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Bodybuilding

Gold Mine
Free sampler: Chapters 4 and 10
Edited by Stuart McRobert

Please copy and distribute this sampler freely.


BODYBUILDING GOLD MINE is the digital version of HARDGAINER print magazine. Its
available for immediate downloading, for a fraction of the cost of the print issues. Each
volume contains five issues of HARDGAINER magazine.
This sampler has Chapters 4 and 10 of BODYBUILDING GOLD MINE, which correspond
to issues 34 and 40 of HARDGAINER print magazine. (Issue 34 is from Volume 1 of
BODYBUILDING GOLD MINE, and issue 40 is from Volume 2.)
This sampler is a PDF. The actual volumes of BODYBUILDING GOLD MINE are ePubs,
which are much more versatile and user-friendly than PDFs. They can be read on a
desktop or laptop computer, on a hand-held eBook reader, and on some smart phones;
they have indexes and hyperlinks that enable you to move instantly from article to article
and chapter to chapter; and they have bookmarking.
The articles have been fine-tuned, re-formatted, and given an all-new layout for
BODYBUILDING GOLD MINE. But the content is every bit as relevant, helpful and
inspiring today as it was when first published as HARDGAINER print magazine.
Nearly all of the original photographs have been removed, and new pictures have been
added. And although there were few ads in the print edition, all have been removed.

This is a special body of work. No other publication has ever focused so sharply on hard
gainers, in such detail, with such care, and for so long.
Its arguably the best ever magazine for instruction that really works for drug-free
bodybuilders and strength trainees.
Although the entire 1,100 articles will be published in 18 volumes, the articles can be
read in any order whatsoever and still be tremendously helpful.
The more volumes you read, the more expert youll become as your own personal trainer.

But BODYBUILDING GOLD MINE is free of anything to do with


todays bodybuilding champions, and has none of their
photographs, routines, stories, or contests. Instead, it has role
models and success stories that really teach typical bodybuilders
and strength trainees how to realize their own goals.
And it has no advertorials for food supplements, or any ads whatsoever, so its free of any
vested interest with the food supplement industry.
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But its jam-packed with training instruction that really works.


And it has inspirational photographs of terrific physiques (but none of the mass monsters).
Apply what BODYBUILDING GOLD MINE teaches, and you may no longer consider
yourself a hard gainer.
The authors who made the largest number of contributions are among the most
experienced and knowledgeable men in the entire world of drug-free bodybuilding and
strength training. Each of them has decades of real-world, face-to-face experience of
coaching trainees who have ordinary genetics yet want extraordinary achievements.
Follow the guidance of these coaches, to become an extraordinary success yourself.
Furthermore, the number of real-world success stories in BODYBUILDING GOLD MINE
(and HARDGAINER) is unparalleled in any other publication.

The first volume of BODYBUILDING GOLD MINE covers HARDGAINER issues 31 to 35.
Thats 5 issues of exceptional bodybuilding information62 articles and about 300 pages.
The second volume covers issues 36 through 40. Thats a further 5 issues of exceptional
bodybuilding information68 articles and about 300 pages.
These are among the best value-for-money bodybuilding publications youll come across.
Issues 31 through 40 were the first to be re-formatted because only the issues from #31
onward were already in digital form, although without the formatting and style required
for BODYBUILDING GOLD MINE.

Volume 3 is well underwayissues 41 through 45.


If youre unfamiliar with HARDGAINER, just a single volume of BODYBUILDING GOLD
MINE will be a revelation, and capable of transforming your progress.
But the entire collection of 1,100 articles constitutes an extraordinary treasury of
instruction and information, and an amazing education in drug-free bodybuilding
and strength training.

This is the May 2014 edition of the sampler.

To buy individual volumes of BODYBUILDING GOLD MINE,


please visit www.hardgainer.com.
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Sample testimonials
Super magazine! One of the few training magazines that provides honest information
for the average non-drug-using trainee.

Bill Starr, former strength and conditioning coach at Johns Hopkins University, MD, USA
HARDGAINER is the greatest physical culture magazine in history.

Bob Whelan, Whelan Strength Training, Washington, DC (for 22 years), and now at Fort
Pierce, Florida, USA
For me, the good ole days of my strength training youth occurred in the early 1990s
when I was fortunate enough to stumble across HARDGAINER magazine. I was about
20 years old and had been doing just about everything wrong with my training. In a
nutshell, I had been following the advice of the popular bodybuilding magazines of
the time and had achieved very few results for my efforts. HARDGAINER set me
straight in a hurry, with a formula for success thats as relevant today as when Stuart
introduced it over 20 years ago. He changed the focus from purely aesthetics to one
that is easier to measure and more fun to pursue by introducing the 300/400/500
benchmarks for the squat, bench press, and deadlift.
By working toward achieving those numbers while also eating a healthy diet and not
letting my body fat get out of control, I saw almost immediate improvement in my
physique. What a concept! You mean, stronger muscles are actually bigger muscles?
Wow! This was fun stuff. Needless to say, I was hooked, and for good reason . . . the
training advice Stuart and his regular contributors offered worked. I found myself
running to my mailbox in anticipation of each bimonthly issue, and not to make
wholesale program changes as the muscle rags often advocated, but to reinforce the
central theme of training on basic, compound movements with moderate to low
volume and always with an eye toward adding more weight to the bar in good form.
Over the years I continued to progress with my training by working hard and
consistently on simple programs. As my training weights climbed well beyond the
300/400/500 targets, I ventured into the sport of powerlifting and have competed
successfully for nearly 20 years. On April 20, 2013, at age 43 and at a bodyweight of
216 pounds, I achieved my best powerlifting total to date1,600 poundswith a
600-pound squat, 380-pound bench press, and 620-pound deadlift. I made these lifts
using no supportive gear other than a lifting belt.

Chuck Miller, Hagerstown, Maryland, USA


For several decades, Stuart McRobert has been the most rational, articulate, and
compassionate leader in the bodybuilding and strength-training field. HARDGAINER
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offers an inspiring account of that story, told in a warm, friendly style. It includes the
works of renowned trainers, who were influenced by Stuart, as were the rest of us.
HARDGAINER is about getting each of us better, safely, whether using basement gyms
or modern palaces. Stuarts editorials alone are worth the price of the publication.
And now this can be had five issues at a time, rather than by eagerly awaiting one
issue at a time as original subscribers did. The recommendations made in
HARDGAINER are as valid today as they were from its inaugural issue.
No other authority has had as much impact on my own results, or the way I thought
about the processes of training. All of that was made possible by the way Stuart has
led from the front, in his books and in HARDGAINER.

Arty Conliffe, Bronx, New York, USA


I recently purchased a few copies of HARDGAINER, looking for a specific topic.
Instantly I found myself reading every article in the issues. The magazines are dense
with information and hardly any space is wasted with anything other than good solid
information. This is in deep contrast to other muscle mags that feature only a few
useful articles and the rest is nothing but fluff and advertising. I look forward to
adding all copies of HARDGAINER to my Iron Game collection.

Eric Ramos, El Paso, Texas, USA


Your magazine is by far the greatest thing that has ever happened to my training.
Words cannot express how important it has been to me. HARDGAINER is the greatest
training resource anywhere! When I go to most gyms, I am usually the strongest guy
there. I have you to thank for that. The group of writers in HARDGAINER are the best
out there. If you want to get bigger and stronger, get this magazine.

Jeff Myers, Nashport, Ohio, USA


The unique factor that differentiates HARDGAINER magazine, BRAWN, and Stuarts
other publications from the heap of usual photo-crammed, airbrushed, bottled-tan,
supplement-catalogue magazines on the retail rack is focus. I mean the deliberate,
tight focus on a particular target population; specifically, the non-pharmaceuticallyenhanced, genetically-average trainee desiring no less than the maximum realization
of his or her inherent potential in muscular development, strength, health, and cardio
fitness. Thats ita simple and straightforward mission statement, although prior to
HARDGAINER, one that I had never encountered in 40 years of reading.
With HARDGAINER, quality is the guide word. Small in format, you say? Remove the
advertisements, photo shoots, and pseudoscientific research from the bloated
muscle magazines, and the usable information for the quintessential hard gainer
would be a good deal less than he or she would find in HARDGAINER. HARDGAINER,
unlike the other muscle mags, does not pretend to be all things to all people. But it is
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the linchpin, the keystone, the illuminated path, for drug-free, genetically-average
trainees desiring the fulfillment of their physical potential while simultaneously
enjoying a relatively balanced, rich and satisfying lifestyle.

Rich Abbott, Santa Paula, CA, USA, 500-pound deadlifter at 65 years old and 164pounds bodyweight
Ive now completed my collection of HARDGAINER. The quantity of worthwhile
information for genetically normal trainees (about 90% of the population) is without
compare. Stuart and all the other contributing authors have been in the training
trenches, have mostly been misled by the popular muscle media and the training
methods of the champions (and all of their deception and lies), and through trial and
error have discovered sensible training methods for the average- to hard-gaining
individual. Each issue is full of essential and meaningful information and guidance.
Although the training methods vary somewhat from author to author, the
fundamentals are common to all, as are the goals. The methods presented in each
issue will help anyone to reach his or her potential in strength and physical
development. And theres plenty of attention given to development of robust health,
flexibility, agility, training for the older trainee, and improvement of the mindits a
true journal of physical culture. Even though you modified or changed some of your
views over the years, most of even the earliest articles still stand the test of time and
are as useful and relevant today as when first written.
I would encourage anyone who wants the very best in training guidance and
information to own the complete collection of HARDGAINER, and read them over
and over again. The only negative thing I have to say is that there are no brand new
issues. But theres now the digital edition, which makes the magazine available for a
whole new readership. Thank you for publishing the very best physical culture
magazine of all time.

Peter Yates, Huntington, New York, USA


HARDGAINER magazine was a game changer. For 15 years, bodybuilders and
strength seekers were supplied with information everyone could benefit from: small
people, big people, and everyone in between. Little was required other than a
barbell, a steady supply of decent food, and a bed.
Before 1989, a steady, reliable source of information about barbell exercise didnt
exist. The closest thing was Peary Raders Iron Man, and even that mixed real pearls
with odd pebbles. Pearys stated intention was to offer the whole spectrum of advice.
But Peary started publishing in the 1930s. By the 1960s, the period that another
magazine termed the Dianabol Decade, it was possible for guys with the potential
of Hercules to gain on routines nobody else could, now that they were on anabolic
steroidsand ghost writers wrote up these routines and presented them as models
for the rest of us.
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What it did, of course, was create a market for food supplements. From the 1960s
to now, most bodybuilding magazines evolved into glorified supplement catalogues,
selling pills that the bodybuilding stars didnt even take. (They had what they needed
in the needle they got stuck with.)
Stuart McRobert suffered a disappointment similar to mine in the 1980s, after
following high-intensity training as it was presented by Arthur Jones. It didnt seem
to work, even if the theory made sense. Stuarts conclusion was borne out in his
workouts. Rather than taking every set to utter failure, he began borrowing from
the wisdom not of the very strong guys who worked out in their garages and cellars
all over the world. One of the most important notions he began to use was
intensity cycling.
And he gained! I remember reading his articles in Iron Man in the early 1980s. I
treasured my magazines and took very good care of them. Despite that care, I
underlined and put check marks in the margins of Stuarts articles. Id never done that
with any other bodybuilding writer, and I havent since. Thats the chord he struck with
those first articles.
I wasnt alone. Stuart found out after he began publishing HARDGAINER that
people in nations all over the world recognized sound advice when they read it.
I contributed some thoughts to the magazine over the years, along with five other
bodybuilding magazines (and other publications). HARDGAINER remains the only
one of those magazines I would classify as vital for the non-drug-using weight
trainee to possess: possess and read and go back to.
If you dont have the original print magazines, fear not: Theyre now being
published in digital form. I hope you send for them . . . and use them. As a
bodybuilding resource, theyre pure gold.

Steve Wedan, Franklin, Tennessee, USA


HARDGAINER provides serious training information for drug-free traineesno
sugar coating, just honest information.

Ted Lambrinides, Ph.D., former editor, HARD TRAINING newsletter, Cincinnati, OH, USA
Ive been a voracious reader of strength and bodybuilding publications over the
last 25 years. I had at one time subscribed to seven different publications (and read
far more). And out of all of them, HARDGAINER was my favorite.
In it Id find the most sensible training advice mixed with some very inspirational
stuff. Reading about other trainees making success without drugs on abbreviated,
yet intense, training just constantly fired me up. I couldnt get enough of it.
The issues came every two months and I couldnt wait to rip open the packaging to
start reading when they came in.
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Recently I wanted to read them all again. I had lost a bunch of issues and had
others damaged due to water damage in my basement. I was ecstatic to find that
Stuart still had a few nearly mint copies of all of them. I ordered around 70 HG
magazines just the other day. They came shipped expertly and I received them
quickly (considering that they had to come air mail). And re-reading (or reading for
the first time, in some cases) the magazines brought back great memories and has
me anxious for my next workout.
Anyone, and I mean anyone, would benefit from reading HARDGAINER.

Craig K of Pittsburgh, PA, USA


For anyone involved in weight training (or considering taking it up) you need to
familiarize yourself with HARDGAINER. I cant recommend it highly enough. I spent
almost four years of my life wasting so much time and energy on inappropriate
training routines that were promoted in the mainstream bodybuilding magazines.
HARDGAINER is not like your typical bodybuilding magazine. Instead, youll find
real information in it on what it really takes to build an impressive physique. I only
wish Id come across it earlier in my training career.

Luke Shackleton, New Farnley, Leeds, England


Im in the military, and everywhere I go, exercising is a big deal. I hear all the time
how, in order to get big, or get hard, you have to take all kinds of supplements
and train every day. Its all just a scam for supplement companies to make as much
money as they can. Many of the supplements they talk about are hot for a while,
and then disappear.
Everything Ive read in CS Publishings books is followed up and proven in the
HARDGAINER. I dont want a magazine that has little but ads about the products
that support the magazine itself. I dont want a magazine that tells me that I need
to not only purchase the magazine itself but also hundreds of dollars of
supplements to go with it. I need a magazine that is to the point, tells it like it is,
and is free of crapHARDGAINER.

Ken Holt, Ft. Bragg, NC, USA

To buy individual volumes of BODYBUILDING GOLD MINE,


please visit www.hardgainer.com.

Chapter 4
Editorial, by Stuart McRobert
190
Focus, and the training high. How to make the most of your training.
A Visit to the USA: Part 1, by Mike Thompson
191
Iron Island Gym in New York; detailed account of Brooks Kubik training in Louisville.
The Growing Edge, by Dave Maurice & Rich Rydin
199
Training cycles, cycle termination, rate of progress, repetition-conversion tables.
The Training Methods of Joseph C. Hise, by Arnold M. Spector
204
Hises training doctrine, practical training, growing exercises, and strength training.
Asking Dr. Ken, by Dr. Ken E. Leistner
209
Equipment, soreness; rep speed; very high reps; getting up for training; dietary tips.
Sixteen Years On: Part 1, by Casey J. Ramas
213
Authors success story. Guidance on weight training, aerobics and nutrition.
Barbells Up, Dumbbells Down, by John McKean & Bob Karhan
A wealth of guidance on training with dumbbells.

218

Magnum Opus, by Mark Marowitz


224
Authors success story. High-intensity training under Dr. Ken Leistners supervision.
Concentrate! by Brooks D. Kubik
230
Ten-point plan for making your training more effective.
Chiropractic, by Dr. R. Keith Hartman
236
Youth training; early-morning training; hydration.
Forum, edited by Stuart McRobert
240
Sources of advice; discipline and the qualities of disciplined people; seeing the light.

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EDITORIAL
Focus, and the training high
by Stuart McRobert
Ive said it before, and Ill keep on saying it: Hardly anyone really makes the most of their chance to
train. Consequently, too few trainees experience the training high.
While it can sometimes be helpful learning about what others are doing, and keeping in touch with
supposed advances here and there, what matters most is the practical application of knowledge.
We provide you with different interpretations of basic and abbreviated training because just one
rendition doesnt suit everyone. Find an interpretation that works well for you, and this involves
experimentation, then get on with doing it, and doing it, and doing itagain, and again, and again.
Dont agonize over your training not being perfect. Dont intellectualize things excessively. And
never drop a productive program just because youre tempted to try something else.
Watch out for seeking the perfect routine. Once on that slippery slope youll almost certainly join
the great mass of trainees who are buried in all the peripheral, marginal, and even downright
irrelevant if not destructive (not to mention the financial ripoffs), rather than knuckle down, long-term,
to paying the necessary dues on a basic, proven program.
Had food supplements never been invented, had there never been any bodybuilding drugs, and had
there never been any equipment innovations beyond the basics of what a gym needs, the unswerving
application of what we teach in this magazine would deliver much more progress for the masses than
whats actually being delivered today, despite the plethora of supposed (and even actual) advances.
Dont waste chunks of your life before finally learning this truth. So few people learn it, and nearly all
who do must first waste years, if not decades of their lives, before finally grasping it. What usually
happens, though, is people assume resistance training cant work for them, and thus give it up.
Determined, dedicated, abbreviated, focused and basics-first training doesnt just deliver muscle and
strength which are, in themselves, hugely satisfying. The training is a joy to perform because it brings
workout-by-workout satisfaction from realizing small bits of progress again and again and again . . .
Effective training makes you feel better. You revel in it, and thus apply even more zeal. Then you get
better gains. The confidence developed may carry over to other areas of your life. And the enormous
value of focus and organization in the gym show you the way to go outside of the gym.
While corners often have to be cut to accommodate the circumstances of life, schedule one of your
weekly workouts at the weekend, when you probably have fewer demands on your time.

When you make time for your training, then train well, shower and eat, youll walk on water and
experience the training high. Make the most of your training!

