Sunday, January 14, 2018

Excerpt From Olympic Weightlifting Cues & Corrections - Daniel Camargo (2014)

Get Your Copy Here:

Daniel Camargo is a 24-year veteran of Olympic Weightlifting. After representing the USA in nine international competitions and setting three Junior American Records, he began coaching and is now a USA Weightlifting International Coach.

In this book, Camargo presents his approach to teaching lifters the snatch, clean and jerk, and provides clear, simple strategies for recognizing and correcting the most common technical errors in the Olympic lifts. 


Progressions: Introduction
Snatch Progressions
Clean Progressions
Jerk Progressions
Corrections & Cues: Introduction
Corrections & Cues: Snatch
Corrections & Cues: Clean
Corrections & Cues: Jerk

A small excerpt . . . 

Cues & Corrections

It must be noted that anyone with some level of competency can show another how to perform a snatch, clean, and jerk. What separates coaches is the ability to correct individual errors. I'll take that a step further by saying what separates elite coaches is their ability to train someone over a long period of time while maintaining forward progress. 

No matter the level of experience, practitioners of Olympic weightlifting will always work on their form. Ask elite lifters, and they'll tell you that even at their level they still find ways to perfect their technique. That's not to say they are struggling with their form by any means. It's a matter of tweaking, changing, and, in some cases, returning to a tactic they employ, in order to gain the advantage over their competition.

Cues: we love to find great ones. Cues are words or expressions that elicit a desired physical response from the athlete. Not all cues are literal. In fact, many are figurative. I'm proud of the cues I carry in my arsenal. They come from two unique places: directly from the mouths of athletes, and years of accumulation. My vocabulary of cues took quite some time to develop and they oftentimes came right out automatically. 

Over the years, when an athlete has completed a lift I have asked him or her to describe what it felt like, whether good or bad. I, in turn, use the same words they speak when coaching them. For example, a lifter successfully corrects an error in the snatch and he says he felt the bar was "snapped behind my ears." I'll then use "snap behind the ears" as much as necessary on that one athlete to remind him how to make the bar land. I'll perhaps use the same cue on others to see if they too respond the same way.

The biggest mistake a coach can make is over-coaching, or over-cueing. Too many instructions will cause confusion and in turn slow the learning process down. This section describes the most common errors and my suggested  corrections and cues. This is hardly an exhaustive list, but rather, and, perhaps more significantly, contains the successful cues I have accumulated in my years of experience.  

Some things to think about: 

Video recording and reviewing an athlete's technique is beneficial, especially in slower motion or frame by frame. However, be careful not to use video to he extent where the athlete suffers from "analysis paralysis." Too much exposure to video footage can cause athletes to overthink.

Never use mirrors. The use of mirrors will only slow athletes down. By the time their minds compute with their eyes see, and attempt to send signals to their bodies, the lift should be over. There may be no harm in moving slowly in front of a mirror with a PVC pipe or dowel rod. However, training in front of one during high speed, high intensity attempts will only ruin the movement they may have had otherwise perfected.

Many drills, which are described later in this book, serve dual purposes.

The goal is to feel the movement, not to see or think about it.

Another small excerpt, from Snatch Cues & Corrections

Note: The book has many, many helpful photos included, which are not shown in this excerpt you are reading. 

The snatch, though seemingly complex, is actually simple to conceptualize. There are far fewer moving parts than the clean and jerk. What intimidates people about the snatch is the amount of balance and mobility needed to be highly successful. Moreover, there is a smaller margin of error in this lift versus any other associated with Olympic weightlifting. The snatch is far more about precision whereas the clean and jerk is more about effort. An athlete can commit more errors in the clean and jerk and still walk away successful compared to the snatch, making it my favorite of the three lifts.

Jumping Forward

This is a big concern, and simply telling the athlete he or she is jumping forward isn't enough. Determining exactly where (or in which phase of the lift) the problem originates is essential. There are three factors, or a combination of any of them, which cause an athlete to jump forward: being forward on the first pull, early on the toes during the transition, or swinging the bar out during the second pull.


Athletes jump forward because it feels explosive to them. We are all more agile and explosive on the balls of our feet, so we try to rely on them wherever possible, even at the detriment of proper bar path.

Forward Off the Floor (First Pull Forward)

 - "Chest up"
 - "Heels into floor" (this is not to mean lean back; keep the athlete in place but have them drive the heels into the floor.
 - "Knees out"
 - "Move hips and bar together"
 - "Sweep back"

 - Lift-Offs (practicing keeping the knees back and out of the way)
 - Snatch Grip Deadlifts (practicing the hips and bar rising at the same rate)
 - Any exercise that will keep the athlete flat on the feet immediately pulling off the floor will be advantageous.

Early Toes Past the Knees

 - "Stay on heels"
 - "Delay the jump"
 - "Patience"
 - "Wait on the bar"
 - "No rush"
 - "Get knees back under the bar"

 - Mid-hang high pulls
 - Mid-hang snatch
 - Power position snatch
 - Any snatch from technique blocks that rests the bar at knee height.  

Coach's Tip: As in the first pull, people want to increase velocity so the natural thing to do is shift to the toes, as we are all more powerful and agile there. However, for beginners and intermediate athletes this can cause the bar to travel too far forward when we want them to maintain more weight distribution on their heels. Athletes should perform any exercise that will instill patience and keep them flat-footed a bit longer during this phase of the lift.

Sending Bar Out and Away From the Body in Second Pull


And there you have a very small excerpt from the book.
If interested in more, order here:

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Press, Part Two - Al Murray (1954)

Thanks to Liam Tweed!

Part One is Here:

Doug Hepburn

Ronald Walker

by Al Murray

Now let us go back and observe the important points of the correct starting position at the shoulders. The bar should be supported as much as possible by a high chest, it should be in such a position that when the chin is held in the bar may be pressed vertically.

The hip joints should not be vertically over the ankle joints but instead they should be eased slightly forward so that that the bar, hip joints, and insteps are in line

The chest should be held high so that the dorsal spine is in extension, this is also favorable to the pressing muscles, for any anatomist will explain that a muscle works more efficiently when it is working from a static and fixed origin.

Another point, when the bar passes the top of the head, commonly known as the sticking position, the lifter normally gives way at his weakest point and this is nearly always the dorsal spine. If you do not assume the correct technical position in pressing and believe in the old-fashioned idea of getting heavy weights up anyhow in training, you are robbing yourself of the chance to develop power in the dorsal region by failing to make use of the strong dorsal muscles. [generally, any muscle contained within the region posterior to the spine and ribs, and no more lateral than the lateral-most edges of the erector spinae muscles.]

You are also neglecting a very important quality necessary in the pressing of heavy poundages, that is Will Power or Discipline. The discipline I refer to is the determination to hold the correct position at all times. It is easy to note a lifter who does not possess this quality. He will often finish his top press with his shoulders practically resting on his buttocks.

