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Asking Dr. Ken - Issue #31Asking Dr. Ken - Issue #31 by Dr. Ken E.

Leistner Robert Francis It is always a pleasure when any magazine, especially a weight training magazine, publishes an article that is well- written, well-organized, and informative. Bob Francis' piece on Superslow training that appeared in HG #30 was just such an article. I have known Bob a number of years and he is a very intelligent, serious, and well-read individual. He is also very sincere in his beliefs. I thought he went overboard on trying to be respectful towards me and the negative comments directed at my training philosophy as it relates to Superslow training, and I appreciate that. I do not invite controversy. I neither enjoy it nor dislike it. I understand that people will disagree. My wife and I disagree on things at times, but what we do agree on is that it is fine to hold differing opinions. Even as husband and wife, we end some conversations with, "I understand what you said, but I don't agree with you." That's the end of it. There is never a need to "sell" one's position or have the "final word." Bob and I disagree, just as I have disagreed with some or all aspects of other individuals' training methods and/or philosophies. There are those whom I get along with very well, talk with often, yet don't agree with, in total or part, on training. Dr. Randy Strossen is one of these. I can safely say that Randy and I are good friends, talk at least twice per week, and often, twice per day a couple of times per week, agree on some aspects of training, and totally disagree on others. It is not a personal issue and we don't make it one. There are other individuals in the field that I disagree with (or who disagree with me), whom I don't like. In almost every case, I would not like them even if they agreed with me and my training philosophy. One has nothing to do with the other. I believe that going to the point where you can't move the barbell is the best way to stimulate gains. The thorough inroad that Bob described in HG #30 also takes you to complete muscular failure, but the rep protocol each of us uses is different. We both believe that one has to train hard and certainly, we probably agree on more than we disagree on, but we have a different way of getting there. Brooks Kubik and I get along well, talk occasionally, yet also disagree on the best way to stimulate gains, although we agree that basic movements done infrequently and in brief workouts are best. Bob Francis is a very positive individual and positive in our field of endeavor. For those who have the interest, they should certainly give his type of training a try. The official slogan of the Iron Island Gym is "Success is a journey, not a destination," and I thank my wife for this one. The process of getting there is as important as the actual discovery of what works best. The process is very important and instructive for every individual. While most want "the answer" and a formula for success, searching for it and learning a lot about yourself in the

process is very important and valuable. For those who asked, I took no offence at Bob's article and again, feel it is a valuable contribution to the magazine and the interest of everyone who wants to get bigger and stronger. Frank Savino I have received many inquiries about Frank Savino, and thought it would be informative for our readers to know more about him. I met Frank when he was an eighteen-year-old freshman football player at Hofstra University. Although Frank was All New York City and All State in football, among other honors, he did not receive a full scholarship offer from the major universities. Like many excellent high school players, he was a bit too short and a bit slow for Notre Dame. Hofstra University is a Division IAA program in Hempstead, New York, on Long Island, that has a long history of excellent football. Its current coach, Joe Gardi, was a former National Football League coach, and for years Hofstra was the envy of small college football programs everywhere. As they moved up to a higher status, Coach Gardi and the strength training program of Coach Kevin Keefe made it possible for them to compete at the highest levels. Frank attended Hofstra immediately before the arrival of Coach Gardi, and came under the influence of Jamie LaBelle and myself. He was a fat, soft, and short defensive lineman with the desire to improve and succeed. I explained that he would have to work harder than he thought possible in order to do what I expected of him. He felt he could make that type of commitment. This is something we hear from many individuals, but Frank proved his mettle. His first workout, he threw up, laid on the floor, insisted that we allow him to try more work, then threw up again. He was so muscularly sore, that he could not bend his legs or thighs for approximately five days. He had to lean against the wall and have his sister put his trousers on for him. He had to go downstairs literally on the seat of his pants! Yet, he returned for more. His parents asked if this was "normal." Was he in fact injured or permanently damaged they wondered. Frank assured them that he expected to be sore (although he admitted to us that he never could have imagined that his body, already exposed to three years of organized weight training, would have responded the way it did) and that he was ready for his next workout. He again threw up a number of times. It took about three weeks of training two times per week before he adapted and no longer regurgitated. After every session, however, he was down! It would take at least 20 minutes of absolute oblivion before he could get up and safely drive home or back to classes. All of Frank's programs were simple, and utilized basic movements. Each workout consisted of approximately 8-10 total sets and included exercises from among movements such as squats, deadlifts, dumbbell deadlifts, leg presses, bench presses, dips, rows, overhead presses, shrugs, curls, pullovers, and the carrying of oddly-shaped objects. After going to what was literally momentary muscular failure/fatigue in for example the squat, press, row, close-grip bench press, and curl with the thick bar, we would drag Frank up to my driveway and have him carry the big beams (169 pounds each, with handles welded to them) from one end of the driveway to the other. After one or two trips, he would be stumbling from one end of the driveway, lurching out of control until he could

no longer stand. Such was his dedication and willingness to work hard. When we told Frank to eat, he ate. I had a few complaints from his wife and mother, but they were extremely supportive. His dad would occasionally come to Saturday morning sessions to help drive Frank home. Dan, in time, became a dedicated trainee himself, developing a great deal of strength. Frank would eat four major meals and numerous snacks. At a local pizzeria in which he held a financial interest, a typical post-workout "snack" might have been three slices of pizza, a plate of calamari and linguine, veal and linguine, and another three slices of pizza for "dessert." He would then go home or to his mother's house for his real dinner. If Frank ate over, which he did once or twice per week, he could and would easily eat a whole broiled chicken, a pound of spaghetti, two vegetables, a loaf of Italian bread, and a large salad. All of this would be washed down with a quart of skim milk. Like his training, he gradually and progressively worked his way up to this enormous amount of food, and was just as dedicated about his eating as he was about his training. The results of all this eating and training were numerous football honors, and a free agent try out with the Cincinnati Bengals who found him too short. Yet, at 5 11", 282 pounds, he was timed by the head Bengal scout, as running a forty-yard sprint in 4.9 seconds. He bench pressed 360 for 12 reps and 320 for 16, did an unbelievable 40 reps in the deadlift with 500 pounds, and could do full-range dips at his bodyweight for up to 30 perfect repetitions. He was cat-quick, and with a lifelong interest in boxing, like Kevin Tolbert before him, had extremely fast hands and reaction. As he had run the forty yards in 5.3 or 5.4 at 235 pounds, the muscle he put on was obviously functional. Currently, Frank is a Dean at St. John's University in New York City, completing work on his doctoral degree, married to the famous Lynn Savino, physical therapist extraordinaire, and involved in numerous projects that benefit the youth of the community. Frank and Lynn live in Happhauge, New York, on Long Island. He has a great home gym complete with Hammer equipment where he does much of his training. Frank's muscular development is now a trimmed-down and hard-as-nails 245. Frank could obviously do well in powerlifting or odd-lift competition but also like Kevin, Drew and many other of our very strong trainees, has chosen to train for his own satisfaction and enjoyment after training strictly to become a better football player. He continues to train, and serves as an excellent example of an individual who understands that there is a positive result from training hard, consistently, and for a lifetime of health, strength, and satisfaction. Sumo-Style Deadlift Relative to the conventional deadlift, the sumo style is favored by those who squat well and have great hip power. It should be obvious that a very strong squatter might prefer to do what is essentially a squat with the bar in his or her hands. If one is not as strong in the musculature necessary for the conventional deadlift, there is an advantage in doing a wide-stance squat, throwing the stress primarily to the hips, and then deadlifting in a similar