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A Visit to the USA: Part 1


by Mike Thompson
A phone call from Ian Campbell, at around the end of April 1994, elicited my snap decision to
accompany Ian and his friend, Doug, on a trip to the USA. We intended to absorb the sights of New
York City for a couple of days. Then wed head out to Louisville, Kentucky, where we would visit my
friend, Brooks Kubik. Doug had some people to link up with in Cincinnati, which is the home town of
another friend of mine, and also a contributor to HARDGAINER, Greg Pickett. Taking all these points
into consideration, we had the framework of a loose itinerary.
On informing Brooks of my intentions, he suggested I whip myself into condition to try out a bench
press shirt on a limit bench attempt at the gym he uses in Louisville. Busying myself in preparation, I
never gave a thought to the old adage, the best laid plans . . . A motorcycle accident two days
before departure to the US rendered my left triceps out of action for the duration of the trip.

New York
We arrived in New York City on Monday, June 27. It was larger than life, and extremely interesting
in spite of its midsummer heat and humidity. The couple of days we intended spending there
melted into a few, leaving Ian and Doug itching to take a workout. During a late-evening stroll in
midtown Manhattan, Doug spotted a basement gym where he and Ian were determined to flex
some muscle. After about ten minutes inside this haven of health, I was reflecting on why Id
opted for my own home gym.
The Manhattan establishment, while being well equipped, possessed an atmosphere somewhere
between a railway station and a rave disco. The clientele ranged from the weird, to the lost, and to
the downright disinterested. This I put down in part to the lack of instruction, competent or otherwise.
The training floor was strewn with exercise plates amongst which a bloated and acne-ridden individual
was heaving up reps on cheating curls, using a plain exercise bar loaded with Olympic discs. Nursing a
busted triceps, I didnt venture too close for fear of an airborne small Olympic plate.
Sitting on a seemingly redundant Nautilus pullover machineobserving all the exotic exercise forms
on display, and whilst being deafened by the driving rap beatI found myself pondering on the state
of mind of the individuals there. At the same time I couldnt help reflect on how easy it would be to
turn matters around via a tidy gym floor, a positive attitude, and some competent instruction. The
swapping of the mega-watt sounds for the more industrious clanking of barbell plates would have
improved matters no end. As the visitors training tariff per workout stood at $12.50 per head, I
couldnt resist inquiring if that price included the on-going entertainment. Finally, common sense
prevailed. We were once again out on the sidewalk in the high 80-degree midnight Manhattan heat.
Over a late-night supper at a small Italian diner, I suggested a visit next day to Dr. Ken Leistners Iron
Island Gym in Oceanside, Long Island. Agreement was reached, along with the mutual hope of
receiving a much-welcome blast of fresh sea air.

Iron Island Gym


Oceanside is a world removed from Manhattan, in terms of atmosphere and structural layout. This
geographical difference, however, was nothing relative to the contrast between the training dive wed
been in the previous evening, and Kens Iron Isle Gym.
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In my opinion, the benchmark for how a gymnasium should be was up and running in Lawson
Boulevard, Oceanside, New York. On entering the gym foyer we were greeted by Ann Tuite, Kathy
Leistners sister. She gave us some forms to record personal details, also telling us that the first
workout was free of charge, to allow prospective members to get the feel of the gym.
As with every square inch of this establishment, the changing rooms were immaculate. A wall picture
displaying Kevin Tolberts massive muscularity really fired up Ian and Doug for training. Despite my
injured arm, I was determined to try something irrespective of how light it would have to be.
Leaving the changing quarters, we passed an aerobic conditioning bay complete with stepping
machines and stationary bikes. Kens foster son, Greg, greeted us on the training floor. Greg, another
HARDGAINER fan, has a very thick-muscled build for such a young man. Im referring to natural
muscularity, not the drug-bloated variety. Greg assists with the training instruction. He informed us
that although Ken was busy for the time being, hed be with us as soon as possible.
Before commencing the workout we decided to examine the gyms apparatus. Everything was welllaid out. Each piece of equipment was state of the artno compromises whatsoever. There were also
a few special items such as thickened bars. One of these was a heavy globe-ended version featured in
HARDGAINER issue #13, with Ken performing a standing press with it. On the gym lifting platform I
noticed a 2-inch-diameter trap bar with sleeves for Olympic plates.
In about the center of the gym stands a huge pulley-wheeled lat machine, the likes of which Ive only
seen illustrated in photographs of the old Zuvers Hall of Fame Gym. I couldnt resist trying it out. It
was very smooth and effective. In spite of my injury, I could feel the beginnings of a back pump after
only a few light reps.
A heavy-gauge steel power rack was available for sectionalized strength training. To accommodate
the power moves there were a couple of terrific support racks, the likes of which Ive never seen
before. The dumbbell department ranged in increments of 5 pounds from around 5 pounders to 200
pounds each.
The training atmosphere at the Iron Isle is highly infectious. The gym walls are a veritable
photographic gallery of physical culture, ranging from early exponents of muscle control and old-time
lifting, through to the modern stars of power and Olympic lifting. Tentatively stretching the injured
triceps, I decided on some light curling. While easing the biceps through a few reps, I received a tap
on my shoulder.
I turned round to a handshake from Ken, who admonished me for not advising him of my planned
visit, as Id allowed him no opportunity to organize a proper reception. We had a conversation and a
great laugh together. I know hed enjoy a visit to Scotland as he possesses a Scots sense of humor.
Although no longer maintaining large muscle bulk, Ken is muscular and fit in appearance. His strength
is well in evidence. He produced a box of hefty iron spikes. Doug, who sports a muscular 16-inch
upper arm and 13.5-inch forearm, managed to bend one of these after a struggle. Ken, who has small
hands and wrists, bent one of these bars into a horse-shoe shape with such ease that I reckon he
could have worked through a dozen of them without any trouble, and in short order. His grip must be
that of a vice, demonstrating how such a small-boned man could generate the strength to pull over
600 pounds in the deadlift.
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Before we left, Ken gave each of us an Iron Isle T-shirt plus a miniature York dumbbell. I also received
as many copies of THE STEEL TIP as Ken could lay his hands on. Ive read these from cover to cover
and was very impressed with their honest and straightforward training information. I regretted having
to leave such hospitality, and not being able to meet more of Iron Island Gyms crew. The Iron Island
Gym is a sterling credit to Ken and everyone involved in its creation. Without doubt its one of the
worlds finest training establishments. I saw no evidence of steroid use, and I have a keen eye for
finding it. All the trainees I met were highly interested and well-built through natural means. Im
convinced that the sheer atmosphere of this gym has much to do with its success.

Louisville
Our next port of call was Louisville, Kentucky, home of Brooks Kubik. The timing of our arrival was
poor, on the Friday of the Fourth of July holiday weekend. The local hotels were full and we had to
settle for a motel about seven miles out of town. Brooks and his wife, Ginnie, drove out to meet us on
the evening of our arrival. After brief formalities we discovered a common bond, hunger. Brooks and
Ginnie had been at work all day whilst we three had spent a days travel via jet planes and
underground trains. Fatigue soon dissipated amidst conversation over an excellent dinner.
Next day, Saturday, Brooks collected us in the evening for a workout at Buds Gym. Brooks was
going heavy on rack bench presses. Again, I had occasion to curse my injured triceps.
Buds Gym is situated in the basement of a shopping mall in Louisville. Its main feature is that it has
loads of well-constructed, basic and functional equipment.

Bench pressing
Brooks rack was one of the sturdiest Ive seen, but it has to be to withstand the poundages he moves
off its pins. For a man who has a never even tasted a slug of metabolic optimizer, let alone anything
remotely anabolic, Brooks would shock the drug fraternity. He possesses a physique of the caliber of
that once owned by John Grimek. His muscle groups are thick, hard, dense and almost maximally
developed. His thigh adductor, and arm, shoulder and chest regions are almost freakishly developed.
Theres no evidence of pumped tissue anywhere, just rock-hard muscularity. The reason for such
development will unfold itself as you follow Brooks through his training.
Brooks other gym possession is a perfectly-functioning Eleiko power bar, which no one in the gym
drops, abuses or scratches. When Brooks lifts heavy, all the pumpers and casual trainees disappear
from where he trains.
The bench workout was very simple. With the bar set on pins so it just grazed his chest in the starting
position, Brooks took 154 pounds for 5 very precise warm-up reps, followed by 242 for a single. A
single with 330 came next, then Brooks prepared for the serious stuff.
With the bar now at 402 pounds, he donned a bench shirt, heavy-duty wrist wraps, and a power
beltthe same gear he uses in powerlifting competition. Brooks sustained a serious shoulder injury
several years ago while performing a heavy press behind neck, and started wearing the bench shirt to
keep from re-injuring his shoulder.
During the past year, however, he has tried heavy benching without the shirt, starting with close-grip
benches in the power rack, bar starting at his chest. This is an exercise that typically places less strain
on the shoulder joints than does his typical medium-grip bench press. Without injury, he worked up
193

to a 418-pound single in this style. This caused him to reevaluate the whole idea of the bench shirt.
The two times he hit bench presses during my visit were the last times he wore the bench shirt in
training, and he has no present intention of using the shirt in the future. One of his creative ways of
protecting the shoulder joint involves the use of a 3-inch-diameter bar for bench pressing (which
Brooks currently uses in his newly-established home gym). This necessarily reduces the total
poundage, and thus, the stress on the joints.
But what did a guy who was genuinely capable of a strict 200-pound curl want with heavy wrist wraps?
For the answer, Brooks bench press technique needs to be understood. Ive doubled 370 pounds in
the bench press using no supports, the rub being that my double was pressed vertically. Brooks
doesnt press vertically. Were now getting to the secret of maximizing bench pressing ability, along
with total torso development.
When Brooks benches, his body placement is tight, lats tensed beneath the upper arms with elbows
close to the sides. On explosion of all the torso muscles, the bar is driven around two inches vertically
from above the lower sternum. (The starting position has the bar at the lower chest, right across the
nipples or a bit loweralmost exactly where the pectoral muscles tie into the breastbone and rib
cage.) Its then pressed at an incline up and back to lockout directly above his eyes. At approximately
the halfway stage of this manoeuver, his elbows are flared out almost push-pulling the bar to
completion. Brooks notes that the upper arms should follow a similar path to that taken if you were
doing a version of an upright rowing motion. Such is the practiced force of the second half of his
bench press, that Brooks has to snap his wrists and hands forward to arrest the travel of the bar that
weighs in the region of 200 kg, hence the requirement for substantial wrist protection and support.
The 402 steadily accelerated to lockout, followed by 420. During these lifts it was plain to see almost
every fiber from wrist through arms, shoulders and neck, plus upper back to lumbar muscles, working
right down to their core. A heavy swelling (not pump in the accepted sense) became very apparent
during the heavier singles. Brooks subtly appeared to be even more carved out of granite. Ian and I
slipped on a pair of tens, bringing the bar to 440.
With controlled breathing and deliberate concentration, Brooks tightened his wrist wraps and the
power belt. Precisely placing his feet, he contracted his torso into position under the bar. Taking his
grip, he pulled his chest up to the bar, and tightened his shoulder down to pressing position on the
bench. On a vicious but controlled torso explosion, the bar was instantly 2-3 inches into the press
which moved slowly and smoothly to lockout over his face. Brooks lowered the bar via the same route
back to the pins440 pounds, and all that was heard was a soft clink.
When I saw him train, Brooks used a competition arch in his bench press training. He kept his hips
and shoulders solidly on the bench but flexed his lower back muscles hard in order to maintain a
tightly arched position throughout the bench press movement. He now trains with much less of an
arch, and finds that its much easier on his lower back. Ken Leistner has noted that the competitionstyle bench press can cause lower back problems, and Brooks heartily agrees. Brooks notes that
wearing a belt doesnt really protect the lifter against strain caused by the arched style of benching.
The only way to avoid it is to train your benches with the entire back flat on the bench.
This workout was concluded by four sets of parallel-grip lat pulldowns. The final set of 5 reps was
done with 240 pounds. He can use more than this but has had problems with the machine (once the
cable snapped, and another time the hook that attached the pulldown bar to the cable broke), so he
keeps the poundage down a bit.
194

Summary of workout #1
1. A few minutes limbering up with some light stretching
2. Rack bench press from the chest: 154 x 5, 242 x 1, 330 x 1, 402 x 1, 420 x 1, 440 x 1
3. Pulldown: 4 x 5, working up to a final set with 240 pounds
If anyone thinks such a limited workout couldnt contain much in the way of work, you must witness
first hand the muscular effort involved, plus the effect of a strongman bench pressing in excess of 400
pounds for a few single lifts, to appreciate fully the magnitude of such strength. Remember, Brooks
isnt a product of anabolic drug abuse. Implementation of his training system, based solely on
poundage progression combined with provision for proper recuperation, has allowed him to realize
his training ambitions.

Concentration technique
Brooks believes that serious training requires intensely-focused concentration. He always uses a
training diary, always knows what he did the last time he trained a particular movement, and always
sets goals for each upcoming session. His technique for applying concentration is ritualized in a
manner that allows him to progressively intensify his focus before every set he performs (including
warm-ups).
In the bench press, for example, he loads the bar, then walks away from the rack, calming his
breathing and leveling his concentration. He allows no talking, but probably wouldnt hear it anyway.
Brooks turns, faces the bar, and focuses on it, and it alone. His breathing deepens, and his body
seems to expand with muscular tension. He later told me he was rehearsing the upcoming set at
that time. Clearly, he was oblivious to his surroundings.
He then steps purposefully and deliberately to the bar, stops, turns, focuses even more intently, then
lays back on the bench, assumes the pressing position, breathes deeply, and explodes.
The white-hot concentration doesnt waiver one iota during both the explosive pressing of the bar,
and its controlled descent to the rack pins.

Squatting
Next day, Sunday, the workout schedule was to be squats in the power rack from two inches above
parallel, followed by EZ-bar curls. The squat was worked via the same set/rep format as the bench
press. This may seem simple until, once again, sheer poundage is taken into consideration.
Brooks employs a consummate power squatting technique. A wide stance brings quads, adductors,
hips, glutes and lumbar muscles into full play. Ive always found the squat an easy lift owing to
favorable leverages. (Ive done a 490 high-bar close-stance Olympic-style squat, using a training belt
along with a pair of 4-inch crepe bandages.) My squatting attitude was irrevocably changed after
watching Brooks in action. The first time I tried a rough approximation of this power style, and despite
having not squatted heavily for a while, 300 pounds literally jumped from parallel to lockout with very
little impression of poundage on my shoulders.
Through the same precise warm-up as in the bench press, Brooks moved through four progressive
singles to 540 pounds. From a dead stop he pushed it to full lockout using sheer brute strength. Once
again his muscles were assuming that subtle deep-fiber swell, which only comes from work with
massive poundages.
195

Raising the bar to 570 pounds, Brooks hooked on the suits shoulder straps, tightened the power belt,
then squeezed under his final single. Setting himself to benefit from maximum leverage, his whole
body contracted in effort. Slowly, the bar moved away from the pins and all the way to the standing
position. Such is the leverage afforded through this squatting styleas with the power bench
techniquethat any mechanical sticking point is minimized. I was astounded to watch such huge
weights steadily accelerating until braking just before lockout.
I was also taken aback with the degree to which the adductors and hamstrings seemed to have the
same amount of mass and protrusion as his quads. Indeed, I could only align the standard of Brooks
thigh development to that of the modern drug-built physique stars. This is truly remarkable since he
uses no drugs whatsoever, merely these massive-poundage power squats, once per week for a
total of around 10 reps.
Brooks wore a squat suit on these sets, with the straps down until he tried his final set of the day with
570. He used knee wraps on his final two sets (540 and 570). As with the bench shirt, at present he has
gotten away from the suit and wraps and is exploring different training approaches that work the
muscles extremely hard while imposing much less strain on the joints, hence minimizing the need for
support gear. I suspect that these training ideas will be covered by Brooks himself in future issues of
HARDGAINER, so I wont say anything more about them now.

Curling
Through exercise style, poundage application and sheer determination, Brooks has transformed his curl
into a true power movement. Using an Eleiko Olympic-sleeved EZ-curl bar for both quality and
smoothness of operation, he has progressed to almost bodyweight for a strict curl. This bar is six inches
longer than standard EZ-curl bars, and allows a wider hand grip than other bars. Brooks never uses a
standard EZ-curl bar because he has to place his hands too close together for maximum benefit.
Over three progressive sets of 5 reps he arrived at 185 pounds for a very intensive final set. Chalking
his palms, then securing the heavy-duty wrist wraps, Brooks set a strong shoulder-width stance before
pulling the bar to starting position. Now comes the difference between the Kubik-power-style and the
run-of-the-mill variety. He sets a vicious tension in his thighs, abdominals, lats and arms. Taking an
inhalation resembling that used on a limit squat, and with every muscle in his frame giving 100%
effort, Brooks curled the bar to below his chin. Psyching and tensing himself during the lowering
phase, he prepared for the next rep. On completion of 5 reps, the 185 pounds returned to the floor,
leaving Brooks almost as spent as he was with the 570 squat effort.
When Brooks related in HARDGAINER issue #22, regarding his top set of curls, that another set or rep
would be impossible even if his life depended upon it, you can believe him. From this eye-witness
experience, he wasnt kidding. Only this special kind of poundage application and effort will
eventually enable the interested trainee to curl weights that most men can barely press.

Summary of workout #2
1. A few minutes limbering up
2. Rack squat from 2 inches above parallel: 154 x 5, 242 x 1, 330 x 1, 418 x 1, 506 x 1, 540 x 1, 570 x 1
3. Curl: 99 x 5, 121 x 5, 151 x 5, 185 x 5
In the next installment of this report Ill cover Brooks three further workouts of the week of my visit. I
hasten to add that this weeks training was not typical of Brooks usual schedule. Due to my stay, and
196

our visits to three different gyms in that week, Brooks overdid his training. After I left, he was wiped
out and needed nearly a week off before getting back into the gym.
In Part 2, Ill also describe Brooks unique practice of the seated press and how this has related to his
benching prowess. There will also be a detailed account of Brooks and I visiting one of Americas classic
gyms, situated in Evansville, Indiana, created and run by a fine gentleman called Dick Conner. There will
also be a meeting with Greg Pickett, in Cincinnati. Also in Cincinnati, we visited the Hammer
headquarters where we met its bear-like director, Kim Wood. Kim is an encyclopedia of physical culture
lore as well as strength coach for the Cincinnati Bengals football team, and a big fan of HARDGAINER.
Along the way I encountered and contended with a superbly-crafted globe-style barbell, the waterfilled barrel that appears on the cover of HARDGAINER issue #30, an 80-pound cannonball, the Roark
challenge dumbbell, and several antique barbells and dumbbells used by famous strongmen of days
gone by, including a huge dumbbell owned by the great Apollon, Louis Uni.