The opposite was obvious in Vorobyev's case at the last World champs in Sweden. As he pressed his heavier weights he was fighting not only to get the bar to arms length but to maintain his chest in a high position.  
 - Note: You may be interested in this book:

When a lifter is fully aware of the aforementioned advantages and disadvantages he is then conscious that as his bar approaches the sticking point just above the head he will tend to bend at the dorsal spine. To combat this he should forcibly raise the chest and extend the dorsal spine, fighting the bar vertically overhead, at the same time striving with all his power to keep his chest in this high position (see Figure B). 
Click to ENLARGE 
and read illustration notes

If you are not sure whether you are pressing in a good or bad form, you can test yourself in the same manner as I tested Jan Smeekins of Holland, a wonderful lifter on the snatch and clean and jerk but comparatively weak on the press. With poundages over 209 his position is very dodgy. My own press, as far as poundages are concerned, leaves much to be desired, yet I feel sure if I adopted the folding up procedure of many of our lifters I could do some 20 lbs more than 205. But I should not have the hard neck to discredit the referee's intelligence with such tactics. 

I asked Jan (in order to prove my point that his position was bad) to follow me through this exercise. I took 176 lbs. and brought it to my chest, pressed it to my chin, stopped the bar, then to the nose, pause, up to the eyes, pause, back to the chin, pause, press to the forehead, pause, then completed the press without losing my position. I asked Jan to try this with 170 and he failed hopelessly. 

Les Willoughby has done this exercise with 209 lbs. Ken MacDonald, the Australian middleweight now in the country, greatly improved his pressing position by working hard on this exercise. We have seen Ken do 241 lbs on several occasions, and he is doubtlessly capable of more. 

The purpose of this exercise is threefold: 

1) To teach the lifter to press in the correct position and along the line of least resistance. 

2) This exercise also teaches you to balance the center of your bar, and center of your bodyweight vertically over the center of your base, i.e., the insteps.

3) It also forces the lifter to use the pressing muscles. Instead of bending back into a position where other muscle fibers are used, which are not normally involved in correct pressing. 

Diligent training for technique on the press will reward you with an increased top (max) press, and I may add, you will be surprised at the increase in muscular development and shoulder posture. One of the latest lifters to be rewarded for his efforts is Alan Conway, famous as a Junior Mr. Britain, now an Olympic lifter and winner of the bantamweight class at the recent Maccabian games. [Note: The Maccabiah games are an international Jewish and Israeli multi-sport event].

Alan's press was stuck around 155 lbs. He joined my gym to train for the above games, he proved himself to be an excellent student as he readily assimilated the instructions given to correct his pressing. He was also taught to press as fast as possible whilst maintaining the correct pressing position. This develops the essential quality of speed of muscular contraction. To cut a long story short Alan, in the short space of three months increased his press to press to 181 lbs - an increase of 26 lbs. For a small man this is more than a fair reward for his efforts.

Set out to adopt the correct pressing position, keep good positions throughout the press itself.

From time to time include dumbbell pressing in your training schedule, providing you press the dumbbells in the same position as you would assume whilst pressing a barbell.

Some advocate the bench press as an assistance exercise, but many are sadly disappointed as I was, after specializing on the bench press and press on back, until I broke the British record several times without a single pound of reward in the standing press. However, I do believe there are some who do respond. Then there are dozens of top line bench pressers who find themselves extremely weak by comparison when in the upright position. Still, there is little doubt that it is of great assistance to the beginner and the intermediate Olympic lifter as a fundamental power builder.

"Overall Power for Pressing Success" by Charles Smith:

"The Press and Basic Body Power" by Doug Hepburn and Charles Smith:

"Power for the Snatch and Clean" by Charles Smith:

Note - Search this blog (and elsewhere) for more on building basic body power for lifting. This article is mainly aimed at improving form and body position to improve your press, but don't neglect basic power either. By the way, have you tried using modern Westside methods for training your Press? There's so much out there on benching schedules and routines, and a lot of it can be adapted to Press training by anyone with a desire to do so.

Seated pressing with dumbbells and barbell, also the press from behind neck, are very valuable contributions to powerful pressing. Naturally no article on the press would be complete without some information of training schedules, so here goes:

I would like to say a few words of advice to the beginner, so that he will have a fair chance to improve his technique, he is advised to keep his poundages low enough to allow a fair number of sets of five, four, and three, as follows . . .

Let us assume your top press is around 140 lbs.
Start pressing with 90 for 5 or 6 reps
100 x 4
110 x 4
120 x 3
125 x 1 or 2
Drop back to 105 for 4.

For the more experienced lifter the reps must be kept lower to allow him to handle heavier poundages. Example . . .
Top press around 195
Warm up with some light pressing.
145 x 4
155 x 3
165 x 3
175 x 2
185 x 1
Drop back to 160 for 4 sets of triples,treys, threes, dreis, त्रीणि, tats, (দুই).

As a change from dropping back to 160 lbs and doing sets of 3, attempt to press 185 for 3-5 singles. However, it is not wise to keep this up for longer than three or four weeks, as limit and near-limit poundages in training are a great drain on nervous energy.   

There are many, many schedules and variations, but the aforementioned schedules are a good sound base from which to work. Give this technique and training a fair chance and I'm sure you will be rewarded.  


Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Press, Part One - Al Murray (1954)

Al Murray, national weightlifting coach; born January 10, 1916, died September 27, 1998 
His obituary in this newspaper will give you a small idea of what he accomplished and what he overcame along the way: 

More By Al Murray: 

Mr. Murray also coauthored a book with David Webster titled "The Two Hands Snatch" that can be found in its entirety on this blog. 

Other books of his include 
"The Theory and Practice of Olympic Weightlifting" (1955)
"Modern Weight-training: The Key to Physical Power" (1971)

And now to our article on The Press. 
This is part of a series written by Mr. Murray, "The Olympic Lifts . . . And How To Train On Them" and we are able to read it here thanks to the efforts of  LIAM TWEED.  

Taken From This Issue (April 1954)


Prior to the war anyone using weights was considered a weight-lifter. However, these days there are so many branches . . . bodybuilding, all-round lifting, weight-training for all sports, and Olympic lifting, which incidentally is considered to be the athletic and competitive branch and consists of three lifts, namely, The Two Hands Clean and Press, The Two Hands Snatch, and The Two Hands Clean and Jerk. 

In competition there are seven classes: Bantamweight, Featherweight, Lightweight, Middleweight, Light-Heavyweight, Middle-Heavyweight, and Heavyweight. Three attempts are permitted on each of the three lifts, the best attempt on each of the these lifts is added together to form a total, the lifter with the highest total in each class being the winner. Every type of athletic quality is required to reach the top in this sport but these will be dealt with as they crop up. Let us start with . . . 


The Press is believed to be a sheer feat of strength, but there is much more to it than strength. Correct positioning of the body during actual training and in competition can reduce the lifter's difficulties and increase his limit poundage. 

In cleaning the bar to the chest much time and energy can be saved if one cultivates the correct method of cleaning a weight to the shoulders in preparation for the press itself. The feet should be placed approximately hip hip breadth apart with the bar touching the shins and over the insteps. The width of the grip is indeed important. This should be slightly wider than one's shoulder breadth so that when the bar is at the chest the upper arms are in line with the body and not facing forward against the front of the chest. 

The grip can be either thumbless or with the thumb around the bar in the normal manner. Oscar State and myself went through over 100 photographs of lifters from all around the world and there seemed to be an equal number of top line pressers using the thumbless grip as there were using the normal grip.