manner. Contrary to some comments though, it is not the wide-legged stance that "spreads" the hips or makes them wider, but the fact that those who are well constructed for this style make use of it and they will almost always have predominant hip strength and development. Stiff-Legged Deadlift One of the best variations of the stiff-legged deadlift is one with dumbbells. My son Greg has focused on this lately, with very good results. There is no inherent "best" or "better" in many exercises. Bench pressing or overhead pressing with a bar or dumbbells can all be very productive. Same with the stiff-legged deadlift. I do not advise doing the dumbbell version off a block like the barbell movement, but take it from the floor. There will be plenty of range of motion. We advise the use of straps with dumbbells, although I am hesitant to recommend straps when using the barbell. If one can stiff-legged deadlift 300 x 15, I assume he can deadlift 500 or more and if he can hold onto that, shouldn't need straps with the 300 pounds. With dumbbells, they are unwieldy at best. After fatigue sets in, they get very difficult to hold, especially when using 100-140 in each. We recommend sets of 8-15 reps with the dumbbells. With the bar, I usually recommend sets of 15, and only occasionally, sets of 10. I think the dumbbell version can be more intense for many and the higher reps can lead to overtraining. The Good Morning The comment in HG #29 that we do not recommend the good morning exercise is true. I don't care what style is usedfor most people, the leverage factors are such that there is needless and excessive stress placed upon the musculature and connective tissue of the lumbar spine. There are too many other things one can do for that area so that good mornings, although effective for some, don't have to be done. Deadlifts and stiff-legged deadlifts, hyperextensions, reverse hyperextensions, the Hammer Hip and Back Machine (a very underrated piece for working the very large muscles of the butt and low back region), can all be done more safely than the good morning, so Ralph and I don't have our competitive lifters or other trainees do them. This is sort of like the power clean. Many have benefitted from power cleans and gotten stronger; many have done them without injury; but when there are other exercises that are safer and as effective, or more effective, why risk injury? The Hammer Hip and Back Machine is pretty underrated because not a lot of people understand its effectiveness or use. It is a great way to isolate the butt and low back regions and allows them to work in concert without the compression caused by other movements that are also effective for the area. Risk of injury is almost non-existent when used properly. While I may be a true-blue barbell guy, this is one machine that is very effective. Letter to a Reader I'm glad to hear that you met some of our lifters. As a group, they are very enthusiastic, motivated, drug free, and helpful to others as should have been obvious at the ADFPA state meet. It is difficult to give any advice through the mail, not knowing the individual's physical makeup and situation. However, here are some general comments.

You seem to have good strength for your size, you just need more size. Don't train more than two times per week, and vary the movements so that both weekly workouts are different. Squat for 15 one day, deadlift for 6 with a back-off set of 10 the other; bench press one day, overhead press the other; chin one day, do some sort of row the other; do dips one day, shrugs the other. After a few months of deadlifts, substitute stiff-legged deadlift with bar or dumbbells, as an example. This allows for better progress in my opinion as opposed to doing the same thing over and over for six or eight weeks, then making wholesale changes. I can't give you any advice regarding drugs other than not to use them. I don't believe that for most individuals they offer an advantage, and for anyone taking them, there is some health risk. It doesn't matter what they do to anyone else, what might they do to you? There is no knowing that so why risk it? And realistically, you don't need them to gain muscular size and strength. You need patience and the determination to force progress workout to workout, week to week. Asking Dr. Ken - Issue #33Asking Dr. Ken - Issue #33 by Dr. Ken E. Leistner Rep ranges I was asked if I had "observed any correlation between bone size/body structure and response to rep range." It seems that until Dr. Ellington Darden in his many writings brought up the matter of reps to be done in any set, little thought was given to it. Now, I believe that too much thought is given to it! I have said many times that the journey is part of the enjoyment of weight training. I never wanted anyone to tell me what to do. Yes, I wanted as much information as possible, but I didn't want to accept anything without trying it first and seeing what modifications might work better for me. Most trainees, and especially the many frustrated hard gainers, are often seeking a formula, an answer, a "magic bullet" that will put them over the top. What I have found in both my own case and those of so many others, despite what is written in the books, is that the effective number of reps will vary from exercise to exercise, and to body part within any individual trainee. Forget the comparison of individuals to each other. Some do really well if their rep range is 10-12 for direct bicep or tricep work, 6 or so in the bench, and 15 for the low back; or vice versa. In my own case, all of my pressing movements make no progress whatsoever if I work over 3-5 reps. Except for the skill work necessary for contest preparation, I never recommend reps that low, but for me, it is a necessity in the overhead press, push press, and bench press. For upper-back work such as shrugs, and any row or pulldown movement, I respond best to 6 or 8 reps. Squats and deadlifts, in part because of my goals in these movements and what I want to get out of them, but also after more than thirty years of experience, find me doing sets of 15-30 reps. If I was to prepare for a deadlift competition or powerlifting contest, I would then go to triples but rarely lower. Most lifters can benefit

