortable to experience, than is negativism! So start to think fully, optimistically and positively. Speaking from the standpoint of pure results, remember this: being gloomy, sulky, negative, bitter, hostile and generally down does nothing but reduce your efficiency unless, of course, you are a pro fighter, a deadpan comic, or an artist who finds no thrill in apple pies cooling on the windowsill after a summer rain. Anxiety creates a vicious cycle of internal self-destruction within you, and, always, the result is awful. Burning up energy by working cheerfully towards your goals is one thing. Burning up energy by sitting in a corner with a frown of hatred on your face after realizing everything you say, do, create or love will one day be dust, forgotten dust at that, is another thing, indeed! Strength, muscles, physical-mental efficiency and happiness await the optimistic, cheerful and positive person who has advanced to the level of doing without reason, meaning, or petty need for religion. Learn to be such a person! Diet And Rest
Aside from your mental state, which is entirely within your capacity to control, there are two other items that you can fully regulate most of the time as well: your diet and the amount of rest you obtain. Both are as essential in building strength and size as is exercise. Strength is built on solid foods. Meat, fish, poultry and eggs. Milk and cheese. Thick hearty soups. Whole grain bread. Fruits and vegetables. All sorts of nuts, beans, peas. That’s good eating. That’s what you need to build strong, solid, healthy muscles! Two nice-sized meals a day are usually enough for most mature people who train. Many people can easily do with three big meals a day, plus one or two healthy snacks if they train hard and try to couple it with a fulltime job and family responsibilities. Supplements are overrated in importance, though they are valuable when taken correctly and in moderation. Correctly means as a SUPPLEMENT, not as a replacement for good, balanced meals and not as a substitute for fresh, real foods. Some people seem determined to overdo supplements, and this is just a silly waste of money. If you take a good vitamin/mineral along with a few carefully chosen other supplements based on your individual needs, that’s generally plenty. If there is any serious deficiency in your body’s nutritional balance you need a doctor, not more supplements. A well-balanced diet provides plenty of the nutrients you need. Judiciously-taken supplements round out the picture. Don’t get crazy with this. Protein supplements are about as unnecessary as they are popular! My apologies to the manufacturers of these powders, but really, aside from convenience when time is tight, they serve little need. Protein is quite easy to obtain in such delicious foods as ground meats, peanut butter, milk, eggs and various nuts and beans. There is always a far greater chance the bodybuilder will be lacking in vitamin/mineral intake than in protein intake. It is relatively easy for a healthy man to ingest 150-200 grams of high-quality protein each day in his meals alone. Meals should always be balanced. Try to eat, in the course of a day, meat, poultry or fish, various raw vegetables, fresh fruits and some whole grains. Drink plenty of water and have a rice, potato or whole wheat pasta dish with a meal. You need starches and fats, regardless of what you may have read elsewhere. You’ll just not get as powerful as you could without them. Overeating should of course be avoided, but it is best done by eliminating the “garbage” from your diet, instead of reducing portions of good, wholesome foods at mealtime. This is common sense, and you must decide what really means more to you – a bag of potato chips, or a strong and healthy body. The long-term effect of careful eating will repay you handsomely. You will find that your training is always maximally productive, and that you can recuperate
speedily from tough workouts. All very, very important. Sleep is important, of course. Sleep and rest, if neglected, lead to general feelings of discontent, irritable behavior patterns and physical depletion. People vary as to how long they can go without adequate rest before they show marked signs of deterioration, but I cannot see why anyone would care to see what his own particular limit was! Just do everything possible to rest adequately and well, following a hard day’s work. Get to bed in time to sleep enough. Don’t keep hours that drain you! This is all common sense, but as my experience has taught me, common sense is not all that common. It is wise, after a hard workout and a shower, to relax and either sit or lie down for twenty minutes or half and hour. Read, meditate, think, or have a nice leisurely conversation with anyone who’ll sit and talk to you – but try if at all possible, to give your just-worked body a little help in recuperating from the day’s training. Rest is as much mental as it is physical, by the way, and all sorts of arguments and aggravation should be avoided. If you have noisy neighbors and you find it difficult to sleep or relax or do things around the house because they won’t quiet down, invest a dollar and get ear plugs. Peace and quiet – tranquility – leads to inner and outer strength, and permits your body to maintain a peaceful equilibrium conducive to growth, maintenance and tissue repair. All told, those are the factors contributory to success in effective powerbodybuilding. Remember what they are, and learn to apply them. Once you’ve done that, you’re set to move on. So read on and let’s see what your actual training exercises must be like . . .
Analysis Of The Basic Power-Building Exercises The course of exercise that is best for the attainment of our goal is very clear and very limited, when you consider that literally thousands of exercises do in fact exist. I see no point in considering or even discussing second best when we can start off and deal in depth with the best. For the purpose of analysis I am going to divide the exercises into four main categories, and three supplemental aspects of training. The four main categories are: Press movements, and their variations. Pull movements, and their variations. Squatting movements. Bench work.
The supplemental aspects of power-bodybuilding are: Partials. Rack work. Isometric contraction. My reason for analyzing the exercises in this manner is to help you achieve a balanced and orderly understanding of the arrangement of the required movements. This is desirable since, eventually, you will be off on your own and you’ll have to be your own trainer. This is the way the most effective and successful physical culturists work out. Know yourself, and know your tools! Press Movements And Their Variations Press movements are builders, primarily, of the shoulder assembly. They produce enormous benefits to the upper-back as well, and build triceps, trapezius and, when done standing, aid in the development of the low back area and the hip muscles. I suggest that all pressing be done in a regular standing position. Seated pressing can be followed at times, but essentially, standing presses are the way to go. Military Press This is the most widely known and certainly one of the finest press movements one can do. Generally, trainees do their military pressing incorrectly, and thus fail to gain full benefits. When you do you presses . . . Stand as erect as possible. Look straight ahead, not up. Drive the bar hard, tensing the hips and mid-section for extra power and full support. Keep a tight grip on the bar. Lockout completely in military pressing, and return the bar in a controlled, steady fashion to the starting position. The feet should be a comfortable position apart, and every effort must be made to fight for the maintenance of perfect balance throughout the movement. The best way to train on heavy presses is to do your reps and sets off a pair of good squat racks. If you do each set commencing with a cleaning action you will be using too much energy – especially when four, five or possibly six sets are involved, as they often are in power training. When military pressing is done with only light or moderate weights there is no reason to do them off racks, unless you happen to like them done this way.
Persons who are strong pressers generally find that they are capable of using somewhat wider handspacing on the bar when they press, than others who are “poor pressers”. The important thing is to find your best individual position and stick to it. You will reach your own best output in effort and achieve the best results if you stay with the handspacing you find most comfortable. Suggested set/rep schemes are: General development – 2 or 3 sets of 8-10 reps, with a moderate poundage. Advanced development – 3 sets of 10-8-6 reps, adding some weight after each set. Power development – 2 set of 6 reps, add weight and do 1 set of 3, add weight and do 1 set of 2-3, add weight and try to squeeze out a final 2 reps. When going for a new limit single attempt – 1 set of 6, 1 set of 5, 1 set of 3, 1 set of 2, 1 set of 2, 1 set of 1 (near limit), 1 set of 1 (limit) – if feeling energetic do the limit lift again for 1 rep. The above represent good basic examples, and you should try them. If experience or preference urges you to make some minor alteration in the set/rep scheme by all means do so; you must use your own experience and judgment to a high degree. Press Behind The Neck This is the single finest all-round press movement in existence, when done properly. Follow all the tips for the regular press when doing presses behind the neck, plus: Be especially careful not to let the bar drop or bounce on the back of the neck in the downward motion. Don’t do “jerks” instead of presses. Do full-range movement presses behind the neck – i.e. gently touch the back of the neck (near traps) after each rep and then go to a full lockout press. Suggested set/rep schemes are the same as for the military press. I have tried to give you the benefit of my experience here, again, but you must try always to use your experience, where appropriate, and your own judgment in your training. Presses behind the neck should be done off the racks.
Excellent variations of the two fundamental press movements can from time to time be utilized. Heavy dumbell pressing is always a good movement to use for variety. They should be done in a standing position, not sitting. This permits much heavier weights to be used, and it enables a good share of benefit to be distributed to the low back area. Simultaneous heavy dumbell presses should be done for 2 or 3 sets of 8 reps with every possible ounce of iron you can handle on the bars. Light presses, once you’re accustomed to heavy barbell work, are about as effective as lateral raises. Alternate dumbell presses are more of a bodybuilder’s exercise than a power man’s. Still, they are from time to time valuable. Do 2 or 3 sets of 8 reps. Heavy! Also, for some crazy reason, there is a strong tendency to look UP when doing dumbell presses. I can’t know why this is so, but I urge you: look straight ahead during all pressing movements. When you look up there is a natural tendency for your body to lean back. This shifts, partly, the burden of effort from your shoulders to your chest, which is defeating the whole purpose of the exercise. JERKS can be used profitably from time to time, however, they do not really provide all that great benefit as is commonly believed. Jerks off the racks are popular, I suspect, because they make PRESSES easier to do with a heavier weight, more than because they provide superior gains. The best power and shoulder/tricep/trapezius development I ever saw was on men who worked behind the neck STRICT, HEAVY pressing into their routines regularly, and who were good at heavy, STRICT military pressing as well. I would restrict the use of jerks off the racks to instances where staleness and boredom have set in, and perhaps to those few times when a sticking point is encountered. Guard against the tendency that some power-men have to call a jerk off the racks a “press”. I have seen well-intentioned lifters going for a new limit press and satisfy themselves that they had achieved it when all they did was jerk the new limit instead of pressing it. If you’re going to use heavy jerks in your training I suggest a warmup set of military presses AND behind the neck presses (10 light reps each) to insure a fully warmed up shoulder assembly.
