Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Press Behind Neck - Charles A. Smith

The Two Hands Clean and Press from Behind Neck
Charles. A. Smith (1951)

 * See here as well:

I always get a great deal of fun from some of the more dynamic "physical" culture ads. These are usually in the form of a cartoon series. The poor skinny runt in on the beach with his girlfriend and the big bully - "MAC" - kicks sand in his face. To cut a long story short, the runt is fired with determination to build bulging biceps and bulk in body after his humiliating experience. Two cartoons later we see him - positively pulsating with muscular fiber, knocking the bully for a home run - or six - depending on whether you reside in the United States or places where cricket is played - and folding the girl in his arms - using the hook grip!

One is led to think that all a man has to do to get a respectable build is to "sign on the dotted line". Nothing is said about the hours and weeks and months and years of hard work -  muscular effort. Nothing is ever said about the disappointments and setbacks and the sheer guts and willpower that go with any body building efforts. Only the successes are presented and the failures are forgotten. The professional unfasteners of money from its owners' pockets have seized on Mail Order Muscles as a get rich quick scheme, one that has proved to be a field of lucrative endeavor. Barbells are never mentioned and any suggestions of hard work are studiously avoided.

You and I all know the only way to build a powerful physique - a development in which is blended power, coordination, speed and a pleasing form is with barbells. There is no other way to reach the peak of your potential strength and musculature. There are of course systems of physical culture that do not embrace weights and which have a definite place in the scheme of things. Free exercises are invaluable for general conditioning, for people who are under par, but for that tip top physical condition, weight training is a must. Right from the start of his workouts, the would-be strength athlete must realize that the most important single factor which will take him along the road to success is hard work. Another important point to keep in the mind is what I call economy of motion - making one single exercise do the work of many. 

This is the essence of modern barbell training. In the old days bodybuilders would use exercises that worked each muscle or muscle group individually. Raises front and sideways for the deltoids. Bench or - for there were no benches in those days - floor laterals for the pectorals - pullovers for triceps and parts of the deltoid - and other exercises. Muscles were worked as isolated units rather than as they should have been - parts of a whole - in coordination. 

Today we use the various versions of bench and incline bench presses for triceps, pectoral and deltoid development an do the job with one exercise instead of wasting energy, time and concentration performing single sets for individual muscles. That, fellows, is economy of motion. So, the beginner should seek to incorporate in his workout program a series of exercises which will work the muscles IN GROUPS rather than on their own.

One of the finest movements for building the deltoids, triceps and entire shoulder girdle - one which also strongly affects muscles of the upper back, is the Press Behind Neck - or as it is known in the rule book, the Two Hands Clean and Press from Behind Neck. It is widely used these days in weight gaining and specialization routines, not only by bodybuilders but by Olympic lifters. The seeker of physical excellence finds it builds up no small amount of deltoid and triceps development, while the man desiring weightlifting accomplishment develops a lot of starting power in his regular presses by the use of the many methods of performing the press behind neck.

There are definite rules governing the lift for competition purposes and of course, a score of bodybuilding versions, so let's see how it should be used for competition and record breaking, and then I'll give some assistance exercises to build up your poundage in the lift. The press behind neck is not recognized by our AAU, but for the benefit of bodybuilders who want to show others what they can do on the lift, here are the rules as recognized by the British Amateur Weightlifting Association - the governing athletic body for the sport in the United Kingdom.

"The barbell having been lifted clean to the shoulders, shall be raised overhead, then lowered behind the neck to rest across the shoulders. The heels may then be brought together or placed not wider than 15 and 3/4 inches on a plane parallel with the lifter's front. From this position, the bell shall be pressed to arms' length overhead. During the press from the shoulders the trunk and legs may be bent to any extent but the feet shall not be moved. At the conclusion of the lift, the trunk shall be erect and the arms and legs straight.
NB: The press must be an even one and the bar must not drop below the forehead as it comes over the head."
One of the greatest performers on the lift was the late Ronald Walker. 

His British record stands at 272.5 and I have seen him make a comfortable 275.

The greatest poundage I have ever heard of OR SEEN was the press behind neck by Doug Hepburn, the giant lifter from Vancouver, B.C. With absolutely no experience on the lift, Hepburn made 300 pounds.

Walker placed a great deal of importance on the lift because he felt it greatly helped his jerking and pressing power and was indeed responsible for his shoulder strength. There is no doubt that the exercise was in no small measure a great contributing factor to his magnificent deltoid power and development. Ron always recommended it to those who struggled vainly with the various leverage lifts and other refined forms of torture in an effort to build up their deltoids.

In this lift, as on all others, Ron Walker was the stylist. His method of performing the press behind neck is worthy of study. He gripped the bar a little wider than shoulder width, and when cleaning the weight, bent the legs deeply and pulled the bar HIGH, settling it DOWN to the back of the neck right away. The weight was pulled high as in the snatch and right over the head. Walker then placed his feet together with the heels touching and the toes turned out at an angle of 45 degrees. His reason for doing this was because he felt that it centralized the power. He was able to contract the entire thighs and buttocks and provide a firm base for the actual press. This style was also used by the German pre-war lifters, Rudy Ismayr and Josef Manger. Ismayr remarked that "a difficult press is more certain to be successful because of the solid foundation it rests on."  I have seen Ismayr contract his thighs so hard when pressing that they trembled with the effort.

Rudolf Ismayr

After the weight was settled across the shoulders, Walker would lock the thighs, drop his head slightly forward and then make one quick fierce drive. He would put everything he had in an all out effort to sent the weight well above the crown of the head. As soon as the weight cleared the top of his head, he would lean back slightly from the waist - if the weight was well within his power, and very deeply if approaching his limit. All the time, he kept the weight moving up, refusing to allow it to stop. The bar was controlled so that it went straight up and NOT FORWARD . . . this MUST be guarded against at all costs, otherwise the bar gets out of control. The lifter must always watch the center of the bar with his eyes.

The two most difficult parts of the competition press behind neck are the drop into the back bend and preventing the forward motion of the bar. Control these and develop the upward, backward and centering of the bar - keeping your eyes on the bar's center - and you will be well on the way to increasing your personal record by a good margin. Any poundage you clear your head with, you should carry to a successful conclusion. As soon as you have your arms locked, bring the body upright with no delay. Keep your eyes on the center of the bar until the referee has clapped his hands as the conclusion signal.

The above is the correct procedure for competition lifting. However, for use as a bodybuilding exercise or when in training, a strict military style is essential. This places more work on the deltoids in the first stages of the lift, and on the triceps when it is getting through the sticking point and to the lockout.


The muscles of the lower back are not affected so greatly because of the entire lack of back bend. The reps in the actual lift should be continuous and with no pause between each one. As soon as the bar touches the shoulders press it firmly overhead again until the required number of reps are performed. In this exercise the deltoids are firmly worked until the upper arms are level with the shoulders. From here on, the triceps and muscles of the upper back take to weight to arms' length. When training for competition or personal best poundages, the actual lift itself should be included in a schedule. When an effort is being made to increase the all-round shoulder power preparatory to training for competition, the following exercises will be very useful.

Assistance Exercises for the Press Behind Neck

Click Pics to ENLARGE

Illustrations by PETER POULTON

Exercise One - Seated Press Behind Neck.

All assistance schedules should contain at least one exercise that closely approximates the actual lift you seek to strengthen. The seated style of behind neck pressing, because of the absence of body motion, forces the lifter into a stricter manner of exercising. You can use a pair of squat racks to take the weight off. Take the weight off and across the back of the neck - just as if your were going to perform deep knee bends (or what will be called 'squats' when I'm gone and long forgotten). The bench should be directly behind you so that you can sit down on it right away and with as little step back as possible. From the seated position press the barbell strongly to arms' length. DON'T LOOK UP AT THE WEIGHT. DO LOOK STRAIGHT AHEAD. The legs and knees should be well apart so that good balance can be maintained. Looking up at the bar while seated will cause you to lose balance. Start off with a weight you can handle comfortably for 4 sets of 5 reps, working up gradually to 4 sets of 10 before increasing the weight.