197

198

The Growing Edge


by Rich Rydin & Dave Maurice
We received a letter from a reader of HARDGAINER, asking these questions:
1. When initiating a new cycle of 8-10 weeks, starting at 30% less in weights from the end of the
previous cycle, what week should you reach the preceding cycles heaviest weights?
2. What type of gains (percentage or pounds) should one expect from cycle to cycle when doing
the squat, dip and chin on Mondays, and deadlift, press and pull-up on Fridays, for a total of
five work sets on each training day? (We assume our reader means chin-ups performed with a
supinated grip, and pull-ups done with a pronated grip.)
These are interesting questions that provide a forum to discuss several issues about planning effective
cycles. To begin with, a 30% reduction in poundage is extreme. We wouldnt advocate such a
reduction unless a month has transpired since your last lifting session. If youve taken a more typical
one-week break, a reduction of 20% is sufficient. So, your weekly progression might look like this:
Week 1 with 80% poundage, week 2 with 85%, week 3 with 90%, week 4 with 92.5%, week 5 with
95%, week 6 with 97.5%, and week 7 with 100%. This is based upon a routine with two separate
workouts, such as given above, and on a cycle with no set terminal date. We recommend that cycles
are planned as open ended as possible, with respect to a finish date. If you arent competing, and
dont have any other externally imposed deadline, you shouldnt plan on terminating your cycle. You
should continue as long as even slight progress is made. Heres where we get a lot of questions on
how a cycle is executed.

Progression and effort


Lets return to the poundage progression just given. While the poundages are less than your previous
maximums, that doesnt mean you need to reduce your level of effort. As a general rule, starting in
the third week you should go all out, and sets should be terminated only when positive failure occurs,
i.e., if youre still capable of moving against the resistance, you should continue to do so. This will
result in exceeding your rep targets, and in fact, when you reach your previous besti.e., the 100%
levelyou should be able to get a rep or two more than you did in your previous routine. At the least,
you should match your previous performance.
In subsequent weeks you can achieve new benchmarks of performance in one of two ways. If you have
a good assortment of small discs at your disposal, you can increase weight very slowly while maintaining
your reps. Alternatively, you can increase the resistance by a small, convenient increment, and remain at
a weight for a few weeks in order to get the target reps. Please note that as the cycle progresses, even
with the use of small plates, it may be necessary to remain at a weight for a few weeks in order to get
the target reps. Dont be discouraged by this. Sometimes, progress is discontinuous, and it may not
manifest itself in additional reps. Maybe youll only be able to move the resistance an extra inch on the
rep at which you repeatedly fail. Persevere! Think of this level of effort as the growing edge.

Cycle termination
Eventually youll reach the point where no progress is being made, or is forthcoming. This
represents the end of the cycle for that exercise. As a general rule, the smaller the exercise the
199

earlier this will occur. As an example, we would expect a trainee to peak on curls well before
peaking on deadlifts. When this happens, drop the exercise youve reached a plateau on. Select
another movement which works the same muscle functions, though perhaps in a different way, and
start it at an 80-90% effort level.
Lets look at some likely examples based upon the routine given by our reader. When progress is
halted on overhead presses, our trainee should, on his next Friday, simply perform another pressing
movement of his choice. This might be another variant of overhead pressing, or a dumbbell bench
exercise, for example. If he feels that his progress is nearing an end on his larger exercises, he can of
course continue his program without the presses. Likewise, if he stalls on pull-ups, he might try some
dumbbell rows, or some shrugs, or again, drop the exercise.
What if he stalls on a big exercise? It really shouldnt change the procedure. If squats stall and
progress is still being made on deadlifts, he should do front squats in place of squats, or restart his
squat cycle, perhaps with a different rep target. As long as progress is being made on just one major
movement, then a lack of progress on the other movements shouldnt be considered indicative of
anything more profound than just thata lack of progress on those movements. If youre still
progressing on either squats or deadlifts, then gross overtraining shouldnt be a concern. If you think
about this philosophy, youll see that its conceivable to finish a cycle performing an entirely different
set of exercises than those used at the start of the cycle.
Another way of maintaining progress has been well discussed in HARDGAINER before, but it merits
repeating. Extend the period between workouts. Go every fourth or fifth day. This can be difficult for
some to do, and we recognize that, for many people, a fixed schedule is necessary, but look for
options. Perhaps try a Monday-Friday-Wednesday-Monday, etc., schedule, alternating between the
two routines. This type of schedule can work very well for a person who works extremely hard on both
squats and deadlifts. Its a rare individual who wont be adequately recovered after the period of 96120 hours between workouts that this schedule offers.
So when should a cycle be terminated? If you feel constant fatigue, or are experiencing a reduction
in performance, then a layoff is in order. If you follow the procedures we have discussed in the
previous paragraphs, you should be able to avoid any reduction in performance (though do
recognize that youll have bad days on occasionlearn to recognize them as such when they
occur, and dont let them concern you). Likewise, factors outside the gym can lead to chronic fatigue,
resulting in the need for a layoff.
All this has been based upon a cycle without an externally imposed end date. Many trainees may
have external circumstances, planned or unplanned, which prevent cycle extension. College students
may not have access to a gym during school vacations, for example. And as an extreme example, we
know a trainee whose position requires frequent and often unplanned travel. During one recent year
his longest cycle lasted only seven weeks.
Under these circumstances, we suggest a different strategy. Rather than performing two different
workouts each week, do just one routine for both days. Start at 80% of your previous best and
increase the resistance every workout. If you make the increase one of 2.5%, youll reach your
previous 100% poundage at the start of the fifth week.
With such a short cycle, its not very likely that youll burn out, so after a short break-in period, go all
out. Make all the progress you can, and when your time for that cycle runs out, youll still have made a
200

few percent worth of progress. This can be slow and frustrating, but if you make a few percent of
progress every two months, it can really add up at the end of the year. Later, well give you an example
of just how much it can add up.

What rate of progress to expect?


How much progress can be reasonably expected from cycle to cycle? Its difficult to give firm
guidelines, because progress can be very dependent upon an individuals training history,
biomechanical factors, and other activities the individual is involved in.
Your improvement from cycle to cycle is largely dependent upon how long you manage to maintain
the cycle after reaching your previous best. How long youre able to maintain a given cycle is
determined by physical and psychological factors.
Psychological momentum can play a vital role in determining the final outcome of a cycle. Consider
the possible result of attempting a set well above your current capabilities. This failure can
adversely effect the remainder of your workout, and this is just in a single day. Imagine the momentum
that can build up over weeks or months when unrealistic goals are repeatedly under-achieved. The
reason we bring this up is that consistently demanding and expecting a specified rate of strength or
size gain may be a recipe for disaster. You must work to realize whats realistic and healthytraining is
an activity that can and should be enjoyed for your entire lifetime.
But lets look at what even a small rate of improvement can yield. Suppose youre capable of increasing
your strength by a meager (achievable) 1% every two months. Taking the bench press as an example,
lets assume you can bench press 185 pounds today. In two months youll have improved your bench by
1% or 1.85 pounds. Now you can bench 186.85 pounds. In a year you would be able to bench press
196 pounds. Again, this is reasonable. If youre consistent, and maintain this slow rate of progress for
five years, youll be pressing 249 pounds. Ten years down the road you would be pressing 336; after 15
years, 453. All from a minimal bimonthly gain of only 1%. (Note that maintaining a constant rate of
improvement percentage-wise means an increasing rate of improvement poundage-wise.)
Is this possible? How many hard gainers do you think can bench over 400 pounds? In 20 years you
would be at 610 pounds on your bench. How many people in the world are capable of this? While it is
in fact probable that youll exceed this rate of improvement in your first couple of years of training,
your rate of improvement will decrease with time. Okay, maybe we shouldnt be so concerned about
the exact growth per month or cycle interval, especially if it leads to the point of becoming a failure
when you just cant keep up with unrealistic expectations. So lets look at three possible scenarios:
1. You actually are the one living mutant who steadily increases his bench press to 610 over the course
of 20 years. You have no further need for encouraging articles in this or any other magazine.
2. You toss in the towel and decide simply to maintain a constant level of strength. But, as we
discussed in HARDGAINER issue #32, maintaining requires the same effort level as striving for
gains (unless you set very low goals).
3. You actually cycle from weaker to stronger in non-rigid cycles that can be repeated over and over
again in the course of your lifetime. Youre not so full of expectations, and tied to your emotional
state, that missing a few goals along the way will forever hinder your enjoyment of training.
We recommend the third option, of course.
201

Determining starting poundages


Theres a question were frequently asked which is appropriate to discuss here: When changing
exercises or reps, what resistance should I start at?
When discussing exercises, we prefer to think of them in terms of functions worked. As examples,
squats and deadlifts both work knee extension and hip extension, and all forms of bench pressing
work the functions of humerus adduction and elbow extension. (For a discussion of this subject, see
our article in HARDGAINER #23.) Any improvements in strength in a movement should be manifested
in improvements in strength in the functions that make up that movement. When changing exercises,
the change is usually made between exercises which share common functions, i.e., between exercises
that have a lot of overlap. How do improvements in performance in a given movement translate to
performance in a different movement with overlapping functionality?
Performance benefits are specific to a movement, but strengthening isnt. That is, if you chin heavily,
the muscles involved will become stronger. If then you switch to rowing, which uses the same
muscles, your increased strength may not immediately result in enhanced rowing performance. After
a period of motor learning, however, it will. If youre experienced with rowing, this period shouldnt
last more than a few sessions. Since youre not training to demonstrate performance, this learning
shouldnt affect your training. You should generally be able to start at a resistance commensurate
with your recent efforts.
If youve just completed a cycle with chins that resulted in a 10% increase in chinning strength, its
usually safe to assume that your rowing strength potential has increased by 10% as well. So add
10% to your previous best at rowing, and use that number as a basis for determining your new
starting point. While this is a very specific example, you should feel comfortable applying this
principle to any pair of exercises that have considerable overlap. The greater the overlap, the
greater the strength transference.
A caveat is in order here. As the number of reps in a set is reduced, the importance of motor learning
becomes more important. Be very cautious when moving into a new exercise if using low reps.

Monitoring progress
This leads to a suggestion for monitoring long-term progress. Rather than test your one-rep
maximum on the three powerlifts or any other exercises, consider tracking your performance at a rep
number which reduces the importance of motor learning. Select a few exercises which work well for
you, and that work the major muscular functions of the body. Then, if you test, youll be less
influenced by the exact program youve recently followed.
As an example, we suggest total number of dips and chins, and maximum reps with 125% of
bodyweight in the deadlift or squat, whichever suits you best, as sound strength measures. These can
be performed for testing purposes at the end of almost any cycle, even if these exercises were not
practiced during the cycle. (If youre capable of performing the dip or chin for a very high number of
reps, you might consider tracking your performance with a standard amount of weight hanging from
your waist. Likewise, the exact percentage of bodyweight used for the squat or deadlift should be
adjusted to meet your needs.)
Alternatively, you may not even bother to test. Instead, consider projecting how much weight you
could use for a chosen benchmark number of reps. To aid you in this, see the charts accompanying
202

this article. As you can see, these charts also allow you to estimate starting poundage for a given
exercise when you change your rep target number.

Repetition-conversion tables for upper-body exercises


Desired
Current
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
12
15

10

12

15

1.00
1.03
1.06
1.10
1.13
1.16
1.20
1.24
1.28
1.32
1.40
1.53

0.97
1.00
1.03
1.06
1.10
1.12
1.16
1.20
1.24
1.28
1.36
1.49

0.94
0.97
1.00
1.03
1.06
1.10
1.13
1.16
1.20
1.24
1.32
1.44

0.91
0.94
0.97
1.00
1.03
1.06
1.10
1.13
1.16
1.20
1.28
1.40

0.89
0.91
0.94
0.97
1.00
1.03
1.06
1.10
1.13
1.16
1.24
1.36

0.86
0.89
0.91
0.94
0.97
1.00
1.03
1.06
1.10
1.13
1.20
1.32

0.83
0.86
0.89
0.91
0.94
0.97
1.00
1.03
1.06
1.10
1.16
1.28

0.81
0.83
0.86
0.89
0.91
0.94
0.97
1.00
1.03
1.06
1.13
1.24

0.78
0.81
0.83
0.86
0.89
0.91
0.94
0.97
1.00
1.03
1.10
1.20

0.76
0.78
0.81
0.83
0.86
0.89
0.91
0.94
0.97
1.00
1.06
1.16

0.72
0.74
0.76
0.78
0.81
0.83
0.86
0.89
0.91
0.94
1.00
1.10

0.65
0.67
0.69
0.72
0.74
0.76
0.78
0.81
0.83
0.86
0.91
1.00

Repetition-conversion tables for lower-body exercises


Desired 1
Current
1
1.00
2
1.02
3
1.03
4
1.05
5
1.06
6
1.08
7
1.09
8
1.11
9
1.13
10
1.15
12
1.18
15
1.24
20
1.33

10

12

15

20

0.99
1.00
1.02
1.03
1.05
1.06
1.08
1.09
1.11
1.13
1.16
1.22
1.31

0.97
0.99
1.00
1.02
1.03
1.05
1.06
1.08
1.09
1.11
1.15
1.20
1.29

0.96
0.97
0.99
1.00
1.02
1.03
1.05
1.06
1.08
1.09
1.13
1.18
1.27

0.94
0.96
0.97
0.99
1.00
1.02
1.03
1.05
1.06
1.08
1.11
1.16
1.25

0.93
0.94
0.96
0.97
0.99
1.00
1.02
1.03
1.05
1.06
1.09
1.15
1.24

0.91
0.93
0.94
0.96
0.97
0.99
1.00
1.02
1.03
1.05
1.08
1.13
1.22

0.90
0.91
0.93
0.94
0.96
0.97
0.99
1.00
1.02
1.03
1.06
1.11
1.20

0.89
0.90
0.91
0.93
0.94
0.96
0.97
0.99
1.00
1.02
1.05
1.09
1.18

0.87
0.89
0.90
0.91
0.93
0.94
0.96
0.97
0.99
1.00
1.03
1.08
1.16

0.85
0.86
0.87
0.89
0.90
0.91
0.93
0.94
0.96
0.97
1.00
1.05
1.13

0.81
0.82
0.83
0.85
0.86
0.87
0.89
0.90
0.91
0.93
0.96
1.00
1.08

0.75
0.76
0.77
0.79
0.80
0.81
0.82
0.83
0.85
0.86
0.89
0.93
1.00

To use one of the charts, look in the left column to find the rep number youve been performing (i.e.,
your current reps). Move across the row until youre under the rep number to which you wish to
project your performance (i.e., your desired reps).
For example, if youve been bench pressing for 10 reps, and want to try 6 reps, multiply your best 10rep poundage by 1.13 to estimate your best 6-rep poundage. Similarly, if youve been squatting for 6
reps and now wish to try 20 reps, estimate the weight by multiplying your best 6-rep poundage by 0.81.
This article offers some insights as to how to make your cycles more effective and more enjoyable.
Staying interested in training over a lifetime is infinitely more valuable than tracking the peaks and
valleys of individual cycles.

203

Training Methods of Joseph C. Hise


by Arnold M. Spector
In September 1972, in a small town in South Missouri, an elderly ex-miner called Joseph Curtis Hise
died of pneumonia. He had also been suffering from diabetes, a condition exacerbated by the hard life
he had led. Born in August 1905, Hise was a complex person. He was self-educated, having read widely
in everything from philosophy and mysticism, to psychology and physiology (a textbook on human
physiology accompanied him on all his travels). He was also an original thinker in the field of physical
education. He had little respect for the accepted theories and customary practices of weight training.
For much of his life he travelled across America, often by freight train, taking jobs wherever he could
jobs which usually involved hard, physical work in uncongenial surroundings, and sometimes working a
double shift so he could earn enough money to give up work for a month or so when he would
experiment with his innovational training methods. It was during these periods that Hise developed the
theories of cartilage mass training that are associated with his name. The most fundamental form of
weight training, he proposed, would stimulate the body in the profoundest and most thorough way,
and would involve exercises which stimulated the hip-hinge, namely the squat and the deadlift, and
those which had a general physiological effect, namely the shrug in all its variations.
Many of Hises novel training theories havent yet been published. Hise carried out research, for
instance, into the development of the supportive muscles of the body. On his account, the supportive
function of the skeletal muscles (e.g., those involved in holding a glass of water to ones lips) is radically
different from their motor function, and requires a completely different kind of exercise stimulus.
There were other calls on Hises time and energy. He cared for a number of elderly relatives for many
years. He was generous with his time when strangers wrote asking for training advice, and he would
reply at length in his characteristic racy style. His letters would contain, in addition to valuable training
information, his opinions on a wide range of topics including music, the philosophy of history, and
even spiritualism.
Hise never married. When I started to correspond with him (in 1949) he was operating an ore-crusher
in a copper mine in Cripple Creek, Colorado. I frequently asked him for a photograph. Eventually he
added a laconic postscript to one of his letters: There are no cameras on this hill and if there were,
the boys would turn same into whisky.