from the singles and doubles, but I would not over time. Tens would be about the lowest I would want to go in normal training in the squat or deadlift. This is not only my preference, but what I have found for me, to work best. Kevin has a similar rep range in most of those movements, while Gregory does better on lower reps in the squat and deadlift, especially the stiff-legged deadlift. I don't believe bone size or structure has much to do with this, it's a neurological thing. Speed of training The next question irritated me for some reasonhow's that for honesty? I am not implying that the questioner asked this because he wants to train "easier" but this is the type of thing I get from those who do, so I find it frustrating. Once you are warmed up, you train as heavy and as hard as possible for your specific number of reps in each set. This is a given. Warmups that detract from your top or work set(s) for the day serve no positive purpose. I don't believe in taking a lot of rest between sets once the workout is in gear. This is a hell of a lot different from doing a set, even if doing it intensely, and then sitting on your ass waiting to completely recover before going on to the next set. The stimulus and change that training brings is biochemical in nature. You have to force this change in your body as should be obvious to all of those trainees who do not get results from their training. Intensity, from your body's perspective, occurs when it is forced to really work hard. This also means stressing the anaerobic system in my opinion. If you are in the mood to "demonstrate" how much weight you can use in an exercise, or if you're training for a lifting contest where the purpose is to lift as much as possible, fine, rest as long as you need to in order to use as much weight as possible. If sheer weight were the only thing that the body responded to, then the competitive lifters using the heaviest weights for the lowest reps would have the best developed bodies, and this just isn't true. There is nothing contradictory about stating that, once the workout is going, you are to move fairly quickly between sets and use as much weight as is possible for the given reps. Yes, you will do "better," i.e., use more weight, if you wait to completely catch your breath, get a drink of water, sit and chat a while, psyche up and bang your head into a wall, but it also severely reduces the overall intensity of the workout as we define intensity, and as I believe the body must be stimulated. Thus, it is not contradictory to state that you should minimize warmups and also minimize rest between sets. There is nothing intense about a two-hour workout that should have lasted forty minutes. The same reader also asked if high-intensity training is suitable for anyone. Yes, as long as it is tailored to the individual's history of injury, health, age, activity, etc. Pullover, and pec deck This same reader totally misunderstands the use of the pullover machine. Jan Dellinger recently wrote a great article in hardgainer issue #29 about this, but let me point out to this reader that any exercise that gives work to the musculature of the lats, upper back, upper and mid trap fibers, shoulders, pecs, and triceps, is in no way an isolation movement. Does this sound like anything

was "isolated"? A pec deck is a bullshit exercise that works the muscles that adduct the humerus, period, and that's not too much muscle tissue. Training at the Iron Island Gym A lot of individuals can't figure out what it is that we do at the Iron Island Gym. Ralph and I grew up in our home gyms. We participated in high school sports (Ralph was a heck of a wrestler in his day and heaven help the person who gets locked up with him, even at this point in time) and used weights to help us to improve our performance. There was no doubt however, that our love was focused upon the barbells and benches in his mother's basement or my garage. We were oddballs as few lifted weights in the early sixties. We would sit in a study hall in the back of a large auditorium and study the latest issue of strength and health or Weider's young mr. america. With perhaps only two or three others in the entire high school who trained regularly, we would discuss the latest techniques and training ideas presented to us in these publications, but always reverted to the few basic exercises that our equipment allowed. When both of us began to compete as powerlifters, our programs remained much the same. The emphasis was always on the squat, deadlift and its variations, rows, bench and overhead pressing, dips, and little else. At our gym, this has remained true. hardgainer author Mike Thompson was in town recently and stopped by with two friends. They had a fine workout and commented a number of times that the Iron Island Gym was "the greatest gym ever," the "best we've ever seen," and comments similar to these. Frankly, and as immodestly as possible, we hear this all of the time. When lifters come here to compete or observe our many competitions, they always take the time, which we are appreciative of, to tell us how terrific the gym is. Although I always hold my basement up as the "model" gym, and it is a tough one to live up to, I am always seeking to improve. Recently, we added some of the newly designed Hammer pieces, and Jim Sutherland made us a great shrug machine that the two of us designed while eating ice cream at 2am in Cincinnati (Grater's chocolate chip, if anyone is interested). We have plenty of equipment, both selectorized and plate loaded, to satisfy the most rank beginner's needs, or those of the competitive athlete. We have three, yes three Monolifts where most gyms have none and certainly no more than one, and our reliable electric squat rack which is another Jim Sutherland creation. I could go on, but the point is made. What should be obvious but often isn't, is the fact that almost all of the machines mimic basic barbell or dumbbell exercises. Most of our machines, perhaps because Ralph especially is very discriminating, offer advantages the barbell or dumbbell exercises may not, such as low-back support, or less stress on a non-functional area. Still, they are basic movements. For example, the new Hammer machines we have are beautiful, very functional, and well liked by our men and women, intermediates and advanced athletes. The Iso-Lateral Front Pulldown gives excellent work to the upper back/lats/ biceps-forearm flexors. So will a chin. So will a lat pulldown, and we have a few machines such as the Big Wheel that do that too.

The Iso-Lateral Front Press gives great stimulation to the deltoids and triceps, with trap involvement as the scapulae rotate. So do barbell and dumbbell presses, or steep seated incline presses. The Crusher Leg Press that Jim Sutherland designed and built for us (the carriage alone is 175 pounds, so the not-so-strong could get crushed!) works the hips and thighs as well as do squats and deadlifts. The point I am making is that we have a lot of equipment that allows for the performance of the basic exercises in their different variations. A stiff-legged deadlift is a great variation of the deadlift, but any leg curl on any machine is not. The leg curl will serve a purpose for different trainees' needs, but not for getting muscularly larger and stronger in a significant manner. The dip, to me, is a nice variation of a press or bench press, on bars or a machine, and will work the triceps, shoulders, and chest well; a pec deck is not a suitable variation. Thus, the Iron Island Gym has made its reputation with programs that are updated after each and every workout by yours truly (yes, it is an awful lot of work but this is what brings results), and which are based on a core group of exercises. In the opinion of Ralph, and I second it, here is our list of movements that we feel are effective: 1. Full barbell squat, leg press, deadlift This may seem like a dissimilar grouping, but if you want to be big and strong, this is the key. We don't teach or encourage "parallel" squats. In all cases, we assume that the individual is healthy relative to back and knee problems, and teach full squats. No one teaches the squat as well as Ralph and few have performed it as well either. When we first opened, to get the attention of the young guys, he would walk over to the loaded bar they were using, at least when they would have around 500 on it, and without a warmup, start giving little tips while backing out of the rack and doing 3 or 4 reps. It would blow their minds! Dependent upon body leverages, the leg press can be effective. Our Crusher is an inverted model while the Kell and Flex brands are the 45 sled types that I am less fond of but are awfully popular with the average trainee. The most popular model is the new Hammer Leg Press. The women and competitive lifters especially enjoy it. A point of notewe do not use the leg press to the exclusion of the squat unless physical injury does not allow squatting effectively. The Tru Squat machine is an effective variation for off season, variety, or in the case of an inability to do the barbell squat. The deadlift, with the bar, dumbbells, or Trap Bar, stimulates the same large musculature of the hips and thighs. We like a lot the stiff-legged deadlift from an elevated block or platform. It is murder on the spinae erectors and hamstrings, and I find nothing better for my lats and upper back. In order to maintain proper position of the bar with anything over 300 pounds for 10-20 reps, the upper back and lats, at least in my case, take an absolute beating. 2.Row movements with barbell or dumbbell; Hammer Iso-Lateral Row, High Row, Low Row, Bilateral Row; low cable row, Kell prone row Dependent upon one's body build/ leverages and ability to get a full range of motion without injuring the low back, these are all fine.