Assuming that you have now gripped the bar in the correct position, your back should be straight but not vertical, shoulders slightly forward in front of the bar, head up and eyes looking to the front. This distributes the weight of the body evenly over the whole surface of the floor so that when your bar leaves the floor, center of gravity (or balance) will be traveling vertically upwards over the center of the base, i.e., insteps. 

Use your legs and back in the pull as much as possible so that you may conserve the strength of your arms and shoulders for the press itself. As the bar slows down passing the chest, quickly dip at both knees, lowering the body to receive the bar on the chest at the exact position from which it will be pressed (see Figure 1 below for more instructional notes).


Now comes a very important part, that is positioning your body in the best balance and most powerful position for pressing. 

The mechanics of this are simple - but seldom correctly observed. The lifter should aim to have the center of his bar as near as possible over his personal center of gravity (or balance) and these two points must be placed centrally over the lifter's base. The bar must also be in such a position that it can be pressed vertically overhead, still maintaining position over the center of your base. If the bar is held too high on the sternum the lifter will most probably be forced to swing the bar forward to clear the chin.  It is then a mechanical impossibility to keep the body still, in he correct position. 
Once the bar has left the ground the body and barbell now become one mass with a common center of gravity. This is known as the combined center of gravity. In pressing the barbell forward from the chest two things can happen: 
1) As the bar goes forward you may come on your toes, being pulled forward by the bar. This, by the way, is quite common and is a cause for disqualification.
2) This is more common, as the barbell travels upwards and forward, he head and shoulders are lowered backwards to counter balance the weight moving forward. The distance between shoulder joint and barbell is increased, making it harder for the muscles involved (see Figure 2 and its notes below). 

Click to ENLARGE

 This backward movement with moderate weight may escape the notice of the referee. But it is a simple law of mechanics that the heavier the weight the further back the shoulders will fall in an effort to counteract the additional weight traveling forward. 

If you take a particularly narrow grip you will observe when pressing the bar that your elbows will be forced to travel well to the front. The weight will then be transmitted vertically downwards through the forearms and elbows. This imaginary line will continue to fall downwards in front of the toes. The shoulders in consequence will be forced backwards and hence the reason for the success of the more modern wide grip. 

A related and interesting pair of articles with Press grip widths discussed in parts, by Bob Hoffman:

When the wide grip is used you will note that whilst pressing from the chest, the bar, elbows, hip joints and insteps are more or less in one vertical line. This is a strong and economical pressing technique.  

Part Two will follow later. 

Delt Training, Lee Labrada - Thomas C. Deters (1987)

I know what you're thinking . . . yet another training article. Lee Labrada does so many sets and so many reps and gets great shoulders. Big Deal! 

Well, not exactly. This is a training article. I'm going to tell you exactly what Lee does every Monday and Thursday when he trains shoulders. But more importantly, I'll tell you WHY he trains the way he does.

Since the shoulder is so mobile and vulnerable to injury, Lee takes special care when training this body part. He warms up his shoulders with a very light weight for a few high-rep sets in all ranges of motion. The reps are done slowly and under complete control at all times, starting with half movements. He follows this with some gentle stretching, again in all ranges of motion. Lee attributes the fact that he has never had a shoulder injury to this simple warmup. 

Lee also cautions against overworking this relatively small muscle group, which is also directly involved any time back and chest are trained. 

He usually follows a four-day split routine, whether preparing for competition or not. Every Monday and Thursday Lee trains shoulders along with chest and triceps, the order being chest -> shoulders -> triceps. In the past, shoulders were usually trained first, but this resulted in tired, weakened shoulders and low intensity chest training.

The delt work itself is limited to 10 very intense sets.

Lee does the first work set of each exercise with the heaviest weight possible, starting with side laterals performed bilaterally (both arms at once) with dumbbells. He begins with this exercise, as opposed to a form of overhead pressing, because he achieves a better pump, which in turn helps him to mentally focus on his delts. Side laterals rarely result in sore shoulders for Lee, and this movement pre-fatigues his delts and preserves his triceps for the work to come later in the session. Decreasing the weight each set, he performs 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps. He does these sets at a fast pace because this generates a pump that he can maintain throughout the course of the workout. His form is relatively strict, and he raises the dumbbells about six inches above parallel, since going much higher doesn't increase deltoid activity. He finds "running the rack" also gives an excellent pump, and uses this technique frequently on the side laterals. These are extended sets of around 50 total reps performed in rapid succession, repeated twice.

Going Down the Rack:
 - Start with the heaviest set of dumbbells you can handle for the chosen rep numbers, and work down the rack in 10-lb. jumps with little or no rest between sets.

Behind the Neck Presses for 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps are next. These are 3/4 reps, not locked out. This helps to keep constant tension on the deltoids. It also avoids nonproductive movement and tiring the triceps. Lee's grip is slightly wider than shoulder width here, and he tries to keep his elbows back. To increase the activity of the rear delts, he sometimes does dumbbell presses with the dumbbells being rotated into each other. Lee prefers to perform presses seated, wearing a belt; however, people with back issues may feel less discomfort if they stand.

After just enough rest to catch some air, he doe 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps of Rear Lateral Raises while sitting on the end of a bench, leaning forward with his chest pressed tightly against his thighs. Lee prefers to use dumbbells (not cables) with his arms out 90 degrees from his body. He raises the dumbbells just above parallel and bends his elbows only slightly. Just recently Lee began working his rear delts lying face down on an incline bench. In this position, he performs rear laterals alternately with his arms 90 degrees from his body and then almost directly to the front, like a front lateral raise. When performed in the manner, the leverage is such that a great deal of stress is transferred to the rear delt, which can be a difficult area to isolate.

Finally, he does a set or two of trap work in the form of shrugs, using a straight bar with the help of wrist straps. Lee really started concentrating on these a few years ago, with good results. These are normally burnout sets, rarely using more than 315 pounds. We both feel that the most effective way to perform shrugs is to keep the head down and shrug the weight straight up, hold for a second, relax, and momentarily stretch at the bottom. This is designed to bomb the upper traps, which raise the scapula. Therefore, fancy rolling motions waste energy, put more stress than necessary on A-C joints, and are not the most effective way to work middle and lower traps.

No high pulls? Nope, they are a very specific exercise, because they work traps and front delts - or even lateral delts - depending on how your elbows move. Inefficient. They are pretty good to pump up the areas though.

Lee doesn't use forced reps. He chooses instead to work to momentary failure. He's especially careful when dieting, since he doesn't have the nutritional reserve to recuperate rapidly. "In the past I've done a lot of forced reps, but I just didn't get the results and started getting achy," Lee says.

To stimulate muscle growth, it is essential to increase intensity. You can do this by increasing the weight, using the same weight for more reps/sets, or by using the same weight and doing the total work in a shorter period of time. "Increasing poundage is important, but the feel of the movement is even more important. I accentuate the negative portion of the movement more on shoulders than on any other body part. In this way I can increase the intensity with safer poundages," Lee points out.

There you have it - plain, simple, yet effective. Remember, you are attempting to create a work of art, and overdeveloped front delts can be a problem, aesthetically and in other ways as well. Form is critical, since improper form actually decreases the efficiency and desired intensity of the movements, and also increases the chance of injury. Avoid bouncing, since this creates extreme stress on the joints, even with light weights.      


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Bodybuilding With the Three Olympic Lifts - Hal Stephens (1949)

Hal Stephens

Once Again, Thanks to Liam Tweed!