Powerlifting, Part Three
by Bradley Steiner Pull Movements And Their Variations Pull movements hit the back heavily. Olympic lifters train practically on pull
exclusively, and, as a result they have the finest back development of any athletes in the world. Back work is synonymous with power work. Back work builds tremendous muscularity in the entire upper body and power to the Nth degree. While pressing builds great arms in the sense of TRICEP development, pulling builds great arms in the sense of BICEP development. Read that sentence again. A balanced ration of the heavy press/pull exercises in your routine will give you strong, well-developed arms in a way that all the curling and tricep isolation movements never can. Believe me! If you want arms concentrate on press/pull basics. Power Cleans This exercise is so superbly excellent that I have come to the conclusion that the only reason it is not more widely used is because of laziness. It is a rugged movement, I’ll concede, but it provides so much great benefit that everyone who works out should use it from time to time. Power cleans provide puff-and-pant exercise, fantastic back, arm, trap and leg work, and generally increase overall body strength at a fantastic rate. All the movement really consists of is a floor-toshoulders rapid lift of a heavy barbell, and then the return of the barbell to the floor position. It cannot be done for high reps and heavy weights, unless you happen to be a born superman. Low reps (no more than 6 a set) are indicated, and sets of 3 to 6 are best. Also points to bear in mind when power cleaning include . . . VERY tight grip on the bar. Hands comfortably spaced, not too narrow, not too wide. DO NOT rise up on toes when cleaning. Finish the lift part of the clean in a solid, secure position. Lower the weight RHYTHMICALLY, do not drop it. Lift partly with leg strength, as well as back and arm power. Suggested set/rep schemes for effective training in the power clean are: 5 sets of 5 reps. Here, the first 2 sets are progressively heavier warmup sets, and the final three sets are done with an absolute limit. 4 sets of 6 reps are also good. Going as heavy as possible, I’d use a set/rep scheme like this – 1 set of 6 (warmup), 1x6 (heavier), 1x4 (added weight), 1x3 (added weight), 1x2 (added weight), 1x1 (near limit), 1x1 (all-out limit). For general conditioning 2 sets of 10 reps with a moderate weight are fine in the power clean. Bentover Rowing
Reg Park regarded this exercise as the single best back movement. Park was perhaps one of the three best examples of a champion power-bodybuilder during the 1960’s. Most men who know their business in the physical training field know how great the bentover row movement is as a basic pull. Key points in the bentover row: Warm up the lower back first before going into the exercise. Use a very tight, CONTROLLING grip on the bar, and a comfortable handspacing. Pull the bar to touch the midsection or chest, and lower to full arms’ length for every rep. Do not permit excessive body swing to assist in the basic rowing action (although some body swing is inevitable when handling heavy weights). Try to remain as “bentover” as you possibly can so that the fullest burden of work is thrown upon the thick lat muscles. Best set/rep schemes are: 2 or 3 sets of 8-10 reps for general development. 5x5 or 5x6 (as described for power cleans) for power-bodybuilding. 1x8, 1x6, 3x5 (weight increases following each set) for variety in power-building. NOTE: I have found there is no value in training for single attempts in this movement. Power Snatches Many believe the Olympic lifter’s snatch movement to be the finest all-round weightlifting movement. In many ways it certainly is. However, the “pure” Olympic split or squat style of snatching is neither necessary or all that desirable for the power-bodybuilding oriented trainee. It requires too much total devotion in training because of its strenuous nature and difficult movement patterns. Better to do the variation of the lift known as power snatching, which will provide the many of the benefits and take less single-lift involvement on the part of the trainee. When the power snatch is done with a light weight it is called the FLIP SNATCH. I favor flip snatches above any other movement (except perhaps ropeskipping) as an effective warming up movement. The power snatch is simply a floor-to-overhead rapid lift, starting from the same position you’d use for power cleans, except with a wider handspacing. The bar is secured by the hands, the hips are dropped low for drive, and the head is raises. Then, DRIVE! The hard pull is made and as the bar travels upward the knees are bent slightly so a modified “dip” under the rising weight is permitted. As the bar locks out overhead the body is brought to an erect, solid, upright posture. The weight is lowered, and the next rep is started.
The virtues of power snatches (or flip snatches) are many, and I stress that they are essential in some form, from time to time, in your schedule. When power snatching, remember: Keep the feet solidly placed and drive with the legs to aid in the lift. Keep the tightest possible grip on the bar. Lock out fully overhead – arms STRAIGHT! Pause after each snatch, to make sure of you solid position. Coordinate every muscle in your body to achieve a smooth, good-feeling lift. Suggested set/rep schemes: 1 or 2 sets of 6 reps as a warmup (light flip snatches). 1x6, 1x5, 1x3, 1x1 (basic heavy workout, adding poundage after each set). 5x5 – advanced power training (using first 2 sets as progressive warmups, and adding weight for 3 sets of 5 reps with a limit weight. The Deadlift One of the accepted powerlifts, the deadlift is also a fine power-bodybuilding EXERCISE. This is especially true when done in stiff-legged style. Working the lower back via very heavy deadlifting is not advisable too often as this part of the anatomy tends to be somewhat prone to injury if overworked. Yet, the low back area is also a critical zone and, in addition to exercises like snatches and cleans that indirectly hit the area, specific deadlifting from time to time is desirable. Here are some tips on performance: Use an over-under grip when training heavy. Control the weight, don’t swing it or bounce it. Warm up adequately. Keep the head up. In regular deadlifting drive with the legs. In stiff-legged deadlifting remember not to “jerk” the body up. Most of the time if is better not to use a too-heavy weight. Set/Rep Schemes: Regular deadlifts – 4x6 or 5x5 or 4x5. Stiff-legged deadlifts – 2x10-12 or 3x8 or 1x8, 1x6, 1x5 (adding weight each set). NOTE: Go for a limit only in the regular deadlifts, never with the stiff-legged variation. High Pulls
Generally thought of as a weightlifter’s assistance movement (which it is), the high pull is also a power-bodybuilder par excellence! It induces muscular gains throughout the body and builds great strength and power. In all, a VERY desirable exercise. It is definitely rugged. My interpretation of high pulls are upright rows done from floor to head height. The handspacing is either clean grip or the wider snatch grip. They are rough and it is best to do them in fairly low-rep sets to avoid awkward and potentially dangerous poor technique. Remember . . . Pull hard! Try to touch the ceiling with the bar. Let the high pull be a coordinated movement that utilizes every muscle group. Work as rapidly as you can, avoid pausing for too long between reps. Suggested beginner’s schedule: 3 sets of 6 reps. Advanced: 1x6, 1x4, 1x3, 1x3, 1x2 (adding weight after each set). There is no need to go for limit singles in high pulling. Squatting The basic squat to full or to parallel position is THE basic power exercise, and one of the best overall bodybuilding exercises as well. There are a few worthwhile variations to the squat – the most valuable being the front squat. The power-bodybuilder should put his effort into BASIC squats, and include front squats from time to time as a variation, an aid, or as a means of avoiding staleness. Essentials to remember: NEVER bounce or drop into a squat! This is the cause of knee and back injuries. Always have two attentive spotters or a power rack when you are going for heavy and for limit reps. Try to keep your back flat and erect. Go into the full squat position only with weights that do not approach your absolute limit, otherwise stick to parallel squats. Warm up well before going into heavy squats. Keep your head up. NEVER pause and wait at the bottom of a squat. Come up fast! Try a shoe with a raised heel to see if it helps. Learn to breathe, powerfully and effectively when you squat, through experimentation. Suggested set/rep schemes: 2 or 3 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions for intermediate trainees. 4x6 or 3x8 or 5x5 for advanced people (using increased weights for each set). BEGINNERS will follow either a breathing squat (1x20) routine to gain weight, or
a basic 1 or 2 by 12-15 routine to build up generally for the first three or four months of training. Front squats should be worked the same (set/rep-wise) as standard squats. In going for an all-out limit squat try this sequence: 1x12 (warmup), 1x8, 1x6, 1x3, 1x2, 1x1, 1x1 (adding weight after each set). Bench Work The bench press is a basic powerlift as well as a fundamental powerbodybuilding exercise. In training it should be used on a flat as well as an incline bench from time to time for variety. The dumbells can be utilized on the bench, and if they are used the weights should be heavy. Flyes on the incline bench are good for power-bodybuilders too. Too much emphasis should not be given to bench work. The reason why many trainees favor bench pressing above standing presses is because the bench permits the use of heavier weights with the expenditure of less effort. Naturally, this means, to all who are honest about it, that the overall benefit to the entire body is less with bench pressing than it is with standing pressing. Bench work is valuable and important, but in recent years it has been given way too much emphasis by bodybuilders and lifters alike. Do it, but don’t OVERDO it. Some tips for getting the most out of bench work: Work strictly, not bouncing the bar off your chest, or swinging instead of lifting the dumbells. Keep hips on the bench – don’t over-arch. Keep a tight grip on the barbell or dumbells. Be sure to have two attentive spotters or a power rack whenever you go for a new maximum, be it a single or maximum reps with a weight. NEVER do benches to the neck! The “upper” pecs can be worked adequately and well by simply reverting to an incline bench or doing incline flyes, instead of bench presses to the neck. Recommended set/rep schemes: Beginners: 2 or 3 sets of 8-12 reps with moderate weights. Advanced: 3 or 4 sets of 6 reps. 4 sets of 8 reps. 1x8, 1x8, 2x6 (adding weight after each set). Also, 5x5 as shown in the power clean example. Set/rep schemes apply to barbell and dumbell bench presses and flying movements with heavy dumbells – all exercises done either on a flat or incline bench. Partials, Rack Work And Isometrics
In 90% of the training you do the emphasis should be on picture-perfect form AND heavy weights. Cheating is undesirable, and while it SEEMS that you are working harder because you are lifting more you are, in fact, working less intensively since the “heavier” work is being distributed over many hefty muscle groups – instead of being placed on the ones that you wish to work. Sometimes – SOMETIMES – a little cheating is okay. But more often than not when the urge comes to really pile on the workload you are better doing partials. This way you will actually be putting forth the work where it is desired, with no outside assistance. Let me show you what I mean by partials. Let’s take the deadlift. We’ll say you normally do 4 sets of 5 reps with 300 pounds. Now you are hungry for more strength and power, so one day you may do the following . . . you do the first 3 sets as usual to give your back a good basic workout, and also to insure an adequate warmup. Then, you put 400 pounds on the bar. You know you can’t get a full deadlift with that weight, but you also know that a PARTIAL lift, once you’ve thoroughly warmed up, will provide a good stimulus so that perhaps in a few workouts you’ll manage 310 pounds for 5 reps. You go right ahead and deadlift the 400 pounds from the floor as best you can. As it turns out you succeed in lifting rep #1 to about knee height. After a few breaths, rep #2 is the same. Rep #3 won’t budge after going mid-distance up your shin, and by rep #4 your hands are begging to let go of the bar. But you set your mind as firmly as your muscles and you go foe the final rep. Murder! You eke out an inch-off-the-floor lift, and drop the bar like it was the end of a Sherman tank. That’s a good set of partials for you! You will need partners or a power rack to do bench presses and squats as partials. Never try to do this without a high quality power rack or two husky, attentive spotters. You can make your deltoids feel like they were made of cotton if you press 3 normal sets of 6 reps and then 2 sets of 3- or 4-rep partials with an excess of iron on the bar some day. Try it. Don’t do this often, though, since more than one such workout a month or, at the most, every three weeks, is plenty. The same can be done with bench presses, squats, etc. by using different settings in the power rack. Partials build power and strength in abundance. You can – and I am not exaggerating – sometimes improve a lift after one workout where you apply partials properly. The trick is to see that you don’t do them too often and get enough rest between attempts. With the warning that, again, partial movements are a supplementary aid, not a recommended method of constant training, I commend the technique to you as truly valuable.
I mentioned racks and their use with partial movement workouts. Not only can you use the rack to do partial movements, but you can use them to aid in isometric contractions and in all forms of really heavy, borderline lifting. Borderline lifting is when you’re only half-sure that you’ll make the set, or the rep. Isometrics were once offered as the final answer to rapid strength and muscle building. This was too bad, because the idiots that did this ruined what could have been a good thing in its own right. After all, something doesn’t have to be perfect of be a kind of panacea for it to have genuine value. In its place, isometric contraction exercise is valuable. It is certainly no substitute for vigorous weight training. Not by a long shot. Isometrics CAN keep the muscles toned when weight training facilities are not available. They can also help overcome a sticking point in a particular lift by overloading a specific area of the movement. In the next chapter I’ll outline a good, basic beginner’s course.
Powerlifting, Part Four
by Bradley Steiner A Primary Course for the Beginner How should you start out on the road to strength, muscularity and an impressive physique that you dream of having? That is the question we will answer in this chapter. The program outlined here assumes several things of the beginner. First, that there is nothing wrong with him organically, and that he has no health problems that could possibly impede his pursuit of a rather rugged course of training. For although this is a beginner’s power course it is, necessarily, quite severe. One just doesn’t acquire much power and strength if he does light and mild training! Second, it is assumed that the reader who elects to embark upon the routine offered here is at least somewhat acquainted with basic physical training. It is advised that a trainee work out for two to three months’ time on a basic fitness and conditioning course before starting on this routine. Now, before commencing with the actual course of training, let us consider some essentials that will be required for success . . . 1.) Training should be conducted three times a week on alternate days, or, if energy is low and other activities must be engaged in daily, two times a week, for example on Monday and Thursday. Rest is just as important as training if the maximum gains in strength and muscle density are desired. 2.) Adjustment of minor points in the suggested schedule should be freely made.