3. Shrugs, heavy and full range with barbell, dumbbells or our shrug machine or Hammer's 4. Overhead press with barbell or dumbbells, Hammer Iso-Lateral Front Press I don't like or use the press behind neck. Too stressful on the shoulders and, once the weight gets heavy, no one uses a full or proper range of motion. 5. Bench press with barbell or dumbbells, Hammer Iso-Lateral Bench Press Good form through the fullest range of motion. 6. Dips and chins These are good standbys that work a lot of muscle tissue. Various forms of pulldowns (lat machine, Hammer Iso-Lateral Front Pulldown) are fine and are very good bicep movements. 7. Side bends An underrated movement that I wrote up lavishly in the steel tip, and spotlighted in Stuart's article in the previous issue. It works a fairly big muscle that is important for lots of other things. We push to get the weight over the 100-120 pounds mark for sets of 20 in good form, full range. Not much else. What else is necessary? Dick Conner for one, understands: you don't need to do much, you just have to do it well! Asking Dr. Ken - Issue #35Asking Dr. Ken - Issue #35 by Dr. Ken E. Leistner Arthur Jones I was asked about the time I spent with Arthur Jones in the early Nautilus days. I believe that despite all of the publicity he has had, Arthur Jones has been very much overlooked for the many contributions he made to the field of exercise. No matter what anyone says, Arthur, more than any figure in this past generation, did more for productive exercise and its potential results than has any other one individual. I was very fortunate. My travels brought me to Lake Helen, Florida, and the Nautilus "compound." The Nautilus phenomenon was just beginning. Arthur had returned from Rhodesia in late 1969 or early 1970, drove around Florida, settled on Lake Helen as isolated enough for his tastes, and decided that he would "do something that would make him a few million dollars." Having a life-long interest in exercise, he chose this field to make his mark. It should be understood that Arthur had already been immensely successful. The movies I saw, had him living in what was literally a castle, with planes, trucks, cars, jeeps, and tons of camera equipment in the wilds of Africa. He had developed a special camera mount that took the "wiggle" and shake out of moving pictures even when mounted on a truck going at 40 miles per hour over the African plains. He produced, directed, narrated, and starred in his Wild Cargo television program while developing advanced methods of animal capture and transport. In short, Arthur was, and is, a very bright man who devoted his energies, at least for a short while, to exercise for the purpose of getting muscularly larger and stronger. One of the things that most people did not like about Arthur was his blunt honesty. If you asked him a question, you really had to want the answer because

you would get the unvarnished version of whatever you inquired about. He was also honest about his so-called training methods. He was very quick to point out that he did not invent training methods, although he did invent machines that could make certain aspects of training safer and/or more efficient. Arthur's observations over many years in the field made him believe what most hard gainers have come to see as truthbrief, hard, intense workouts done two to three times per week were best for stimulating gains in the vast majority of individuals. The fact that he was the first to say this in many years, the field having succumbed to the blatant commercialism of those selling supplements, magazines, and the "mystique of bodybuilding," was refreshing, but he also was forthright enough to admit that none of this was original with him. Through the years that Arthur had participated in training, and stood on the sidelines keenly observing the activity, he came to believe that the men who made the best gains relative to genetics, body leverages, and other physiologically-related factors, were those who trained hardest, but infrequently. This might not sound like much now, but when a 1968 issue of iron man notes that Chet Yorton did one hundred and four sets (yes, that's 104) in one workout, and that it was commonplace for bodybuilders to do 50-60 sets in a "typical" workout, the suggestion that one do 8-15 sets in any one workout was extremely radical. Not to train a minimum of four days per week was blasphemy as even powerlifters would often train up to six times per week. Truly, quantity was seen as being better than quality. Arthur has always been a thinker. I believe that he was, and is, extremely intelligent, especially as it applied to strength training. I agree with his observation and statements that as one gets stronger and/or "learns" to train harder, it is necessary to decrease, not increase the volume and/or frequency of training. He was the first to talk of recuperation and informing the public that rest was as important as training stimulation. He was also the lone voice indicating that one needed to eat and not depend upon supplements in order to fulfil nutritional needs. He was the first to blast the mega-dose protein diets and the bottles and bottles of vitamins and minerals that absolutely every aspiring muscle builder walked around with in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Remember, he was the first, and, for a long time, the only one saying these things, in the face of popular dictum. Many of his machines were excellent training tools; some were less than excellent; some were not very good. We buried an awful lot of machines in the sand pit behind the Lake Helen factory because Arthur felt that the prototypes just weren't quite perfect. In one conversation, I volunteered to "dispose" of a bicep machine for him, and put it in my father's loft in New York City. He was very clear that "no one would be training on that because it's not the right thing." It was far better than anything else on the market, or almost anything developed since. As it became apparent that production models had things wrong with them, changes were made. Remember too that Arthur was fundamentally a "barbell guy" and often stated that nothing was more intense, if done correctly, and thus more