Article From The Iron Man Nov/Dec 1949

Editor's Note (Peary Rader): Too many bodybuilders look upon the lifts as of no value or interest except for competitive lifters. Such is far from the truth a we have tried to point out. The lifts can be made into one of the finest of body building programs. Such a program as here outlined by Mr. Stephens will give the physique a rugged, finished appearance not obtainable in any other manner. If you are seeking a perfect physique and one capable of demonstrating strength and agility, don't neglect the lifts.

Practice of the Olympic lifts in repetition form can build a super physique and at the same time maintain the strength and technique necessary in competitive lifting.

Very few bodybuilders are extreme specialists, either in the body culture field or in competitive  lifting; most of us enjoy mixing a little lifting with our body development program, or vice versa, we like to combine bodybuilding training with our lifting program, if we are lifting enthusiasts. 

The writer, for example, adapts his training routine to fit the conditions under which he is living. If I am living near a metropolis where competitive lifting is the chief interest, I devote considerable time to the practice of the three Olympic lifts. Where my work takes me to the more remote mountainous regions of the country, I change over to a bodybuilding program, usually some phase of specialization, when competitive lifting seems to be out of the question. 

Undoubtedly, many other lifting fans find themselves in much the same sort of situation. Moving about the country is certainly not conducive to best results in training, but if we have no choice as to where to live, the best plan would be to arrange the training program to suit the new conditions as nearly as possible. When a competitive lifting enthusiast moves to some 'out of the way' location, he may regretfully turn from his lifting training to a bodybuilding program and perhaps even give up hopes of lifting in the near future. 

This discussion is intended, therefore, to point out how the competitive lifts may be practiced as exercises, bringing about excellent improvement in the development the physique and at the same time help keep the lifter in topnotch form with regard to style and technique.

In this way he could return to competitive lifting at any time in the future without having lost much of his original power and form.

Although an entire workout, beneficial to all major muscles of the body, can be made up from the practice of the three lifts, we will supplement the suggested program at the conclusion of the article with a few additional bodybuilding exercises.

The writer feels strongly in favor of exercises that involve the large muscle groups of the body. The heavy exercises such as the two hands press, the deep knee bend, and the two hands clean are highly recommended for developing muscular bulk and great overall body strength. The more complex movements of the competitive lifts develop a fine degree of coordination and balance, to say nothing of the speed and nervous energy that is built up.

For our workout program, we will include the three Olympic practiced in repetition with one or two variations of parts of each lift to aid in furthering muscular development. Different exercise working on body parts such as the neck, abdominals, pectorals, not seriously affected by the lifting practice are offered for rounding out the program.

Remember, the ultimate purpose of this system is body development; secondary reasons are the maintenance of lifting form and body strength in these lifts.  

Recent issues of Iron Man have very adequately discussed and illustrated the manner of performing the Olympic lifts; details of their correct performance is therefore omitted. Intermediate and advanced bodybuilders and lifters to whom this article is directed will have already mastered the technique of the lifts to some degree. Beginning bodybuilders are encouraged to follow a generalized bodybuilding course of training for a period of several months before considering this type of program.

This training can be as intensive as you would care to make it. Practice of the three lifts for serious competition can be very strenuous as many of you know. Practice of these same lifts for development purposes will involve more reps at less poundage, but will still demand great output of muscular and nervous energy.

You may compromise with regard to poundage versus number of reps for each workout, depending upon the maximum poundage you wish to lift. Single attempt lifting may even be attempted once every other week in order to keep your lifts at near maximum poundage.

The first of the competitive lifts, the Two Hands Press, is practiced in some form by nearly every bodybuilder or lifter. It is a marvelous developer of of the upper back and one of the best exercises for the shoulders and triceps. It should be performed in accordance with lifting rules [Note: 1949].

Make each press fast, but smooth, and avoid the shrug and heave habit that many lifters have fallen into - it is sure disqualification in a meet and defeats your purpose in using it as an exercise. Perform this exercise for 8 to 12 reps and work up to 5 sets. For your first set, choose a poundage that is reasonably difficult, but one that might allow two more reps with extra effort. This set will serve to warm up the muscles thoroughly and prepare them for the more difficult sets to come. Add 10 pounds to the bar for the second set and possibly the third set if you are nearing your limit. Put out on this third set. If you make at least 8 reps on this third set, put 5-10 pounds more on the bar for your fourth set. Decrease the weight on your fifth set, using about the same as the first set.

Some fellows prefer to use the same poundage on all sets, a plan that the writer has found to be quite satisfactory in the past; however, many experienced bodybuilders have found that because one's strength and endurance are not consistent throughout a number of sets, best results should be expected if the poundage is varied in keeping with the capacity of the individual from one set to the next. With the first set as a warm up, the strongest sets should be the second and third.

Vary the position of the hands, the grip width, until you find the most natural one for performing the press. The writer used a slightly wider than shoulder width grip for several years, and then changed to a wide grip, several inches wider. After using the narrower grip for this long period of time, one which frequently resulted in painful back-bending on the heavier presses, I found that the wide grip permitted a strong press in correct and natural style. It was quite a revelation! Pressing with the wider grip was begun after a two month complete layoff. My top press with this new style was 180 pounds at the beginning of this phase of training, while my best with the narrow grip was only 200 at this time. The wide grip was practiced exclusively without once resorting to the old grip. In about two or three months my limit press reached 235, exceeding my previous personal record by 35 pounds. Noticeable development in the posterior portions of the deltoids resulted from this type of pressing. With the exception of a warm up set of 8-10 reps, no set exceeded 5 reps. This training, however, was for competitive lifting.

The Press Behind Neck is an excellent exercise to alternate on different workouts with the regular press. Use the same set and rep plan.

The Two Hands Snatch practiced in repetition in the dead hang style (without letting the plates touch the platform) has long been recognized as a wonderful exercise. The muscles of the entire body are vigorously called into play during performance of this movement.

The first part of the lift involves the thighs, entire back with emphasis on the spinal erectors, the deltoids, and trapezius in that order of importance. The second phase of the lift which consists of fixing the weight overhead places a great deal of effort upon the deltoids, trapezius, and other back upper muscles in about that order.

The lift progresses smoothly from the first phase through the second phase without any perceptible break. Gripping strength of he hands and forearms is forcibly developed throughout the entire lift.

If your technique in the Two Hands Snatch is rusty, practice the lift with a very light weight until it goes smoothly and to your satisfaction. Repeat the lift until the action is automatic. Check yourself on the fundamentals of correct form; see that the back is flat at the start of the lift, that the legs provide the beginning thrust. Pull the bar straight upward as high as possible before going in under the bar.

When practicing the lift in repetition, use the dead hang style by not letting the plates touch the floor between reps. Lower the bar to a point just below the knees and come up immediately for the next lift. Perform at least 8 reps and work up to 4 or 5 sets. Perfect your style before using maximum poundage, and use the same set/rep plan as in the Press.

As a supplementary exercise to the Snatch, include the Upright Rowing Motion or High Pullups. It is best performed with a narrow grip and with elbows pulled high at the completion of the movement. This exercise works directly on the deltoid and trapezius muscles.