Heavy training cannot be rigidly administered. It is better if you use the program as a basic plan, and then adopt it to whatever your special needs and peculiarities are. For example, some people just happen to know from personal experience that such-and-such an amount of reps or sets suits them, even though a given course prescribes a different number. By all means, in such a case the wise thing is to follow your personal experience. No one knows you like you, yourself. If you are at all intelligent, if you are sincerely interested in your training and your progress, and if you are at all alert and perceptive as your training progresses you will learn a great deal about yourself, and be the best possible eventual teacher to yourself. 3.) The fundamentals of training and the concepts underlying power-oriented work should be clearly understood. Much understanding will be gained from participation and training itself – but things can be sped up if the first few chapters of a book are carefully read, re-read and studied. You should be familiar with and at home with the ideas underlying the type of training you’re using. 4.) Remember the significance of mental attitude, rest and diet. 5.) Patience is necessary for success. Don’t expect to see fantastic results in the first week or two! Expect to progress well and steadily, and see changes within each period of months. Great strength, power and muscularity are things that must be worked for. If you train without missing a workout, and with the proper appreciation of mental, nutritional and recuperative principles, then every two to three months training should produce noticeable results. 6.) Be clear about one thing: you are a unique individual and you must train yourself thusly. Do not compare yourself to others or try to follow their methods of training exactly. Learn from others, be inspired by them if they possess greater strength and development than yourself and by all means engage in discussion with them if and when the opportunity arises. 7.) Be very careful to avoid overtraining – especially as a beginner. Too much training can be worse than no training at all on a given day. At least no training won’t, like too much training, leave you in a stale and overworked condition whereby you might not be able to benefit from your next workout. Progress cannot be rushed. The best gains come from highly-intensive, relatively brief but religiously regular training sessions. Keep that in mind. 8.) Very few commercial gyms of value to the power-trainer. Most health clubs do their members more harm than good by frequently offering incompetent instruction, in my opinion. All you really need for effective training is a good barbell, plenty of plates, a rack, a bench and a pair of loading dumbells. I have the following suggestion for an apartment dweller who wonders if the clanging of iron plates would cause disturbance to the folks downstairs. Get a
place on the ground floor, or better still, threaten the neighbors below into cooperation. If they have children, find where they attend school. When puncturing tires after night, remember, most people only carry one spare. Pets can be poisoned easily. Alternately, try the opposite approach and offer to do favors. Is the man of the house neglecting his wife? You can remedy that issue quickly. Does he lack a drinking buddy on the weekends? Be creative. 9.) Wear a good, heavy sweat suit when you train, and wear proper footwear. 10.) I suggest you purchase a heavy-duty lifting belt and wear it when attempting limit lifts. Aside from the support it offers, there is also a psychological benefit. Now, with these points digested we can start your introductory powerbodybuilding routine. Train in a well-ventilated but not chilly place if possible, and avoid a draft while sweating. Make the best of whatever facility is available to you. Warming up: It is especially essential to warm up properly before a heavy power workout, since power-style lifting by its very nature calls for an optimal output of effort quite frequently. Great power efforts, without adequate warmups, can lead to pulled muscles, painful injuries and smaller personal bests. The lower back area should, of course, receive plenty of loosening exercises. A combination of rope skipping for five or so minutes and a couple of sets of flip snatches, repetition clean & press movements make a good basic warmup. Also, using prone hyperextensions and rope skipping is excellent to prepare the body for great effort-outputs. If you have any flexibility issues, deal with them properly and be sure to warm up those areas completely. As a beginner, try the following warmup sequence . . . Rope skipping for 3-5 minutes. Prone hyperextensions: 3 sets of 15 bodyweight reps. Flip snatches: 2 or 3 sets of 6 easy reps. From this simple warmup you will, as time goes by and your experience grows, be able to tailor an individual warmup schedule that fills your own needs, which will change as you progress in your training. Keep a constant monitor on these changes in your mobility and any developing aches and pains you may encounter. Don’t put off dealing with imbalances or potential injuries. When it is too late it will be too late and that is always too late, as the saying goes. Now, on to your beginning routine. Exercise One: PRESS MOVEMENTS
Do one set of regular presses with a light warmup weight. FEEL the movement all the way, don’t fight for reps, this is strictly a warmup. Then, set the bar back on the racks and do one set of 10 behind the neck presses with the same weight. The purpose again is to warm up the shoulder assembly, not to fight for reps or work hard. Load the bar up heavy now and do a set of 6 behind the neck reps. These should be very hard. Rest a few minutes, and do another 6 reps. Rest again, and add more weight to the bar (perhaps 10-15 pounds). Do 3 strict military presses. Exercise Two: LEG WORK Do 15-20 very light squats in perfect form to warm up the hips, legs and lower back. Add weight to the bar and do two more sets of warmup squats, 6-8 reps. Don’t tax yourself with these. Warm up, and use these sets to work on your form. Now, load the bar heavy. Do 6-8 hard reps. Fight! Rest a few minutes. Try to get another 6 reps with the same weight. Rest again, taking as long as you need to do justice to the next set. Add about 20 pounds more and see if you can get 3 perfect reps. Exercise Three: ARM WORK Do two strict sets of barbell curls with a moderate weight. Don’t work too hard on these. Save your energy for the big lifts. Exercise Four: BENCH WORK Do 12-15 light, wide-grip bench presses on a flat bench to warm up. Add weight and do 8 more reps using a normal width grip. Add weight again, and do 5-6 very hard reps. Rest, and try for all the weight you can handle for 3-4 last reps. When doing these last heavy sets, of any exercise, remind yourself beforehand that this is the last set. Give it all you have and don’t hold anything back. Learn to believe you can do more than you believe. Believe me, once you believe this you won’t believe what you can do! Exercise Five: DEADLIFTING Do 13-15 light stiff-legged deadlifts. Add weight and do 10-12 regular deadlifts, beginning to work harder. Rest. Now do 3 sets of 5 heavy deadlifts with all the weight you can handle.
Exercise Six: BENTOVER ROWING Do 10-12 light warmup reps. Go heavy and do 8 hard reps. Rest, and try for another 8 reps with the same weight. Add more weight, and see if you can get 6 final reps. Exercise Seven: ABDOMINAL WORK Do 2 sets of 30 lying leg raises or leg raises while hanging from a chinning bar. Use no weight. The program is not lengthy, and you should guard against adding any exercises in addition to the seven given. You can cut a set off of any exercise here and there, when you honestly find yourself lacking in energy, but DON’T add any sets! If the program seems easy as it is written it’s because you aren’t putting enough effort into the exercises. Make your sets harder and harder, but don’t increase their quantity. Keep plugging away, adding weight when you can make the required reps. You are training large muscle groups and the goal is power, so pile the iron on whenever you can! If possible you should end each workout by hanging from a chinning bar, straightarm, for as long as possible. The reason I advocate this is to alleviate the stress caused in the lower back by any form of heavy lifting. It stretches out the spine nicely and results in a natural “traction” movement for the entire back. It will also build your grip. Time yourself and try to beat your best. You will soon agree there is a certain pleasure in beating your best. Remember that sets given for relatively high reps and indicated as warmup sets should stay light, relative to progressively heavier work sets. Follow this program for not less than two months’ time, and not more than four months’ time. Then take a two week layoff. You’ll need it if you’ve been working hard, and will progress much better following this layoff. During the two week layoff spend a few minutes each day doing some light aerobic exercise, easy isometrics and some abdominal movements. Use this period to check your posture and mobility. Feel free to practice your squat, deadlift and bench press technique with light weights. Take this time to learn more about the history and future of what you are doing, where these training ideas came from, and where they seem to be headed. Read a book, take a walk, feel okay, eh.
Powerlifting, Part Five
by Bradley Steiner Perhaps your own years of training have provided you already with a firm base upon which to build strength, power and a well-developed physique. Or, possibly, you’re ready for the more advanced type of training necessary, having completed the beginner’s course set down previously. In any case, the following provides one of the finest advanced power-bodybuilding programs you can do. Don’t try to follow the routine herein presented if you’re a beginner. It’s just too severe. The only person who can gain on this schedule is the individual who has already achieved some degree of success in his attempts. The objective of this program is to serve the lifter who aspires to increase his size and power development. Size is NOT thought to be of greater importance than power, and this is why no attempt is made to encourage pumping type exercise or any excessive quantity of “shaping” movements. This program is intended as a SKETCH, rather than a definite, specific dogma presentation of the “only right way” an intermediate or advanced man should train for power and muscularity. If the trainee regards it in this light, and comes to think of this course as the thinking man’s program, then his progress is sure to continue. GENERAL RULES OF TRAINING As stated previously, no definite rules can be said to apply to all trainees at all times, since every case is uniquely different – and the final trainer is the individual himself. However, there are helpful guidelines that can be followed, and I present the following as such, to be considered in light of your present stage of development and current goals . . . 1.) It pays to include jogging, running, some form of conditioning work in your schedule at least twice a week. This adds that final edge to an intermediate lifter’s development, and helps in developing your ability to recover quickly from lifting. Consider the health benefits of getting out and doing some conditioning work two or three times a week. Now do it. 2.) Overtraining is the bane of many lifters’ existence! Avoid this by training sensibly for periods of time that are not excessive. Take periodic layoffs and back-cycle regularly. A two-hour workout employing rugged barbell exercises is
plenty for anyone who gives fully of himself, no matter how advanced – and many will benefit more by a workload reduced to less than this. If the RIGHT method of training is used there is not a great need for a great quantity of time. 2 sets of 3 can often be more effective than 6 sets, especially if the 2 sets are worked HARD. 3.) Heavy weight is the main key to strength gains. 20 minutes of heavy lifting will build more strength than 3 hours of light pumping. 4.) Strong concentration is vital for your success. Problems should be left outside the training area. 5.) That LAST REP, the one that feels impossible to make, is of much greater importance than the next set. 6.) If you neglect your nutrition you cut your own engine. 7.) Good form PLUS heavy weights is what gets benefit from your endeavors. 8.) On days when you just cannot “get up and go” even after fifteen minutes of training, take it easy. Just do some stretching and light leg work, then call it quits for the day. 9.) High energy days call for harder work. Not longer workouts, HARDER work. 10.) Sometimes the best way to overcome a sticking point or staleness is to layoff entirely or lighten up on your training for a week. If you’ve been training hard without a break for two months (or more) there is no question that you need a break. Learn to deload. It’s not complicated. It works. 11.) Don’t be too quick to give up on a new program that starts out feeling difficult or awkward. Give your body at least two weeks to break into a routine, a new movement or an exercise variation. Take a tip from Reid Fleming. Try to milk a routine as long as you can. Learn to deload. It’s not complicated. It works. 12.) As you become more experienced try to discover what your own unique style of training is. Finally, remember the importance of persistence. Keep at your training. If you start and stop, hem and haw, you’ll never actualize your potential, no matter how great it may be. Do not expect quick results. Do not resent the effort required of you for the attainment of your goals. Once you accomplish them they may appear unimportant when compared to your next goals. In the doing lies fulfillment. The itsy bitsy spider climbed up the waterspout. Down came the rain and washed the spider out. So the itsy bitsy spider climbed up the waterspout. Face it. Life is Sisyphean.