productive, than barbell squats and stiff-legged deadlifts. He saw his machines as "intelligent barbells" that mimicked basic barbell movements, but have advantages that a barbell just could not have. To this day, despite the cries of so many that "these machines just don't work," I have been fortunate enough to know through experience and observing very, very strong men train properly on machines, that one can in fact become very strong using machines. If they are asked to demonstrate their strength with a barbell, it won't be done well or accurately, not without lots of practice. However, on the field? Watch Michigan's football team play someone else and then tell me who is using which training program. As Arthur said, "If the Olympic lifts get you so explosive and strong for football, and two teams using the same program play and one beats the hell out of the other, how come the explosiveness and strength of the beaten team wasn't obvious?" Similarly, if a "machine team" beats a "power clean team," can you tell just by watching the game? Obviously not, and Arthur's point was that one has to get the raw material of the body to an improved statei.e., stronger and more flexibleand then the skills of the activity will have to be mastered. This can certainly be done, and has been done, with machines and barbells. Yes, the machines can be used effectively as part of a strength-building program and we use them all the time at the Iron Island Gym, in conjunction with barbells and dumbbells. We always have good college football players that start with us in high school. This year's "model" is Steve Boyd, an All Big East and 1994 preseason All America linebacker at Boston College. He uses a barbell to do squats, variations of the deadlift, shrugs, bench presses, overhead pressing, and curls. He uses machines to do shrugs, pressing on the bench, overhead and incline, and squats (the Tru-Squat machine). There is a place for all of this in any athlete's program, or for those interested in getting muscularly larger and stronger and, for the most part, Arthur Jones can be thanked for this. Arthur has continued his research and development, with MedXTM. He began with computerized equipment that was far better than that being produced by others. Thankfully, he did not abandon the muscle builders as MedX selectorized strength machines are available for both rehabilitation or pure strength building. As before, his quest for "perfect" exercise continues, and until he leaves this planet (and many believe he may not, just to spite everyone), he will, if his work is understood, be a very important contributor to those interested in being bigger and stronger. Questioning, and body fat I don't know if hardgainer readers are goofier than those who read other strength- training publications, but some of the questions we get are beyond reason. Some that are at least reasonable, indicate a basic misunderstanding of what proper training consists of, ignorance of basic physiology, and assumptions that just can't logically come from the information at hand. I'm no intellectual snob, but even as a young teenager first interested in getting bigger and stronger, I read and asked all the questions I could to at least get a foundation of knowledge. Some readers are obviously going off "half cocked" with

little forethought to their queries. That said, I wonder what some are looking at when they do read hardgainer. Try this: "People who train in your gym using your methods seem all to have developed an excellent level of strength. But when I see pictures in hardgainer, I find that very strong people seem also to be fat. Is there a link between being strong and being fat? Have you examples of good muscular development without fat?" When people train to get bigger muscularly, they must train to get stronger. No matter what you read or are told, legitimate researchers will tell you that they have all kinds of bits and pieces as to what goes on when muscle tissue is stimulated. They know what has to be done to get the muscle bigger and stronger, but they're not sure exactly how it happens. The end result is obvious, but not so the process. It is also very much accepted that in order to get muscularly larger, one first has to get muscularly stronger. If one is as strong as possible at a particular bodyweight, the only way to significantly increase the amount of muscle tissue mass of any specific muscle or muscle group, is to gain body weight. Thus, most individuals, especially those not using drugs, must strive to gain weightmuscular weight, but weight nonethelessin order to be stronger, and bigger. Training for ultimate "cuts" or extreme definition is not healthy and, in my opinion, not aesthetically pleasing. A well-trained athlete with minimal bodyfat for any purpose other than competitive bodybuilding, looks very hard in person. However, when compared to the drug-aided, oiled, properly lighted, shaved and diuretics-assisted physiques seen in the magazines and then considered as "the norm," they will not be so impressive, especially in photos. Most of the Iron Island athletes are decidedly not fat. If they carry a legitimate 10-12% bodyfat, this is quite low, especially when one weighs 220 lbs or more. At 300 lbs, this is quite amazing and, frankly, startling in person. What may look "fat" in clothing or even in photos, isn't "fat" when you actually see it. It's just a big, strong, muscular guy, albeit without the "cuts" seen in the glamour magazines. There is no correlation between being fat and strong. Some extra bodyfat, or a particular body build, may allow for improved leverages in some movements, but fat cannot contract and produce power, so it is a disadvantage, also serving as a friction brake during muscular contraction. A guy like Jeff Watson, who is presently the strength and conditioning coach at Villanova is a good example of what we're talking about. At the University of Michigan, he lettered as a football player and shot putter. He is a great athlete who can do pulldowns with 400 lbs, as he did in front of witnesses at the Iron Island Gym. At 63 and 280 lbs, he carries some fat, certainly not an excess, and if he weighed 100 lbs less, it would hardly be noticeable. Believe me, in photos, if not stripped down, Jeff looks like a big bear, yet in person, his muscular strength and development are so obvious. Jose Ramirez, one of Watson's offensive linemen, is similar. At 61 and 275 lbs, Jose trained with us this summer and did great. He is unbelievably strong and well developed. Is he "cut up"? Obviously not. Is he fat? Hardly. I think this reader hasn't been around a lot of really big, strong guys.

Squat devices I continue to get questions about the Manta Ray device, and the Frank Zane squat device. Let me say this as briefly as possible. Stop focusing on the fact that squats are uncomfortable, and squat. Stop messing around because as long as you do, you will not fulfil your muscular potential. It's that simple. Stop looking for easier things to do. The hardest things, like squats and variations of the deadlift, are the hardest, most intense movements, and therefore, potentially, the most beneficial and results producing. Why do readers continue to look for an easy way out? Is the Zane device "easier"? Of course, that's the only reason anyone would even consider using it. Find something that's hard to do if you want to grow. Stop thinking that you should somehow "pad the bar" or "evenly distribute the weight." Get a cambered bar for comfort, load it until it bends, and then do your squats. Aerobic work I believe that aerobic improvement allows trainees to recover more efficiently from their weight training activities. I have always believed this. But if you run or bike too often, however, the activities will take something away (read that as you will be depleted) from your strength training. You can only do so much and if you overdo it and thus prevent proper recovery, you will not train well. However, moderate aerobic activity has so many benefits relative to the cardiovascular system that it's shortsighted not to do some each week, even for a hard gainer. Make sure that enough calories are ingested to make up for any shortfall caused by the additional activity. Plyometrics There have been questions concerning plyometrics. I have written a number of very complete articles about this, as has Matt Brzycki, the strength and conditioning coach at Princeton University. In brief, I would never suggest that plyometrics be done by anyone, for sound physiological reasons. Asking Dr. Ken - Issue #36Asking Dr. Ken - Issue #36 by Dr. Ken E. Leistner Olympic lifting We were asked if Olympic lifting has a place at the Iron Island Gym. Olympic weightliftingthe performance in competition in the events of the snatch, and the clean and jerkcan be a very exciting spectator sport. Although I like powerlifting more than Olympic lifting, I like to watch Olympic lifting at the highest level more than I like to watch powerlifting at the same elite level. The athletic performances are inspiring. When Olympic lifting is done badly though, few things are as boring to me, nor are the potential dangers more obvious. I believe that the performance of the Olympic lifts and the typically-done assistance movements are great, if one is an Olympic weightlifter. Otherwise, I don't believe they are valuable relative to the injury potential, especially for