Exercise Two - Bent Arm Lateral Presses.

Here is a wonderful movement for increasing the power of the deltoids - starting power - and the rotating muscles of the shoulder blades. It's an unusual exercise and you'll have to use a fairly light weight until you get used to the movement. Take a pair of light dumbbells and hold them overhead at arms' length. Bend the arms at the elbows until they form a rough circle with the hands almost touching. From here lower the dumbbells until the upper arms rest at the sides of the body - KEEP THE ELBOWS BENT ALL THE TIME AND THE KNUCKLES FACING DOWN. Return to starting position and repeat. Commence with a pair of dumbbells you can handle easily for 3 sets of 10 reps. Work up to 3 x 15 before increasing the weight. At all times during the exercise keep the arms in the position as required.

Exercise Three - Bench Deltoid Press.
It will be necessary to use a light weight until you are accustomed to this exercise movement. Lie face down on an exercise bench with the entire head above the end. Have a training partner place a light barbell across the back of the shoulders  - as if you were standing upright and performing a press behind neck - and take your normal pressing grip width. From this position press the weight to arms' length and straight ahead of you. DON'T let arms drop below bench or shoulder level and, when the weight is at arms' length, hold for a short count of two. Use a very light weight to commence for 2 sets of 8 reps, and work up very gradually to 2 x 12 before making a weight increase. Another version of this exercise is to lay on your back instead of tummy down. The effect is on the posterior deltoid rather than on the frontal or anterior deltoids.

Exercise Four - Lying Triceps Press.
Here is one more unorthodox yet highly result producing exercise. Lie on an exercise bench on your back. Hold a barbell at arms' length above the chest and with a fairly narrow grip. The palms of the hands should be FACING YOU. From this position lower the weight until the bar is an inch above the face or forehead. The upper arms do not move, only the forearms move. If possible enlist the aid of a training partner to stand astride you and hold your upper arms so that they cannot assist in the exercise. Start off with a weight you can easily handle for 3 sets of 10 reps, working up to 3 x 15 before increasing the weight. You can also use the other variation of the exercise - backs of the hands towards you.

Exercise Five - Circle Press.
The final assistance movement is perhaps the greatest all-round deltoid developer ever to be used. It featured in my exercise schedules many years ago and is once again assuming prominence in England. It is for the most part unknown here in the U.S., but I feel certain it will be immensely popular once body builders start to use it.

Take a barbell loaded up to a weight you will be able to use for 8 comfortable reps. Start off with the bar across the back of the shoulders. From here press it just OVER the head onto the front of the chest and IMMEDIATELY press it BACK AND OVER the head to the upper back again and at once return it to the chest. The weight is NOT PRESSED TO ARMS' LENGTH but merely describes a semicircle over the head from back to chest. Use 3 sets of 8 to start off with, working to 3 x 15 before increasing the weight.

All the above exercises could make an excellent deltoid and triceps specialization course and are themselves useful in building up extra shoulder power.   In addition to these movements, the exercise itself, the two hands clean and press behind neck, should also be practiced before using the assistance movements with a light weight, in order to get the proper form for competition.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Four Day Training Cycle

The four day training cycle uses three consecutive days to train your whole body, followed by a rest day before you start the cycle over again. For example, train your chest and back on Monday, thighs and biceps on Tuesday, shoulders and triceps on Wednesday, rest on Thursday and begin again on Friday with chest and back.

This split is not based on a seven day cycle.

The best point about following the four day training cycle is the fact that, with the exception of calves and abdominals added at your discretion, you only have to train TWO muscle groups in a workout. This means you can work these two groups very hard each workout and still not burn yourself out.

Because you have only two muscle groups to train at each workout it is much easier to motivate yourself and have a great training session.

Training only two muscle groups at each workout is a lot easier on your system. You don't have to take a lot out of yourself each time you train.

Because you are only training each bodypart every four days you will self-consciously tend to train that muscle group harder.

Adding one complete day of rest after three consecutive days of training allows the body's recuperative powers enough time to replenish themselves again.

Here is a sample program layout.

Day One - Chest and Back

1) Heavy Dumbbell Incline Press -
4 sets increasing the weight each set, on a low incline angled bench that is no more than 30-40 degrees.
1st set - Pick a weight that you can do 10 reps with fairly easily.
2nd set - Increase the weight and do another 10 reps, this time fairly hard.
3rd set - Increase the weight again, and this time do 8 hard reps.
4th set - Increase the weight again, and try to do 6 reps with the heaviest dumbbells you can.

2) Flat Bench Flyes - 3 x 8
Lie on a fairly narrow bench so that just your upper back and shoulders are in contact with the surface. Hips should be held low, feet together and touching floor. Hold a pair of dumbbells at arms' length above your chest with palms facing each other.

Keeping your elbows slightly bent lower the dumbbells out to the side so that your chest feels the stretch. You will soon feel how far they should go. 'Squeeze' the dumbbells back to starting position.

Do your first set with about 65% of your best 8 rep poundage.
Rest one minute and then do another two sets with all the weight you can.

3) Dips - 3 x 8
Do your first set with bodyweight only. Rest a full 90 seconds and then do another set with weight attached to your waist. Go all out to get 8 reps.

Rest another 90 seconds and do a final pump set with only your bodyweight for maximum reps.

Rest five or 10 minutes and move on to your back workout.

1) Wide Grip Chins - 3 x 8
Take a grip on the chinning bar so that each hand is about 4 inches wider than each shoulder. Use straps to keep your grip on the bar.

From a dead hang position pull up until your chin clears the bar. Slowly return again felling your lats stretch.

Follow the same set/rep pattern as the dips.

2) Bentover Barbell Row - 4 x 8
Bend over at the waist till your upper body is parallel to the floor. Support your forehead against an exercise bench or upright. This will keep the strain off the lower back. With your knees slightly bent hold the bar with a shoulder width grip, and slowly pull upwards till it grazes your chest. Slowly lower, and try to make your lats stretch.

Do the first set with only about 60% of your best 8 rep poundage.
Next, jump to your best weight and fight to get 8 strict reps.
Do another two sets, reducing the weight by 5 pounds each set.

3) Reverse Grip Pulldowns - 4 x 10
Hold a straight bar on the pulley with a 'curl-type' grip. Hands should be about 18-24 inches apart.
Do the first set with a medium heavy weight to warm up and get the exercise groove.
Now, go all out to get ten strict, hard reps with as much weight as you can handle.
Do another two sets with the same weight resting only one minute between sets.

Day Two - Thighs and Biceps

1) Leg Curl - 4 x 12
Lie on the leg curl machine and do a nice, slow, strict warmup set with about 60% of your best 12 rep poundage.

Next, increase the weight for a very hard set of 12 reps.
Rest only 30 seconds between sets and do another two sets, reducing the weight by 5-10 pounds each set.

2) Leg Extension - 4 x 12
Hook your feet under the roller pad of the leg extension table and raise your legs up as far as you can. At the contracted position hold and tense your thighs for at least two seconds.

Do a medium-heavy set of 12 reps as slowly and as strictly as you can. Do another three sets increasing the weight by 10 to 20 pounds each set.

You simply cannot do your leg extensions too strictly. This is one exercise that must be done in perfect form to fully stimulate the large quadriceps muscles of the lower frontal thigh.

3) Parallel Squats 4 x 12,10,8,6
Increase the weight each set. You will notice a very different feeling when doing squats after both the front and back aspects of your thighs have been exercised first with leg extensions and leg curls.

Do your first set of 12 reps with a medium-heavy weight.
Rest two minutes. Increase the weight by 20 lbs. or more and do a set of 10 reps.
Rest another two minutes. Increase the weight by another 20 lbs. or more and do 8 reps.
Rest a final two minutes. Increase the weight again by 20 or more lbs. and do 6 reps.

Take a 10 minute rest.

4) Incline Dumbbell Curls - 4 x 8
Lie on a fairly steep-angled incline bench set at about 80 degrees. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and slowly curl them up to your shoulders. Hold and tense for a second, and then slowly lower.