THE PROGRAM 1.) Warmup Use flip snatches as your basic warmup. I suggest a set/rep scheme of 1x6, 1x5, and 1x4, while adding weight for each of the three sets. Try to work up to bodyweight, eventually, for that final set of four reps! 2.) Press Movements Here you must do both presses and presses behind the neck whenever energy permits. Do sets of 6 reps, even the warmup sets. If you do work sets of 3x6 military and 3x6 behind the neck presses, you’ll achieve a very good workout for the entire shoulder assembly. 3.) Squats Do squats with all the weight you can properly handle. They are one of the keys to all-round body power. I suggest you use 4 or 5 sets of about 6-8 reps. Use 8 reps in the starting warmup sets and 6 or 5 in the really heavy sets. You will know by now how many work sets you can handle without going stale too quickly. Do calf raises either between each set of squats while you rest or following completion of the entire series of sets. Omit calf work if energy or time is short. 2 or 3 sets of 20-30 reps is plenty. 4.) Bench Work When energy permits, superset your heavy bench presses with either flat bench or incline bench lying laterals. This will produce extremely fine upper body development. BUT THIS IS ONLY FOR YOUR OCCASIONAL HIGH-ENERGY TRAINING DAYS, and, if you’re a relatively easy gainer. Do 4x8 bench presses and 4x8 lying flyes. For the last set or two of bench presses you might want to drop down to 6 or 5 rep sets. If you prefer to do your bench presses first, then your flyes, that’s fine. Also, if the two-exercise combo is just too severe do EITHER flat bench presses OR incline bench presses. You can alternate these two exercises over the weeks so that some form of variety and balance are included in your training. Do 4-5 sets of 6 heavy reps with either variation.
5.) Deadlifting OR Power Cleans You may work either on regular or stiff-legged deadlifts, OR you may work on power cleans. Don’t train on two or these exercises in one workout, however, for that would be too much. I think the best plan is to find your favorite variation of the deadlift (i.e. stiff-legged or regular) and use this for a week’s training, then switch for a week to heavy power cleans. The power cleans are very good as an alternate to deadlifting, since they benefit the back but do not cause quite as much stress in the lumbar area as deadlifting can. These set/rep schemes are suggested . . . Deadlifts: 5x5 Stiff-legged Deadlifts: 3x8 or 2x12 Power Cleans: 4x6 or 5x5 6.) Heavy Rowing Either the bentover barbell row or the heavy dumbell one-arm version are suitable. Rowing with the loaded end of a seven-foot bar is also used in some quarters to good effect. The variation you pick is not as important as the hard work you apply to the movement. 3 sets of 6-8 reps are good for all forms of heavy rowing. When you feel a little tired of the standard rowing, try a few high pulls in their place. You’ll find this deals with the back muscles differently, and when worked heavily will produce great results. Heavy repetition high pulls can make returning to bentover rows a pleasure! Use the set-rep scheme discussed earlier, for high pulls. If you have a workout where your rows are feeling weak and abnormally awkward, and it will happen, switch to the high pulls for that workout. A change like this can often save the workout. Be flexible. A successful hard workout should be the goal. 7.) Arm Work: This is optional, to be done when energy is high, time is abundant and you have the inclination to pump up those popular little biceps. Heavy barbell or twodumbell curls. You can stand, sit or even lie back on a bench . . . get the workout you want! The weight should be heavy enough to make you work, but never so heavy that you cheat. Do 2 sets of 8 reps. Then, if you feel like it, do a little tricep work. One arm triceps extensions with a dumbell, lying, seated or standing. Again, 2 sets of 8 – per arm – are plenty.
8.) Abdominal Work This is always important. There are two basic ab exercises, situps and leg raises. They are simple, effective, and have many variations that will get the job done. I suggest relatively high reps in all abdominal work. 12 or more reps are sufficient. Hold a weight plate behind your head, use plate loading health shoes, but add resistance when you can. With no weights to make the abs struggle you should be able to do 50 or more reps easily. That is boring. Very boring. Again I suggest ending the workout by hanging for a while from a chinning bar. Topping off a workout with a short jog, walk or period of easy rope skipping isn’t a bad idea either. You can see that the schedule I have outlined for you is broadly adaptable to all types of trainees, and it lends itself to accommodating many types of special interests within the bounds of a basic power-bodybuilding goal. This is, I am convinced, of far more use to the trainee than a rigid, “do it this way” approach to training. The course suggestions above will produce strength and muscularity until it comes out your bleedin’ ears – but it is not, I remind you, a pure powerlifter’s course. It will develop great strength when used three times a week, and I certainly can endorse it fully as a schedule used to build you up for eventual powerlifting. What happens if and when you decide to devote your energy to the powerlifts? How can you combine powerlifting with power-bodybuilding for the best results? These are the questions, and others, that I will begin to answer next. So let’s start out to examine the powerlifts themselves more closely. The bench press, deadlift and squat. For some ardent barbell men these three basic lifts constitute an obsession. An obsession that challenges their very fiber and spirit in the wonderful sport of POWERLIFTING. INTRODUCING THE POWERLIFTS The basic power lifts, those used in competition, are: squat, bench and deadlift. Practically everyone who has ever trained even briefly with weights is familiar with these lifts, since they are all fundamental weight-training exercises. Why then use them as competition lifts? Those three cornerstone exercises actually do serve as a remarkably accurate gauge of one’s overall physical power, when applied in weightlifting competition. And people are interested in power! What is more, because the power lifts are actually common bodybuilding exercises, they also serve to develop the physique of the lifter quite well, and to blend in comfortably with any additional
bodybuilding movements the trainee wishes to do. Many powerlifters are physique-oriented trainees, as well as lifters. Bill Seno, well known a few years ago as a top man in powerlifting circles was a fantastic lifter AND a superbly built athlete. He found it easy to combine his powerlifting with physique cultivation. So will you! When using the power lifts as LIFTS, instead of exercises, you are naturally concerned with attaining great single attempts – limit lifts. Otherwise, you aren’t training as a lifter. Since it is never desirable for almost all of us to push for limit singles at every workout, the training you do in sets and reps on the powerlifts (as exercises) helps materially to boost your maximums when you do try for them. Generally, as a powerlifter – or even as a bodybuilder concerned with power – you will train for more sets than usual, with relatively few reps. I regard 6-rep sets as generally quite effective for lifter-bodybuilders. There are enough reps there to BUILD muscle as well as INCREASE strength. Too often, one finds that training exclusively on 2. 3, or single-rep sets builds strength but not a great deal of muscle. There are plenty of rather slender but extremely strong men participating in power and weightlifting meets. There are those who desire ONLY strength, or who are concerned exclusively with the kind of power that lets them win contests, and they could care less about how they appear so long as they stay in their weight class. But it is the assumption of this book that that the trainee seeks not only power and strength, but a muscular and impressive physique to go with it. This is what the instruction is aimed at achieving. When you are training for you limit lift in the bench press, squat or deadlift, you won’t be doing sets of as many as six reps, except to warm up. It is necessary, above all else, to drop reps fast if a limit single is to be tried, since reps more than anything else depletes energy. You cannot sap your strength on reps when the goal is a new squat single. Okay. You normally use the following set/rep scheme in squatting on your general training days . . . 1x8, 2x5, 1x3, increasing the weight after each set as the muscles warm up. That schedule is fine for a general power-oriented workout, but it cannot serve you well as a buildup to a limit attempt. Instead, something like this would be much more suitable . . . 1x6 (warmup), 1x3 (increased weight), 1x2 (approaching heaviest weight), 1x2 (near maximum), 1x1 (limit try) and, if the limit failed or if it succeeded and energy is high that day, 1x1 (second limit attempt). Can you see the logic there? No excessive buildup with too many reps, so no
energy and psychological depletion. Not too much work – but enough to build up to a new trial limit attempt without neglecting to warm up to it. The foregoing illustrates the essential difference, come workout day, that using the lifts as LIFTS makes, over using them as them as EXERCISES. Should you be a powerlifter? Only one person can really answer the question of whether or not to actively compete in power meets, and become a powerlifting devotee. It is certainly a great sport. It is worthwhile too, since anyone who participates in any way achieves a great outlet for his love of the iron game. There is challenge aplenty in powerlifting, and there are good friends to made, as well as, if you become good enough – records to be broken. But don’t go into powerlifting thinking that the only reward is to be victorious over others. This would rob you of the greatest genuine reward, namely. your own self-improvement. Powerlifting records today are incredibly high, and the top men are incredibly strong people. Therefore the power champions of the future will have to be even stronger – and this can limit the top spots in the game to those fortunate few hard workers who were blessed with a high degree of inherent strength. Training, diet and attitude can do tremendous things for a man, but given two men with the same effort in training, similar attitudes and similar dietary habits, and you can bet your money on the one who was born with better natural strength potential. I point these things out because I don’t like to delude people. It is wrong and very unfair to mislead students into believing that they possess potential that they do not in fact possess. Great gains, I repeat, can be made by anyone, and anyone will receive nothing but hearty encouragement from me to work hard at developing himself. But the objective fact remains, and it is pointless to deny it, that only a relatively few individuals can ever hope to become champions. Don’t let poor potential deter you in the slightest from actively participating in lifting – either privately, purely for your own self-development, or publicly in lifting meets. But do let extremely poor potential serve as a guide to accurately determining your place in the sport and the way you will achieve it. If two years of regular, hard work, a good diet coupled with adequate rest and a positive outlook sees your best bench press all of 250 pounds at 185 bodyweight, then you probably aren’t a natural strength athlete. You ought to continue to try and improve, develop and enjoy the activity, but you shouldn’t lose any sleep worrying about the competition you’ll be fighting on your way to the top. On the other hand, if you were born as a human Hercules, and almost every day sees your strength growing by leaps and bounds during your formative years, and if at a bodyweight of 160 pounds you’re correctly benching 300 pounds within a year’s time and squatting with close to 400 on the bar, then seriously
consider trying for an upper spot in powerlifting. The idea is to be realistic and to be honest with yourself. I have always had very little respect for the ego-centered person who must be the best or he won’t participate at all. What nonsense! And what a shame to impose such limitations on the possibility of one’s enjoying so much in life – simply because you can’t be number one. Enjoyment and self-satisfaction are two of the most significant things you can ever hope to derive from participating in anything, and if these two very sane goals are important to you, then you can participate happily in, and continue to enjoy throughout your lifetime, almost anything that happens to appeal to you. Just be realistic if your thoughts turn to competition. Enjoy competing, strive with all your might, just don’t demand of yourself that which is too close to impossible. Never let your ego rob the thing of its pleasure. Remember, getting there might be the goal itself. Think of it this simple way. If you own a house and that house needs painting, gnawing away like a rat at the walls will not bring you what you desire. As your teeth wear down to tiny nubs, the gums start in with all that bleeding, your vital fluids gradually drain out over the years and the neighbors begin to consider wondering just what in hell is going on over there, you will have accomplished nothing and your dentist will most certainly agree. It’s that simple. Dentistry is an old and much-respected profession, its study considered by some to be the most important step a young man can take in his early years. For God’s sake, think before you make a longterm sacrifice to any endeavor, and that includes setting yourself on fire and seeing how long you can survive. Consider these things before committing. And buy a paint brush. If you wish to improve as a powerlifter you must be willing to work intensively, foregoing some other physical activities and even a few social outlets. At least two savagely hard workouts a week are necessary, with a lighter training day included. In addition, conditioning work is indicated, and you may be surprised when you learn how little time this can take. By the way, if you keep making excuses to yourself that “you don’t have the time” it is more likely a matter of your refusal to make the time and your own ignorance of how to train effectively when pressed for that time. So, decide what you want to do in and with powerlifting. Whatever your decision, stick to it and give it your best. Training on the powerlifts as exercises has been thoroughly covered in previous chapters. You must make those heavy exercises the core of your training, since they are quite demanding, and only by total concentration can you ever hope to achieve the success you desire. The Olympic lifts, which are also marvelous, produce fine physiques just as powerlifting can, but the two disciplines do not produce or require the same musculature. As said previously, a perfectly harmonious blend of powerlifting and
bodybuilding is possible, and the same can certainly be said for Olympic lifting. You will find it quite easy to set up your own schedule of actual training once you know more about it. You’ll see in the remainder of this book how to do the powerlifts as LIFTS, and how to increase your own limit lifts – whatever they may be.