Use at least 12-15 reps for not less than 3 sets, preferably 4. Instead of the upright rowing motion you may substitute Dead Hang Snatches - without lowering the bar below knee level. This manner of lifting requires a strong finishing pull to bring the bar overhead; a very fast split or squat is also necessary to complete the lift. A reduction in poundage from that used in the regular Snatch is needed to make the lift in good style. Determine this poundage by trial and error; use a weight that permits 7-8 reps.

The final Olympic lift, the Clean and Jerk, actually consists of two distinct lifts; the clean to the shoulders and the jerking of the barbell overhead. For purposes of muscular development, we will consider them one at a time, and we will practice the two together as a competitive lift once every week or two.

The Clean, in which the bar is lifted from the floor to the shoulders in one continuous movement, is very similar to the first part of the snatching movement. Because the weight is carried just to the shoulders, a great deal more poundage may be employed than in snatching the weight. The heavier weight used in the Clean vigorously works the large powerful muscles of the legs and back. When practiced in sets of 8-10 reps, this lift becomes one of the very best back developers. It does not matter a great deal whether the feet remain in one place during the movement or whether the split or squat style is used as far as muscular benefits are concerned.

Whichever style is employed, maximum poundage should be attempted for the 8 reps and at least 4 sets should be included. Work up to this maximum poundage and number of sets over a period of 2 or 3 weeks, if you have not been practicing the Clean recently. Begin with a moderate poundage in any case and strive for perfection of form. Perfect form is not absolutely necessary for muscular development, but it is essential if you anticipate entering any competitive lifting.

Going down low in the split or squat while cleaning will result in magnificent thigh development. Let me illustrate by a recent experience. A few months ago, I worked from a bodybuilding program into some lifting training. At this time my thighs measured 24.5 inches, the largest they have ever been. After one month of lifting training which included specialization in the Clean, my thigh increased in size to 26 inches! Incidentally, my bodyweight increased as well.

This led me to make use of a very excellent leg exercise, one which I have not seen practiced by many bodybuilders. The movement is similar to that part of the Clean in which the lifter comes up from a low split. The weight is placed on the shoulders as for a deep knee bend. Then, take a long step forward with the right foot. While the weight is evenly distributed between the two feet, bend the right knee until a position equivalent to the low split is reached. Next, shift the weight over the bent leg by bringing the body forward. Now straighten the leg, using the back leg (in this case the left one) only to maintain balance. [the things we take for granted, eh]. Go through this movement about 15 times (reps) before replacing the bar on the rack. Load the bar to a poundage about 20 to 50 pounds less than your best Clean for this exercise. Avoid the mistake of overloading the bar, as this will prevent you from dipping low enough for maximum benefit. 3 or 4 sets should give the legs a pretty thorough workout.

Repetition Jerks From the Shoulder involve the triceps and shoulder muscles principally, but the entire back and legs certainly receive their fair share of work. Approximately 8 reps and not less than 5 are recommended in this lift. The barbell may be taken to the shoulders either by cleaning the weight from the floor or by lifting it from a pair of supports. Cleaning the barbell preparatory to jerking it 5 to 8 times will require some effort, but not enough to hinder the jerking. It is easier, however, to take the weight from the racks and start a series of jerks while fresh. If you do take the weight from the racks, make the first few attempts with a rather light poundage in order to accustom the body to the movement. Cleaning the weight to the shoulders tends to "set" the muscles ready for the Jerk, but such is not quite the case when taking the bar from the rack. Lifting the weight directly from the rack causes it to feel unduly heavy and the first Jerk will not be done in best form. It is for this reason that a light starting poundage is recommended.

Jerks From Behind The Neck may be included for the sake of variety. The writer, however, prefers to stick to the regular Jerk as performed in competition.

A review of the exercises or lifts described above will reveal the fact that none of them develop the pectorals or abdominals directly. The muscles of the neck receive some benefit, but not very much from the lifting exercises. For this reason, we should include a couple of bodybuilding exercises which will complete our well rounded exercise program. The Supine Press On Bench With Wide Grip is an excellent barbell exercise for the pectoral region. Change the inclination of the bench by raising the head end of the bench for some of the sets. Use a poundage that will permit 8-12 reps and repeat for 3-5 sets.

Situps On An Inclined Board (head at lower end) and Incline Leg Raises (with head at upper end) will keep the abdominal region in fine shape. Work up to 30-50 reps on each of these exercises and include at least 2 sets for each. Gains should be forthcoming from such a routine.

Any lack of neck development may be remedied by the Wrestlers Bridge which works all of the neck muscles. Rock back and forth with the head resting on a mat or cushion and perform at least 25-50 movements (reps) eventually.

It should not be necessary to mention that the poundage in the lifts practiced as exercises should be increased whenever possible. The strength capacity of the body can only be increased by keeping the demands close to the maximum. Strive to handle more and  more weight, but do not make these increases unless you are able to complete the minimum number of repetitions for each set.

Now comes the problem of arranging all the above exercises into one weekly program. Obviously, we cannot perform all of the exercises described in one workout, since the time required and the capacity of the individual would not permit such a schedule. It will be necessary, therefore, that we select a group of exercises for the first workout day and an equivalent group for the second workout day, so that through the three-day workout week we are able to cover the important exercises.

Each of the Olympic lifts is nearly a workout in itself; because of this fact, we cannot carry too great a load for a given workout period. Our suggested program, in this case, will constitute an average routine with optional parts for the more rugged and ambitious lifter. Let us consider it a very flexible program which can be rearranged to suit each individual need.

The suggested program is based on a three day workout week with each workout lasting from 1.5 to 2.5 hours, depending on the energies of the lifter and what optional exercises he chooses to include.

First Workout Period

Warmup exercise such as Clean and Press with light barbell, 5-8 reps.
1) Olympic Press, 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps
2) Dead Hang Snatch, 3-5 sets x 8-12 reps.
3) Supine Press On Bench, 3-5 x 8-12 reps.
4) Two Hands Clean, 3-5 x 8
5) Upright Rowing Motion, 3 x 12-15
6) Situps or Leg Raises, 1-2 x 25-50.
Optional: Perform maximum number of recommended sets in above exercises.

Second Workout Period

Warmup exercise as above.
1) Press Behind Neck, 3-5 x 8-12
2) Repetition Jerks (taken from rack), 3-5 x 5-8
3) Supine Press on Incline Bench, 3-5 x 10-12
4) One Leg Knee Bend With Legs in Split Position, 15 reps each leg
5) Two Hand Clean, 3-5 x 8
6) Wrestlers Bridge
Optional: Perform maximum number of recommended sets.

Third Workout Period

Warmup as above.
1) Olympic Press, 3-5 x 8 maximum poundage
2) Two Hands Snatch (dead hang), 5 x 5 maximum poundage 
3) Two Hands Clean (dead hang), 5 x 5 maximum poundage
4) Clean Weight and Jerk, 3 x 5
Optional: Perform maximum number of recommended sets.

Remarks: The suggested weekly program using the three Olympic lifts as exercises with two or three extra exercises included has become a rather intensive overall body workout. Actually this program might also be considered a specialization routine for back and leg development, for it is on these parts that the most notable improvement should be obtained.

You will note that the third workout period calls for heavier poundages and fewer reps than the first and second periods. This alone should keep your lifts very near your best on single attempts. If you are interested in attempting some heavy single lifts, work up to your maximum on the third period instead of doing sets at 5 reps each, but not oftener than every other week.