Do a warmup set of 8 reps with about 60% of your best 8 rep poundage.

Rest only one minute and then do an all out set of 8 reps with as much weight as you can.

Do another 2 sets reducing each dumbbell by 5 pounds each set.

2) Scott Curl - 3 x 10,8,6
Select a steep inclined preacher bench and rest your arms over the bench. Slowly curl a bar up to your shoulders using a shoulder-width grip. Tense your biceps hard at the top and then lower to full extension.

Do your first set with medium-heavy weight for 10 reps.

Increase the weight and do a hard set of 8 reps.

Rest only 60 seconds, increase the weight again and do a final all out set of 6 reps.

3) Heavy Barbell Curls - 5 x 6
Finish your biceps routine with some very heavy barbell curls in fairly strict style.

Do your first set with about 50% of your best 6 rep poundage.

Do a second set with about 75% of your best 6 rep poundage.

Now do 3 sets of 6 reps using all the weight you can. Rest only about a minute between each set.

Day Three - Shoulders and Triceps

1) Bentover Lateral Raises - 4 x 12
Sit right at the end of a low exercise bench, and bend over until your upper body rests along the top of your thighs. Grasp hold of two dumbbells, and raise them out to the sides with your elbows slightly bent. Try to squeeze your rear deltoids as your elbows reach the parallel position. Slowly lower again.

Choose a fairly light pair of dumbbells for your set, and do a warmup.

Next, go to the heaviest pair of dumbbells you can use for a strict set of 12 reps.

Resting only 40 seconds between each set, do another 2 sets reducing the weight of each dumbbell by 5 pounds each set.

2) Wide Grip Upright Rowing - 4 x 12
Do these with a shoulder width grip and try to feel the action on your deltoids. Pull the bar up smoothly until it reaches your neck, pause, and lower slowly.

Do your first set with a medium-heavy weight, about 60% of your best 12 rep poundage.

Increase the weight on your second set to your best poundage for 12 reps. Go all out to get those 12 reps.

Resting only 60 seconds between sets, do another 2 sets reducing the weight by 5 pounds each set.

3) Side Laterals - 3 x 10
Hold the dumbbells on your thighs. Raise them out and forward with your elbows bent. As soon as your elbows hit the horizontal position, slowly lower them back down again.

Do 3 sets with the same weight each set, and rest only one minute between sets.

4) Heavy Dumbbell Press - 5 x 5
Do your first set with dumbbells weighing about 50% of your best 5 rep poundage.

Do a second set at about 75% of your best 5 rep weight.

Now, go to the heaviest pair you can handle for an all out set of 5 reps.

Rest a minute and then do another set with dumbbells 5 pounds lighter.

Rest another minute, and do a final set with another 5 pound reduction in weight.

Do your presses seated, with your back against an 85-degree upright Hold the dumbbells low on your chest with palms facing in towards each other, and as your elbows go past your face rotate them so that your palms are facing the front. Return the same way.

Take a 5 minute rest.

4) Triceps Pushdown - 4 x12,10,8,6, increasing the weight each set.
For a change, use a short, slightly bent bar and keep your hands only about two inches apart, thumbs wrapped around the bar.  Lean over so your body is almost parallel to the floor. In this position your hands and the bar should be just under your chin. Your upper arms will now be right out away from your body.

From this position smoothly push down the handle until your elbows lock out. Pause, and then return again. Start out fairly light, and increase the weight each set until you are down to about 6 reps.

5) Close Grip EZ Bar Bench Press - 5 x 6
Using a very close grip, slowly lower as far down as you can without straining your wrists. You may not be able to go right onto your chest, but this doesn't matter. When you reach the position you feel is right for you, push the bar back with triceps strength and fully lock out your elbows at the top of the movement.

Do your first 2 sets with moderate weights, about 50% and 75% of your best 6 rep poundage.

Now do another 3 sets with as much weight as you can handle.

6) Triceps Bench Dips - 2 sets, max reps.
Use only bodyweight in these. Rest your hands on a bench behind you, and have your feet propped up on another bench in front of you. Dip down as far as you possibly can without pulling your shoulders. Push up, and firmly lock out your elbows at the top.

Do 2 fast sets. 

Rest the following day, and then start the 4-Day Training Cycle again the day after.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Trapezius Specialization

Probably the most misunderstood group of muscles of the entire male body are the trapezius, or 'traps'. Very, very rarely indeed do modern day bodybuilders include much direct trap training in their workouts. This is quite remarkable when you consider that the most popular, and most impressive contest pose of them all is the trap-over or most muscular.  Yet, somewhere along the line someone said that direct trapezius work would make your shoulder width look narrower!

This is quite ironic when you consider that competitive weightlifters, who have incidentally the greatest trap development of all athletes, look anything but narrow, and often look more powerfully impressive than most bodybuilders when dressed. The reason for this being that the weightlifters are constantly using heavy basic pressing and pulling exercises in their workouts.

It is true, however, that some bodybuilders do not need to include much direct trap work in their training. These are the born lucky guys who get direct trap stimulation from their general shoulder and back training. These men are naturals, and probably even had good trap development before taking up lifting.

This routine is not for those guys. It is for us, the not so lucky fellows who have to fight for every inch of muscular growth, and who lack good trap development, giving our physiques a much weaker and less impressive looking appearance.

How To Get The Best Out Of A Trap Specialization Routine

There are not really too many direct trap exercises. The main direct movements are shrugging and pulling exercises, so the best way to organize a trap specialization routine is to include some really heavy direct work for the shoulders and upper back which will in turn activate your traps very strongly. Back these up with the very best direct trap exercises, and you are well on your way to superior trapezius development.

It is best to train four times per week on a split routine when doing this, training your traps at every workout. The first part of the split routine will be a very heavy day, and the second part a much faster, burning and pumping day.

You must still, of course, include sufficient exercises for the rest of your physique, but this will be kept to a limited nature while you specialize on your trapezius.

Spend a good two weeks getting familiar with the movements, and also build your poundages and number of sets up slowly, and don't overwork during this two week period. After the two week break-in period is up, do the following:

Monday and Friday

Standing Press Behind Neck - 5 x 5
This will primarily take care of your shoulders while on this trapezius specialization routine, but it will also give you some indirect work for your traps and upper back muscles. Work it hard!

Do a slow warmup set of 8 reps with a poundage of 50% of your best 5 rep poundage. Rest one minute, and do a set of 5 reps with a poundage about 75% of your best 5 rep weight.

Now load the bar with all the weight you can, so that you have to fight to get 5 hard reps in real good style. Don't be afraid to use a lot of weight, and really pound out those reps.

Reduce the bar by 5 pounds and then do another set of 5 reps, after resting only 60 seconds.

Rest another 60 seconds and do a final set of 5 reps, again with another 5 pound weight reduction.

When you find that you can do all three heavy sets for a full 5 reps, then you should increase the weight by 5 pounds the next workout.

2) Chin Behind Neck - 4 sets
This is your back exercise, but it is also a fantastic upper back and trap movement when worked very hard. Not many bodybuilders like to do chins because, like squats, they are very hard work, but believe me they will give you results like nothing else, so learn to like them.

Strap your hands to a chinning bar, using a fairly wide grip. Pull up behind your neck as far as you can.

Do a bodyweight only set for about 6 reps to loosen you up.

Then go all out to get a good 10 reps using all the weight attached to a your waist you can.

Do another 2 sets reducing the weight slightly each set.

3) Heavy Barbell Shrugs
The is the number one exercise for great trapezius development. It is best to use hand straps for this exercise so that you can comfortably strap yourself to the bar and have no worry at all that your grip might give out. You can then concentrate all your attention on the action of the traps.

Do a fairly light set of 10 to 12 reps and then load as much weight on the bar so that you can just do a nice strict, all out set of 12 reps.

Increase the weight be 10 pounds each set, and try to do the following pattern - 12/10/8/6.

Do a fifth set by reducing the weight back again so that you can do 12 reps.