Hises training doctrine


Hises doctrine of weight training contains two important propositions. First, the novice who hasnt yet
learned to grow will respond best to few and easy exercises that are designed particularly to
develop the postural muscles. Second, the essential prerequisites for increasing strength, on the other
hand, are exercises which are few and heavy. Hise opposed excessive multi-set workouts lasting up to
two hours or more, which he believed brought all gains in size and strength to an end. For very hard
gainers, Hise maintained that just one set of 20 reps was needed of leg exercises, and just one set of
10 reps for upper-body movements.
Its essential to grasp that Hises conception of weight training is what may be called top-down as
opposed to bottom-up. In other words, the aim of exercise is to bring about a change in the entire
physiological system of the body. Muscle hypertrophy will be a secondary consequence, a by-product,
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of this effect. Bottom-up training, by contrast, is focused on some part of the skeleto-muscular
system (e.g., concentration curls or leg extensions). Any resultant improvement in health will be
subordinate to the chief goal, which is an increase in muscle size.
Im not qualified to comment on the physiological basis of Hises theories of exercise. I understand
him to be proposing that endurance exercise (for instance, multiple sets per body part, excessively
squeezing out the reps) has an adverse effect on the connective tissue system of the body, which in
turn inhibits muscle growth. The connective tissue system consists of connective tissue proper,
adipose tissue, cartilage, bone, blood, lymph and the tissues that produce blood cells. Connective
tissue develops from an embryonic tissue called mesenchyme, and mesenchyme cells are the
ancestors of most connective tissue cells. According to some authorities, a number of mesenchyme
cells persist in adult connective tissue. These unspecialized cells can give rise, with the appropriate
stimulus, to other cell types.
On Hises account, correct methods of exercise take effect on the connective tissue, either indirectly
by causing change in the mesenchyme cells, or, directly, on the cartilage, which responds and adapts
to such mechanical stimulus by proliferating and hence providing the basis for muscle hypertrophy.
Hise shrugs, deadlifts, breathing squats and round-bench pullovers are capable, its suggested, of
stimulating the growth of hyaline cartilage (the most common kind) which forms the ends of bones at
the joints and makes up the anterior ends of the ribs (costal cartilage). This in turn results in increase in
girth of the rib cage and general hypertrophy of the skeletal muscular system.

Good body mechanics


Prior to any other muscle group, the muscles that control posture will gain in size and strength under
the influence of Hise-style training. These postural muscles are in the calf, thigh, back, neck,
intercostals, etc., and as they grow stronger, the spine straightens and posture is improved.
A perfectly erect posture is both a symptom and means of achieving what Hise used to call good
body mechanics. Hise held John Grimek in high esteem: Grimek excelled all men because he
possessed superior body mechanics and had the greatest cartilage mass. Grimek excelled in both
physique and strength; in his forties and fifties he still had fullness of muscle; and his skin had a
lustrous, almost luminous quality which Hise called the Grimek glow.

Practical training
Thus far theory. Before specifying the exercises Hise recommended, its in point to say something of
Hise himself. Starting off as a young man of average physique, he gained over 100 pounds of
bodyweight, putting on, famously, 30 pounds in 30 days. Its plausible to assume that, of these gains,
about 75% would have been lean tissue. Hise went up to around 300 pounds, but stabilized his weight
at 250 because of problems with buying clothes. At this bodyweight he deadlifted 702 pounds when
the official world record was less than 650.
The achievements of George Irving Nathanson, whose training methods resembled those of Hise,
were just as outstanding. A smaller man than Hise, he performed a standing press of over 300 pounds
and a strict curl of over 200 pounds, at a bodyweight of 190.
Hise would have recommendedfor the beginner, who hasnt yet managed to make any gainsan
apparently undemanding schedule of eight exercises, one set each and mostly 10-12 repetitions per
set. Exercises can be rejected and replaced by others until the body begins to respond. Three
exercises, however, must never be discardedbreathing squats, shrugs, and round-bench pullovers. A
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typical Hise program would consist of just one set (of 10-12 reps, unless noted otherwise) of barbell
curls, alternate dumbbell presses, deadlifts (20-25 reps) immediately followed by pullovers, upright
barbell rows, bent-over rows with head supported, towel exercise for the neck, shrugs (20-25 reps),
and breathing squats (20-25 reps) followed immediately by round-bench pullovers. The weights used
for each exercise should be around 60% of ones single maximum in that exercise (but considerably
less for the pullover).
The poundage for breathing squats varied, on Hises account, between 60 pounds and bodyweight,
depending on the recalcitrance of the subject, but never more than bodyweight. Hise advised that the
first 6 reps be done with one breath per rep, and the rest with 3-4 breaths for each. Each set of squats
must be followed immediately by a set of light, bent-arm pullovers on a hump bench.

Warning
Its unhealthy, and potentially dangerous, to indulge in deep breathing if the body doesnt require extra
oxygen. Before performing breathing squats, shrugs and pullovers, the exerciser must be thoroughly
warmed up. Whether the subject runs on a treadmill, cycles on an exercise bike, or performs repetition
power cleans or snatches, he or she must be breathing vigorously before starting a Hise workout.
People who simply stand and take in more oxygen than they need will grow dizzy, and may even fall
over. If you feel dizzy, stop.
Furthermore, nobody should attempt any squats without a safety rack, or without a training partner
standing by.
To repeat, never perform breathing squats, shrugs or pullovers unless the body is crying out for more
air. It is, however, in this condition that the body derives maximum benefit from these exercises.

The growing exercises


Hise believed that shrugs, squats and pullovers had the power to cause radical change in the body.
Shrugs should be variedacross the shoulders, held in front of the shoulders, at arms length
overhead (more effective if done seated), and held in the deadlift finishing position. Hise frequently
drew attention to a common error in performing the shrug, i.e., rocking the hips. Its essential that the
hips be immobileone should concentrate above all on raising the chest as high as possible with each
inhalation. In order to prevent any movement in the hips, Hise would advise his trainees to lean
forward slightly and maintain balance by pressing down hard with the toes. Shrugs should be
performed only if one is already breathing hard from the preceding exercise.
The round-bench pullover is, on Hises account, the chief instrument for reshaping the chest, which is
in turn the indispensable condition for general growth. The secret of the round-bench version is that,
even before one starts to perform the pullovers, one can feel tension in the area of the sternumjust
from lying on the bench. The performance of round-bench pullovers immediately after a set of squats
or deadlifts will, according to Hise, stimulate the growth of costal cartilage, which is the foundation of
general muscle growth. In the pullover, the arms should be kept unlocked. Some experimentation will
be needed until one finds the exact position on the bench, and the precise position of the weight,
that cause the maximum pull at the sternum. Nobody should need a weight of more than 40 pounds,
with 20-30 pounds being better in most casesthis is a stretching, not a strengthening exercise.
Hise called shrugs, breathing squats and round-bench pullovers the growing exercises. He believed
in setting aside after one month all exercises that didnt seem to produce results, with the exception of
the growing exercises, which are never to be relinquished.
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Hise allowed 20-25 reps for growing exercises, but otherwise thought high reps counter productive.

Strength training
Its necessary at this point to be clear about Hises and Nathansons views on strength training. Theres
a place for high reps in strength training, but such training isnt to be confused with endurance, multiset, excessively-forced-repetitions type of training. Nathanson increased his standing press from 230
pounds to 290 in just six workouts. He performed 100 single repetitions with one minutes rest before
each one. Each rep felt heavy but could be done smoothly. The poundage was not such that there was
any slow and grim struggle with the bar. Even hard work must be strictly rationed. Nathanson trained
just once a week, and rested as much as possible between workouts.
It was Hises conviction that the primary aim of training was to achieve maximum gains in size and
strength with just the right amount of stimulus.
In the letter in which he informed me of Nathansons training methods, Dr. G.W. Kelling made some
interesting and instructive observations:
Since exercise reps are not necessary for life, the ancestral brain revolts when repetition demands are
made on it . . . In single reps a weight can almost be suggested up instead of lifted. It goes up so fast
you hardly know youve lifted it. Rest 1-1.5 minutes between reps and tell yourself this weight is easy;
you can lift it once with ease. Then proceed to do about 50 to 100 single reps. It really takes time
though and muscles dont become flushed but really worked.

A holistic training philosophy


This has been just a sketch of Hises philosophy of weight training. Its a holistic training philosophyit
involves the entire physiological system and it bears upon every waking (and sleeping) moment.
Everything the athlete does when he or she isnt training touches the effectiveness of the exercises.
Erect posture is to be maintained at all times (posture and exercise are interdependentcorrect
exercise results in correct posture, and an erect, high-chested posture consolidates the gains of the
exercise). Normal breathing should be deep and slow. I quote from Hise:
My breathing speed is from four to seldom over eight times per minute. This slow breathing is a
habit and easy to acquire by a strong man; but takes a very long time for Physical Yoga students to
master . . . The Physical Yogi breathes long and slowly and keeps everything out of his head in order
to keep it purified of . . . nonsense . . .
Only with the sense of physical well-being, of bodily efficiency, and of emotional calm that comes
with good body mechanics can one consider oneself truly alive. Thats why Hise used to say, Do
shrugs and live.

References
This article is based chiefly on private correspondence between the author and J.C. Hise and Dr. G.W.
Kelling. Reference is also made to an article by Hise, The Cartilage Mass Theory of Growth, in IRON
MAN Vol. 8, No. 2, July 1948. (This is a very valuable issue of IRON MAN, which contains several relevant
articles.) Hises dates of birth and death are as given by Joe Roark, in IRON GAME HISTORY, June 1990.

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208

Asking Dr. Ken


by Dr. Ken. E. Leistner
Equipment
For most at-home trainees, the question which is better, machines or so-called free weights? isnt
applicable. Most who train at home cant afford anything past the basic equipment. Of course, unless
one is dealing with extreme leverage disadvantages or previous injury, nothing past the basic
equipment is necessary to build ones physique to the ultimate possible level as determined by
genetics. Ive heard it many times: If I could train at the Iron Island Gym I would make great
progress. While this is flattering, I would say: Yes, but you would make great progress because of
the training atmosphere more than anything else, not the equipment.
I love equipment and spend a lot of time designing, tinkering, welding, thinking about, and using
equipment thats designed to make one bigger and stronger. At our gym, Ralph and I have whats
arguably the best array of effective muscle-building equipment. We dont deny that some other gyms
have more, but we believe we have whats best for the purposes of our trainees. Flex, Hammer, Kell,
Jim Sutherland, and some homemade units are on display daily, and all get used. However, one can
accomplish the same (in the absence of the aforementioned limitations,) with a barbell set, dumbbells,
chin and dip bars, bench, and squat rack. Believe it or not, this is a true statement.
Despite the benefits that some machines give in terms of variable resistance and ease of use (and the
early Nautilus machines and the recent Hammer ones are the best examples), they are advantages only,
not necessities. If you speak with the honest guys in the business, they will tell you this. In ones home
gym, squats, deadlifts, stiff-legged deadlifts, rows, chins, dips, overhead presses, curls, and isolation
movements when warranted like lateral raises, triceps work, and similar movements, give more than
enough variety and means to work the body from every necessary angle. Perhaps its the excuse that
many are looking for when they say that they cant progress as they wish, but a so-called limitation of
equipment shouldnt be a stumbling block, not once the bar, rack and bench have been purchased.

Soreness
Some trainees seem to think that youre supposed to wait between workouts until theres no muscle
soreness anywhere. If this was so, I wouldnt have trained at all. I probably spent every day of my
existence muscularly sore somewhere for a period of about seven or eight years. One shouldnt feel run
down all the time. Soreness is funnysome never get sore, some always get sore, some sometimes get
sore. I dont know if its indicative of anything relative to effective training. I do know that if one is
exhausted, legitimately, they should take an extra day of rest. Sore? No way thats a reason not to train.

Rep speed
The speed of movement controversy seems to have invaded the pages of HARDGAINER. Im laughing
at this one. Like everything else, Superslow-type training can and should be tried. This experimentation
is part of the journey of becoming stronger and larger. If it works and youre comfortable doing it this
way, youve found something you can keep. If for whatever reason it isnt for you, dont agonize over the
decision to train more conventionally. The determining factor in the long run in achieving training
success will be the intensity put into training, and doing so consistently over time. If you cant find a
training methodology that allows this, it doesnt matter what you do. Youll be doomed to frustration
and failure relative to your goals.
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Its like explosive training. Ive often stated that if doing fast, jerky, explosive movements like power
cleans was the only proper way to get stronger, I still wouldnt do itI wouldnt be comfortable
risking injury that comes with exposing the soft tissues to unnecessary ballistic movement. I wouldnt
be able to train well. Thus, I would choose to use a less effective method, but one I could go all
out with. I know I would do better if I did this. Doing fast, explosive movements isnt safe, and
doesnt produce maximal tension in the working musclesa requisite for growth stimulationbut
the point is made I believe.
Dont put so much energy into worrying about how your reps will be done. Just make sure youre
doing all the reps you can in any set, safely, and until your eyeballs fall out!

Very high reps


An insightful reader from Scotland noted I made the statement that when the squat, bench press and
deadlift became competitive lifts, they were no longer trained and utilized as the superb resultproducing exercises they truly are. He also noted the high-rep competition that Dick Conner held at
The Event in Indiana the last two years, and then stated that these fixed-weight, maximum-rep
contests are safer, healthier, and allow for almost anyone to compete and enjoy themselves, rather
than having competitive lifting being left to the realm of the gorillas.
Hey, I couldnt have said it better myself. Certainly, squatting sixty reps with 225 in competition, and
training to do so over weeks and months is potentially less damaging, more results producing, and a
lot more fun than struggling with singles with body-numbing weights, at least in my opinion. If one did
a single set of fifty reps in the squat, fifteen in the stiff-legged deadlift, and one or two sets of a
pressing movement, that would be a heck of a workout. It would also move your body to grow if
you would continue to be progressive week to week. Then switch to high-rep deadlifts, more
moderate reps in the squat, and another pressing movement.
Do one of those combinations every few days, throw in some forearm work, and you get a strong
person when its all said and done. Try squatting singles and doubles week after week, struggled into
your super-tight supportive suit and wraps, and then tell me how much fun it was, how many injuries
you got, and if the results were as good as the intensive, higher-rep work.

Concentration
More than one trainee has indicated that they are able to put forth a great effort in their training, and
afterwards feel really good about themselves and their confidence levels. Despite the fact that they
can get up for their training week to week, they still have what has variously been described as a
queasy feeling, apprehension, or a clammy feeling throughout my body. This isnt a strange
group of comments. It may be physical excitation, as well as psychological excitement that accounts,
at least in part, for these comments.
I know that Ill start muttering to myself before my workout starts, and I can feel my body coming
together. This is no small feat for someone who usually trains anywhere between 10 pm and 1 am.
During the workout, when it gets close to squat time, it almost feels as if Im on amphetamines. I get
a real surge and at times even quake a bit, get nauseous or queasy, and feel my powers of
concentration increasing. Its no doubt physical brought on by the psychological, but I get this often.
If it was detrimental, Id be dead my now because its happened so often over so many years
(decades at this point).
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Ive always been known as a competitive lifter who would do much better in a meet relative to my
training. I always felt this was a compliment and indicative that, when it was time to perform, I could
focus my energies and do a reasonably good job of it. Past concentrating on the task at hand, I dont
believe in getting psyched up for or during a workout if one is a competitive lifter. I believe it should
be saved for meets, but this doesnt mean one shouldnt lift with concentration and enthusiasm.

A letter of dietary tips to a competitive lifter


Let me make a few general comments regarding the gaining of muscle. Almost everything works for
someone, but thats no guarantee that you can benefit from their advice. I still believe its healthiest
to add complex carbohydrates and protein to the diet for increasing muscle tissue mass. Even
unsaturated/vegetable fats, while being a more efficient means of consuming calories, overloads
both the digestive system and the liver. Again, this is only an opinion, but [brand name product]
(which is primarily a fat, any way you look at it, and despite the manufacturers admonitions to the
contrary), spoonfuls of canola and safflower oil, and other similar increases in fat intake, over a point,
arent beneficial.
You indicated that it has been difficult to eat enough to gain weight. First things first. I apologize if it
seems that Im giving you any training advice. As successful as youve been, and with your vast
knowledge, I dont want to seem to be doing that because you dont need any training advice from
me. However, dont forget this reminder that before gaining any muscle, one first has to turn the cell
machinery on for growth. This is done relative to intensity, not volume of training. If you dont want
to do anything different prior to your next meet, wait until afterward, but you might want to try a
back-off set of higher reps taken all out, for the squat, and every two weeks or so for the deadlift.
The all-out set of 15 reps for either is meant to do no more than stimulate local tissue growth and
affect your metabolic response. If you havent yet tried this, it might be effective.
Assuming that the training is sufficient to stimulate tissue response, its usually easier to drink calories
than eat them. Before anyone knew much about cholesterol and things like that, I would have a dozen
eggs for breakfast when I was 220-230 pounds. I found that I could put them in a blender, whip them
up and drink them a lot easier than facing a plate full of one dozen scrambled eggs. Especially if you
can tolerate things that might not usually go into the blender, its an easier means of getting calories
in, and you have the advantage of reducing food preparation timeyou can make a few quarts worth
in the morning and sip it all day long.
I used to carry thermos flasks in the car to take to school or work, and to the gym for post-workout
nutrition. I found that I could take in a lot more if I drank 2-4 ounces every half hour or so, and
sometimes more often than that. I would literally do this all day long, in addition to a few meals, and
would often, daily, go through four quarts of drink in addition to 2-4 decent-sized, though not overly
large meals. Weekends, I would really pack the nutrition in if I wasnt working.
I would like to suggest that you mix the blender drinks fairly thick, i.e., put lots of stuff in and expect it
to be more like a light pudding than a soup stock in consistency. A lot of people get turned off by the
fact that potent blender drinks arent the same texture as the malt at the corner store.
Milk-based drinks, using skim milk, are generally more effective than those with a juice base, even
though the calories are similar. Milk has more nutritive value per ounce. I usually see juice as sugars
(primarily fructose) and water, with minor mineral and vitamin content. Stick with egg whites in the
drinks, just as you would if you were eating eggs. Keep the yolks limited per week. Use non-fat milk
powderits relatively inexpensive and mixes easily. I used to put a few spoonfuls into every glass of
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milk I drank, even if I wasnt blending things up. Stick in lots of it too. Add a few bananas. If you add
other fruit, its strictly for flavor. Add ice milk (instead of ice cream) for additional calories and flavor.
Peanut butter, if you like it, mixes well. Its flavor dominates the drink, but you can work up
progressively, adding more each day or two. The powder and peanut butter will give you a very thick
drink, but thats the idea, as long as its drinkable. Some of the gain-weight powders are grain
polymers, primarily, with oil extracts, They have lots of calories and can also be thrown into the drink if
you want a commercial powder to use in addition to the non-fat milk powder. A few ice cubes or
crushed ice blended in adds texture.
You may have to use more than one blender, or split this up into a few full blenders while mixing all of
it. The egg whites especially fluff it up, and trap air. It will settle if you let it sit for a few minutes. Just
hit at this all day long.
I dont know if you eat red meat, but if your diet is low in fat (especially saturated fat), relative to your
activity and calories youre consuming, I would suggest that you eat red meat two or three times per
week, but ensure that its not at Burger King. Most lifters feel that they can eat anything if theyre
training hard, but use the meat constructively. It has a lot of things that other forms of protein dont
offer, but keep the fat content down. The leaner cuts usually arent the more expensive ones. You can
buy and grind your own round steak, or have the butcher do it. I grew up, believe it or not, eating raw
meat in my house and have always eaten it that way when possible. I also found it easier to eat half a
pound of freshly-ground round steak, or some other very lean cut of beef, than to sit and eat a steak
or burger (with all of the accessories).
Half a pound of ground beef with some tomato a few times per day, every third day, shouldnt
significantly affect your lipid profile in a negative way, but will add nutrients and a psychological boost
that can be helpful.