When you are ready to make the transition to a full-fledged Olympic lifting training program, simply cut down on the number of reps and hike up the poundage on all workout periods. Working with very heavy weights requires a great deal of energy output and your capacity for the number of sets of exercises will also be decreased.

For heavy specialization on the lifts, you will probably practice just the Press and the Snatch on one day; the Press and the Clean on the next; and possibly all three lifts on the third day, but that is another type of program. 

Monday, January 8, 2018

Developing Your Abdominals - Zabo Koszewski

Photos Courtesy of Lydia Tack
Article Thanks to Liam Tweed

After so many "Best Ab" trophies over the years I often am surprised to see just how many I have won. In fact, I've been winning them for such a long time that bodybuilders now believe I was born with good abdominals. Believe me, it ain't so! 

To give you the plain unvarnished truth, my abs are the result of an accident! When I was younger I participated in a lot of sports in my New Jersey home town . . . football being a special favorite. I'm sure you realize that training for football isn't much of an ab developer. If anything, it packs on flesh all over the body . . . and the abdominals get their own fair share.

The real clincher that started my road to prizewinning abs was a hernia. Yes, weakness in my intestinal wall made possible an ailment that doctors told me only surgery could repair. I wouldn't accept this answer, and so I would win out another way, and because at first I had little knowledge of advanced training techniques I had to do it largely in hit-or-miss fashion.

I knew that it would be wise for me to "make haste slowly" so my first ab routine consisted of just two exercises: Situps and Leg Raises. Although I could only manage a few reps that first training day, I soon had worked up to the point where 500 Situps and 500 Leg Raises were just warmups for my more advanced training routines every day.

Even just these two exercises had produced a good enough abdominal development for me to begin winning contest titles. Of course, I was in top condition from the football and other sports I had played, and this together with my long torso which responded so rapidly to high sets/high reps made me an easy winner. So, in the more than 20 years I have been competing I have never failed to take the Best Abs award, even though I may have been only runner-up (or less!) in overall competition for the main title.

Because a fine abdominal development is the hallmark of an allover good muscular development, I intend to keep on winning those titles, just to prove to the world that a guy over 40 (way over!) can maintain a well-defined athletic shape. 

To bring out clear-cut abdominals you must do two things: 

1.) Burn away all midsection fat that is on the outside, and that which lurks between the muscles . . . the fat you can't see, but causes you too look too smooth and too large in the abdominal region.

2.) You must continually work for muscularity of the abdominals, and that requires daily diligence. Yes, you don't exercise your abs with a split routine . . . but with an everyday workout with specialized abdominal exercises, as I will show you in this article.

My Favorite Abdominal Stars

 Leo Robert: One man I contested with back in the early 1950s, Leo Robert of Montreal, had the most perfectly shaped, classically carved abs in the business. Flawlessly shaped, they looked as though a sculptor had carved them out of sheer granite. Leo worked them hard, too, to keep that top shape at all times.   

Clarence Ross: Another old-timer with a classical midsection plus obliques like the Farnese Hercules. He worked very hard every day on abdominal development, and it showed in his sensational posing. It just took your breath away. 

Reg Park: Probably the best tall man in the history of abdominal development, Reg was tops in the last 1950s. His entire torso was sensational, but his abs, obliques and intercostals were incomparable, with clear-cut side and deep front separation.

Larry Scott: Few bodybuilders realize that Larry at his best has a tremendous set of abs. Everyone is usually so busy looking at his magnificent arms they miss his top quality abdominals. Larry is not tall, either, and abs on a short-torsoed guy often cause him to look chunky. But in Larry's case his abs are totally right for his build. He is unforgettable.   

Function of the Abdominals

There are two principal functions of the abdominals:

1.) To move the upper body from side to side, and
2.) To lever the upper body forward (as in bending forward).

Two auxiliary muscles assist in this latter function if you perform an exercise such as the Situp from a flat position on the floor. Since this type of Situp is not performed by modern bodybuilders little is written of these muscles, and even less is known. They are not the showy muscles like the rectus, and any exercise that works the rectus actually works the psoas and iliacus . . . so let's just forget about those.

Some Situp Variations

Abdominal movements can be divided into Situps (which affect only the two upper layers of abdominals and Leg Raises (which affect only the lower layers - Note: remember that this was quite some time ago and try not to whine too much about how much more you know. Thanks, and enjoy the article!). Let's discuss some exercise variations of each, beginning with the Situp.

To sit up, or bring the body from a lying to a sitting position, is basic abdominal motion. In the basic Situp the back is held reasonably straight. You come up to a sitting position with abdominal power alone if you do it at an angle (feet higher than the head), on a modern abdominal board.

 Click to ENLARGE

The Flat Situp

I shall begin with this movement to 'get it out of the way', for no modern bodybuilder performs it any more. Why? Because with the body absolutely flat-horizontal on the floor there is just too much 'thrust' required to get the upper body started in this movement, and this 'thrust' is provided by the shoulders and partially by the psoas which adds nothing to development of the abdominals per se.

Continuous Tension is one of the best ways to develop a muscle group to the pinnacle of proportionate shape and sharp definition. Forcing never-ending tension on the target muscles throughout each rep of a movement can speed your results. Applied to ab development it is obvious that any Situp in which the force of gravity pulls against the extended body from head to toe is going to require some degree of 'thrust' or 'cheat' to get the upper body into motion a bit. Thus the abdominals do not begin to really operate in the first 40 degrees of the flat-horizontal Situp. It is here that the psoas does most of the work, with little developmental result of the abs to follow. Thus our first priority is to choose a suitable angle for the Situp, and we do this to relocate the force of gravity so that the abs work against continuous tension instead of with initial thrust. The first variation would be:

The Low Incline Situp

This fine movement can be performed on the very crudest of equipment . . . a simple wooden board which should have one end (for the feet) slightly elevated by placing it on a low support. Modern bodybuilders, however, almost invariably have access to a slant board, and this makes possible a rapid selection of exercising angles. The technique is to anchor the feet and lie with the body flat against the board with with the head near the floor. The hands are clasped behind the neck, the knees are slightly bent, and by strength of the upper tiers of abdominal muscles alone the upper body is brought upward and forward until the elbows touch the knees. The body is then lowered slowly (resisting all the way) back to starting position.

The Situp Touching the Opposite Knee

Resume the position used in the previous exercise, again making sure the undersides of your knees lie flat against the bench. Now round your back slightly and as you bring back upward and over into crouch position, touch the right elbow to the outside of the left knee, and on the next rep touch the left elbow to the outside of the right knee . . . always trying to force an extra squeeze into the abs. This really gets the intercostals, and is one of the best definition exercises for this group of 'showy' muscles.

The Bent-Knee Situp

Keep your abdominal board at the same angle as the preceding two exercises, but this time draw the entire body upward on the bench until you can bend your knees into a high angle (your heels should almost touch your buttocks). Open the legs into a "V" and using the same technique as before, pull the upper body forward until your elbows touch the board between the knees. This articulates the abs in quite a different way, for it makes possible a giant super-squeeze of the central abs. The back will have to be slightly rounded to effect a complete follow-through of this movement. Be sure to think tension into the abs throughout the complete range of the rep.