Performance: slowly raise your shoulders as high as possible, keeping your arms tucked into your sides and your elbows firmly locked. At the highest point try to hold and tense your traps for a count of two. Slowly lower downwards and repeat.

4) Close Grip Upright Rowing 4 sets
Once again strap your hands to the bar, this time with a hand-spacing of only 6 inches. Hold the bar at your thighs with the knuckles front. Slowly pull up till the bar grazes your chin. Hold for a second, squeezing the traps. Slowly lower again feeling your traps all the way. Do not quite lock out the elbows at the bottom.

Do 12 all out reps on the first set and another three sets with only 30 seconds rest between each set. Reduce the weight slightly if the reps fall below 8.

5) Dead Hang Cleans 5 sets
Here is an exercise that will allow you to handle large weights in working the traps. Strap your hands to a bar with a shoulder width grip, arms straight and the bar to the front of your thighs. Without leaning backwards or bending your knees, clean the weight to your shoulders. Very slowly return the weight to your thighs, NOT THE FLOOR.

Do 2 sets of 5 reps using 50% and 75% of your best 5 rep weight.

Now load the bar right up, and do 3 sets of 5 reps with all the weight you can handle and your workout is over.

Wednesday and Saturday

1) Front Squat - 3 sets
Use a two inch block under your heels and concentrate on keeping your back nice and flat throughout the exercise. Do the squats 'non-lock' at the top, resting only one minute between each set.

Do your first set with 75% of your best weight for 12 reps.

Go to your best weight for 12 reps and do another set.

Reduce the weight by 10 pounds and do a final set for as many reps as you can.

2) Donkey Calf Raise - 3 x 20

3) Bench Press - 3 x 12
Do these nice and strict, touching the bar fairly high on your chest. Do the same set and rep pattern as the front squat, but rest only 30 seconds between each set, and do not quite lock out your elbows at the top.

4) Preacher Bench Curl - 4 x 10 supersetted with -
5) Lying Triceps Extension
Do a warmup set of each exercise with a moderate weight. Go to your best weight on each exercise for 10 reps, and do another 3 sets of each with no rest between each set.

Do the preacher curl as follows: Take a slightly wider than shoulder width grip on the bar, and the lean over the bench so that the top of it touches your body about 3 inches below pectoral level.

With your arms outstretched, slowly curl the bar up to your chin trying to keep your elbows in as close as possible. Give your biceps a good squeeze at the top, and then slowly lower again. As soon as you can't do another rep go right into the lying triceps extension as follows:

Lie flat on the bench holding a straight bar at arms' length above your chest, with a grip at least two inches wider than the bench. This is so that your hands will be clear of the bench when the bar touches it. Keeping your upper arms stationary slowly lower the bar down behind your head until it just grazes the bench behind you. With triceps power only push the bar back to full lockout.

Rest now for five minutes before hitting your traps.

6) Dumbbell Shrugs - 5 x 12 supersetted with -
7) Close Grip Upright Row
This is a classic pre-exhaust duo that should make your traps feel as if they are growing up to your ears!

Do a warmup set of each exercise with a moderate weight for 12 reps, and then go to the heaviest weight possible for 12 reps on each exercise.

Do another 3 sets using the same weights, resting only 30 seconds between each duo, and do all the reps you can.

Do the dumbbell shrugs as follows: Hold two heavy dumbbells at the sides of your body as if you were going to do thumbs-up (hammer) curls. Your palms should be facing the sides of your body and your thumbs will be facing the front.

Keeping your arms rigidly locked, and into your sides, raise both shoulders as high as you can. Hold them for a second or two at the top position and tense your traps as hard as possible. Slowly lower again to starting position.

As soon as you cannot do another rep in good style go immediately to a set of close grip upright rowing as previously described. The dumbbell shrugs are the isolation part of this pre-exhaustion set, and the upright rows are the compound part, using the strength of the biceps and deltoids to further stimulate the traps.

As soon as you finish all 6 sets pre-exhaust sets go straight into the final exercise which is:

8) Down-the-Rack Dumbbell Shrugs
Start out with the heaviest pair of dumbbells you can and then work down the rack doing as many reps as you can each time. The weight of the dumbbells should be spaced about 10 lbs. apart, so that you can go from one pair to the next.

Try to do at least 5 or 6 sets as quickly as possible and your workout is over.

Stay with the routine for a good eight weeks and always try to increase your training poundages as soon as you can do the full amount of recommended reps. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Every Other Day Split Routine

There are advantages and disadvantages with all systems of training. The system that stands out as probably the best for the average intermediate bodybuilder is the four day per week split. But this method has one major flaw: You still have to train on two consecutive days. 

Although in theory it would seem quite practical time-wise to follow one day's training for, say, your chest and back with your shoulders and arms, you simply might not recover enough to keep yourself gaining. 

Consider what happens when you take a workout.

You break down muscle tissue which requires about 48 hours to fully recover. You create all kinds of stresses on your nervous system which may take even longer, depending on the individual. 

You have probably experienced the lethargic feeling of not wanting to train the following day after a hard workout. This is not because your muscles don't want to be trained, it is because your system is still trying to recover from that workout, and that means your body wants to rest, not to train.

So if you don't think that it's all that wise to train on two consecutive days, and you don't think it's good to train the whole body at one workout, what's the answer? The answer is, an every other day split.

Simply train one half of your body (legs, chest, back) on Monday, rest Tuesday. Train the other half of your body (shoulders, arms) on Wednesday, rest Thursday. Repeat Monday's workout on Friday, rest Saturday. Repeat Wednesday's workout on Sunday, rest Monday . . . and so on. 

The advantages of an every other day split are many - 

1) Shorter workouts. You only train half your body at one time.
2) You get one complete day's rest following every workout.
3) You can train harder because you know it will be a full 96 hours before your train those particular parts of your body hard again.
4) You get 4 days rest every 8 days.
5) No chance of overworking.

The only disadvantage to the every other day split routine is if you work out at a commercial gym that's not open seven days a week. If you train at home or at a 7-day a week gym, you should have no problem.

Here is an example of an every other day split routine.

Day One - Legs, Chest, Back

1) Leg Curl - 4 x 12
Lie flat on the leg curl bench and do a very slow warmup set of 12 reps with about 60% of your best 12 rep poundage.

Now put on your best poundage and fight out 12 reps in good style, which means keep your hips down. 

Rest no more than 40 seconds and do another set with a 5-lb. reduction in weight.
Rest a final 40 seconds and do another set with another 5-lb. reduction in weight. Work hard and strictly for the most burn and ache you can.

2) Leg Extension - 4 x 12
Without much rest from your last set of leg curls do a warmup set of leg extensions with about 60% of your best 12 rep poundage.

Now pile on as much weight on the machine as you can so that you have to fight to get 12 reps in good style, which means holding the legs in the contracted position for two seconds each rep.

With only 40 seconds rest reduce the poundage by 5 pounds and do another set to complete failure.
Finally, reduce the poundage by 5 pounds again and do another burnout set.

You have now nicely worked your hamstrings with the leg curls and your quadriceps with the leg extensions. Now that you have temporarily pre-exhausted them you can further work thighs even harder by going straight into some heavy squats.

3) Squats - 5 x 5

Do your first set with 50% of your best 5 rep weight.

Without too much rest do another set with a poundage about 75% of your best 5 rep weight.

For your third set use all the weight you can and go all out to get 5 reps in flawless style. 

Rest two minutes and do another 5 reps with a 10-lb. reduction in weight.

Rest a final two minutes and do another set again with a further 10-lb. reduction in weight..

Do your squats slowly and carefully with your back flat at all times. Do not bounce at the bottom, keep erect, and don't round your back coming up.

How to Keep Your Thigh Training Progressive

As soon as you can do a full 12 reps on the second set, which is the set after your warmup, on leg curls and leg extensions, then you must increase the weight by 5 lbs. next workout. Always try to do get one more rep.

When you can do the last 3 sets of reps on the squats with the same weight (without reducing them) then you must increase the weight by 5 lbs. the next workout.