THE COMPETITION BENCH PRESS The bench press is the single most popular power lift. One can go all-out on heavy benching and not be left depleted for five days, as is the case when one goes ahead full steam with the squat or deadlift. Also, the bench press works the currently “popular” muscles and thus demonstrates their efficacy when it is used as a lift. “Easy” as the bench press may seem to some, relative to the other lifts, attaining your top performance in it is no small job. It takes great effort to bring your bench press up to an impressive high poundage. However, there is probably little need to convince you that the effort is worthwhile, or you wouldn’t be reading this, would you. Let’s take a loo at what parts of the body require maximum power and strength in order for you to achieve a top bench, and then let’s discuss possible supplementary ways of building these bodyparts, in conjunction of course with heavy training on the bench press itself. I will detail suggested power programs for training the bench as a lift, and I’m sure you’ll feel well able to take your training effectively into hand after you have studied more and built up more lifting experience.
Powerlifting, Part Six
by Bradley Steiner The bench press throws its heaviest burden of effort upon the triceps, pectorals and frontal deltoids. There are overlapping demands made upon the forearms, hands, grip strength, abdominals and, to a degree, the neck, legs and back. This might be difficult to imagine, but that’s only because you’ve likely never seen how tremendously hard some lifters train on the movement. All-out benching definitely approaches being a total body exercise. For training purposes it is only necessary to work on the actual bench press schedule, and on a couple of supplementary exercises that will assist the primarily affected muscle segments.
Isometrics Help Sticking points in the bench press occur because the muscle fibers involved in the movement do not all develop consistent power at the various levels or stages of the lift. Some people find the initial start off the chest to be where they bog down – others get stymied half-way up – some are unable to lockout fully. Whatever the problem and wherever the sticking point may be, isometric contractions definitely help. They should be used specifically at the point where drive in the bench has become impossible. In this manner the weak area of the involved muscles will quickly overcompensate the added effort and the needed additional strength will result. But it must be a true, full, hard contraction. Not a half-hearted attempt. Dumbell Assistance Work Dumbells have a knack for reaching “hidden” muscles and muscle fibers that barbell exercises sometimes fail to develop. One of the best dumbell exercises you can do to help improve bench pressing is the HEAVY lying dumbell flye movement. I stress the word heavy because doing the movement any other way will only be a waste of time and effort. Dumbell flyes are preferably done as a flat, rather than an incline bench movement, when they are employed to help bench pressing. The heaviest possible weights should be used and during the exercise THE ELBOWS MUST BE BENT. Do full range movements, but never stretch beyond the natural point. You’ll feel the natural stop point in the descent. Don’t go beyond it thinking somehow that overstretching and possibly doing damage to your chest and shoulder assemblies will miraculously improve your bench or give you a deeper chest. That’s simply ridiculous, and you should be using enough weight that an idea like this never enters in. I’d suggest using the dumbell flye every third or fourth workout, in the following manner . . . 1st set: 8 reps, warmup. 2nd and 3rd sets: 6 reps each, very heavy. 4th set: the maximum you can handle for 4 or 5 perfect form reps. That’s it. In training it will be perfectly acceptable for you to employ only 3 or 4 reps in a very heavy set if that’s all, on any given Al Pacino, an all-out effort honestly permits. But shirk nothing! You absolutely must go all-out on lying flyes or, as I said before, you’ll be wasting your time. Close-Grip Barbell Bench Presses
There is one excellent variation of the bench press that is a tremendous help to many in building added triceps power. It is the flat bench press done with a narrower than normal grip. Use about a shoulder or slighter wider grip on the bar. Don’t bother with any one or two inch grip benches. They will not help you find what you are seeking, but if you have the overwhelming urge to trash your wrists, elbows and shoulders please feel free to load up the bar and go nuts. A few wellplaced hammer blows following one of these sessions should satisfy any deluded masochist’s desire for self-punishment. I generally recommend an attentive and like-minded training partner if you have trouble holding your wrist stable while applying the 400 Blows. The close-grip bench press can be used profitably from time to time, when needed, on a schedule similar to this suggestion . . . 1x8, warmup 3x8, as heavy as possible. Press to the chest, then right back up again, in very good form. Don’t cheat. The object here is to hit the triceps strongly. Now, what about the bench press itself? It’s a great lift even though it has become the stopping by woods on a snowy evening of the iron game. It seems every green lifter who finds you have an interest in strength training feels obliged to ask, “How much can you Robert Frost?” Even in the dungeon-style gyms it’s the same old thing . . . “Bro, how big’s your Bukowski?” But how might one go about training on it, the competition Frost-Bukowski? This is the question we will now answer. The bench press in competition is judged for style as well as amount of weight lifted. Of course a minor degree of cheating is permitted, but the lift must be done in essentially good form, and through a full range of movement. Almost locking out doesn’t count, in bench pressing and in bank vaults, so horseshoe-throwing hand grenade enthusiasts please take note. Lowering the bar halfway to the chest instead of touching it prior to the signal to commence will not be counted. A degree of arching is permissible but the buttocks must remain in contact with the bench. The arch will shorten the stroke of your bench press, enabling you to handle greater weights. Here we are not talking about power-bodybuilding with the bench press, we are discussing successful maximum single attempts. So there. NEVER press to the neck. Ask yourself why. Keep a comfortably-distant handspacing on the bar. Remember there are many more muscles groups involved in a successful bench attempt than just pecs.
Floppers, hangers, hairholders. Nipshelves. Keep the feet braced, balanced and on the floor. Don’t, if you want to try for a limit bench press, bend your knees and prop them up on the end of the bench. Establish a solid base with your feet and legs as they are a necessary part of the drive needed to succeed with a lift. There are two ways to grip the bar. The first is to fully encircle the bar with the hand, thumb on one side and fingers on the other. Another style is the thumb and fingers both on one side of the bar. Don’t. Don’t get in the habit of bouncing bench presses off your chest. Just don’t. Watch some of the most effective bench pressers alive and note the slow, coiled-spring descent. Consider the fact that they may know some small thing about just what it is they’re doing. Possibly even more than your high school football linemen did. Study the greats. Aim to raise your bench press total by steady, intelligently planned hard work. Don’t try to rush things or they’ll slow down. Is your bench press a stubborn mule? Stop beating your ass and get a carrot. Avoiding Injury There is really no absolute way to insure that an injury won’t take place, and, I’d say that MINOR pulls and strains will have to be accepted over the course of your powerlifting training, just as they are in struggles involving other physical arts. The best way to be reasonably sure that your injuries are minimal is to learn more about what goes into performing these lifts. Don’t just plop yourself down on a bench and belly-bump a bar. Study. As in all endeavors except bingedrinking, good judgment and common sense are necessary to succeed. One thing is certain: when an injury does occur, DISCONTINUE TRAINING. See a physician just to set your mind at ease. Serious injuries can be avoided 100% of the time simply by being careful and thinking before you act. Weight training is one of the all-round safest sports in the world, and there are more than likely a higher percent of injuries in numerous other more popular sports. A good rest can sometimes be the solution to training injuries of a minor nature. Don’t idiotically try to “work out” a pulled or injured muscle. Be sensible. Overtraining, as I have mentioned numerous times, should be avoided. Not only in bodybuilding but especially in lifting. There is a simple, practical reason for this, and that is because too much training will be certain to keep your strength down. If sheer power is your goal you are better off doing too little training than too much. many famous lifters and strongmen have gone for long periods of time
on one or two workouts a week – and they gained beautifully. A Good Bench Press Schedule Always start out by warming up on the bench. A warmup set can go as high as 20 reps for some men and as low as 6 for others. You’ll just have to experiment to find the best for yourself. Once the warmup has been done, drop the reps back drastically if you did more than 6. The trick in hitting good maximum lifts is to carefully channel available energy and avoid depletion during initial, build-up sets. Go right into the heavy stuff after your warmup. Your first work set should go very heavy, and 5 reps is plenty. 4 is enough, but it should be with a weight that really makes you fight. Rest a few minutes and get your strength back. Now do a set of 3 or 4 reps with the same poundage you used in the previous set. Rest. Add weight to the bar. Do a fourth set of 3 reps in good form. The weight should require very, very hard fighting. Rest as long as necessary to get your oomph back, and add still more weight to the bar and see if you can do one or two final near-limit reps. Properly done, that schedule will serve the purpose of building muscular power and helping you increase your ultimate limit single lift. Most men will recuperate rather quickly from a schedule of sets and reps like I’ve given, since there is a careful check against overwork in the set/rep/poundage arrangement. This is all to the good. Perhaps a more lengthy schedule will be suitable as you mature with experience, but the one given is foolproof. When going for an all-out single attempt (which ought never be attempted more than once every three or four weeks) you can use a schedule like this . . . 1x12 – warmup. 1x5 1x3 1x2 1x1 – attempt at limit single. You can see that no excessive amount of work precedes the limit attempt, yet a thorough warmup is done. This is necessary to avoid energy depletion and to insure that the body is fully ready to make that all-out attempt. After working on
the lift for some time the basic principles will fall naturally into place, and I dare say that you’ll find your strength gaining in a manner that may surprise you, considering the simplicity of the program suggested. So, if you really want to see how much you can bench, and if developing tremendous benching power is important to you, you now have one of the keys that will open the door to the treasure you seek.