the individual with poor leverages for the lifts, limited flexibility, or improper technique. One can argue all day long about the "explosiveness" the lifts develop. This is like saying that playing basketball makes you 7 foot tall. If the uninformed were to watch a basketball game and practice, they might believe that playing basketball would make one grow in height. After all, everyone on the court, or almost everyone, especially at the collegiate and professional levels, is awfully tall. We know better, of course, that if one is tall, there is an advantage when playing basketball. Through the process of natural selection, taller players are the ones who eventually rise to the top of the field and dominate the game, no matter how good a small man may be. Just as surely, if the uninitiated watched Olympic lifting and the very rapid and coordinated movement of top Olympic lifters, they might believe that doing the Olympic lifts made these men and women "explosive." The truth is that those who have the propensity, coordination, neurological "hookup," bodily leverages, and potential for strength are the ones who are most suited for the activity, and who eventually rise to the top in the sport. The training and practice make them better of course, but they had a lot going for them to start with. I have seen many long-time Olympic lifters who were not very good, despite excellent technique, with literally no explosiveness. This was obviously due to the fact that no amount of training will allow one to overcome what is not there genetically. Thus, if people want to train to become bigger and stronger, they can do power cleans and, in time, get stronger. However, no muscle group involved in the power clean is put through much of a range of motion, and momentum does an awful lot of the work once that momentum is imparted to the bar. I would much rather see one squat, do properly-performed stiff-legged deadlifts, and shrugs, as opposed to cleans, rapid pulls, and the like. We are very supportive of our Olympic lifters at the Iron Island Gym. Remember, they train on explosive and rapid movements because this is what they are required to do in competition, and there is no way to do that successfully without practicing the movements. We supply cobalt alloy Mav-Rik bars and York Olympic bars, an array of bumper and kilo plates, and lots of platform space for our weightlifters, and they are treated with the respect that all of our other trainees are accorded. Dr. Rich Seibert was a member of the United States Junior Olympic Weightlifting Team and has competed overseas. Tony Gerase, Dr. Joe Debe, Tom Tedesco, and others have represented the area at the Empire State Games, and we have hosted meets in the past. In short, all of us here like Olympic lifting, but not for those who train for other purposes. Twenty-rep squats I was asked about 20-rep squats. It is difficult to know by mail if someone understands the concept of hard training. With no medical or orthopedic limitations, one should be able to make consistent, even if relatively small incremental progress, in adding weight to each movement, especially in things like squats and deadlifts.

The admonition to work as hard as possible means just that. Normally, if one can squat 200 lbs for 10 reps, that's what they do even when they could do 15 with extreme discomfort, and 18 with the certain belief that they might throw up. If they forced themselves to do 20 with that weight, they could do it, but wouldn't want to, as the discomfort in breathing, the trembling thighs, etc., would all be interpreted as signals to stop. However, for maximal gains, one must constantly push to do more than was done last time in the gym. It is that simple. A good set of 20 squats, standing there between reps gasping for air, might take 6 or 7 minutes. Catch one's breath between reps? You should be gasping after 6 or 7 reps. If the reader is squatting what his letter indicates, he's not working hard enough at it, assuming there is no medical/orthopedic limitation. He might want to cut his running back to 20 consecutive minutes two times per week, and follow a very abbreviated program that allows him to really concentrate on getting the weights up in the key movements. Train twice per week on this: Day one a. Overhead press: warmup, 1 x 10 b. Squat: warmup, 1 x 20 c. Overhead press: 1 x 8 d. Chin: as many as possible, or, lat pulldown to chest: 1 x 12, rest for one minute, 1 x 8 e. Squat: 1 x 15 Day two a. Squat: warmup, 1 x 20 b. Bench press: warmup, 1 x 10, rest for two minutes, 1 x 8, rest for one minute, 1 x 15 c. Dumbbell row: 1 x 12, rest one minute, 1 x 15 d. Stiff-legged deadlift: 1 x 15 Do that and you should be "blown out" when you're done with it, and if you're not, you can stop pretending you're working hard. Hoagland Safety Squat Bar I have received a few inquiries regarding the Hoagland Safety Squat Bar. I have addressed this before elsewhere, but some of the comments bear repeating. I don't like it for a number of reasons. This piece of equipment has been around for quite a few years, but it was only in the mid 1980s that it was well publicized, when Dr. Fred Hatfield began to advertise it. Understand that he made his big gains before advertising the bar, but some top lifters like John Ware did well using it. The problem that I most often saw was the fact that most young trainees would support themselves with lighter weights, but as soon as the weights became heavier, they would use the hand holds to pull themselves out of the bottom position. As the weight became heavier, their depth progressively was reduced, and the amount of work done by the upper extremities to pull themselves up from the low position increased. In time, it became a pulling exercise, not a squatting one. I also had a problem with compression of the brachial plexus (peripheral nerve

supply for the arms), as did a number of others who contacted me. While some may find the bar more comfortable, the direct compression on each trap would numb my left arm once the bar was on me for more than a minute or so. Kevin Tolbert found that the bar seemed to be very unstable and move around too much for his liking. It was a distraction that hurt his squat, instead of helping it. Dips Some people can do full-range movements on the Hammer dip machine, but cannot do regular parallel bar dips without experiencing shoulder pain. Simply put, the regular dip, which is a very good exercise, exposes the shoulders to a lot of potential pain and damage. It is a good exercise because it works a number of upper-body muscular structures hard (deltoids, pecs, triceps). As a multi-joint movement that is easy to learn and do, requiring little equipment, and can be used by strong or weak alike (weaker individuals can do negative/eccentric-only dips until strong enough to do them the regular way), it's a very good and effective movement. But because it is directed upon the shoulder joint, and there is an "extreme" range of motion, there is potential for damage. If one already has shoulder degeneration or inflammation, dips are notoriously uncomfortable. The Hammer machine allows one to use zero to an almost unlimited amount of weight during the exercise, and the range of motion can be better controlled than when on parallel bars. One can also slightly alter body position so that the subject is not uncomfortable. This makes the machine and movement very valuable. With regular dips, it is difficult to obtain or even find a comfortable body position, and then control it, especially during the final few reps. Strength and aging One "experienced" trainee wanted to know how old one could be and still become stronger as opposed to "maintaining" levels of strength. That is probably an impossible question to answer accurately because there will be tremendous variation and individual diversity. However, the laws of physiology are such that research has indicated that individuals in their seventies and eighties have significantly increased muscle strength. This will depend upon past activity, overall health, the integrity of joint, muscle and connective tissue and all of the other factors related to aging. For an experienced trainee, I think it's a bullshit question. If you intend to train your entire life, train and do the best you can. Why hang up on how strong you will be in ten years or next year, or compare it to what you did fifteen years ago? At 47, I'm not as strong as I was at 17 but in some specific movements, I actually am better, but in many, worse. So what? The time spent worrying about it or analyzing these things is better spent training! You can only do what you can do. If you stay as healthy as possible, train as hard as possible, and do the other things that support your strength stimulation such as eating and sleeping properly, you will be as good as you can be. T-bar row I do not have a T-bar row in the gym. As I have said numerous times, it is a dangerous and unnecessary movement. You can accomplish the same things with a