Calf Training

1) Standing Calf Machine supersetted with
2) Toe Raise on the seated calf machine.

Do a warmup set of each exercise and then increase the poundage so that you can just get 15 reps on each exercise.

Alternate like this until your calves are on fire, which will probably take about 5 supersets.

If you find yourself dropping below 10 reps don't be afraid to drop the poundage slightly each set.

Try to stretch your calves as much as possible on each exercise.

How to Keep Your Calf Training Progressive

As soon as you can do 20 reps on each of the two calf exercises then you must increase the poundage by 10 lbs. for your next workout.

Chest Training

1) Decline Dumbbell Flyes - 4 x 12
Lie on a shallow decline bench holding two dumbbells at arms' length above your face, palms facing each other. Slowly lower the dumbbells outwards with your elbows bent and feel those pecs stretch. Return to starting position.

Do the first set with about 60% of your best 12 rep weight.

Do another 3 sets with only 30 seconds rest using the same weight each set!

2) Dips 4 x 12
Do your first set with bodyweight only, and do about 8 slow reps to warm up the area.

Next do an all out set of 12 reps to failure with weight attached to your waist.

Rest one minute and do another set with 10 lbs. less weight.

Rest another minute and do a final set with bodyweight only.

As with the thigh training you have fatigued your chest muscles with the flyes and dips so now you can move on to some bench pressing.

3) Bench Press - 5 x 8
Do your benches smoothly and strictly.

Do your first set with about 50% of your best 8-rep weight.

Do a second set with about 75% of your best weight for 8 reps.

Pile all the weight on the bar you can so that you have to fight to get 8 reps in this next set.

Do another 2 sets reducing the poundage by 10 lbs. each set and rest only 40 seconds between each set.

How to Keep Your Chest Training Progressive

When you can do the last three sets of decline flyes for 12 reps with the same poundage, increase each dumbbell by 5 lbs. for your next workout.

When you can get a full 12 reps on your second set of dips (after the warmup set) increase the weight by 10 lbs. next workout.

When you can get a full 10 reps on your third set of bench presses, increase the resistance by 10 lbs. next workout.

When you can get a full 8 reps on your fourth set of bench presses increase the weight by 5 lbs. next workout.

Back Training

1) Straight Arm Pulldown 4 x 12
To do this properly you should kneel down in front of the lat machine holding a slightly bent bar with a false grip (thumbs on top) about 10 inches wide.

Your upper arms should be resting alongside your ears, and your hands will be holding the bar directly above your head.

With both elbows slightly bent, pull down the bar with straight arms until it eventually ends up at your thighs.

You should feel a tremendous contraction of your lat and serratus muscles. Try to hold this position for a second or two and then slowly return to the starting position.

Do the first set with about 60% of your best 12 rep poundage.

Do a second set with all the weight you can.

Do another two sets using the same weight each set, and rest only 30 seconds between each set.

2) Chins to the Front 3 x 10
Use a fairly wide grip on these, and you will feel it much better if you can use a pair of straps to help keep your grip on the bar.

The chins will be fairly hard to do after the pulldowns, so you may not be able to use any extra weight at first.

Do a warmup set of 7 or 8 reps using only your bodyweight.

For your second set go all out to get 10 reps using extra weight if you can.

Do a final set with bodyweight only.

How to Keep Your Back Training Progressive

As soon as you can get a full 12 reps on the second set (after warmup set) of pulldowns and chins you should increase the weights next workout.

That concludes your training for this workout. Rest the following day and then train your deltoids, biceps and triceps the day after.

Day Two - Shoulders and Arms

Shoulder Training

1) Seated Dumbbell Side Lateral - 4 x 12
Sit at the edge of an exercise bench holding two dumbbells at your sides. Lean your body slightly forward and keep this position throughout the exercise. Slowly raise the dumbbells outwards and slightly forwards keeping your elbows bent. Rotate your wrists so that the little finger side is always higher than your thumb side.

Do a warmup set of 12 reps with a weight 10 to 15 pounds lighter than your best weight for 12 reps.

Next do 3 sets resting only 30 seconds between each set. Use the same weight each set and tgry to do as many reps as you can.

2) Wide Grip Upright Row - 4 x 12
Use a shoulder width grip for these so you can activate the lateral head of the deltoids.

Pull the bar upwards and slightly away from your body until you reach neck level.

Do a warmup set with about 60% of your best 12 rep poundage and then do another 3 sets in quick succession using the same poundage each set. Try to do as many reps as you can and keep going until you can't move the weight past your waist.

You have at this stage nicely pre-fatigued your side laterals without involving the strength of your arms. Take advantage of this by finishing off your shoulder routine with some very heavy standing presses as follows:

3) Standing Press - 5 x 5
You need not do these in super-strict style, but that doesn't mean you should cheat excessively. You want to build up your press poundage as much as possible but don't throw too much of the strain onto your back. Lift the bar from the squat racks and hold it on the front of your shoulders.

Smartly push the bar to arms' length and return again.
Do your first set with a weight about 50% of your best poundage for 5 reps.
Do a second set with about 75% of your best 5 reps poundage.
Now pile on all the weight you can and go all out to get 5 reps.
Rest two minutes and do another set with the same weight.
Rest another two minutes and do a final set.

How to Keep Your Shoulder Training Progressive

As soon as you get the 12 reps on the second set of laterals and upright rows, increase the weight the next workout.

As soon as you can get 5 reps on the last 3 sets of standing presses, increase the weight next workout.

Biceps Training

1) Incline Dumbbell Curl - 4 x 10
Set up a fairly steep incline and lie back holding two dumbbells at arm's length, palms facing front.

Slowly curl the dumbbells up to your shoulders and then rotate your wrists outwards so that you feel your biceps contracting. Slowly lower.

Do your first set with only about 60% of your best 10 rep poundage.

For your second set of curls pick up the heaviest pair of dumbbells you can use for 10 all out reps.

Rest about a minute and do another set with dumbbells that are about 5 pounds lighter.

Do a final set with another 5 pound reduction to each dumbbell.

2) Heavy Barbell Curls 5 x 5
Do the first set with only 50% of your best weight for 5 reps.

Rest one minute and do a second set with about 75% of your best weight for 5 reps.

Now load up the bar and try to get 5 reps on the next three sets using the same poundage for each set. Do the curls fairly strictly and try to use as much weight as you can. As you start to lower the bar try to slow down the movement, placing more stress on the biceps.

How to Keep Your Biceps Training Progressive

As soon as you can get a full 10 reps on the second set of incline dumbbell curls you must increase the weight next workout.

When you can get 5 reps on the last 3 sets of curls you should increase the weight the next workout.

Triceps Training

1) Pressdowns, Elbows Out 5 x 8
This is an unusual triceps exercise. Take a close grip on the pushdown handle, which should be slightly bent. Bend slightly forward and hold the handle at your chin. In this position your arms will be in the same position as though you had just completed an upright row.

Smartly push down with triceps strength only. Tense at the bottom and then slowly return.

Do a warmup set with about 60% of your best poundage for 8 reps.

Do another four sets with the best weight you can, and try to get 8 reps each sets.

2) Lying EZ Bar Bench Press 5 x 6
Lie on the bench and hold the EZ bar above your chest with a close grip. Lower the weight down as far on your chest as you can and then push it back again concentrating only on those triceps. Tense your triceps hard as you lock out.

Increase the weight as much as you can so that you can just manage 8 reps in perfect style.

Reduce the weight by 5 pounds each set and do another 3 sets resting only 40 seconds between each.

That's it for this particular workout.

Rest the following day and then do the other workout the day after. 
Rest the next day following, and so on. 


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Ab Training, Circa 1946 - Alan Stephan

Ever since I was lucky enough to pull down the Mr. America title in Detroit last June, I have quite frequently been called on for travel to different parts of the country. We won't go into the question of whether I enjoy it or not - after three years in the Seabees, covering more miles than I can count, what do you think? [C.B.'s - U.S. Navy Construction Battalion]

But it has given me the opportunity to get a look into gyms and health clubs all over the United States and up into Canada. I have worked out in basement gyms, swanky athletic clubs, Y.M.C.A.'s - everything, from the beautiful blue of Sig Klein's carpeted salon to an oily garage floor!