My recent lifts
One reader asked about my recent lifts. Well, very recently, I havent lifted anything. In midSeptember 1994 I underwent reconstruction and bone remodelling of my left shoulder. The work was
extensive and I am, as I write this two weeks later, in the midst of recovery. For those who have an
interest, I plan to rehabilitate using Hammer equipment primarily, for both isolated and multi-joint
movements, as follows:
1. Hammer rear deltoid
2. Hammer lateral raise
3. Dumbbell front raise
4. Hammer high row
5. Hammer iso-lateral front press
6. Hammer bicep
7. Hammer pullover
After this has been done, Ill resume overhead barbell presses, squats (cant get my arm back to
support bar at present), deadlifts/stiff-legged deadlifts, bench presses, and forearm work, which is
basically my standard program most of the time.
But to answer the question, I cant press my arm, lateral raise my arm, and can barely front raise my arm.

212

Sixteen Years On: Part 1


by Casey J. Ramas
From my perspective as a hard gainer and drug-free bodybuilder, I would like to share my experiences
of what Ive done to gain size and strength, and to prepare for bodybuilding competition.

Background
Ive been involved in weight training for the past 16 years, have been competing in bodybuilding
contests for about 10 years, and have competed in about 15 contests. My last two competitions in
late 1993 were the AAU Mr. Illinois and the NPC Natural Mid States Muscle Classic. I won my class
(the Masters, age category 35-39) in the former, and placed second overall. One week later, I placed
third in my class in the NPC contest. This was a large regional contest, with nine different states
represented, so I was satisfied with my placing. I turned 35 years old two weeks prior to those
contests. My latest competition was in August 1994. This was the NPC Natural Illinois Championships,
held in Elgin. This is a natural, drug-tested regional show which is popular. I won the 35-39 age class
and was very pleased with the result.
Although I categorize myself as a hard gainer, I was never the archetypal thin person who found it
extremely difficult to gain strength and muscle size. But Im not genetically gifted. The gains Ive made
came about as the result of hard work and careful attention to good nutrition. I possess a medium
bone structure at a height of 6-1.5, with a 33-inch waist and a current off-season bodyweight of 215
pounds. My wrist is 6.875 and ankle 9.5.
Im firmly against the use of anabolic steroids and other bodybuilding drugs, and compete mainly in
natural bodybuilding contests. Reading articles about the training routines and nutritional programs of
the champions in some bodybuilding magazines is an insult to your intelligence. For example, one
well-known bodybuilder claimed to take in 10,000 calories on a daily basis when cutting up and
preparing for a contest. One area that didnt receive coverage was the drug program this man used
prior to the contest. Without the aid of drugs, the excess calories would be stored as body fat.
Although I compete mainly in natural bodybuilding contests, I know that some of the competitors,
even in the natural events, use steroids and other drugs. Even though these contests are tested by
polygraph or urinalysis, some people do cheat these tests in order to win a trophy or a title. This type
of victory, at least to me, is a hollow one.

Motivation
My main motivation for competing is to have a goal to strive for. Ive never had any desire or delusion
of becoming a world-class bodybuilding champion. I compete because I enjoy the training and
preparation thats involved, but especially because of the challenge. The challenge involved entails
getting yourself in the best shape you possibly canbeing in better shape now than you were last
time. It involves a process culminating with stepping on a stage and showing others what youve
done. In essence youre not competing with the people standing next to you on stage; youre
competing with yourself and the contest is the result of your training.
In competing Ive experienced some success and learned a great deal. Each competition has been a
learning experience. The more I compete, the more I learn.
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Weight training
Ive been fortunate in that Ive never subscribed to the six-days-a-week, three-hours-per-day
schedule that a lot of people in commercial health clubs and gyms employ. Part of the reason was that
I didnt have the time, given that I work full time and have also gone to graduate school and earned
two Masters degrees while working full time. The other part of the reason was that I didnt see the
sense in training that much. The only people I saw making gains on that type of program were those
who used anabolic steroids. A drug-free person would never make gains on that type of program.
Even before subscribing to the abbreviated training programs found in HARDGAINER, I kept my total
work sets per body part low, compared to other people; and I only worked each body part once a
week while training four days per week. I did, however, spend time using what I now consider
unproductive exercises, such as the machine hack squat, and dumbbell rear raises, to name a couple.
At one time I did fall prey to the articles promoting the belief that, in order to fully develop a muscle
group, a variety of exercises has to be performed. In order to develop the rear deltoids, for example,
you had to do bent-over rear dumbbell raises. I now realize that heavy back training, on basic
exercises, will fully develop the rear deltoids. The only thing performing a movement such as the rear
raise will do is impair recuperative ability.
Using the type of abbreviated workout advocated by this magazine, I cut back my training days from
four to three, typically working out on alternate days, e.g., Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I also cut
back on exercises and sets, used heavy weights for lower repetitions on the basic exercises, and still
work each body part only once a week. I find this works best for me. I cycle my workouts, allow plenty
of time for recuperation, and use the little discs Ive found to be invaluable in my training progress. I
feel this type of training is necessary in order for the natural bodybuilder to get results.
Heres an example of a before and after training program focusing on thighs. The before
represents the way I trained previously. The after represents an example of an abbreviated workout
Ive used. In both cases, the number of sets includes warm-ups.
Before
Leg extension: 5 sets
Squat: 5 sets
Hack squat: 4 sets
Lying leg curl: 5 sets
Total of 19 sets (12 of them work sets)
After
Squat: 5 sets
Stiff-legged deadlift: 5 sets
Total of 10 sets (6 of them work sets)
The result of switching to an abbreviated program was increased strength and muscle mass. Id made
some gains on the previous type of training, but noticed accelerated strength and muscle mass gains
when I cut back and concentrated on the basic exercises. I think the reason I was made some gains
on the previous workout was because I worked each body part only once a week. If Id used the
popular program of train each body part twice a week I definitely would have overtrained, and not
have made any gains.

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Its important to remember that you have to build a good base of size and strength before even
considering entering a bodybuilding contest. The best way to accomplish this is to focus on basic and
abbreviated training as expounded in HARDGAINER.
Heres an example of how I train when focusing on building size and strength:
Monday
1. Deadlift: 6 x 5 (3 warm-ups, 3 work sets)
2. Close-grip parallel pulldown: 5 x 6 (2 warm-ups, 3 work sets)
3. Barbell shrug: 5 x 6 (2 warm-ups, 3 work sets)
4. Barbell curl: 5 x 6 (2 warm-ups, 3 work sets)
Wednesday
1. Bench press: 5 x 6 (2 warm-ups, 3 work sets)
2. Incline bench press: 4 x 6 (1 warm-up, 3 work sets)
3. Seated behind-neck barbell press: 5 x 6 (2 warm-ups, 3 work sets)
4. Close-grip bench press: 5 x 6 (2 warm-ups, 3 work sets)
Friday
1. Squat: 6 x 6 (3 warm-ups, 3 work sets)
2. Standing calf raise: 4 x 15 (1 warm-up, 3 work sets)
3. Weighted abdominal crunch: 3 x 15
I start each training cycle with a weight thats 80% of my previous cycles best (comparing the same
rep count); and add weight each week until Im within about 10 pounds of my previous best. From this
point on the little discs enter the picture and I try to add a pound or two each week until I surpass my
previous best. Once Ive reached a new maximum weight goal, or feel that my strength gains have
stopped for the time being, I take a week off from both weight training and aerobic exercise, to rest
and recuperate. An average cycle for me can last anywhere from 12 to 18 weeks.

Aerobic training
Even when training for size and strength, I include aerobic exercise on the average of three times per
week for 30-45 minutes per session. I do this not only to help keep my body fat under control, but to
help ensure my cardiovascular system remains in good condition, as Im also concerned with overall
fitness and conditioning. The aerobic exercises I do are mainly moderate intensity cycling on a
stationary bicycle, walking on a treadmill, or walking outside. By moderate intensity, I mean about 7075% of my age-adjusted maximum heart rate, i.e., 70-75% of (220 - 35), or 130-139 beats per minute.
Theres a big difference between riding a stationary cycle for 30-45 minutes at a moderate intensity,
and going outside and running to the point of exhaustion for the same period. The latter will
definitely make inroads into your recovery ability, while the former shouldnt. I also enjoy riding my
bicycle outside when the weather permits, but again this is done at an moderate intensity. My aerobic
exercise usually takes place on weight training days (after my weights workout) since I want my off
days to be totally set aside for rest and recuperation. (In addition to the post-workout aerobic work, I
do 5-10 minutes prior to my weights workout, as a general warm-up.)

Dietary factors
I endeavor to remain in good shape year round by following a sound nutritional plan coupled with
weight training and aerobic exercise. This being the case, I dont have much body fat to lose when
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starting to train and diet for competition. I dont believe in bulking up and then having to lose 5060 pounds of body fat in order to bring out muscular definition. This isnt a healthy practice.
When training for size and strength, I follow a good nutritional program. I try to take in at least one
gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, mainly from chicken, turkey, lean meat, fish, eggs (mainly
egg whites), low-fat dairy products and a good quality protein powder. Additionally, I eat plenty of fresh
fruits and vegetables, and pasta, potatoes, whole grain bread, rice and legumes for my complex
carbohydrate needs. I try to take in a variety of nutritious foods to ensure I get all the nutrients my body
needs, especially during the period of intensive training taking place in the latter portion of the cycle.
I try to eat five or six smaller meals a day as opposed to three large ones. This gives my body the
nutrients it needs spaced evenly throughout the day, and also helps keep body fat under better
control since its easier for my body to digest and properly assimilate the smaller meals.
A tip that Ive found helpful is to have a protein drink as soon as possible after training. After my
workout, as soon as I return home, I immediately mix up a protein drink. I mix a cup of grape or apple
juice with one cup of water and two large scoops of protein powder (the two scoops of protein
powder provide 50 grams of protein). Theres reputed to be a two-hour window of opportunity
after a workout, during which its imperative to get a combination of protein and carbohydrates into
your system, to help start the body on the road to recovery as soon as possible.
Its thought that during this period immediately after a workout a good amount of recovery and
muscle growth takes place. A protein powder (or skimmed milk powder, for a cheaper alternative) is
used instead of eating a solid high-protein meal such as chicken breast. The latter takes longer to
digest and have the protein/amino acids available for recovery. The protein powder is mixed with
either grape or apple juice to take advantage of the simple carbohydrates that are present in the
juice. After a tough workout, the muscles are depleted of glycogen. The juice quickly allows the body
to replace the glycogen. It may be at this point that the bodys muscles are analogous to a sponge.
They have been depleted by the tough workout and will absorb the protein and carbohydrate thats
provided. Ive noticed a definite improvement in recovery ability ever since I started this practice.
After Ive had this protein and juice drink, I wait about an hour and a half and then have a normal dinner.
I only have the protein/juice drink on training days. On a few occasions, for one reason or another, Ive
missed having this drink and noticed that my muscles stay sore longer, and I dont seem to have as
much strength at my next training session. I firmly believe this is due to missing the drink.

Dedication
There are no secrets in trying to develop the size necessary to compete in bodybuilding contest. Hard
work on the basic exercises, adequate rest and recuperation time, and a sound nutritional program
will work wonders.
The only other factor thats involved is time. It takes time to develop a strong, fit and muscular
physique. It takes time to benefit from a good wholesome nutritional program. But once you put in
the time, youll reap the rewardspermanent muscle gains and not the fleeting size, strength and
muscularity that steroid users gain, and just as quickly lose when they go off the drugs.

In Part 2 Ill focus on preparation for bodybuilding competitiontraining and nutrition.

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217

Barbells Up, Dumbbells Down


by John McKean & Bob Karhan
Paul Anderson, Louis Cyr, Arthur Saxon, Hermann Goerner, Doug Hepburn, and John McKean. The
question behind this answer is, Name five all-time superstars of strength training who extensively
employed heavy dumbbells in training, and one other guy! Of course, yours truly is the lowly other
guy, but I enjoy standing on the shoulders of these giants to seek some of the progress they found
through brutally-intensive dumbbell work.
Unfortunately, most dumbbell work today is relegated to lightweight shaping movements or, at most,
higher-rep, non-goal-orientated exercise with poundages that are comfortable. I dont even like to
recall how many gyms Ive visited where the heavy half of the dumbbell rack is dusty and untouched.
Why is this? Simpledumbbells hurt. That is, in exactly the opposite manner to how exercise machines
ease and rob the work of a similar barbell move, dumbbells call for even more total body involvement
than a long bar. Where machines isolate and, therefore, are largely ineffective for a hard gainer,
dumbbells on the other hand require extreme control, utilization of many stabilizing muscles,
coordination between muscle groups, and total concentration. They have a longer range of motion
than barbells or machines, and bombard deep-lying muscle fibers from many different angles. Most
importantly, with some intensive effort, seriously-heavy dumbbells eventually adapt to our own
personal groovewere forced to learn to control the weighty little beasts, and best compensate for
our individual leverages. Eventually, then, we discover (perhaps even subconsciously) our own optimum
angles of push or pull, to capitalize on innermost strengths.
Many of the old-time strongmen never seemed to lack incentive to go to limit poundages on
dumbbell lifts. Of course, back then they regularly contested dumbbell clean and jerks, presses,
snatches, swings, and the crucifix. A look at US and British record lists printed in magazines from the
1920s and 30s will show a slew of dumbbell marks which were recorded under official conditions. Do
we have any such incentive today? You bet! Under the auspices of the IAWA we currently have 27
registered dumbbell lifts to go after. And, brother, if you thought my insistence on training barbell
limits in past articles was taxing, Im really setting you up for a wonderful world of pain this time.
No, you may not have interest in jumping into one of our dumbbell competitionsthe British call
these single arm championshipsbut you sure can obtain huge overall strength gains while
bringing out previously unnoticed lumps, bumps, and strands of muscles. All thats required is the
desire to see just how heavy a single rep you can eventually achieve with one or more dumbbell lifts.
Specialize if you care to, or build a total routine on 4-10 dumbbell moves per week.

A lesson in abbreviation
A good friend of mineour US National All-Round President, Howard Prechtelrelates how he once
specialized for a one-year period on the dumbbell clean and press as his only upper-body exercise.
His only other exercise was the half squat in a power rack. He stayed away from his regular gym at the
time, to increase his concentration on these two movements (and to avoid unnecessary advice from
training partners who would have chided him for such limited training).
When the year was up, a muscularly massive Howard Prechtel confidently strode into the training hall
to easily clean and strictly press over 300 pounds on a barbellat least 50 pounds more than he had
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ever done before. Teammates were literally flabbergastedthis was way before the days of steroids,
and they couldnt figure out how this gym drop out pulled it off. You can bet, tho, that ole Howie
didnt wave around lightweight bells during his escape time from conventional stale routines.