Powerlifting, Part Seven
by Bradley Steiner The Competition Squat The squat is definitely one of my favorite exercises – and although I’ve never myself competed with it, I’ve trained many men who have, and I respect a top squatter more than any six bench pressers you can bring around. The squat is truly the King of exercises, and in my opinion, the King of the powerlifts. If there is one movement that both builds AND tests one’s overall rugged body power more than the others, it is the squat. And this fact is so evident to those who understand weight-training it is not even debatable. If I were coaching you personally – whoever you are – I would, unless you simply refused to listen, persuade you to put the bulk of your efforts toward the attainment of power and powerlifting excellence in the squat. Yes, it is that good a lift. You see, squatting does it all. Honest. It builds one’s capacity for strength in the bench press and deadlift. It builds muscle. It builds character. The squat has built more solid men than all the other bodybuilding exercises put together. It is a fabulous overall health builder and it will build an armor-clad heart, lungs like mighty engines, the all-round robust well-being of a lumberjack and it can turn empty beer cans into ascended beings who order the universe secretly while we sleep. So, concentrate hard on squats. While it is true that certain exercises assist squatting (like straddle lifts, front squats, etc.) and isometrics can be used sometimes to build power in weak areas of the lift, it is better, I’ve found, to simply GET GOOD AT SQUATTING BY SQUATTING. It produces more excellent results when one varies his sets, reps and poundages, rather than works on assistance exercises. The squat hits the following areas heavily:
Legs. Hips. Back (lower especially). Carry-over work is distributed throughout the body, and as I said before, squats when performed hard and heavy work everything. The problem with using the squat in all-out limit training (as you will for powerlifting) – is that you must be extra-careful to avoid using near-maximum weights too often. The hip and leg muscles can take it, of course, but the lower back area cannot. If one trains to excess in heavy squatting (going to a limit attempt too often) he will experience almost perpetual low-back soreness. On the other hand, if training is properly done, taking care to only hit the heavy, limit lifting say, once every three weeks to a month, steady and often incredible gains can result. Not all people can reach stupendous squat poundages, but given a body free of serious structural defects and starting in reasonably good health and condition, three to four hundred pound squats and beyond are highly likely in time. I have never met anyone who, with training, would have been incapable of a 300 pound limit lift. Not even honest-to-goodness physical wrecks. So there you have it. The squat should be your key exercise and lift, and it will reward you, providing you give it a 100% chance, with more power and muscularity than you ever hoped for. How to Squat To go all-out in heavy squatting you must have squat racks, and you will need either spotters or a power rack. Also, you will do well to obtain a stout lifting belt. Good lifting shoes will help, and you should find the ones that suit your style of squatting. Do not elevate the heels on a board. Warming up is vital. Freehand squats are good, but the key thing to warm up is the lower back. I’d advise hyperextensions or light good mornings prior to squatting heavy weights. Get the back loose, limber and warmed up. Then, work on loosening up the legs. Spend five to ten minutes stretching and limbering before the real lifting. The correct position for effective power squatting is one that will permit you to feel naturally solid, well-balanced, and strong throughout the movement. To a certain extent the correct position varies with individuals. Let me suggest, however . . . Keep the head up when squatting. Try to keep the back as flat as possible. Let the bar ride as low as is comfortable. The lower, actually, the better for an all-
out lift. Study the bar position of some successful squatters. Keep the feet comfortably spaced, but wide enough to allow for maximum power. Drive hard out of the bottom position. Never pause. “Think” up when squatting, so your mind is psyched to drive you upward when you reach bottom. Never simply drop or fall into a heavy squat. Squat to at least the parallel position. Let me dwell momentarily on the last point – the one about going to at least parallel. Actually, your mind must be “set” to stop when the body hits parallel, and you should have your concentration focused on that muscular rebound upward, just as the body reaches that parallel position. This will, in practice, more often than not result in you just breaking parallel position before starting to come up. Learn to feel and know instinctively when you have squatted to the proper depth. Don’t feel around for it. Know it. Again, never drop and bounce out of the bottom position. Squatting is extremely depleting when done for high reps. Therefore, I urge you never to exceed 6 reps, even for warming up when going for a limit lift. Poweroutput will be greatest when one drops quickly to low, low reps in one’s sets, and piles on the weight. Frequently, one can actually lift do five or ten pounds more in the squat – if he just tries, and puts the weight on the bar – than he thought he was capable of from prior training experience. Naturally, as you advance it becomes more and more difficult to continue adding weight to the bar. There is much self-learning to be done in this art of powerlifting – make no mistake about it. The learning is just as important as the training, since the more you learn about yourself, the more intelligently you will be able to direct your workouts and tailor them to your own personality. The fundamentals are tools that can be given to you, but the use of those tools varies with each man. Let me say again that as you progress you should listen increasingly less to others and more and more to that inner voice gained only from personal experience. Nothing will serve you better. Systems vary among weight-men, and this is because weight-men vary as people. Don’t make the mistake of following instructions or individuals dogmatically. in the beginning you will need help. Books and articles like this will give it to you. As you become more advanced you might need professional assistance, but be very careful who you attain it from. Better by far to work things out on your own after study than to follow the misinformation of a pseudo-instructor. I say all these things to help you gain a clear and understandable view of the road ahead. It is not all that difficult, certainly not beyond your power to travel, and not in need of one-half the help some would have you believe absolutely necessary. Study, then think for yourself. If you do that, and are willing to work
very, very hard, you will progress and succeed. Now, here is a good basic program for training on the squat . . . Warmup: 1x6 Add considerable weight: 1x4 or 5 Add still more weight, enough to cause real fighting: 1x4 Do another set of 1x3-4 with the same weight. Go close to maximum for 1x2. Do not go for a limit lift too frequently. Every three or four weeks, when you wish to see how heavy you can go in your squat, try this . . . 1x6 1x4 1x2 1x2 1x1, near limit 1x1, limit Gradually add weight following each set. The last set should be the only one that sees you working brutally hard. I shall now close this out by outlining a possible advanced squat schedule for those who believe themselves ready to handle it. 1x6 2x5 1x4 1x3 2x2 1x1 I knew a very good lifter who used this program twice a week and made outstanding gains in one 5-week period. But he was a “natural” and you cannot imagine how hard he was able to work and still recover from it. The low reps might not seem like much, but use heavy weights with each set and it is murder.
Powerlifting, Part Eight
by Bradley Steiner The Deadlift Of the three basic power lifts the one with the greatest potential for overall poundage lifted off the floor is the deadlift. Power men with no particular outstanding record of lifting in competition often routinely work out with 400-500
pounds in this movement. In time, you will probably be able to do so too, if you work hard and intelligently. The reason why such incredible poundage lifts are possible the deadlift is not only because of the particular muscles that are called upon to work – but because, in addition, they are called upon to work from their strongest possible point of leverage. No lift, except perhaps the harness lift, permits a man to so favorably bring into play the strongest lifting muscles of his body. Surprisingly, the deadlift works almost the exact same muscles as the squat – but in a much different manner. The simple difference of not having to support the weight on the back and shoulders, and instead being able to let it be pulled up off the floor, enables much more weight to be hoisted in the deadlift. Now I am not saying the deadlift is the same as the squat, and I am not indicating that all of the movements and exertions made in both of these lifts are 100% alike; but I am saying, at least in regard to leg and hip action, that the squat and deadlift are in many interesting ways much the same. One critical difference between the two is the fact that squatting is a push action lift, while deadlifting is a pull action lift. Regardless of the degree of similarity between squats and deadlifts, or regardless of the dissimilarity between squats and deadlift movements, the fact remains that both have great merit, both as physical developmental exercises and as power lift feats. My experience in training both myself and others has pointed one very definite fact out about why many encounter problems with their deadlifting (injuries, never can achieve limit lifts, etc.): in more than 75% of the cases where men work seriously at powerlifting they overtrain in the deadlift. That’s right. The vast majority of well-intentioned lifters, in their zeal to do as well as they possibly can, often do too much deadlifting, too frequently, and thus end up defeating their ultimate purpose of maximum power-output in this lift. Possibly this is because the deadlift is a relatively simple lift – yet so much more satisfying, poundagewise, than say, the bench press. It’s always nice to leave the gym feeling, “Hey, I lifted 500 pounds tonight!” One can do this quite honestly, and just neglect to mention that one lifted that “500” in the deadlift, not in the overhead press, the squat or the bench press. It sounds good to someone who doesn’t know the difference. Seriously, don’t overwork the deadlift. The lower back area can be the real weak spot in a man’s anatomy, and it can be as fickle as a woman! One day you can train your lower back for two hours and hit a 600-max deadlift, then leave the gym feeling fine. You wake up the next day and feel like training again. Yet, some athletes have seriously wrenched their back by sneezing! So, respect the crazy nature inherent in your lower-back structure. The low back can, with patient, steady work, be built up to levels of truly phenomenal strength. But take your sweet time about it. Any injury or strain to this critical area will put you
painfully out of action, possibly for a month or more. For all persons breaking into heavy power training, I advise giving the back a full 4-8 weeks of patient, steady break-in training before going all out. This may seem like an overly cautious approach, but I’d rather be careful with a person about his back rather than be negligent. We have plenty of time to go for world deadlift records! Daily Moderate Exercise Desirable It is advisable to work your lower back every day, if possible, with some mild form of freehand stretching or calisthenic movements. The Yoga Cobra exercise, Hindu cat stretches and Tiger bends are all very good for this purpose. Also, there is one extremely simple and relaxing movement that, in my opinion, should be an integral part of every heavy lifter’s regimen: hanging from a chinning bar. Hanging, without moving or chinning one’s body at all, from a high bar, with arms straight is a cheap, simple, enormously beneficial natural traction movement for the lower and upper back and for the spinal column in its entirety. Doing this every day for a few minutes can, by itself, alleviate minor back soreness, and often, when done immediately following a workout, can prevent the onset of any soreness. I cannot commend this movement too highly. Everyone should do it. Aside from the above, there really are no “assistance” exercises suitable for deadlifting. You could arrange to practice deadlifting off low boxes, or you could build deadlift hoppers to slightly assist the movement. But these little gambits are effective only to a certain extent. When it comes to the actual deadlift and attempting a limit you cannot use any such assistance, so perhaps it is better to train the actual lift. You avoid strain simply by not doing the deadlift too frequently. Instead, work the lower back with a different movement . . . Stiff-Legged Deadlift or Power Clean? The stiff-legged deadlift is, for those who find no problems from doing it, the finest single basic EXERCISE for the lumbar muscles of the body. It is also a tremendously effective overall conditioner, having overlapping effects on the entire body – with special benefits to increased flexibility. The stiff-legged deadlift with moderate to moderately-heavy resistance rates as a super exercise for the back in lieu of the standard deadlift. No attempt need be made to go to extreme poundages in the stiff-legged deadlift. Bodyweight on the bar can provide an exceptionally fine developmental workout. Those who find that they have a special liking and propensity for the movement may go as heavy as they wish, of course, with enormous gains to be carried over
when the standard deadlift is attempted. Some few individuals can do their stiff-legged deadlifts off the end of a sturdy block or bench, allowing the bar to actually be lowered below the level of one’s feet! This is okay if you can do it, but I’d be careful, especially with heavy weights. For those who enjoy the stiff-legged deadlift it can be used for 95% of one’s deadlift training – provided one is able to go heavy on it. Otherwise, simply use it as a light substitute for the standard deadlift after going all-out during a workout or a meet. For those who find deadlifting a necessary evil, there is (in my judgment) the more valuable power clean exercise, that, whenever one wishes to do back work, can be used as a deadlift substitute. This exercise builds the low back quite well. Never fear that your capacity to deadlift will be weakened if power cleans are used in most workouts to hit the low-back area. This is not so. As long as you power clean heavy you’ll be able to deadlift heavy. Don’t use more than 5-rep sets in the power clean. Sets of 3 or as little as 2 are oftentimes effective when sheer power is the goal. If you wish you may alternate between stiff-legged deadlifts and power cleans in your training, and use the standard heavy deadlift perhaps once every two or three weeks in a somewhat heavier training session. This is an effective way to train, and the deadlift numbers you achieve this way may surprise you. Spend most of your time on squats; spend pretty much your balance of time on bench presses. Every now and then see what you can do on the deadlift. While that rule might seem too casual and not at all in accord with many of the publicized deadlift training methods, I assure you it is a very sound rule. It is used my many of the top powerlifters who have learned from their years of experience that the lower back’s power is something to be maintained by moderate exercise and tested only occasionally by heavy lifting. Suggested Deadlift Training What might be a good beginner’s deadlift schedule? Here is a suggestion: Workout Monday and Thursday on the back area. For FOUR workouts do the following – Power clean: 4x4, heavy weights. Stiff-Legged deadlift: 2x10, light weights.