And the more I travel, the more firmly I become convinced of America's need to work on its bellies! It is amazing the number of otherwise healthy men there are in the country who have neglected their mid-sections. A glance around in any Y.M.C.A. locker room of on any beach will prove t his to you, as it has been so effectively proven to me; most of us neglect our abdominal regions, and as we grow older it is the first section of our bodies to show that neglect.

It is a serious matter. We may tease our friends and our associates about their pot-bellies, or our thin friends about their flatness, but it is not a laughing matter. For it is in the abdominal region that we find some of the most important organs of the body: the stomach, the bladder, the liver, the kidneys, bowels. intestines; even the highly important sex organs are located in the abdominal region. When we neglect the muscles of the abdomen, they in time sag and droop, and the important organs are warped; crowded and shifted until their natural pattern is lost, and they can't function well.

Thus I imagine you can see the importance in developing the abdominal muscles. Not only do they hold these organs in position; they also aid them in their functioning. They are the means by which we raise our bodies while lying down; they help lift the legs; help us to bend forward or sideways; to lie down, to sit up, to get up again. We'd be a pretty stiff bunch of sticks, wouldn't we, without the marvelously flexible abdominal muscles and their functions.

Structure of the Abdomen

Let's take a look at the abdominal muscles. In order to know how to develop them, we ought to know what they are, and what they do. First and foremost are the ones most of us are familiar with: the muscles that form those beautiful ridges and valleys across the front of the abdomen that all of us like to see, and all of us work so hard for! These are known as the rectus abdominus. They are the means by which we raise the upper body or legs while lying down. (You will see how these operate in the familiar Sit Up and Leg Raise exercises which are the most common and popular abdominal exercises for most of us.) The rectus abdominus muscles are also used in other ways: to bend forward, whether to lift weights, or to permit us to tie our shoes; to flex out chests, or to compress our viscera.

Next come the external obliques. They come into play in all side-bending movements, and help us to bring the upper body erect after bending; they also help to hold it erect. In the internal functions they are important too: they help to flex the thorax, and to compress the viscera and intestines. They add much beauty to the male physique, a fact which was well recognized by the early Greek sculptors, nearly all of whose statues have beautifully developed external obliques. My friend Marvin Urvant has wonderfully developed externals - in fact his whole abdominal development is outstanding. I am including one of his favorite exercises in this set, as it is one I have liked and adopted for my own use.

Marvin Urvant

Other abdominal muscles are the vagina medius abdominus, the transversalis and obliquus internus, both of which help in body functions, by flexing the thorax and compressing the intestines.  There are others, too: the psoas magnus and the psoas parvus, the iliacus, the quadratus lumborum, and so forth, but we won't need to give them much thought in development. Abdominal exercises aid all the abdominal muscles, and we won't have to work out special exercises for the obscure muscles. (I just mentioned them to try to sound like an expert, anyway!)

Actually, unless you want to concentrate particularly on achieving a "washboard abdomen" most of you will not have to concentrate especially on the abdominals, anyway. This is because nearly all forms of barbell and dumbbell exercises cannot help but benefit the midsection. There is much bending and twisting in these exercises, and the usual routine of most of us covers enough that we do not have to give too much time to especial development if the abdominal muscles.

However, I assume each of you is trying for the perfect body. (I know I am, and I have a long way to go, especially on my abdominals!) And so, let's try this series of exercises, and build up that rippling washboard effect we all desire so much.

Exercise One - The Sit-Up
One of the best abdominal exercises is the well-known sit-up. There are many ways to do the sit-up, but they all start from the same position: flat on the back! They are much more effective on an inclined abdominal board, inasmuch as you can get considerably more contraction that way. I suggest you buy or make one, as it will be of tremendous value to you in abdominal exercises.

You can perform your sit-ups with or without weights. If you are just starting, better leave the weight off. But if you are an advanced weight trainer, do them with a plate held behind the neck. I use about 50 lbs. for 50 reps, when I am in good shape. This is one exercise you can get plenty of repetitions in, you've undoubtedly read of Gene Jantzen's 1,000 sit-ups, [also 5,200 situps in 3 hours and 50 minutes] and of the competition between many of the fellows in service for sit-up records. Don't cheat and try to 'throw' your body up with the assistance of the arms and the elbows - make sure the abdominal muscles do all the work.

Another good variation on the sit-up is to sit on a bench or stool (with someone or something holding your feet down), and bend down all the way to the floor, touching the back of the head, then pull up as before. You get the added benefit of the s-t-r-e-t-c-h that is so good for the muscle tissue. You will find you can do fewer repetitions on this one! An excellent variation that goes after the external obliques, and gives greater 'looseness' and flexibility to the waist is to do the sit-up in the usual fashion, bending up, and then touching the right knee with the left elbow, and vice versa. Better not try this one on the bench; it's too rugged, but it's very fine on the abdominal board or the floor.

Exercise Two - The Leg Raise
The garden variety leg raise is an excellent exercise for the lower abdomen, just as the sit-up is for the upper abdomen. This exercise lends itself well to use of the iron boots. Be sure to keep the legs straight while lifting the legs. You can either raise them to a vertical position, or continue over, bringing them above the head. Be sure the hips stay on the ground if you use the latter version. This is a good stretch exercise, and at the risk of being repetitious in this series of articles, I am going to remind you that the stretch is vitally important. Just as the tensing of the muscle builds up the cells and tissues within it, so does the stretching of it, enabling the life-giving oxygen to flow in and 're-fuel' the muscle for rebuilding.

Later, as your abdominal muscles strengthen, you might add a pair of lightweight dumbbells to the iron boots to increase the resistance. As in most exercises in this series I'd use about 3 sets of 10 repetitions each, evaluating the weight by the ability to do the repetitions, and the degree of difficulty you experience in it. Try the leg raise in several variations. In all of them, lower the legs slowly, letting the abdominal muscles do all the work. Lift the legs together, then alternately. Try the variation of lifting them to the side, then up. Be sure to keep the knees straight.

I like to do them occasionally with my hands at the sides, under my hips. This aids in the lift, and also gives that stretch. Devote plenty of time to these exercises, as they are very fine abdominal conditioners.

Exercise Three - Leg Raise on Horizontal Bar
This exercise, done while hanging from a chinning bar, really is ideal for stretching the abdominal muscles, and is a sure cure for sagging stomachs! It is simple to describe - you hang from the bar, hands about shoulder width apart (or whatever width is comfortable), and slowly raise the toes all the way up to the bar, touching it with the toes. Then slowly lower, and repeat. Either do this as many repetitions as you can, of do it in sets of 10 each, three sets. I have done 25 reps without the iron boots. However, if you can do as many as 15 reps, begin doing it with the iron boots. Remember, raise and lower the legs s-l-o-w-l-y to obtain the maximum benefits.

Exercise Four - Leg Spread with Boots
This is really a very simple, yet very effective exercise. Lying on the floor, or on the abdominal board, raise the legs about a foot above the board, and slowly spread them as far as possible, them bring them together again. It will be quite easy, until you get the number of repetitions up. Use the iron boots when you can do 3 sets of 10 reps with ease. Do not lower the feet to the ground between repetitions, but keep them always in the raised position, knees straight. Be sure to spread the legs as far as possible each time. You might try the variation of crossing the legs alternatively as you bring them to the center after the spread.

If you'd like to concentrate on the external obliques, try this variation on the leg spread. Lie on the side, and raise the leg sidewise into the air with the iron boot, as far as it will go. Lower it s-l-o-w-l-y! Then turn onto the other side, and repeat. Three sets of ten repetitions, each side. This is also an excellent exercise for the tensor fascia muscle of the thigh, but that is another article! You fellows who are a bit bulky in the hips will also find it an excellent reducer.