The nuts and bolts


Sort of a surprise for any who have read my previous articles expounding the use of heavy single-rep
lifts, but dumbbell strength training is best done in sets of 3-6 reps. At least a triple seems necessary
to develop coordination and groove, absolutely essential to successful dumbbell work. In many gym
experiments Ive discovered I could take a particular poundage and do three good but fairly taxing
reps with the dumbbell, then go but 5 pounds heavier only to find the stubborn bells just wouldnt
budge an inch. Friends related exactly the same experience. So if a gym limit can usually be
pumped for 3-4 reps instead of only one, you might as well shoot for this number.
Singles can be attempted on widely spaced occasionsyou need something to shoot for. But with
dumbbells theres a lot more control factors against you, and conditions wont always be as regulated
as with a barbell. Your mood, drive, groove, coordination, incentive, and a well-rested, ready body
have to be exactly in tune for that new dumbbell record. Plus, as any experienced dumbbell
aficionado will tell you, its all to easy to mentally burn out on the short bars if you attempt too many
maxes too frequently. Sad to report, misses with even previous marks occur a lot. Seems you must
lose a little occasionally before your body allows you to advance. But take heart. When you do hit a
new limit youll discover a unique exhilaration, cause the dumbbells will let you know that youve
really worked for and deserve it.
Many of us find that our top dumbbell weights are most easily achieved when done for a single set of
3-5 reps performed directly following a short session of singles with a similar barbell move. For
instance, we work a standard barbell press for 70% x 1, 80% x 1, 90% x 1, 100% x 1, then finish
almost a backdown setwith a dumbbell press for, say, a set of 4 reps. Since the dumbbell move is
tougher and always lighter than its big brother barbell exercise, the body, and especially the mind, are
better prepared (tricked) for dumbbell intensity when backing down to it instead of progressively
building up in sets. Its just so important to allow that first dumbbell rep to go smoothly and seem
fairly light. Following that, reps 2, 3, 4 and, maybe, 5, almost always flow easily. But theres no second
chance if the first one sticks.
A few barbell-up, dumbbell-down combos you may wish to try include snatches-swings, barbell hack
squat-dumbbell deadlifts, push presses-one arm jerks, barbell curls-incline dumbbell curls, power
clean-dumbbell pullups, etc. Again, not that dumbbell lifts cant be trained by themselvessome,
such as all-rounds tortuous two-hands anyhow, cant be trained any other way. Its just that quicker
advances in poundages and better quality training come when the dumbbell lifts are combined with
heavy single barbell movements. Just remember the formula of 4 sets of 1 with the barbell, 1 set of 4
with the dumbbell.
Progression can best be summed up this waydont be in too much of a hurry. Keep plugging at that
set of 3-5 reps with a consistent poundage, workout after workout, until it starts to feel light and easy.
Then just nudge the dumbbells up by 5 pounds the next session. Some may prefer to gradually raise
reps, starting at 4 and eventually achieving 7 with a given weight before upping the poundage and
starting over at 3 or 4. Regardless of which progression you prefer, always be a bit cautious during
that next workout with the weight jumpattack it cause that addition of a mere 5 pounds may prove
far heavier than you expect.

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Although those who train in a gym are somewhat limited to available equipment, the home trainee in
particular can use another form of dumbbell progression, utilizing smaller weight increases. Borrowing
from a concept of my British all-round brethren, plate-loaded dumbbells can be increased a mere 1.25
pounds (each) per session, or even less if smaller plates are available. British dumbbell specialists
employ a backhang on swinging-type lifts. That is, they purposely load more on only the back end
of a dumbbell so balance is enhanced and the bell will turn over more quickly. For progression
purposes we simply add a plate to just one end of a dumbbell each session (then a plate on the
opposite end for the next workout, or when possible, etc.) Believe me, youll never even detect a
balance problem on any lift.
A problem with dumbbells for home trainingand a huge reason for my suggestion to employ them
for just one backdown setis theyre such a pain in the ass to take apart and reload. (Probably a big
reason, too, why dumbbell contests arent real popular here in the USwed have to promise loaders
almost anything to suffer through all this work. On our record days, in fact, each of us is responsible
for our own loading for dumbbell records. My less-than-energetic son Robbie often complains that
loading for his dumbbell deadlift record attempts is harder than the actual lift itself.)

Art Montinis non-collar dumbbell. The handles are 8 inches long and 5 inches deep.
Years ago, Art Montini, my old training partner, solved many of my problems in this regard. Look at
the sketch of Arts handiworka special, no-collar, heavy-duty dumbbell. Notice how either standard
or Olympic plates up to 25 pounders can simply be slid into place onto the angled handles with
gravity holding them in place. Balance is a little touchy, however. These bells cant be cleaned,
snatched, or swung, but theyre pretty decent for heavy presses, curls, pulls, and deadlifts. Almost any
local machine shop should be able to form one-inch bars into these shapes at very little cost.
Especially with dumbbell training, lets not skimp on the pre-workout warm-up. Some odd angles of
push and pull will be employed, certain obscure small muscles will be forced to assist, and the total
body will be involved. Thus, its vital to warm every possible fiber of your being. As described in
previous articles, select a pair of 3-5 pound dumbbells and do 15-20 minutes of serious heavyhanding before touching anything heavy. The warm-up, remember, is the time for little weights and
high reps. In addition to things such as my personal favorite, shadow boxing, you might consider
mimicking some of the actual heavy dumbbell lifts youll be performing later. On these aerobic
maneuvers the intent is to zing through very speedy sets of 50-100 reps with the tiny bells. For
example, if you plan to train the dumbbell press later on, then, as part of your warm-up, bounce
around the gym floor while knocking out a lightening-like set of 100 alternate dumbbell presses with 3
pounders, almost as if you were punching up at the ceiling.

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Bob Karhan
My all-round cohort and good buddy from Cleveland, Ohio, 45-year-old Bob Karhan, has done more
dumbbell home training than most. Very few trainees these days can match big Bobs pure pressing
power, the result of many years of concentrated work with various forms of dumbbell pressing. Hes
kindly agreed to share with HARDGAINER readers many of his findings. Heres Bob:

When training dumbbells I usually do 1-2 sets after my barbell exercises. For example, after a session
of heavy barbell pressing I take a heavy pair of dumbbells and do a set of 5-6 reps in the dumbbell
press. If this is fairly easy, Ill add weight and go for one more set, of 3-5 reps. If the first set proves to
be a gut buster, Ill skip the second set.
I prefer sticking to a rep scheme of 3-8. The first reps always prove to be essential to jockey for ideal
dumbbell positioning and establish coordination between muscle groups. Repetitions eventually
enable one to discover a personal groove and fine tune it over the course of time. Only dumbbells
permit this minute adjustment of positioning. In fact, I seriously doubt whether any two individuals
could possible have the exact same degree of push.
In IAWA competition, the center of the bell handles for presses cant be higher than the clavicles. This
presents a new level of difficulty because the initial drive requires a shoulder and elbow rotation to
get the bells started. This motion has a tendency to get the dumbbells out of ones groove. By doing
the exercise this way, the amount of weight is reduced by about 10-15% while shoulder aggravation is
increased by 50%. Needless to say, I dont normally press in this manner. Its always important with
dumbbells to work a lift in the most comfortable manner.
One other way to develop dumbbell power is to employ 2-inch dumbbell handles. These are hard to
control and theyre tremendous for developing the grip. Mostly, when you go back to standard 1-inch
dumbbell handles they feel like mere toys in your hands.
Here are the principles of pressing dumbbells I adhere to:
1. Principles of cleaning and pressing barbells apply. You need an easy clean. If youre stumbling all
over as you rack the dumbbells, or have to muscle them in over the last few inches, your chances of
making a maximum single, triple, or even a set of five, are slim.
2. Concentrate on speed when you clean dumbbells. You have to turn the dumbbells over fast which
requires getting the elbows to move rapidly. Remember, youre not doing hammer curls.
3. Dumbbell cleans are easier if one uses bells with thin, flat plates. I prefer 12.5s myself, the fewer
plates the better. Hexagon-shaped dumbbells are noticeably harder to clean, at least 90s and up.
4. For home training, spiral-lock dumbbells are best. They can be changed quickly, and you never
have to worry about the collars falling off to cause potential injury.
5. For pressing heavy dumbbells its essential to have a solid base. Total-body work comes into play
here as you must maintain tight thighs and hips.
6. When pressing the heaviest dumbbells, I prefer palms facing each other, with elbows facing forward
and angled slightly outward (as opposed to elbows to the sides).

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7. Keep dumbbells directly over the shoulders and concentrate on driving them straight up, always
being attentive to prevent the bells from wandering out to the sides.
Now for some comments on dumbbell curls:
I prefer them to a barbell primarily because the hand position can be altered easily to affect the feel
on the biceps.
Any noticeable pain can be easily eliminated with a simple change in wrist position. Neither barbells
nor machines provide this unique advantage.
Dumbbells supply almost endless curl variationsalternate curls, one-arm curls, seated curls, etc.
And to finish with, two comments on hammer curls:
They give the forearms fantastic work.
They have a positive effect on the dumbbell clean.

The routine
Heres a sample routine Bob and I think you may enjoy. Substitute similar exercises if you cant safely do
the ones listedin particular, the power clean isnt suitable for everyone.
Monday
Heavyhands warm-upall with 3-pound bells, except for the walk and curl
Shadowboxing: 12 minutes
Alternate press: 50 reps
Walk and curl: 5 minutes
Squat and lateral raise: 50 reps
Two-dumbbell swing: 50 reps

Barbell press
70% x 1, 80% x 1, 90% x 1, 100% x 1
One-arm dumbbell press
4 reps each arm
Barbell curl
70% x 1, 80% x 1, 90% x 1, 100% x 1
Hammer curl
4 reps
Squat
70% x 1, 80% x 1, 90% x 1, 100% x 1
Dumbbell deadlift
4 reps

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Thursday
Heavyhands warm-upwith 3-pound bells except for squat pulls (see my article in issue #27)
Shadowboxing: 12 minutes
Two-arm dumbbell row: 50 reps
High pull: 50 reps
Squat pulls: 50 pulls
Dumbbell swing: 50 reps

Barbell row
70% x 1, 80% x 1, 90% x 1, 100% x 1
One-arm dumbbell row
4 reps each arm
Power clean
70% x 1, 80% x 1, 90% x 1, 100% x 1
Dumbbell high pull
4 reps
Barbell hack lift
70% x 1, 80% x 1, 90% x 1, 100% x 1
Dumbbell hack lift
4 reps
Oh your poor muscles! When you begin using two huge mitts full of iron, your muscles are going to
wake up in a hurry. But dont feel sorry for themafter they get better theyll be bigger and stronger.

223

Magnum Opus
by Mark Marowitz
Im a 43-year-old hard gainer. In June 1994, Stuart asked me to relate some of my training
experiences, but I had no intention of doing so until I read Eric Bryans article in issue #33 of
HARDGAINER. Dr. Kens threats to stop disappointing the readers, and instead to allow others to
benefit from my experience, helped to convince me to take pen in hand. Being able to train injury
free and progressively at the Iron Island Gym, without any aids such as drugs and lifting strapsand
while keeping Ralphs and Dr. Kens attitude that its man or woman against iron, periodhas
allowed me to achieve a lot more than I thought would ever be possible.
My story meanders, so be patient with me. The story is bigger than me, and is also about the Iron
Island Gym and the amazing people there. I would be lost without the generous assistance of Ralph
Raiola, Dr. Ken and his wife, Kathy, and sons, Greg and Sol, and my excellent friend, Drew Israel.
Jamie LaBelle and Frank DeMarco who work there have been supportive. They helped change my
life, and mine is only one story from the gyms annals.

The beginning
Five years ago, I was on the way to my office when I went up the subway stairs and found myself out
of breath. My father passed away from a heart attack at the age of 29, so I resolved then and there to
improve my physical condition.
I found the Vertical Club, a glitzy Manhattan club known for its glamorous clientele. It was also near
the office, clean, and catered to the business person. There were many starlets, politicians, and other
famous names there, but also, Ralph Raiola, who was director of operations there. He was a little out
of place with the chrome and glass lifting area. I imitated the beautiful people to the best of my
ability, copying the training that I saw.
I asked Ralph what I could do to make gains, but he would laugh, not taking me seriously. You
wouldnt do what you have to do, he said. Finally, he suggested that I look at one of the glossy
magazines, in part to stop my pestering. I couldnt take this pulp fiction too seriously, but I did see an
ad for something called HARDGAINER, sent for my free copy, loved it, and subscribed. This was the
real deal, especially Dr. Kens column. He mentioned in print that Ralph Raiolathe Ralph Raiola I
knew wellwas his best lifelong friend, and he also referred to THE STEEL TIP.
Ralph was now in for another round of pestering. What was Dr. Ken like? What kind of training
does he have you do? What about THE STEEL TIP? Ralph was responsible, as the head trainer, for
25,000 square feet of gym, and I tagged after him as he taught others and swept clean the indoor
track. He suggested I give Dr. Ted Lambrinides a call, and have him send me the set of THE STEEL TIP,
and his own newsletter, HIGH INTENSITY TRAINING. Dr. Ken has a column in there too. Now I was
getting somewhere except I still had no idea what hard training really was.
Six months later, Dr. Ken took Ralph the thirty miles out of New York City, and the two of them fulfilled
their adolescent promise to have a gym together.
Id been at the Vertical Club for two years, had progressed minimally past increasing my social contacts,
and at 40 years of age had committed to the self discovery it would take to become bigger and stronger.
224

Getting serious
My life truly began at 40. I took what I had and began what has been the happiest and most fulfilling
part of my life. I was blessed with a narrow chest, long and thin arms tapering to small wrists, and
no muscularity to speak of. Dr. Ken talked with me at the gym, and suggested that he train me for a
whileuntil I understood what was expected of me. This has now stretched to over two years of Dr.
Kens personal training.
Id negotiated with many clever men, but never had I met anyone like Dr. Ken. I believed him when he
said I was really in for it. Just the equipment there would let you know that. The tons of weights,
dumbbells, plate-loading and selectorized machines, the power rack that Shaquille ONeal would
easily fit into, homemade weird things, and machines built by Dr. Ken and Jim Sutherland that no one
else has or has even thought of yet, would let anyone know that this was going to be a serious
endeavor. And anyone with purple equipment you just know doesnt care about anyone elses
opinion. Usually a gym will boast two or three very strong men, but the Iron Island Gym has at least 20
or 30 extraordinarily strong men and women, some who compete in various sports and lifting events,
some who dont but surely could. The inspiration is just great.

The gaining formula


For all the time Ive lifted at the Iron Island Gym, I havent had the same workout twice. Each is
unique, but you in the strength community who train at home shouldnt despair, because they are
simplesimple programs, simple basic equipment.
When I arrived for my first workout, Doc said I should plan on gaining weight. While my semisedentary lifestyle had me fat, I never could put on any muscle weight. When I asked how to gain, Doc
said, Eat and train. So I ate. From a quasi-vegetarian, I devoured steak, burgers, bread, potatoes,
fruit, vegetables, and the occasional really-high-in-fat soul food that Dr. Kens neighborhood offers.
(Doc says that ribs, collard greens, macaroni, and pecan pie were the secret ingredients that got his
deadlift over 600 pounds.) I started to gain weightsome fat as usual but, remarkably, muscle! I was
told that we would deal with the fat later. The theory, in my case anyway, was that I would perhaps eat
a diet that was higher in fat than usual, but it would be for a short time and, generally, the diet was
healthy and low in fat. I eventually gained about 50 pounds.

The training
My early training sessions were memorable and, at the same time, forgettable. The jeers and verbal
insults were unbearable. My manhood, sexuality, and anything else you could think of were
questioned again and again. Little did I know at the time, but like many people, I thought I was
motivated. Ralph and Dr. Ken were going to make sure I was truly motivated. The staff and entire gym
membership stayed on my case for 18 months. My attitude became, Screw all of you, Im staying and
I will succeed, if only because you dont think I will. Of course, this was Dr. Kens plan the entire time,
only I didnt realize it then. I didnt care what they said or thought, and believe me, weve got some
really rough guys (and girls) in the gym. Nice people, but definitely not Park Avenue types.
Only Drew Israel stood with me, and had me come to his home to watch him train. He had trained in
Dr. Kens basement for years, and really knew how to train hard. Drew would train in his great home
gym until he collapsed, rise as if from the dead, and train some more until he again dropped. Doc
taught him well and the results, well, if you saw Drew in person, youd understand what a living wall
was. I listened for hours on end to Drew about training, stories of Dr. Kens basement sessions, and
225

took seriously his encouragement to eat (if you eat with Drew, you would really eat). I can say that,
without Drews encouragement, I wouldnt have made it through the early sessions.
All was not well at first. Ken wanted to quit. I wanted to quit. He wanted to throw me out of the gym
for not training hard enough. Sometimes, I wished he would throw me out so I could lay down in the
parking lot and be left alone. Between me and Docs ulcer, it was an even fight. I wasnt used to the
level of concentration demanded of me. Ken would sometimes walk away from me in the middle of
the set, muttering to himself. The first time I lost control of a bar in a set, he quietly told me that I
could have hurt myself terribly, could have hurt the spotterwhich was himand that if I did it again,
he would kill me. I believed him. Then he blew up and stormed off. I found a corner in the locker room
between the shower stalls and wall, and sat in despair. I would never again allow this to happen. Ralph
came looking for me, laughed heartily, and promised me he would fix things up so that Dr. Ken would
continue to train me.
Two other times when Doc stormed off, Ralph discreetly placed himself between us, walked Doc away,
and finished training me. Ralph saved my ass again, and again, always smoothing things over. It was
meant to be, and with Ralphs vigilance, Dr. Ken was, one way or the other, going to train me.
Sessions were twice a week for about thirty minutes. Ive never told Dr. Ken, I cant. He has never
asked me to do something that he honestly believed I couldnt do, even if he was the only one who
knew that. Our first six weeks got worse and worse. I tried two sets of some movements, one of
others, 8-10 sets total. No real progress, and Doc was hoarse, hurting, and frustrated. I feared for my
physical safety.
We cut back on the work, week after week, until he found a winning formula. I overtrain very easily. He
decided to err on the side of severe undertraining. I never knew what I was doing. I would just lift
what he said to lift. I left the thinking to him. He decided to make up for lost time. He dragged me to
the squat rack and said, Okay, today youre a man. Do 100 reps!
I knew I shouldnt say anything and I began to squat. I gulped, faced the bar, got under it, and lifted it
off the rack. Ten, twenty, thirty. I was huffing and puffing. Keep your form, descend under control,
he said. Why am I doing this? I thought. Forty, and not even half way there. The bar was hurting my
back and I wanted to bend over under the load. His hand slapped the back of my head. Big breath,
chest up; come on! Fifty. I could hardly control my breathing; my back and feet were hurting badly.
Sixty. Come on, Mark! I thought my shoulders and arms were going numb. They were numb. The
bar was slipping down my back. He was cursing, rolling the bar up my back. You will do this! he
bellowed. Seventy. Everything hurt, hurt badly. I couldnt hear him anymore. Seventy-one. My hands
and shoulders were numb. Seventy-two. I couldnt breathe. Seventy-three. He again rolled the bar up
my back. Seventy-four, and seventy-five. I fell to one knee. He caught the bar and helped me up and
yelled, Keep going; youve come too far!
Ralph was there. Lets go, Mark, do this. I finished the remaining reps. One hundred squats. Only
135 on the bar, but what an accomplishment for me. I dont remember how I did it. Everything was on
fire, and Ken left me lying on the platform as he unloaded the bar. Ralph looked down and laughed
that big hearty laugh of his.
Twenty minutes later, I was still down and couldnt get comfortable. Another thirty and I shuffled into
the shower. I fell down and lay there. I think people felt sorry for me. I was able to leave the gym 90
minutes later, and no one said goodbye.
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We stayed away from lower body movements for a week, but after more workouts, I would be left
lying where I dropped. I was getting bigger. He would load up the Hammer leg press. Do forty reps.
I would start and he would go, Six. Six! Hey, I wont count them if theyre not perfect reps. Should I
order lunch, or will this get done today? My legs would shake. It was like the hundred-rep squats all
over again. I became well acquainted with the red vomit buckets that are placed strategically around
the gym, mainly next to where the squats, deadlifts and leg presses are done.
Ken taught me the deadlift. My long arms make this a favorite lift. I would leave the deadlift session with
bleeding palms and shins, but Doc was careful not to overtrain me on this or anything else. He knew
when to cut back or back off. Weeks turned into months, and I was making gains and felt stronger.