On the FIFTH workout do – Stiff-Legged deadlift to warmup: 1x10. Deadlift: 1x5, 2x3, 1x2, 1x1, 1x1 (weight increase after each set to ultimate allout lift). Follow the above training – after each workout – with about 5 minutes of simple hanging from a strong overhead bar. More Advanced Training Largely, how you train as you become a more advanced lifter will be your own decision, born ultimately from your own gradual experience and understanding of your body. However, the following is a good advanced deadlift workout suggestion. I recommend that it be followed only ONE DAY A WEEK AT MOST. 1st set: EITHER stiff-legged or regular deadlift to warmup, 1x12. 2nd set: EITHER stiff-legged or regular deadlift with about a 30 lb. increase, 1x810. 3rd and 4th sets: REGULAR deadlift, 6 reps each set, very heavy. 5th set: REGULAR deadlift, 3 reps. 6th set: REGULAR deadlift, 2 reps. 7th set: REGULAR deadlift, 1 rep. That’s a lot of work, but an advanced, powerful lifter can benefit from such a routine if it is not performed too frequently. If you find once a week to be too much, do it less often. Think for yourself. The goal is to hit that new limit poundage, and the back needs to be fully recovered and thoroughly warmed up before the try is made. The object, once again, is not to see how often you can lift the same weight, but to show how much weight you can deadlift. Remember that always! It is a very common practice for many men to train by starting off light, adding weigh and dropping reps in the sets they do, and then, once they hit their limit they start decreasing weights again, and they begin to do progressively more reps again. If I were to TRY, I could not invent a more wasteful way to train! Don’t train this way. It serves only the questionable purpose of aiding in PUMP. And if you train properly you’ll get all the sane pump you need to grow without spending twice the necessary time on workouts and without burning up 6,000 extra calories and several nerve endings each workout. Be sensible. It actually works.
by Bradley J. Steiner
The more things change, the more they are the same. So goes the saying. No matter what evolves (or devolves) in the weight game. I note that since the 1940s the same problems keep arising. One of the most prevalent problems is overtraining. People keep on doing it, and it keeps holding them back. Overtraining is not the same as training too hard. In fact, I'm not sure it's possible to train too hard, but it's easy to train too much. If you're overtraining, you're wasting a lot of time and energy and you're in for serious disappointment. No one develops muscle and strength while working out. Working out breaks down muscle tissue-- growth comes later, following rest. During training, however, your body goes into high gear. Blood is forced into the working muscles, giving the illusion of immediate, often dramatic, gains. But you don't gain during training. Please stop conning yourself into thinking that you do and, as a result, trailing way too much. The best workout is the hardest, not the longest. In my opinion, the ceiling on workout time should be two hours. Many, if not most, people will do just fine with an hour in the gym, and hardly anyone ever needs to go over 75 to 90 minutes. A good, basic session should train the entire body thoroughly and well. In some cases a single set of a given exercise is enough. I personally believe that three sets are plenty. Keep adding weight, not exercises, to your program. Use strict form. Train at a vigorous pace. I know, I know I'm old-fashioned. I'm oversupplying. I'm not aware of all the great "advances" in training. Yeah, sure. If you want to make real, solid gains, try it my way. You'll be delighted with the results. Question: I find that I can follow a routine for four weeks, but then I go stale and can't continue to push myself. What am I doing wrong? Answer: Probably nothing. You may just work best on on four-week cycles. If you aren't making the strength and size gains you like that may indicate something needs changing, but there's nothing wrong with a four-week cycle. If you aren't happy with your development, try altering the amount of weight you're adding. It's possible you're pushing too hard and adding too much weight too soon. Let's say you use the military press as your basic pressing movement and you want to get up to two sets of six reps with 125 pounds. When you start, you can handle 100 pounds,. Instead of adding five to 10 pounds each week, try just adding 2 1/2 pounds. Give your body time to build Sometimes people burn out because their enthusiasm for a new schedule pushes them info going for too much too soon. I want to stress, however, that if you're happy with your results on a four-week
cycle, don't let anyone tell you that you've got a problem. Question: I'm worried that I am not be able to do justice to a full-body workout of five sets of 10 exercises. If I work each one really hard - to the max - I'm dead by the time my workout's over. If I ease up, I feel I'm not training hard enough. What should I do? Answer: Ten exercises for five sets each is too much! I'm amazed you could lift your hand to write a letter. You're doing almost double the amount of work you require. Drop your sets back to two per movement and forget about maxing out at every session - once a week is plenty for that. After doing two sets for a couple of months to let yourself recover from past excesses, go ahead and do three sets. Do not, however, go beyond that as long as you're doing 10 exercises. Question: I've been training for about eight months now, and I wonder how you feel about my forgetting the planned programs and just going by instinct? Answer: I do believe in instinctive training but only for those who have years of experience. There's always a danger, even for highly experienced trainees, that discipline won't be as great when you don't have set goals and a definite program to follow. Having a progressive plan and making yourself follow it is usually he most effective approach to training. I've tried both approaches, I prefer the results I get when I follow a plan, and I've been training since 1963. I suggest that you stick to using a carefully mappedout, written plan for at least another couple of years. Question: Is it ever beneficial to train for long periods on light routines? Answer: You bet it is! There's a tremendous health and conditioning benefit to doing light work. It gives your body and mind a break without your stopping training altogether. I wouldn't recommend it for beginners, that is people with less than 1 1/2 to two years' training under their belts. If, however, you've developed pretty close to your full hereditary potential, it can be very useful. I've always believed that the best all-around training is done with both barbells and dumbbells. If you want to train light for a while, though, an all-dumbbell routine can be superb. I've seen such schedules renew enthusiasm for training, add enjoyment and help generate motivation for heavier training later. You can do some interesting movements with light dumbbells - dumbbell swings, compound arm and shoulder work and one-arm dumbbell presses. A set of good
cables can be valuable for light training too. Be flexible when you put together a light routine. I'm sure you'll find your light schedule will prime you for your heavy schedule. Again, everybody, train. Don't overtrain. I'm serious when I say that overtraining holds people back. Don't let it happen to you.
Hard Work On Basic Exercises
by Bradley J. Steiner I happen to believe that Reg Park is the best example and single representative of what proper training with weights can do for a man. He's got everything: huge, almost superhuman muscles, the strength of the most powerful competitive lifter, and the perfect, well-balanced physique that one sees on Greek statues in museums. Whether or not you agree that Park is the Greatest -- if you've seen him, then you've GOT to admit that he's good, to say the very least. OK. so who cares about my opinion anyway, and what in heck does this have to do with how you can get the Herculean build you're after? The best physiques (and Park's is one of 'em), were all built by hard work on the basic, heavy duty exercises. There are NO exceptions to this statement. Even easy-gainers who (like Park) build up very easily, never get to the Hercules stage without the ultimate in effort. Park worked up to squats with 600 pounds, behind the neck presses with 300 pounds, and bench presses with 500 pounds! Hereditary advantages or not, Park sweated blood to earn the massive excellent physique that he has. And so did every other human Superman whose muscles aren't merely bloated, pumped-up tissue. The problem of WHAT these basic exercisers are, and HOW HARD one must work on them for satisfactory, or even startling results, is one that every bodybuilder, at one time or another during his career, is confronted with. This month we're going to solve the problem. To begin, let's sift through the thousands of possible exercises, and variations of exercises that confront every barbell man, and set down a principle by which the trainee can determine the BEST among them; those upon which he should be concentrating his best efforts. Here's the principle: An exercise is worthwhile if it allows you to use very heavy weights -- brings into play the BIG muscle groups -and causes lots of puffing and panting. From the simple formula stated above, it is quite easy to see that fully eighty or ninety percent of the exercises followed by most barbell trainees do not come up to the standards required for maximum physical development. Concentration curls, Hack squats, lateral raises, thigh extensions, triceps "kickback" movements, etc., all followed slavishly by thousands of misinformed bodybuilders, are a waste of time. My very bitter apologies to the high-pressure ad-men, and the authors of all the super Space-age courses, but their stuff is strictly from hunger. If you've been sucked into following any such routines, drop
'em! In all honesty, fellows, that garbage won't do a thing for you, aside from bringing discouragement and disillusionment. Save your time and money, and put your effort into THESE exercises: The Squat - Regular, parallel, breathing style, or front style The Press - Military or behind neck, seated or standing, barbell or heavy dumbbells Rowing - Bent over, barbell or dumbbells, one or two arm Power cleans and High pulls Bench pressing - barbell or heavy dumbbells, Incline or flat bench style Stiff-legged dead lifting and heavy barbell bendovers. In essence, those are the exercises that you ought to be killing yourself on. We're concerned with the development of SIZE, POWER and SHAPELY BULK, so we've eliminated all supplementary abdominal and calf work. This you can do at your leisure, or you can omit it entirely, with no consequences to your overall development. The stuff we've enumerated above is what you need in order to turn yourself into a Human Hercules. And, lest you believe that this writer has a vested interest in this, let me say that he HAS. I derive personal, private, selfish satisfaction pushing the truth about sensible barbell training, and seeing those guys who are willing to work for their goals, achieving the builds they desire. The muscle heads, the "muscle-spinners," the drug-takers, etc, are no concern of mine. They can go their own way; I'm concerned about the rest of you. Honest muscles, like honest men, are rare. But they can be attained, and the only way to do it is through HARD, HARD work, and an honest approach to training programs. So if you're willing, you can get the physique you're after; if you train as I have discussed on the Basic Movements. There are reasons why these basic exercises are best. Let's talk about them. It isn't generally understood, but the easiest way to build the small muscle groups is by exercise on the big ones! For example, it's impossible to build a broad, powerful back, and thick pectorals, along with terrific shoulders via the heavy cleaning, pressing, rowing and bench work that I advocate, without building enormous arm size and strength. You couldn't do it if you wanted to! Yet, aside from weight-gaining, building big arms is a giant headache for most barbell men. How simple a matter it would become if only they would forget about the ridiculous pumping, cramping and spinning-type isolation exercises, and just train hard on the basics! The big arms would come naturally. John Grimek once had arms that taped close to 19". They were so big and powerful that they didn't look real! Grimek at the time was an Olympic weightlifting contender, and he had trained for a long period without doing a single curl or triceps "pumper." His big arms got the way they did from the Heavy Lifting Training. You can do the same by working hard and heavy. And you don't have
to enter Olympic competition! The trapezius and neck muscles are impressive and too often neglected by many weight-trainees. But your traps will grow like crazy if you push your cleans hard, and if you get your presses up to really impressive standards. Ditto for your neck muscles. The huffing, puffing, and muscular work and exertion caused by ALL heavy work will make your neck muscles grow. Forearms - "stubborn forearms" will respond like obedient, trained seals to heavy rowing, cleaning and pressing. And just try to keep your grip on a super heavy barbell while doing a set of stiff-leg deadlifts, without forcing the forearm muscles to ache and grow beyond belief! Heavy squatting will build heavier calves. Sounds impossible? Well, just try working your squats like you're supposed to, and you'll see your calves begin to grow no matter how they've refused to respond to toe raises. Power cleans are fine for the calf muscles too. Incredible as this statement may sound, it's absolutely true. The coordinated effort of leg and back movement in heavy cleaning DOES work the calves! Try it for a few months and find out for yourself. Nobody wants to be fat around the middle. Yet, unless you're drastically overweight, you don't need more than one set of one abdominal exercise (done in high reps, with resistance) to keep a rock-hard, muscular mid-section. The hard work on squatting, cleaning, and ALL heavy exercises will inevitably keep you trim and hard. And make no mistake about this: you are far, far better off with a thick, powerful waist than you are with a "wasp-waist pretty body." A man should be BIG. He should be strong and powerful. And he can't be if he tries to blow his biceps up to 20" and keep his waist down to 30". Use your head! If there are any real supermen around who have waistlines below 33" or 34", then they've got 'em only because they're SHORT, and, the small waist is proportionate tot he rest of their husky muscles. Training on the big exercises builds HEALTH and LASTING muscle size. These two factors are very important. Today, men like John Grimek, Reg Park, Bill Pearl, and another lesser-known Hercules, Maurice Jones of Canada, all possess builds and physical power comparable to that which they had during their prime. The reason? They built REAL MUSCLE, Sig Klein must be around seventy, yet he's got the build of a twenty-five year old athlete. The reason? He built REAL MUSCLE. The same holds for scores of others in the weight game who got their physical development by hard, hard work with heavy weights on the best exercises. If you're a young man now, then you're probably more interested in what you can
look like on a posing platform, and in how fast you can get piles of muscle - but don't, no matter how great the temptation for an "easy way out" via pumping routines or muscle drugs, follow any system of training except the good, heavy, teeth-gritting type routines that build pure, strong, big muscles. I say this as a sincere warning against charlatans who would rob you of your money and your health - and do it gladly - to sell you on their own private "miracle systems' or methods'. Keep clear of them, and remember, please, that you've got a long life ahead of you after any physique competitions you might enter or win within the next few years. You want health, well-being AND big muscles that will stay with you for the rest of your life. You will only get them if you train HARD and HEAVY! Here's a sample program that you can follow. It will give you every desirable physical quality. IF you work to your limit on it. Warm up with one set of twenty prone hyperextensions. Do two progressively heavier warm up sets in the squat, using five reps in each set. Then load on weight until the bar bends, and do three sets of five reps each with this limit poundage. Push! Fight! Drive! The SQUAT is the builder of SUPERMEN! Go to your flat bench and do two warm up sets, as you did for your squats, of five reps each in the bench press. Then do a final 3 sets with all the weight you can properly handle. In this, and in every other exercise in the program, REST WELL BETWEEN SETS! Now do power cleans, stiff--legged dead lifts, or barbell bendovers. Same sets., same reps and the same forced poundage attempts as in the preceding exercises. Your lower back is a vital body area. Turn it into a SUPER POWER ZONE by intensive back work! Do heavy, bent-over barbell rowing. Two warm up sets - then three limit sets five reps in each set you do. Reg Park (I always seem to come back to mentioning him, don't I!) used this exercise along with the power clean in order to build the unbelievable back that he possesses. He considers this bent-over rowing exercise the best single upper back movement a man can do. Do some form of HEAVY pressing. If you read my stuff then you already know that I practically sneer at any shoulder exercise but the press behind the neck! But of course you can old military barbell presses, dumbbell presses, or any form of heavy seated pressing with excellent results sure to follow - IF YOU WORK HARD. Same set-rep scheme for your pressing as for the other exercises, and a tip: May guys have complained to me that I don't understand (a-hem!) their difficulties when it comes to heavy pressing behind the neck. It seems that the effort of cleaning the bar up and behind their necks before each set tires their poor little bodies out. What to do? Do your presses right off the squat racks! Load the bar up. Get set comfortably under it. Get a good, solid grip on the bar and set your feet firmly. Now go to it. Press the weight right off the racks. Then, after each set, return the bar to the squat racks. Simple? you'll get wonderful results this way - since you'll be saving your energy and concentration exclusively for the pressing action, and all of the work will be thrown directly on your deltoids...so, better and bigger muscles!