Exercise Five - The Push Out
I prefer doing this exercise on a bench and not the floor, as it allows you to hang on. However, it can be done on the floor, bench, or abdominal board, as you wish, with equal effectiveness. This is also an iron boot exercise.

While lying on the back, bend the knees and bring them up as far as possible toward the chest, keeping the forelegs parallel to the floor while doing so. Then, with a vigorous push, shoot the legs out straight, and parallel to the floor. If you are lying on the floor, you will have to point them up slightly, about a foot off the floor. If you are on a bench, you can bring them out parallel and even with the bench. Repeat, and do again for 10 repetitions, 3 sets. When you are good at this, add some light weights to the iron boots and carry on. You'll find a bench handy for this, too, in that you can hang  on, and if you do it as vigorously as you should, you will want to hang on!

Exercise Six - Side Bends with Weight
Tired of lying down, on the back and side for these abdominal exercises? Here is one you can do standing up, without the iron boots! It is the side bend with weight, a simple yet very effective waist conditioner that is excellent for the external obliques. Stand with the feet together, legs straight, a dumbbell in one hand. Don't start out with too heavy a weight, as you will want to do 30 repetitions and it has a tendency to seem to get heavier after the first dozen reps! (Strange, eh?)

This exercise is simple: bend sideways at the waist as far as you can go, letting the weight hang straight, then come up straight, slowly. Try the first 10 reps with the held a trifle to the front, throwing the weight a bit forward; then 10 reps with the weight slightly in back; then 10 reps directly at the side. Remember, when you bend down, you are working the muscle on the opposite side from which you bend. Be sure to exercise both sides equally.

Exercise Seven - Abdominal Side Twist


Here is an exercise that will require some bending and stretching - one you will find plenty rigorous, but also very beneficial. This is the abdominal side twist with weight overhead.

You start in the erect position, as in Exercise Six, but with the weight held at arm's length overhead (I'm using about 50 pounds here, but you can best determine after you have had a few tries at it; use the best weight for your own strength, and work for 20 reps.) 

Spread the feet a little over 24 inches apart, depending on your height. With the free hand, bend down and touch the toe of the opposite foot, keeping the weight overhead, arm straight, then return to to the original position, and repeat. 20 reps to each side is the goal; when you've reached it, use more weight, and so forth. Work for those reps each side and be sure to keep the knees fairly straight.

This exercise is very fine, not only for the front abdominal muscles, but also for the internal organs, stimulating them and feeding them with new blood and life-giving oxygen. With 20 reps of this a day you should never be bothered with colonic troubles, constipation, or other internal difficulties of the lower abdominal region. And I doubt if very much that you will have to worry about a weak of flabby waistline!

Exercise Eight - The 'Bank Twist'
I have been saving for last this exercise taught to me by my good friend Marvin Urvant. This is one he learned in the Army Air Forces while a physical instructor. While I share Marvin's belief that many of the Army and Navy calisthenics exercises are of no more value than so much flapping of the arms, this is one exercise I really believe in. It has done wonders for Marvin, who has what I consider the finest abs in the country, and it has been very helpful in developing my own. Try it, and see if you don't agree it is a beauty!

It is known as the Bank Twist and is shown in the photo above. You will want the iron boots for this one. Lie on the back on the floor, hand under the head. Now bring one leg straight up, and keeping the hips and buttocks on the floor, let it down slowly across the other leg, and touch the floor. Return to the vertical position, and repeat, 10 repetitions each side, 3 sets each. Be sure to keep the buttocks on the floor, and get all the stretch possible in the abdomen. This is especially good for the lower abdomen, and also very fine for the organs within.

Now try this variation of the Bank Twist: lie on the back as before, but with the arms extended straight out at the sides, palms downward, on the floor. Bring both legs up as in the leg raise, until they are vertical. Then, without bending the knees and keeping the buttocks as low to the floor as is possible, lower both legs to the left, touching the floor with the toes. Be sure the knees are kept straight. Now raise the legs together to the vertical position, and touch them to the floor together at the right, and repeat, alternating sides. Better try this without the iron boots at first, until you have mastered it and built up some strong abdominal musculature. Later you can try it with the iron boots. You will really feel the pull on the abdominals but it will be well worth the work. The externals and viscera get a fine workout with this one! 

These eight exercises, if practiced faithfully and conscientiously, should really give you an abdominal development to be proud of. And remember, in planning your workouts, that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link - if the midsection has been neglected the body cannot perform its functions effectively. Without a well proportioned and muscular abdominal development your physique will fall short of the perfection and beauty all of us desire. With it, you can reflect with pride when you see yourself in the mirror, and you will never need to experience the sluggish, logy feeling of a man whose abdominal organs are weak and ineffective.  


Monday, December 16, 2013

One Exercise Per Bodypart Routine

The one exercise per bodypart routine enjoyed a lot of popularity quite a few years ago. One of the greatest physiques of modern day bodybuilding, Reg Park, often used to say that he preferred one biceps exercise and one triceps exercise only, when he was trying to gain size on his arms. 

Another advocate of the one exercise per bodypart school is gym owner Vince Gironda. Vince has written many, many times that he feels it is best to develop one aspect of each muscle at a time.

It is popular nowadays to do three exercises per bodypart for three sets each, making a total of nine sets. But is this really more effective than using only one exercise per bodypart doing nine sets of that particular movement?

Vince Gironda thinks not. He believes that the muscle will be more saturated with the one exercise done for nine sets. He goes on to say that most of his students gain rapidly when they cut back to only one exercise per body part.

How Concentration Can Help

You've probably heard it said many times that 'it's not what you do, but how you do it that counts'. Concentration really does apply to bodybuilding. Anything that can make you concentrate more on the exercise is certainly a step in the right direction.

The beauty of a 'one exercise per bodypart routine' is your mind can accept more readily the fact that you will be doing only one exercise. Having been used to using anywhere from two to four exercises per bodypart, you will find yourself putting 100% more effort and concentration into your training because you are only doing one exercise per bodypart. 

This is not an easy form of training, because of the higher than usual amount of sets on each exercise. But it is a very good way to add size in a short period of time. The workouts will be short but the energy expended will be quite high. 

The routine consists of two routines. The first contains 8 sets per exercise and is to be followed for a 6-week period.

The second routine is a blockbuster consisting of 15 sets per exercise, and is also to be followed for a 6-week period.


Train four days per week as follows:
Monday/Friday - train your thighs, calves, chest, and back.
Wednesday/Saturday - train your deltoids, biceps, triceps, and forearms.

Spend a couple of workouts getting familiar with the exercises and the layout, and try to get up to at least four sets of each movement, without strain. For the following six weeks do this:

Monday/Friday - Legs, Chest, Back.

1) Squat. 
8 sets of 8 reps. Do a warmup set of 8 reps with about 50% of your best 8 rep poundage. Do a second warmup set with about 70% of your best 8 rep poundage. Now do 6 sets of 8 reps with all the weight you can handle, with about 60-90 seconds rest between each set. If you find the reps dropping below 6, reduce the poundage slightly.

2) Calf Raise.
10 sets of 15. Do 10 sets of standing raises with only 30 seconds rest between each set. Shake your legs between each set to get rid of the congestion.

3) Bench Press.
8 x 8. As with the squat, do 2 warmup sets, and then a further 6 work sets. Rest only 60 seconds between each set.

4) Bentover Rowing.
8 x 8. Same system as squat and bench. This is your final exercise of the day, so work it hard.

Wednesday/Saturday - Shoulders, Arms.

1) Seated Press Behind Neck.
8 x 8. Same layout as squat and bench, but rest only 30 seconds between each set.

2) Barbell Curl.
8 x 8. Allow 5 minutes rest after the presses, and then do 2 warmup sets on the barbell curl. Do another 6 work sets with using the same weight for each, with rest periods between sets as short as possible.

3) Decline Pullover/Press.
8 x 8. Lie on a shallow decline bench and hold a bar at arms' length with a regular grip of about 10 inches. Keeping your upper arms rigidly stationary lower the bar down towards your face and behind your head till the plates just brush the floor. Instead of going back the same way, pull the weight over your face to your upper chest. Now, with the emphasis on your triceps, push press the weight to arms' length again. You should able to master the technique after a few tries. Do the same set system as the barbell curl.