dumbbell, barbell, low cable, or Hammer row, so why would you want to put your low back in a potentially dangerous position by doing T-bar rows? If you want erectors, there's always the deadlift and its variations. Asking Dr. Ken - Issue #41Asking Dr. Ken - Issue #41 by Dr. Ken E. Leistner EQUIPMENT When I first began to train in the basement and then garage of my parents' house, I would look at the various muscle magazines and be totally lost when I read things regarding the debate about whether one should use the split style of snatching and cleaning, or the squat style. As I had no idea what the authors were referring to and did not do Olympic-type lifting, it was not a concern of mine. When the fellow who is leaving his house for work at 5am, putting in a tough day on the job, coming home at 5.30pm and then being faced with either school or a second job a few nights per week, or perhaps family obligations while his wife attends classes or a job, the magazines' debates about "machines vs. free weights" means about as much to him as my view of the two snatch styles did thirty-odd years ago. The typical trainee has enough trouble getting through a day and then finding the time and energy to train. If he or she trains at home and can barely afford the Olympic set, bench, and power rack in a basement gym, any discussions about machines are information, perhaps, but not part of his or her reality. For those in other countries, the same might be said. I've seen some crude gyms in other parts of the world where an adjustable dumbbell set may have seemed like a miracle from on high. This is not to imply that one needs fancy equipment to make maximal gains. We all know one needs no more than the basics and a lot of determination and consistency. Machines that are well designed can make training more enjoyable, provide variety, allow one to perform an exercise or give work to a body area that cannot be suitably attacked due to previous injury or body leverage disadvantages, and in a few specific cases, provide an advantage over a barbell or dumbbells. While manufacturers might have you believe that the latter is the primary reason for buying machines, the other reasons are probably more accurate for most. There are those who believe that no machine serves a beneficial purpose other than for rehabilitation or "toning." I will repeat my oft-stated premise that the tool doesn't matter nearly as much as the way in which the tool is used. Machines and barbells should be used the same way, in accordance with the same training philosophy. One does not use a machine differently from a barbell unless they have no true understanding of physiology (and many so-called experts truly don't). In the case of a well-designed pullover machine that is used properly, no barbell or pulley movement can provide the type of potential muscle stimulation to such a large number of major upper-body muscular structures as this one exercise does. Yet, the machine is rarely used by those who believe in "barbell training." In this case, the machine is a definite advantage. Almost any bicep machine is a waste of time in my opinion. A doctoral study indicated that one of the well known manufacturers' bicep machines, using the

most sophisticated load cells and other diagnostic equipment, varied the resistance a total of 3 lbs over the course of the range of motion of the machine! This is hardly significant and despite the limitations of the barbell or dumbbells, these are just as effective and usually a lot more comfortable than any bicep machine on the market. Yet in any gym, if they have but one machine, it will be something for biceps. If you've made the decision to have machines in your facility, they can serve a positive purpose. I believe that nothing is harder, thus more effective, than the barbell squat and stiff-legged deadlift. In a conversation in 1974, Arthur Jones agreed with this assessment. These two exercises can do more for any trainee if exploited to their limits, than anything else you can do in the gym. Kevin Tolbert was perhaps the ultimate product of these two movements, having strung together a no-suit, no-wraps set of 600 x 30 in the squat followed by 450 x 15 in the stiff-legged deadlift on a block. These two sets wiped him out totally, but also were responsible for making him 248 lbs of awesome muscle at 5'8" tall about ten years ago. While this is inspiring, you or your trainees may not be able to do either of these movements safely and/or efficiently. Machines can do the trick. In my opinion, some manufacturers do a good job on their equipment and others don't. I won't mention those that don't. Among those that do, you need to make a decision regarding selectorized or plate-loading equipment. Selectorized equipment allows one to set the weight by plugging a pin into a weight stack. Plate-loading equipment obviously requires the use of barbell plates on the machine as a form of resistance. Most of the plate-loading machines in my opinion and that of our trainees, has a "better feel" than those that are selectorized. They are generally less expensive but take up more floor space. Remember that these are general statements. Some plate-loaded machines feel terrible and no one manufacturer makes the best of everything. While others provide plate-loaded, leverage or "barbell plate resisted" equipment, the best lines are Hammer and Flex. Nautilus has a few good pieces, but the Hammer and Flex lines are superior. The areas to consider are biomechanics, mechanics, aesthetics, footprint, and cost. At least when Ralph and I look, this is the order we use for consideration. Biomechanics are concerned with the resistance pattern of the machine relative to the human body's ability to produce force in the structure being exercised, how one fits into the machine, and how it "feels" when used. Mechanics refer to the actual quality of components, manufacturing, finish, etc. Aesthetics is the look or appearance of the machine including its configuration, paint, upholstery, and overall presentation. Footprint is actual size and shape relative to the way it fits the floor plan. Cost, needless to say, will be the most important consideration for some. Each manufacturer will tell you that they have the most efficient strength curves, the most accurate biomechanics, and the most effective equipment for the purpose of getting stronger. Even if this was true, you just might not like the way the machine feels when you use it. If you don't like it, you won't use it consistently. Hammer and Flex feel good to most trainees, big and small.