Competition
Ralph approached me about joining the gyms powerlifting team, and lifting at the New York State
ADFPA (drug-free) Championships. He asked Ken, who replied, As a team member? Doc almost fell
off his chair. I think he was kidding, though. Ralph took me through an Iron Island foundation
workout for powerlifters. Ralph is the best squatting coach around, and I learned. I also did 25 squats
followed by 25 deadlifts. We upped the weight and did 15 squats followed immediately by 15
deadlifts. Didnt powerlifters do low reps? We added more weight, and then it was 10 squats and 10
deadlifts done back to back. I could ignore the pain and discomfort better, but I was starting to weave.
Ralph got the reps out of me. For months, soreness was my constant companion. The sympathy I got
from Ralph and Dr. Ken was, Shut up and go lift; dont worry about being sore.
I kept eating. Drew taught me to visualize my lifts on the drive out to the gym. I still do this. Greg
taught me to clear my mind five minutes before the start of training. Its almost like sleep, sitting
quietly and focusing. Ken taught Greg well. Have a mind filled with excitement and rage, but
nothing else. It works.
When I squatted with 200 pounds, Doc said, It will be uncomfortable. Anything over 200 is
uncomfortable. Its a given, so dont worry about it. I dealt with it. Ralph got me a lifting belt and
suit. I tripled 300 in the deadlift. I think Dr. Ken was happier than I was, as he dragged everyone in the
gym over to tell them of my feat. He even called his wife. Ralph wrapped my knees. I tripled 300 in
the squat. I couldnt believe I could do these things, not when I would be crushed and my form would
collapse under 150 pounds not many months before. We spent the summer practicing the
competition lifts and training hard in our usual manner.
At the contest, I was more than nervous. Id never lifted in front of anyone except at the Iron Island
Gym. Ralph got the entire team around me to wish me luck, and they kept cheering right through
every lift. We did this for everyone, but I needed it the most. Theres no one like Ralph. He wrapped
everyone, tearing his hands up in the process. He stood on the side of the platform, and yelled for all
of us. Drew was cheering, too. I missed my first squat on depth. Typical beginner mistake. Ralph was
patient, and I got to go again. It was fine from there, and hard to believe that I actually was the New
York State Masters Champion in my weight class. My teammates laughed at my total, but respected
my victory. I placed in every contest I entered after that, and received a trophy for each one. I had
heart, and I proved it. Ralph and Doc made me prove it.
More time passed, and I made my first 400-pound deadlift. I learned to finish every set I started, at
least doing all I was capable of. I think they wanted me to learn that too.

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In the spring of 1993, Drew and I drove to Evansville, Indiana, for The Event, and even met Dick
Conner. What a great individual. We went to hear Doc lecture with others, but Doc always encourages
us to lift and compete for the fun of it. So, with close to 16 or 17 hours of driving, no sleep, and one
speeding ticket, we entered the various events. We were called the Iron Island Muscle Mafia by the
university president and his wife.
Drew finished first in the bench press. In the deadlift contest, I finished third and Drew fourth (his bad
low back locked up and he had to be carried off the platform). To celebrate, Doc made me do 100
reps in the deadlift when I returned for my first workout. He was making the most of my abundant
slow-twitch fibers. I entered one more meet and came to appreciate that, at the Iron Island Gym, its
the effort, not the weight, that everyone respects.

Change of direction
I went to California to relax. I missed the gym and my friends, but I was being pulled in another
direction, one that I finally had the confidence to pursue. I decided to study martial arts. Why not? At
my age, Id proven I could do many things I never thought possible. Doc had said that would be one
of the many benefits from training properly.
Ive been studying Ju Jitsu with Grandmaster Moses Powell, in Brooklyn, the Dr. Ken of martial artists.
We still train at the gym, but the emphasis is now on maintaining my bodyweight (at 185-190), staying
strong for the martial arts, and flexible. I think, for my age, Im quick, agile, and strong. Theres
nothing that someone my junior can do that I cant. I tumble and fly all over the dojo. Im 10 or 20
pounds heavier now than when I came to Iron Island, but have probably gained 35 pounds of muscle.
Thank you, Dr. Ken, for everything. Thanks for the 50- and 60-rep squat sets and the unusual things
we do to improve punching power. While Doc rarely flattens me any longer, my workouts are
aggressive. My form and concentration are good, and most workouts now end with, Good job,
Mark. Im mastering the rhythms of high-rep schemes, finishing sets quicker and with fewer breaths
between sets. Doc talks about things like this all the time, and while he thinks hes boring, he sure has
a lot of information we all could use. Ralph, too.
In almost three years, I think Ive become a fair-to-good trainee. Consistency and patience are the
keys. Hard gainers, dont get hung up on the numbers. Just train hard, get enough rest, and train
consistently. Im yours in safe and intensive training.

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229

Concentrate!
by Brooks D. Kubik
The ability to concentrate when you train is critical to your success. Why? Because its the glue that
holds everything else together.
When you go to the gym, you go there to train. You dont go there to socialize.
When you perform any set of any exercise, youre doing something that has a specific purpose. If
youre doing a warm-up set, the purpose of your exertions is to prepare yourself, mentally and
physically, for the heavier set or sets that follow. You also are priming the motor pathways of the
nervous system, to allow your body to work in perfect form once you begin to pile weight on the bar.
If youre doing a heavy set, your goal is to meet or exceed the number of reps youve targeted to
achieve with that particular poundage in that specific training session. Youre not merely performing 4
sets of 8, or 5 sets of 5 simply because thats whats scheduled in your training program. Every set has
a definite purpose, and when you perform a set, the achievement of its purpose should be the sole
focus of your attention.
Each rep has its own unique purpose. Remember, a set is nothing but a series of reps. In any set of
multiple reps, the initial repsthe relatively easy onesmust be completed in perfect form. They help
you maintain that all-critical form during the final rep or reps of the setthe ones where the bar feels
like its going to drive you through the floor, and it takes every bit of determination you possess to
meet the targeted number of reps while maintaining proper form. The very final reps, the incredibly
hard ones, serve a different purposethat of triggering increases in muscle size and strength.
Whenever you go to the gym, you must go with a sense of purpose. You must know exactly what you
plan to do. The exercises, weights, sets and repsall must be selected in advance. Everything you do
must be pre-determined.
All of this requires concentration. If theres any sort of training secret I can offer you, its thisthe
secret of concentration. Developing the ability to concentrate when you go to the gym is one of the
keys to success for a hard gainer. If you develop this ability, youre guaranteed to succeed. If you fail
to develop this ability, your results will be far less than you desire.
And dont think this is some sort of mumbo-jumbo or the brainchild of an arm-chair theorizer. In my
own case, the ability to train or compete in a state of deep, focused, almost hypnotic intensitya
state of total concentrationhas led to national championships and national records in drug-free
powerlifting competition. This stuff really worksmore than anything else I know. Parts of what follow
may seem a little strange or esoteric, but the system works.
Fortunately, the ability to concentrate isnt an innate gift. Anyone who is able to read this magazine
can develop the ability to concentrate during his or her training sessions. All it requires is desire,
focused effort, and the implementation of a systematic approach to concentration. The system I use
and teach involves the ten elements detailed below. If you study these elements, and work hard to
implement them in your training, youll develop the ability to concentrate like a master within 15 to 20
workouts. This may sound like a lot of work with little in the way of tangible rewards, but let me assure
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you that developing the ability to concentrate will do more for your progress than anything money
could buy, and that includes all the designer supplements, the gimmicky training devices, the latest
exercise machines, and all the super-duper training programs ever invented.

#1: Goals
The ability to concentrate begins with the formation of clearly-defined training goals. You must
determine exactly what it is that you wish to achieve from your training. Your goals should be stated
as clearly and specifically as possible. Dont merely decide I want to get stronger, or, I want to
develop a good physique. Those are general goals, not specific ones. Instead of deciding you want
to get stronger, decide, for example, that you want to develop the ability to bench 300 pounds,
squat 400 and deadlift 500, all for one rep in good form, with no training aids other than a lifting belt.
Instead of deciding you want to develop a good build, take your wrist measurement and determine
development girths for your body structure according to Stuarts discussion of this on pages 31-32 of
BRAWN. Then set a goal of achieving these girths.
The goals detailed in the previous paragraph are long-term goals. Long-term goals are critically
important to your training success. Equally important, however, are short-term goals. An example of a
short-term goal is the desire to add 20 pounds to your maximum bench press during the course of a
12-week training cycle. Another example of a short-term goal is the goal of adding one pound per
week to your bench press poundage during the heavy portion of a training cycle. For those of you
interested in measurements, a short-term goal might be putting half an inch of muscle on your upper
arms during the course of a 12-week specialization program. This is in contrast to a long-term goal of
eventually building a 16-inch or 17-inch upper arm.
Goals are an aid to concentration because they focus your attention on what youre trying to achieve.
Its much easier to develop the ability to concentrate on your training if you go to the gym with a
definite idea of your short-term and long-term goals. If you go to the gym with nothing more than a
general idea that you want to get bigger and stronger, theres a much greater tendency for the mind
to wander. Your mind is like a locomotive engine. It needs a track to run upon or else it will roam
helter-skelter across the countryside. Your long-term and short-term goals are the track upon which
your mental engine must run.

#2: Your training journal


Stuart keeps a training journal. Mike Thompson keeps a training journal, and I keep one, too. We
need a journal. So do you. I mean every one of you. Developing the ability to concentrate in your
training sessions without keeping a training journal is a little like cooking bacon and eggs for breakfast
without having any eggs in the house.
Your training journal ties in to your short-term goals. Before you go to the gym, you need to review
exactly what you did during your previous training session. This tells you what youre capable of doing
the next time you visit the gym. Your short-term goal will be to exceed what you accomplished in the
previous training session. For example, if you handled 200 pounds for 3 sets of 5 reps in the bench
press when you trained your chest last Monday, your goal will be to add one or two pounds to the bar
and still perform 3 sets of 5 reps. If you get only 4 reps on your final set, then the goal in your next
bench workout will be to use the same weight but get 5 reps in all 3 sets.
Your training diary also allows you to compete with yourself from year to year. Heres an example: I do
power rack bench presses from different heights. I also do them with three different grips: wide,
medium, and narrow. Obviously, I cant do all heights and all grips during the course of any one
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workout. What I typically do is work one style for a particular training cycle and then switch to another
in the following cycle. This means, for example, that it may be six months or more between cycles of
close-grip bench presses beginning with the bar at chest height. Given the passage of so much
time, Ive no way of remembering what weights I used when I started my training cycle the last time I
did the exercise in that fashion, or how my progress went. Using my training journal allows me to
compete by comparing myself with that previous cycle, rep for rep, and pound for pound. Without a
training diary to guide me, I would have no way of remembering my previous best in this style of
performance, and no idea what weights and reps to shoot for.

#3: Pre-training focus


To be most effective, your concentration needs to begin 30 to 60 minutes before you even set foot in
the gym. If you concentrate on your workout only after you reach the gym, youre selling yourself
short. The better approach is to start thinking about your workout long before you arrive at the gym.
Take your training diary, review it, and write out the exercises, reps and sets that youre scheduled to
perform during the coming training session. Think about your workout. If you drive to the gym, turn
off your car radio or change to a music channelyou dont need to be distracted by some talk show
or babbling newscaster. If you can, drive over by yourself. No need to be impolite, but conversation at
this stage of the game is against doctors orders.
As you travel to the gym, mentally review the exercises, poundages, sets and reps youll perform
during your training session. Pretend you have a movie projector running in the center of your
imagination. The feature is your upcoming workout. Picture the gym, the equipment, the loaded bars,
and, as the star of the film, yourself. Watch yourself perform the scheduled sets and reps. Focus on the
little thingsthe details. Imagine the way the bar feels when you grip it. Smell the sweat, stale air, and
liniment. Imagine the way your abs push against your training belt as you tighten it for a heavy set of
squats. Feel the sweat trickling down your face as you grind your way through a heavy set of deadlifts.
By the time you get to the gym, youll have experienced your training session several times. Youll know
exactly what youre to do, and how youre to do it. There will be no questions in your mind, because
youll have reviewed a video history of whats about to transpire. You also will feel an enormous sense of
confidence. You wont wonder whether or not youll be able to hit three sets of five with 300 pounds in
the squat, for exampleyouve already seen yourself manage the feat several times.
For those who train at home, the principle is the same. All you need is 20 or 30 minutes without
distraction in order to mentally rehearse your training session. If family or friends are too distracting at
your house, walk around the block and do your visualization that way. This also serves as a mild
aerobic warm-up. If its the middle of winter, and theres snow on the ground, go to your training
quarters and do 20 or 30 minutes of light aerobic work followed by light stretching before you hit the
weights. Use this time primarily as an opportunity to mentally rehearse the upcoming battle with the
iron.

#4: Warm-up sets


If youre a regular reader, you know that I favor training systems that involve several progressively
heavier warm-up sets prior to the performance of the one or more heavy sets of any particular
exercise. For example, I often recommend the 5 x 5 training system, where you do 2 progressively
heavier warm-up sets of 5 reps, and then do 3 sets of 5 with your top weight. (Or do 3 warm-up sets
and 2 heavy sets; or 4 warm-ups and a single heavy set.) One of the reasons I favor this system is that
it allows you to develop the ability to concentrate to the maximum degree. You do this by practicing
the art of concentration during your warm-up sets.
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Using a maximum weight for a given number of reps in any set is very taxing. Its painful work. The
sheer weight of the bar alone can be a distraction. So can the pain. If you tend to forget about
concentration during your warm-up sets and then try to concentrate out of the blue when the
weight is at its heaviest, and distraction is greatest, youre doing yourself a grave disservice.
A far better approach is to use intense, focused concentration on each rep of every set you perform,
including the warm-up sets. Remember, concentration and proper exercise form go together. You
need to concentrate on what youre doing in order to maintain proper form. If you perform your
warm-up sets in letter-perfect form, its much easier to maintain your form when theres a maximum
weight on the bar. The same is true of the art of concentration. If you concentrate as you perform your
warm-up sets, maintaining your concentration and focus during a heavy set is much easier.
My mentor, Bradley J. Steiner, often wrote about the importance of concentration in training. He
sometimes said you needed to think into your muscles as you performed a particular exercise.
Other times he said you needed to become the muscle that youre exercising. This concept is
difficult to describe, but you really need to give it a try. Trial and error will teach you what we mean.
But you need to do this on every set you perform. You can develop the ability to become your
biceps much more easily when youre doing a warm-up set with 80 pounds than when youre gutting
out five reps with 120 pounds, for example. As in most other endeavors, the principle of repetition is
critical to your success. The more you concentrate, the better youll become at it. Any set performed
without maximum focus and intense mental concentration is a wasted opportunity to further develop
your powers of concentration. In contrast, any set you perform with maximum focus, even if its a
warm-up set, will be a significant step on the road to training success.

#5: The no-talking rule


I always train alone. Those with a training partner need to impose the no-talking rule.
This rule applies to anybody who is beginning to concentrate or focus upon an upcoming set. The rule
is simply this: Any lifter who is beginning to focus on an upcoming set needs to be given the
opportunity to do so in complete silence. If the training partners know from experience that a word or
two of encouragement is beneficial, then words of encouragement are permitted. Other than this, the
training partners arent allowed to talk to the lifter, and in no circumstances are the training partners
allowed to stand around shooting the breeze. Talking about politics, girls, movies, or any other
topic of chatter is strictly forbidden. The gym is a serious place. It doesnt have to be a silent place,
but it needs to be treated as sacred ground. Chitchat belongs in other venues.
Any training partner who talks to you during the middle of a set, even a warm-up set, has ruined an
opportunity to advance a step on the road of self-actualization. Tell him not to do it again. If he persists,
find another training partner. This may seem unsociable, but weight training is a serious endeavor, and
you need to surround yourself with serious people. So-called friends who cant keep quiet during a
training session will poison your progress, and bring a halt to any hope of impressive gains.

#6: More mental rehearsal


Immediately before each set you perform, use an abbreviated form of the pre-workout mental
rehearsal technique. Take at least 30 seconds before you begin your set (including warm-ups) and go
off by yourselfclose your eyes, breathe deeply and rhythmically, shut out all sounds and all
distractions, and visualize the performance of the coming set. Begin with a mental image of yourself
as you approach the bar. Watch yourself get into position. Experience the feelings, smells, noises and
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sensations as you perform the set. Perform the same number of reps youll perform in real life. Pause
between reps, just as you would in real life. Make the sequence as authentic as possible.
As you become better at this technique, fine tune it to increase your ability to concentrate. One way
to do this is to employ what I call the tunnel vision technique. Begin your mental movie by watching
yourself stand at one end of a long, narrow corridor. The barbell is at the other end of the corridor.
Nothing else exists in the entire universe. Theres only you, the corridor, and the barbell. As you walk
toward the barbell, the walls of the corridor narrow, mimicking the focus with which youll bring your
concentration to a level of pinpoint intensity. As you grasp the bar, the walls of the tunnel close in,
fold into themselves and disappear. Theres nothing left but you and the bar. Now begin the set.
Strange as it seems, this technique will work wonders for your ability to eliminate distractions and
concentrate entirely, exclusively and totally on whatever exercise youre doing when its actually time
to begin your set. This is particularly true if you do your mental rehearsal 10 or 20 feet away from the
bar, so that the second the movie goes off you can begin walking towards the barmimicking the
movie sequence where youre walking down the isolated corridor.