4) Wrist Curl.
8 sets of 12 reps. Lay the back of your forearms across the top of your thighs, and with a thumbs-free grip do 8 sets of 12 reps with only 30 seconds rest between each set. 

Try to increase your training poundages over the next six weeks, and above all CONCENTRATE!

Take a full week off and then continue with -


Monday/Friday - Legs, Back, Biceps.

1) Squat.
5 sets of 5 reps,and then 10 sets of 8. Take a weight about 100 pounds less than your best 5 rep poundage and do a warmup set with it. Next, add 50 pounds and do another 5 rep warmup set. Now pile on the weight and go all out to get 5 hard reps.

After resting as long as you want, do another 2 sets with the same weight. When you get 5 reps on all three heavy sets, increase the weight next workout by 5 pounds.

After your last set of 5 reps, reduce the weight so that you can do another set this time for 8 reps. Resting only 30 seconds between each set do 10 sets of 8 reps. These should be very hard to do and you may have to reduce the weight each set in order to get the full 8 reps. Don't worry about this. It doesn't matter how much weight is on the bar, just keep going set for set with 30 seconds rest between each until your thighs are bursting.

Rest 10 minutes.

2) Calf Raise.
15 sets of 15 reps. Go all out on these resting only 30 seconds between each set. 

Rest 5 minutes.

3) Bentover Row.
5 sets of 5 reps, and then 10 sets of 8 reps. The same layout as the squats. Do your rows as strict as possible with emphasis on the lowering part. Get through these rows as quickly and efficiently (machine-like) as possible and the workout is over.

Wednesday/Saturday - Chest, Shoulders, Arms.

1) Bench Press.
5 sets of 5 reps, and then 10 sets of 8 reps. Warm up with 2 sets as in the squat. Then do 3 all out sets of 5 and push that poundage up whenever you can.

Go straight to the 10 sets of 8.

Rest 10 minutes.

2) Seated Press Behind Neck.
5 sets of 5 reps and then 10 sets of 8 reps. Your 5 sets of 5 should be hard but do-able, however, you will find the going extremely tough on the 10 sets of 8. Don't despair, and remember that you can reduce the weight each set if you have to.

Rest 10 minutes.

3) Decline Pullover/Press.
5 sets of 6 reps and then 10 sets of 8 reps. Perform your 5 sets of 6 in very good style, pushing the poundage when possible,and then go straight into your 10 sets of 8.

Rest 5 minutes.

4) Wrist Curl.
10 sets of 15 reps. Do 10 sets of 15 reps with only a 30 second rest between each set . . . and . . . 

Do stick with this workout for the full six weeks, and you should make some really terrific gains.

Don't be put off by the high number of sets. As you will be doing the lighter sets (10 sets) with only 30 seconds rest between each the pain will soon be over. 


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Do Weightlifting and Bodybuilding Mix? - Walter Gay

Eric Pedersen


Muscle-Building Exercises and Weight Lifting:
Do They Mix?
Arthur Gay (1947)

What is your objective in weight training? 

Do you wish to develop your physique to the greatest possible degree of muscularity and have as perfectly proportioned a body as your physical inheritance and potential will permit you to - - or are you desirous of becoming a great weight lifting champion and make an outstanding total on the three Olympic championship lifts?

There are thousands of young men today training at body-building and muscle-developing exercises at one and the same time. 

They don't mix!

Weight lifting is a sport in itself, and if you really wish to get some place as a weight lifter, and if you are training on the three Olympic championship lifts, take my advice and don't combine 10 to 15 body-building and muscle-developing exercises with training for the press, snatch, and jerk.

Body-building exercises are fine and I am all for them but after you have obtained a well developed body and decide to go in for weight lifting, forget all the monotonous exercises and just lift, Lift, LIFT! You possibly could do a few squats and fast dead lifts, but not too many of them.

Muscles play an important part in weight lifting no doubt, but perfection of form on the lifts, timing, balance and direction are also very important, as well as tremendous concentration and nervous energy.

Now just why am I against combining weight lifting with repetition body-building and muscle-developing types of exercises?

Let's go into a short discussion of the muscles and I think you will understand why I am opposed to mixing two types of physical training, or rather mixing physical training exercises with training for an athletic sport.

The muscles are the bulky parts of the body which cover the bones and have the greater part in giving the figure roundness and contours. I'll agree that you can't have a fine build and a "shape" to your body if your muscles are not fully developed. What happens when your bony framework goes into action? The skeletal muscles do it. Yes, it is the skeletal muscles which change the passive apparatus of bones into a moving structure of progression and movement. To what do they owe their power? To the contractile quality of their fibers. Most of the muscles that move the bones are elongated (stretch out) with the middle section of fleshy fibers, the "belly" and with one or both ends tendinous. One end of these muscles is attached to a point called the origin and the other to another point called the insertion. It is not always possible to make a distinction between an origin and and insertion. The origin is generally that part of a muscle which remains more or less stationary during action of that muscle while the insertion is on a part that is moved by the active muscle. As a rule a muscle is attached to a bone by a tendon but sometimes the fleshy fibers are joined directly to the surface of a bone.

Muscles pass from one bone to a succeeding or an adjacent one. Some limb muscles go to the second succeeding bone; that is they skip one bone and pass over two articulations, or movements.

Tendons are another part of your anatomy which you should know about. They are the cords or bands of dense tissue terminating the muscular forms. They are like cords, and close to the skin, they show as sinewy prominences. A good example of this is on the front of the forearm, close to the wrist, and on the back of the hand, especially in thin persons, or those very muscular.

A muscle is a bulging mass, and the more our muscles bulge the better we like it! And what muscle of all muscles are the weight training boys forever trying to make bigger and bulgier? You guessed it, the biceps muscle! I like to see a good bicep on a man as well as the next fellow but I don't think it is the most important one and that more time should be spent on it than any other muscle or group of muscles. Any average man on the street knows about the bicep muscle. Just stop and ask the first one you meet, "Let me feel your bicep" and see if he does not flex his 'baseball' shaped muscle as hard as he can .You probably know that the bicep's fleshy fibers, when contracted, draw up the forearm toward the shoulder. The one or two arm curl uses the bicep muscle fully. It has two origins beneath the shoulder muscle mass; while below, one tendon goes to the radius and another one expands into an aponeurosis that is merged with other membranes of the forearm.

Now why have I mentioned the biceps muscle in this discussion? Muscles are nearly all arranged to have other muscles as antagonists! You know what an antagonist is, don't you? Well, when the fleshy portion of the bicep swells out to move the forearm a muscle on the back of the limb (the triceps) relaxes its fibers. And when the triceps straightens the arm, and proceeds to pull on the forearm, the biceps in its turn relaxes. Other muscles take part in the movement; but this particular case of which I mention is one of the less complex and a fitting example to illustrate the principle of antagonistic muscles.

Are you beginning to see the logic of my training methods of not combining weightlifting proper and bodybuilding and muscle developing exercises? In exercises like curls, pull overs, lateral raises, and many others found in the average muscle developing routine, you are absolutely tying your muscles up,  tiring them out, and while you may be developing your muscles and  becoming a muscular prima donna, you are retarding your progress as far as weightlifting ability on the press, snatch, and clean and jerk are concerned.

If you are interested in exercising with weights and have as your objective a well-developed, healthy, strong body, and do not care to become a champion weightlifter in your own community or state, that is perfectly okay, but I have known of many fellows who combined the two types of training and could never understand why they did not improve past a certain point on the poundages of their press, snatch, and jerk. It is not difficult to understand, if you understand that in doing the three Olympic lifts you are using mostly the extending muscles, while in body-building routines it is just the opposite, you are using the contracting muscles almost exclusively.

If you are desirous of becoming the best weight-lifter your physical build, leverages, and strength potential are capable of, don't worry how large your arm is or how shapely your legs may be, but concentrate instead upon your training on lifting.  

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