End your workout with an abdominal exercise. Do any one that you happen to like. I prefer leg raises off the end of a flat bench, with iron boots on my feet, but it's really only a personal preference, and you can work your midsection with any 'ab" exercise that you happen to like. Just do one set, and run the reps at around twenty or thirty. Here's the routine written out: Warm-up - 1 x 20 Squat - 5 x 5 Bench press - 5 x 5 Stiff-leg dead lift - 5 x 5 Bent-over rowing - 5 x 5 Press behind neck - 5 x 5 Leg raises 1 x 25 Do that routine - or a similar one - as described in this article, and your muscles will bulge through your clothing after a year or so of training! The watchwords are BASIC EXERCISES and HARD WORK. Remember them when you walk into the gym next time. You'll be grateful for the rest of your life that you did!
by Bradley Steiner For gaining size, power and well-shaped bulk, your efforts in training should center around developing two major muscle groups to their maximum via hard work on the basic exercises for those groups. The first muscle group is the leghip structure. The second is the back. You can, and should, alternate between programs of specialization for both these key areas, until you’ve finally gained your maximum desired bulk and muscular bodyweight. But doubt if it would be desirable (or even feasible) to include a full leg AND back specialization routine in a single workout. Done properly, a back OR leg specialization program is PLENTY of work. A back AND leg specialization program probably couldn’t be done “properly” unless of course you were such a miraculous physical specimen that you didn’t actually need either! I have chosen to present a back specialization program because I feel that the leg emphasis program is by far the simpler of the two types, and beginners needing basic information on building up are likely to be confused when it comes to setting up a back program. Leg specialization, besides, has been covered to a large extent by me before, in previous writings. It amounts to, in essence: SQUATTING HARD AND HEAVY, three times a week.
Back specialization is not quite that simple, and in order to eliminate any confusion about the subject, I want to deal with it now. One question: “Why is leg and back specialization so important?” Answer: Because your hip-leg and back muscle groups are the BIGGEST and the STRONGEST muscle groups in your body. You can handle the heaviest weights in leg and back exercises, and the carry-over value of leg-back work for EVERY OTHER muscle in your body is tremendous. Leg work will build your chest, widen your shoulders and give you an A-1 heart and lung workout that will keep you in tiptop shape and health. A second question: “What kind of results, specifically, can I expect from following a back specialization course?” Answer: You will develop (if you work as hard as you’re supposed to) unbelievable upper-body power, width, bulk and shape. You will build arms that are strong and look strong. You will develop your vital lower back region, and this will have carry-over benefits that will last your entire life. You will definitely, unless there is something wrong with you organically, pack on lots of solid, muscular bodyweight, providing you eat properly. You will have real enjoyment and experience great satisfaction from dominating heavy weights, and from watching your working poundages go up. Some basic facts you ought to know: The back consists of THREE primary muscle substructures. 1) The trapezius 2) The latissimus 3) The erector spinae that is: the upper back, below the neck – the bulky, central upper-back – and the lower back. Each of these three muscle groups must be fully developed. Since the average bodybuilder usually devotes most of his back training, if not all of it, to the showy lats, that point about total development bears repeating: DEVELOP THE WHOLE BACK. To neglect the erector spinae muscles is sheer insanity. If anything, this group is MORE important than the upper back, from a health standpoint. Fully developed, the erector spinae group will DOUBLE of TREBLE your present body strength. The lower back, in short, is not showy, it is essential. The trapezius muscles ARE showy, in a way, when fully developed. They impart a slope to the shoulders that gives the impression of great power and athletic prowess. Perhaps you’ve noticed that boxers tend to have well-developed traps. This is the inevitable result of their boxing workouts, of keeping the arms up on the guard continually, blocking fast body punches, throwing fast, hard punches.
Don’t worry – there are easier ways to build up the traps than going hard rounds every day with a sparring partner! So – we’ve established the following: 1) the back consists of THREE main muscle substructures. 2) each of the three main groups must be fully developed. From that beginning we go on to examine the best exercises for each of the major muscle groups in the back – then we will formulate a routine, employing selected movements. For the trapezius group I recommend Presses behind the neck, Power cleans, Shrugs, High pulls, and Upright rowing. For the latissimus I recommend BENT-OVER ROWING – nothing else! For the erector spinae I recommend Stiff-legged deadlifts, Regular deadlifts, good mornings, and the Snatch. Please be sure that you understand that UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you EVER attempt to employ every one of the aforementioned movements in a single program! If you do try it, be sure to reserve a bed beforehand at your nearest hospital. Just don’t do it. A good sample back schedule that I DO suggest you try, is the following: 1) Warm up first with 2 sets of 15-20 Prone hyperextensions. 2) Do one warmup set of Stiff-legged deadlifts, then do a very heavy set. 12 reps for the warmup. 12-15 reps for the work set. 3) Do 6 light Power cleans to warm up. Then do 3 sets of 5 Power cleans with every ounce of iron you can pile on the bar. 4) Do 3 sets of 12-15 heavy Bentover rowing movements with a barbell – or alternately for each side with a heavy dumbell. 5) Do 4 or 5 sets of VERY HEAVY Presses behind the neck. 4 or 5 reps a set 6) Do 2 sets of Shrugs with a weight that forces you to use wrist straps in order to maintain your grip on the bar. 20 reps a set. 7) Do a very light set of Stiff-legged deadlifts, again. This time, stand on a solid bench or box and lower the weight below your ankles. Use only a VERY LIGHT WEIGHT and try for maximum stretch. 15 reps. 8) Finish your workout with a single set of deep-breathing pullovers lying on a bench, with a very, very light barbell. The bar alone, in fact, will be quite sufficient. 12-15 slow, stretching, deep-breathing reps. Such a program, followed THREE TIMES A WEEK, will build for you such great back (and, in fact, overall!) power, that you’ll literally be a new man. The most effective way to use a back specialization program is by following it for two, two-month periods, interspersed with a two-week layoff so you don’t overtrain and go stale. Work out three times a week using nothing but this program.
This is a good place to point out that a layoff need not be spent in bed. The only requisite for a good rest is that you STAY AWAY FROM THE WEIGHTS. You can swim, if you like, jog, play tennis, ride horses or any other moderately vigorous thing – so long as you don’t work out with barbells or dumbells. After a two-week layoff go right back to your same back specialization schedule. Be sure to start in again with REDUCED WEIGHTS, because a slight loss of power is almost inevitable after two-week layoff. Don’t worry about this slight loss of power. You’ll be much stronger in the long run, after a layoff, than you ever possibly could be if you were to train endlessly, with no break in your course at all. Work into really heavy weights where I’ve indicated heavy weights are to be used. If you take it easy and train light, then forget about gaining anything worthwhile. I do not suggest that any trainee employ this back routine – or any other specialization routine, for that matter – for more than two, two-month periods. To do more than this would, I am afraid, simply be overtraining on your program. After all, you can get just so much from a single routine before you’ll milk it dry and require a different program for continued gains. So be sensible. Follow this course as outlined for two months. Layoff two weeks. Go back and train for two more months. Then, STOP. After your specialization, you should go right into an all-round schedule that works your entire physique evenly. Keep at this for 6 to 8 weeks before trying anything resembling another specialization program. Although a specific leg specialization program is not being outlined here, I want to stress that the same method of training (two months’ work, two weeks layoff, two months’ work) is the best for this purpose, too. So that everything is covered, let me mention two other essential elements that must go with the training program if it is to be maximally successful: REST AND GOOD FOOD. Nobody can make maximum gains without either of them. If you are young and growing, or if you are generally active outside of your lifting activities, you should get a bare minimum of eight hours uninterrupted sleep. Nine or ten hours is even better. You should eat plenty of meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish and poultry, rice, thick soups, spaghetti, cheeses, etc. Drink plenty of milk every day if you’re seriously underweight. Two quarts a day for underweight teenagers is a must. In the winter months take hot milk with Ovaltine. Plenty of spectacular routines exist, other than the one I’ve given you here. But this basic back specialization program – for all its stark simplicity – will produce
spectacular RESULTS. Train very hard – CONCENTRATE - and use HEAVY WEIGHTS. Train three times a week and try never to miss an exercise period. Then, after four and a half months of hard work, sit back and be proud of what you accomplished. You will be.