Ladder Situps 

We increase the difficulty (and effectiveness) of any Situp by increasing the angle of the board. If you have an abdominal board/ladder combination with several rungs of increasing height, you can do any of the preceding Situp variations with continually increasing levels of tension on the abs. In a sense this is like increasing the poundage handled in barbell and/or dumbbell exercises, for the muscles have to work continually harder against a higher angle. In short, any type of Situp you can perform on the ab board is made increasingly effective with the ladder effect.

Side note from blog guy here: Somewhere around a half year after I started lifting, still a kid in the later Sixties, I wanted to know which would be a "better" Situp progression - increasing the angle of the board, or holding more and more weight behind my head. So . . . I sent in a letter to the Weider Research Clinic Canada on Bates Road in Montreal. Duh, pretty gullible and naive, right? Couple weeks later I actually got an answer! Snail mail, eh. I don't remember who 'signed' it, but their answer was to increase the angle to its utmost, then, add more and more reps. Back then adding weight to ab exercises was thought to 'thicken' the midsection and such. But they did send me a real letter, without any other promo or sales pitch, which I thought and still do think was way cool. And how did a guy get a job answering mail like that? One day, if I kept exercising and kept learning more and more about it and grew into a full-fledged adult maybe I could . . . Yeah. Sure, kid-that-was-me. Okay then, back to the article now - 

Roman Chair Situps

This is the most difficult of all the Situp variations, and it is as old as time. It dates from Roman days when gladiators used the 'Roman Chair' to build extreme muscularity and power in the midsection.

Early Roman Column Exercise
See Photo Further Above for Roman Chair Situp of the Zabo Era. 

Another Version.
Today, the Roman Chair Sissy Squat bench utilizes this ancient fulcrum in a modern way. The bench is narrow, you place your body on it so so that the bench itself touches not the buttocks but the upper back thighs. The feet angle downward and are caught by a brace at the bottom. [or put a loaded barbell with a 'bar pad' on it parallel to a flat bench and have at 'er].

You clasp hands behind neck, and from a sitting upright position lower the back as far down as you can. From this starting position you perform a Situp, bringing the back up and forward until your elbows touch between your knees. Leverage is everything here, and when you try this for the first time you will find that even horizontal layout position can provide a tough situp workout. Day by day and bit by bit, you will be coming more and more into the technique of the Roman Chair Situp, and you will then begin lowering the back to greater depths.

These, then, are the principle forms of the Situp. Now, let's look at some . . .

Variations of the Leg Raise

One bodybuilding fact is immutable. Situps cannot exercise the lower abs nor can Leg Raises exercise the upper ones. Likewise, as you sit up against the force of gravity to work [blitz!] the upper abs, you raise  the legs against the force of gravity to bomb the lower abs. There are several variations of the Leg Raise.

Lying Leg Raise

This is the basic Leg Raise. You lie flat on your back and, keeping the knees locked and legs straight, you raise your legs to perpendicular position, and return. Unfortunately, this variation is not as effective as others because (like the flat-horizontal Situp) the tendency is to begin the movement with a 'thrust' (again the entire body is practically anchored by the force of gravity). Hence modern bodybuilders use this variation without additional weight on the feet more as a conditioner and warmup for more severe Leg Raise variations. That is why the most popular lower abdominal movement is the . . .

Hanging Leg Raise

In this variation you grasp the chinning bar (you'll have to use a fairly wide hand spacing so that the legs can be raised freely without worrying about body balance). With the body hanging freely you straighten the legs, lock the knees, and now, by thinking tension into the lower abs, raise the legs to horizontal position and slowly return to starting position. It is understandable that Hanging Leg Raise sets will have to be of short duration because of the dead-hang pull of the entire body against the hands and wrists. [Google "ab straps" for some solutions to this. Or, you could google "ab originals" out of respect for Brad Harris, their inventor, who recently passed]. Do many sets sets of shorter duration to achieve the abdominal effect you desire.

The Body Lever

Done lying or hanging, the Body Lever (see photo above) is the most difficult exercise for the lower abs. It is to the lower abs what the Roman Chair Situp is to the upper. The Hanging Body Lever is almost never done by anyone except gymnasts. It really requires the exceptional muscular coordination and timing that are the special properties of the experienced gymnast. Moreover, the Hanging Lever is really no more effective for chiseling fine abdominals than the Lying Body Lever. As practiced by gymnasts it is more of a strength builder for the central body which makes possible the performance of other (and more difficult) gymnastic stunts.

For the Lying Body Lever you absolutely must have an incline board with a support at the upper end for the hands to grasp. The angle of the board may be increased as strength grows, for the higher the angle the greater the resistance.

Lying flat on the board, hands grasping the upper support, keep the body absolutely rigid. The knees must not bend, the body must not sway, and, if possible the hands must not pull at the supports. With strength of the lower abdominals alone, raise the rigid legs, buttocks and lower back into orbit in a straight line. The only support at this point is the upper back which fastens the body to the board, and, of course, the hands [did you scroll up and look at that photo yet?]. When the body has been raised to a 90-degree (or higher) angle to the incline board, the legs are then held a moment before they are returned to the board. And even here you do not let the legs touch the board . . . but as they near the board, just a few inches above it, begin the next rep. You must do this with only the strength of the lower abs. Anything else produces cheating or momentum which does not build muscles.

What Sets . . . What Reps?   

In Situps, choose one variation each training day (which, abdominally, should be every day!). One form of Situp per day is quite enough. In this way, throughout the entire workout week, you will have run the gamut of them all, thus exercising the upper abs from every conceivable angle.

How many sets? Begin with five . . . and continue increasing them to 10 or more per day.

How many reps? Begin with 10 per set and increase them until your abdominals just won't let you do any more. No set number of reps . . . just do as many as you can. I do upwards of 500 Situps per day . . . I've done more, of course . . . but this is my 'maintenance' workout.

In Leg Raises you cannot do as many reps as you can of the Situps. Gravity is too great an enemy and is not as easily defeated! Start with five sets of one variation of the Leg Raise . . . increase the reps as you can. Like the Situps, bu doing one variation of the Leg Raise each training day you activate the lower abs from all angles. Actually, 30 reps per set are quite enough. You'll be lucky to knock out that many.

So, to recap:

Work up to 10 sets of Situps and work up to at least a total of 500 reps. Work up to 10 sets of Leg Raises and work as many reps per set as your pull against gravity will allow. But don't throw, thrust, or maneuver the body by 'assisting' with other muscles. Make the upper abs do the work in Situps; make the lower abs do the work in Leg Raises.

After each workout practice mirror posing for 15 minutes, contracting first the rectus - then the intercostals, trying to squeeze extra definition from each posing session. This will add interest to your abdominal workouts, and give you valuable posing experience and control.

Larry Scott's "Ring of Fire" Ab training might also interest you: 
Obviously diet plays a great part in whether or not your abs are buried beneath a fatty layer or diamond cut and crystal clear. If you want your midsection to look rock hard you must control and manipulate your diet.

Abdominal training a a great health 'regulator' and no other aspect of training will do so many good things for you. It has maintained a fine physique for me . . . it has rewarded me with great health . . . and it saved me from the scarring indignity of a herniated life.


Monday, January 1, 2018

The Secret of Superb Physical Development - Joseph Curtis Hise

Check into Joe Roark's Iron History Forum! 
Megatons of Information Over There.
Note: Your Real Name will be required for registration.