Everyone has their favorites and while one may feel that the Hammer Iso Low Row is great, one may prefer the Flex Leverage Row. Both will give excellent low back protection while using heavy weights in a rowing movement that feels really good and is enjoyable to use. Where Hammer offers a press behind neck or a front press, Flex has an overhead press and, again, it will be a matter of personal preference. Both manufacturers do a great job of providing a quality, long-lasting product that is made well and made to last. I've been in the Hammer factory and I will tell you that no one is more professional in what they do. While neither brand name will be "cheap" for the home trainee, both are well priced for any commercial facility or institution. Even in home gyms, at least for some of our trainees, there are a number of Hammer leg presses in use because the individual might want the variety, have injuries that prevent squatting, or in the case of one very strong man, the leg press is "a lot more fun" than the squat. I've said it in these pages before, that even on a tight budget or in a small space, one may want to invest in one particular or specialized piece to work a body part that is difficult to work due to injury, attitude, or body mechanics. Certainly, one's enthusiasm will be enhanced by a variety of equipment. While too much equipment might cause one to overtrain or avoid working hard on the basics, one or two specific pieces might serve as a real incentive. For those without a spotter, Hammer makes a variety of bench and incline pressing pieces that are perfectly safe. Flex has a chest press that also requires no spotting. For those with low back problems, both have pressing and benching pieces that can be done seated with lumbar support. The Hammer Supine Bench Press offers the variety and advantages, if one wants to use them, of iso-lateral training. THE BREATHING SQUAT A reader asked about the breathing squat. One of my first really effective programs consisted of the following: 1. Breathing squat: 1 x 20 super setted with swingbell pullover: 1 x 15 2. Bench press: 1 x 8, 2 x 6 3. Barbell row: 1 x 6, 1 x 6 4. Dumbbell press: 2 x 6 5. Barbell curl: 2 x 6, "rest pause" style The breathing squat was very effective in making me work hard. Although the recommendation was to use relatively light weight (i.e., bodyweight), I went as heavy as possible. This in itself caused me to breathe very heavily throughout the entire set of squats. I believe that a thin young lifter, especially if he or she is intimidated by heavy squats, would do very well doing the relatively lightweight breathing squat for a few months, getting used to the hard work and discomfort it causes, and benefiting from the work. This would also serve as an introduction to the brutally-difficult heavy high-rep squats to failure that should inevitably follow on subsequent programs. REPETITION RANGE There have been some questions regarding the efficacy of utilizing the guidelines of Dr. El Darden regarding repetition range. Let me repeat that while

the guidelines of using a certain percentage of one's maximum single attempt in a movement for a certain number of reps might apply to some, it won't apply to others. In many cases, it may apply to one muscle group or type of movement, but not others within the same individual. I have in the past used my own experiences as illustrative of this "problem." One can play with statistics all they want, but statistics are not people and almost everyone will, over time, find what works for them. In my case, I cannot do more than 8 or 10 reps in any pushing or pressing movement if it is to be done productively. I have to reduce the weight severely, disproportionately, to get reps in the press, bench press, dip, etc. If my max bench was 400 lbs, and it was a lot more than that at one time, I still could not do more than 5 good reps with 300 with any comfort. As always, I could gut out almost anything, but I would break down quickly. With squats and deadlifts I'm currently doing sets of 50, something I've done in the past with good results. Fifty-rep work is very uncomfortable, but not because the muscles aren't "firing." It's uncomfortable for all of the reasons one might imagine it to be. Thus, my single in the squat has never been very good, yet, I can do very high reps with, for example, 80 or 90% of that max. Yet, I can't do nearly as many reps in the press with 80, 70 or 50% of my max in that lift. How do I know? Years of experience. Of course, if I applied Darden's numbers, my workouts would be terrible; too light for my lower body, too heavy for upper. FIFTY-REP WORK For maximum benefit from squats or deadlifts, I don't think one needs to do 50 reps. Certainly, hard sets of 20 will cause lots of cardio huffing and puffing, and probably a good mix of aerobic and anaerobic work. I like the really high reps because of the mental toughness they require. I believe that training should be a reflection of what you are and give you the opportunity to find out things about yourself. I prefer training that forces me to do things I would not normally choose to do, things that most others would not do. This spurs me on to train harder. Do you need to do fifties? No. Will you benefit from a short stint? Absolutely. ABDOMINAL WORK For abdominal work we recommend a few things at the Iron Island Gym. Holding heavy dumbbells high on the chest is more effective than holding plates, as there is a greater leverage disadvantage for the abs when holding the dumbbell. Using manually applied resistance for ab work, for 10-15 reps, is very effective when doing slow ab "curls." We never "throw" the upper body to completion but, rather, "squeeze" it to the top position with the legs and thighs in maximal flexion. This will place the butt right on the heels. This seems to prevent low back problems for our trainees, but effective ab work, especially when combined with slow hip-flexion movements. INDIVIDUAL REP SELECTION A reader referred to my comment in issue #33 that the actual rep range an individual responds best to is a "neurological thing." He wants to know about how he can determine his most appropriate rep range. This is an interesting issue that would spark debate among exercise

physiologists. However, for the typical trainee, the "scientific explanations" may not be useable. Simply put, some individuals do better in terms of getting muscularly larger and stronger using low reps, others high reps. Some respond well to a particular rep range in one part of the body or in certain movements, and not in others. When looking at a trainee's program, if he or she trains hard, consistently and meets the criteria for recuperation, and progresses well in most movements but stalls in one or two, it's time to take a look at the reps. If this occurs consistently with a specific movement, it's definitely time to look at the reps. For example, if our trainee is "stuck" for six or eight workouts at 90 lbs on each side of the Hammer Iso Lateral Incline Press and cannot complete 8 reps, always falling short at 6 or 7, we can change the order of exercises. If the performance remains pretty much the same while other exercises using the pressing muscles improve as do other areas of the body, even when the exercise under scrutiny is done prior to fatiguing its involved muscles with another movement, I would change the exercise. If another pressing movement lends similar results, I would change the reps. Sometimes one can go to an extreme either on the low end or high end of the rep scheme, get good results, and then go back to a more "normal" range of reps. However, through trial and error (and remember that that's part of the trip!) you may, like myself, eventually come to realize that you may strictly overhead press 150 x 10, 180 x 10 or 205 x 10 and the weight won't make too much difference. The eleventh and twelfth rep just aren't there. In my case, the seventh and eighth, and often the sixth, were rarely there, even with a weight that was quite light relative to the weight I could press for 1 or 2 reps less. Other than trial and error I don't know how to solve the problem.