Covers of James Evans publication.
Early through late 1930.

Scan of Original James Evans Circular Below 
 Courtesy of Michael Murphy

The article below, a circular mailed to subscribers of Evans' The Weight-Lifter, is missing a few lines from the bottom of its page. This is an extremely rare item. Enjoy . . . and Thank You, Michael!

Editor Note (James Evans): The following article by the Mighty Joseph Curtis Hise is sent as an appreciation of your patience in waiting for the next issue of the Weight-Lifter. You will receive much valuable advice from the pen of Mr. J.C. Hise in future issues of the Weight-Lifter magazine.

The Secret of Superb Physical Development 
by Joseph Curtis Hise (mid to late 1930s)

All Training is divided in 3 parts: 

Training that you must do,
Training that you can do, and
Training that you do do. 

Scarcely anyone knows the "must do" training and like my Quaker ancestors, I even doubt myself sometimes - on financial training, of course.

"Can do training" depends on our environment, whether our parents are considerate and compassionate financially for our desires. If they are able to support you in the style approved of my the Joes - Hise and Louis "must do" training is easy if you KNOW what is "must".

One of the most outstanding of all exercisers (to those that know him) gets no kind words from a doting mama and sister - since he refused to be a perfectual invalid - as ordered by the doctor 10 years back. He sneaked training on the weights deciding better to be dead than a certain invalid - and the bad heart became a good heart. Were the loving females ecstatic over the recovery? Sure, for about 30 days.

The "was" invalid was in favor of "more" of the bar bell treatment - believing if a little is good - more is better. Alas, alas - nay not so with the mama's and sister's - as those of you who have them know. The only "mores" in men their women folks scream for is "more" clothes or "more" money - in (this) fact you don't have to have a mother living or sisters either - but the majority do have. It is true every son believes (so the paper says) that his mother and sisters are different - which is OK - but don't hope to prove it to Cynics or people that know better.

When the invalid son and brother recovered for say about 30 days - the women believed philosophy and training were further useless in a "compromised area" and sought to have him get ahead in the world. In a woman's eyes and against his will they rustled a job for him in the auto biz - paying 5 or 6 a week for a 12 hour shift. He didn't stay long because anybody who earns less than 40 a week really has to work and no one who knows his exercise will work long for 5 or 6 a week - or want to marry the daughter of such a generous employer either. So he was retired for a more ambitious man - much to the frustration of the females who had his interest at heart. However, despite all the female abuse he got enough to eat and with his knowledge of exercise to climb into 200-lb class nearly doubling his weight. I consider this an outstanding success story - any others having mothers and sisters will likewise.

Speak to a youngster and determine his idea of training and it will be "running" - a practice that exercise experts and bill collectors strongly disapprove. A sport writer points that a group were talking of training at the Braddock-Louis camps and one veteran points out that he had never seen a fighter run - and the others all agreed - the only time they run was for the camera man - the experts in the business can't make too many mistakes. If the school boys want to believe that boxers "run" - and Santa Claus comes down the chimney - the boxers ain't going to tell him different. Whom so we hate worse - the man who is patriotic and sentimental or the low skunk who is honest and tells the truth?

The boy is started out on Santa Claus and finally graduated to believing in running - here he learns to read newspapers or turn a radio dial and he never learns any more. Q.E.D. [quod erat demonstrandum].  

An Exerciser must have leisure - very much - say 21 or 22 hours out of 24 - if he is to climb into the superlative class. In spite of hard labor or tiresome hours he can climb from the "lowest" class to the ordinary exerciser stage - with proper instruction and weights, but

 - bottom section of page missing here, perhaps one or two lines -

As he grows older his toughness increases until one is as good as paps was at it - when one is well into middle age - but there is a slight slowing up in speed and a slight tapering in strength. A strong man is like the Deacon's One Hoss Shay -

Oliver Wendell Holmes: The Deacon's One Hoss Shay

 - he enjoys the natural life span that is inherited from his ancestors - and he is 100% alive while he is at it - contrary to the words of mama Babbitt and Sis -

Babbitt, and six others by Sinclair Lewis:

The most important thing in training is food - lots of it and plenty of protein - meaning MEAT - about 2 or 3#  a day. Man is omnivorous and if he is a vegetarian thru poverty - or not knowing any better - he is very stupid and half dead in his mental processes. There may be stupid men who are strong - but I never met any - nor would I believe it if I did. The dumb guys are none too bright because they are silly like many of you are now. They took up professional athletics and got their brains knocked loose in the arena. They sold their brains for a very few pieces of silver and will never get them back - just like some of you saps are willing to do - and wish to do - and will.

Most trainers can handily east 4 or 5 times a day but I was just a 3-timer- an idiosyncrasy I was born with - and not something I wished to laud as an all wise habit. There may bee some people who eat too often - but I don't believe it - agreeing with some docs who are not nuts that it is either lack of activity or a glandular unbalance. A voluntary meal misser is just another nut or unbalanced gland owner - not someone who is practicing restraint.

The best training schedule for a rapid gainer is - get up early and eat an "unAmerican" breakfast - a BIG meal - in fact my idea of the right breakfast is sausage or hamburger and beans and maybe gravy eaten around 5:30 or 6:00 A.M. - then back to bed for a 2 or 3 hours snooze - then up around 9:30 or 10 and read or loaf - read up on your P.C. [personal, private correspondence?] or read mechanics and classics. I usually read Shakespearean, Rabelais, Nietzsche, Moliere and Athenian drama, then eat lunch - then take a nap till about 3 PM - then read more of the foregoing and do some "light" exercise - eat supper - and about 8:30 or 9 would go do heavy DKB [deep knee bend] or SLDL [stiff legged deadlift] on a hopper. I later learned the best time was about 4:30 to 5:30 in the eve. Then to bed. THIS IS THE EXACT EXERCISE AND STUDY SCHEDULE THAT I GAINED SO RAPIDLY IN STRENGTH AND SIZE. You'll notice I had it all over Joe Louis on sleeping unless the 12 hours they credit him with is understatement.

From my chair of study in exercise you may see why I am so skeptical as to the chance of dial twisters [radio listeners] and sport page fiends of ever accomplishing anything "exercising".

If I cannot have these long hours of rest - those generously proteined meals - that freedom from labor all at one time - plus the adequate poundages in the SLDL on a hopper and D-K-B on a cambered bar - I am just as hapless as all of you have been under the same conditions.

I always turn up when some one would infer that Grimek or I were "naturals". That is an insult. GRIMEK'S LOOK COMES FROM SMALLER ELBOWS AND KNEE JOINTS. His skin is as thick and wrist and ankles are the same as mine - but my elbows and knee joints are so much larger that they have none of the looks. Small elbow and knee joints are common - but Grimek's??

Grimek gained slowly and persistently for 3 years - then and now he can gain and lose at will - as can many.

What are the limits in training? I can truthfully say it is not known. A guess by me is only a guess. There are several dozens of men in the world who know correct training, who are bound down by poverty, age, or the necessity of ceaseless activity. To one not knowing leisure - or ignorant of the proper training in D-K-B, SLDL and deltoids -

 - any limits are surmises to them, but not to me - the "all seeing ones . . .

last line or two missing from original circular.  




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