#7: Switching it on
Another trick that sounds strange but works wonders is what I refer to as a pre-set activator.
Imagine that your powers of concentration can be switched on or off exactly the same as you switch
on a light when you enter a room. Your pre-set activator is the mental equivalent of flipping the switch
to the on position. It can be any sort of physical or verbal command you wish to use. You can say
(either silently or out loud) go or on. You can clap your hands. You can do something a little more
ritualistic if you wish: slap your left shoulder, slap your right shoulder, clap your hands, and say go.
You can cross yourself if youre religious.
I like to tap my forehead with my right handalways three times. Dont ask me why I do this, I just do.
It has no purpose at all other than serving as my personal means of switching on the power of
concentration. Once the switch goes on, you could fire a gun in the air and I wouldnt hear it.
For best results, combine the switching it on technique with the pre-set visualization of element #6.
Include whatever it is you do as a pre-set activator in the beginning sequence of your mental movie.
This sounds a little crazy, but its a terrific way of enhancing the remarkable benefits of both of these
subtle performance enhancers.

#8: Focused concentration in a set


Immediately after your pre-set activator, begin to move toward the bar. Look directly at the bar. Its
critical that your gaze be focused directly on the bar to the total exclusion of anything and everything
else in the world. The entire universe should boil down to a single point of referencethe barbell.
Visually, things should be exactly the same as if you were in a long, narrow corridor with bare walls,
striding purposefully toward the barbell.
When you reach the bar, close your eyes, summon all of your determination, focus and mental energy,
take a deep breath, assume the correct position for whatever exercise it is that youre doing, and then
begin your set. At this point, it doesnt really matter if your eyes are open or shut. In either case, you
really shouldnt be able to see anything at all. If youre looking in a mirror, it should be as though
youre not actually watching yourself, but rather, as though youre standing outside of your body
watching it go through the motions of the particular exercise youre doing. If you dont use a mirror,
you should be literally blind to your surroundings.
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Your entire focus should be on the performance of the exercise. Pay attention to your bodys
feedback. Your muscles constantly send signals to you. Are you on target as you perform each rep?
Are you in the groove? Your body knows, even if you dont. Listen to your body!
You should count reps, but should do so almost automatically, without diverting your attention from
the performance of the reps. As you approach the end of the set and the reps get harder and harder,
your brain should be flashing an urgent signal over and overpush, push, PUSH, PUSH! Its exactly
the same as if there was a physical link between your determination to complete the required number
of reps in a set, and the muscles that are moving the bar. You want the link between your
determination and your muscles to be crowded with messages telling the muscles to give all that they
have got. As you reach the sticking point of the final rep of the set, your mind should literally
bombard the muscles with repeated messages urging the bar upward.

#9: Taking it rep by rep


If youre doing multiple reps in a set, break each one down and make it stand entirely on its own as far
as your concentration goes. Dont worry about performing the next rep. The next rep will always take
care of itself. Focus entirely on the rep youre actually performing. Feel the muscles working all the
way up and all the way down. As I mentioned earlier, try to become your muscles.
Too many people rush their reps in order to complete a set as quickly as possible. This is the opposite
of what you want to do. You need to make each rep as productive as possible. For all practical
purposes, each rep you perform becomes an entire workout unto itself. This doesnt mean that you
raise and lower at some artificially predetermined speed. It does mean that you give each rep you
perform your undivided attention. Remember, no matter what you do youll never have another
opportunity to perform that repetition. You only have one opportunity to do it right. Take advantage
of it. Make the most of it. Perform each rep as though it were the last that you would ever perform.

#10: Cycling and the success habit


Earlier in this article I discussed the importance of performing all of your sets, including your warm-up
sets, with the same focused concentration with which you would approach your hardest, heaviest set
of the day. This is an example of what I refer to as the proper use of the success habit. If youre able
to successfully concentrate on the performance of the lighter, warm-up sets, then you dramatically
increase your ability to concentrate properly during the performance of your heaviest, hardest set.
Cycling programs enhance this process. During the first portion of a training cycle you should use
weights that are well within your existing capabilities. Over time, you gradually build up to weights
that require a maximum effort. During the building up process you should always be able to meet the
number of reps targeted for any particular exercise in any given training session. You should be able
to give each set the focus and concentration Ive described throughout this article. All of this will
develop a significant sense of self-confidence. When you get to the more difficult stage of your
training cycle, youll approach each heavy set with a firm belief in your ability to meet or exceed the
targeted number of reps for a particular exercise on that particular day. You also will have full
confidence in your ability to give undivided and absolute mental focus to each rep you perform.
Make the most of your next training cycle. Work at developing not only your physical abilities
throughout the course of the cycle but, in addition, your mental abilities.

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Chiropractic
by Dr. R. Keith Hartman
Old business
A reader inquired about the results, if any, of a proposed study I mentioned in a previous column. It
was postulated that masters lifters would have less degenerative joint disease in the low-back area
compared to their peer group, because of the formers regular routine of squatting and deadlifting.
As background information, degenerative joint disease in the discs of the lumbar spine (low back), is,
generally speaking, a condition that shows on X-rays as a thinning or reduction of the disc space
between the vertebrae of the low backusually between L4-L5 and L5-S1, i.e., fourth and fifth lumbar
vertebrae, and fifth lumbar and first sacral vertebra. This is frequently found in the general population
in people over 40 years of age, especially in the over-50, over-60 and over-70 groups.
When we squat, deadlift or bear any kind of weight in a vertical plane on the spine, the discs dont get
thinner. Instead, they imbibe water from the tissue around them, so that the discs are the same size
even though they are being squeezed by the pressure of the weight being brought to bear on
them. When the load is removed, the water leaves these disc tissues. So, the distance between the
vertebrae remains the same either under load or at normal non-stressed conditions. It was postulated
that this pumping action on a regular basis was very good for the health and maintenance of disc
tissue integrity.
I was really excited about the potential of this study since the obvious benefits of regular weight
training with free weightsand most particularly the squat and the deadliftmight be proven to
improve spinal health in the older adult.
The drawback, and ultimately the damning factor of this proposed study, was the need to establish
and track films (X-rays) of participants and control group subjects. Since most people dont have Xrays of their spine unless symptomatology presents itself, subjects and data were very hard to come
by. At this writing I cant find information regarding the funding, or actual evidence that the study has
taken place. This is a shame, because I feel that the hypothesis it would have been based on is valid.

Youth training
Herbert Hilsen wrote in and reflected on what has been stated in this column about the potential for
permanent injury to the spine by putting weight on a very young mans back, and to squat long
before the vertebrae are hard enough or formed sufficiently enough from cartilage to bone. He
overlays this accepted information with his particular interest of training, without injury, potential
Olympic-style lifters early enough in their development to begin to gain strength, flexibility, and
correct neuromuscular motor pathways. His question is complicated by the press information the
general public has received that prior to the break up of the Soviet Union, trainers and coaches in
Bulgaria and Russia were identifying and training their lifters at a very early age. So, the question is,
how do they do this without damaging their young people, and achieve incredible results? No
stunted or distorted physiques appear on the lifting platform wearing these nations colors.
I deferred this subject to a man Ive trained with and around for the nine years Ive been in practice
and residing in Cary, North Carolina. Lee James was, in the minds of many Olympic-lifting
aficionados minds, the only odds-on American favorite to beat the Russians, after his silver medal in
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the 1976 Olympics. The US boycott of the 1980 Olympics ended that possibility. We both train at
the Powerhouse Fitness Center in Raleigh.
Here are Lees comments:

Dr. Hartman referred your letter to me since I was at one time an Olympic lifter, and still train today.
I agree with both Dr. Hartman and yourself that much damage to joints and soft tissues can be
done when improper weight training is incorporated into a youths activities. Again, as you stated
in your letter, the bones arent fully formed until young adulthood; and considerable damage could
be done to the joints and spine. In addition, the muscles can develop at a faster rate than the
tendons and ligaments can safely handle, and serious soft-tissue injury could occur that would
carry over into adulthood.
Ive read about the training methods of the Russians and Bulgarians, but I havent concentrated on the
training of the youth other than their testing to determine predisposition to perform well at a certain
sport. I believe you answered your own question when you wondered if the Russian and Bulgarian
youth training may take a much milder form of physical activity such as calisthenics.
When I was in the (then) Soviet Union in 1974, I met some of the youth trainers who stated
specifically that they did train their youth in explosive movements, and flexibility. This may take the
form of broad jumps, jumping for height, sprints, shot put, etc. In addition, they did train the
Olympic lifts, concentrating on technique. After all, the technique of the jump is very close to the
Olympic pulling movement.
I do believe in some bodybuilding-type movements for youth interested in Olympic lifting, but only
for the purposes of strengthening the entire body. Caution should be taken, however, to stress only
full movements, and flexibility. One should already be doing some exercises which duplicate the
proper Olympic pull, since technique is the highest priority in youth training.
I must also take some exception with the statement that we cant become more flexible in young
adulthood. I know of numerous instances where adults have become more flexible than they were in
their youth, when a sensible stretching program was incorporate into their daily training regimen.

Early-morning training
Herbert also had comments and questions regarding early-morning training, what to eat prior to it,
and what kind of response and results I thought could be achieved.
My experiences here are nothing but positive. Until about March 1994, Id been training in the midafternoon, from three until five. I changed my office hours and now I get up at 3.30 am in order to
train four days a week. My routine follows this course: After rising, I prepare some lemon tea followed
by two cups of coffee during which time I do light stretching exercises and then ice my lower back for
30 minutes. I use this half-hour time space for my morning spiritual meditation in preparation for the
day. After meditation, while Im getting dressed, I eat one banana and begin drinking water.
I arrive at the gym usually around 5.15 am. I hit the floor five minutes later, cycle for five minutes,
stretch some more, and hit it. My workouts are very productive and I dont feel weak unless I havent
slept sufficiently. I must say that the rest factor usually plays a more important role toward the middle
of the afternoon than during my training.
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After the workout, and I mean immediately after it, I eat another banana and continue drinking water.
Im consuming water all during the workout and by the time I arrive back at my apartment Ive
consumed half a gallon of water. I shower, eat breakfast and hit the office by 9 am. As I said, I really
dont have any energy lag until around three or four in the afternoon, and that doesnt happen daily.
Of course, Im in the sack by 9.30 or 10 pm at the latest. So, for me, early-morning training works.
Lee James had some comments too on early-morning training: I too train in the mornings and,
frankly, I find it better. I have a high-stress job, and get more out of my training when I train in the
mornings before anyone has the opportunity to mess the day up. Im mentally fresher in the mornings
than in the afternoons or evenings after having a day at work.

Hydration
It has recently been determined that the average male at rest requires 1.2 liters of water to hydrate the
system sufficiently for all organs to function normally. Have that guy get up and move around normally,
and the requirement doubles to 2.4 liters. If our man is walking around in 90+% humidity, the figure
becomes 4.8 liters. Add the variable of possibly working construction during the day, or welding, and
cycling or jogging after work, and then 8-10 liters of water per day becomes the amount necessary to
keep our man hydrated. Heres how to be sure youre fully hydrated at the end of a day:
When youve completed your days activities, drink water slowly, a glass at a time, until you void. Then
continue to drink water until you void a second time. You should then be fully hydrated. This is a timetested way of judging rehydration, used by some special military outfits who do a lot of their work in
arid climates. After then, if you want a brew, help yourself. Coffee, tea, beer, sodas and juices can be
figured in, but you must bear in mind that caffeine and alcohol are diuretic and cause you to lose
water. Most juices dont create negatives when it comes to total liquid consumption.
I use this double-voiding method after weigh-in at meets, because Im usually partially dehydrated
from sauna and diet changes that draw water out of my system.
If you dont go to bed fully hydrated, its too late to get up the next morning and hope to be fully
hydrated by the time you get to work. Drinking fluids all day will keep you even, maybe, but you must
rehydrate in the evening. Many of my patients who begin hydrating themselves properly, initially
complain of the increased frequency of urination. That minor inconvenience is no price to pay at all for
the beneficial effects of full hydration, whether youre competing or working. No cotton-mouth thirst,
and a clear head. It feels good.

238

239

Forum
Edited by Stuart McRobert
In reply, by Greg Pickett
I must comment on the article by Eric Bryan in HARDGAINER issue #33. I admit that Im not a hard
gainer in the very strictest sense. Although Im short-limbed, I disagree with Mr. Bryans statements
that, A stocky, relatively short-limbed lifter isnt likely to be a hard gainer and, HARDGAINER is the
place where many of the misfits have comethe weight-training laughingstocks, the discarded.
With regard to the short-limbed lifter, such a lifter may have terrific power potential in the squat and
the bench press. In my own case, Ive always had trouble with the bench press, even with short arms.
Even with a 300+ bench press, I consider myself a poor bencher because my torso thickness would
indicate a much higher (400-pound) lift. Am I a hard gainer on this lift? Youd better believe it! There
are several HARDGAINER authors who are capable of outlifting me on the bench press (and by quite
a bit, I may add). I dont feel, however, that these men have nothing to contribute even though they
are genetically set up as superior pressers. Im inspired by their examples; I dont dismiss them as
having nothing to contribute.
The deadlift is an example of an obstacle a short-limbed lifter must overcome. My article in
HARDGAINER issue #31 shows how I worked to improve the deadlift in spite of structural
disadvantages for this lifta relatively long torso and short arms. Just because a lifter is stocky
doesnt mean that hell have zero hard-gainer traits.
HARDGAINER isnt only a place where many of the weight-training worlds discarded have come, but
also a place where those who are genetically average have come for the truth on proper training. In
my own case, until I was introduced to HARDGAINER, at a NASA powerlifting meet in November
1992, I thought that advanced training had to consist of the potpourri of trash that filled most muscle
magazines each month. After reading articles by Kubik, Thompson, McRobert and Temple, I realized
that advanced training can be abbreviated but highly productive.
A final point: As Mr. Bryan states, being drug-free doesnt qualify one as a hard gainer. I agree. But
taking this a step further, its possible that the sensible advice given in HARDGAINER can keep the
drug-free, above-average trainee from crossing the dangerous line to steroid use.
On another matter, I know that Brooks has submitted an article on concentration. Concentration has
always been an important part of my training. In my early days of training, those I trained with always
joked about my insistence on quiet (with the exception of the grunts and groans of training), i.e., very
limited talking while lifting. To me, training is to be taken seriously if you want gains in size and power.
My mind must not be distracted by anything if Im to get the most out of every session. This is a major
reason why, in 1990, I switched training quarters from a local big-name gym, to my basement.
The importance of concentration was rammed home by two recent training sessions. Ive begun doing
rest-pause curls after some discussions with Brooks Kubik. (Brooks, and Mike Thompson, have had a
strong influence on my training in the past year or so.) In my first rest-pause curl session, I did four
singles with 140 pounds, with two minutes between singles. Then I was distracted by a family-related
matter for several minutes, after which I attempted a fifth single, and missed it badly.

240

After six days of rest, I again did rest-pause curls. With 140.5 pounds (love those small discs) I did six
strict singles, again with two minutes rest between lifts. There were no distractions this time. My
ability to do two more reps with half a pound more was, in my opinion, due to an undisturbed
training environment. Concentration isnt just important, its critical.

Discipline, by Bill Hinbern


Of all the qualities necessary for your success in weight training, discipline has got to be the most
important. Why? Simply because its one of those qualities that gets things done. Just look at anyone
around you who is good at what he or she does, and youll observe someone who is disciplined.
If you think you just cant be that way, youre only kidding yourself. You can learn discipline. In fact, the
Latin root of the word discipline is to learn. So lets try and learn how to develop it.
Whats the best way to get started? You can adopt a role model. This can be a disciplined friend or
member of your family. If youre fortunate and are close to this person, maybe you can ask for a few
tips, much the same way that you would ask a fellow trainee or authority about training routines.
Otherwise, you can just observe how your role model operates, and begin to emulate that behavior.
Your role model will probably tell you that hes driven by purpose, values, and short- and long-term
goals. Discipline is related to the word disciplea person devoted to a set of values or beliefs. Its
possible to maintain discipline without purpose, but its a hollow and mechanical skill if is serves no
greater purpose.
Think of the ancient monks who spent their days copying manuscripts by hand. Day after day they sat
on hard benches in dark, damp monasteries, writing word after painstaking word until they had
copied one book. Then they started all over again.
What makes people go on under these circumstances? Well, the monks no doubt believed they
were copying those books for the greater glory of God and the advancement of human knowledge.
On a more mundane level, copying books was probably easier than manual labor, and it provided
steady work with room and board. Reasons for discipline dont have to be grand, as long as they
keep you going.
Rewards are as important as goals. When youre wavering, remind yourself what youll get if you stick
to your traininglook better, more strength, improve at your favorite sport, better health, etc.
What else can we learn from disciplined people?
1. Theyre consistent. Consistency is almost a synonym for discipline. Doing something once has little
meaning compared to doing something over and over, as many times as it needs to be done. Its
the difference between the amateur and the professional.
2. Theyre organized. At any given moment, they know what theyre doing and what they have to do
next to reach their goal.
3. Theyre focused. Once theyve developed their goals, they dont take their eyes off them. You may
admire their ability to concentrate on a task, and their insistence on sticking to business, no matter
what the distractions.

241

4. They dont try to do everything. Surprised? Disciplined people may seem to do everything, because
they accomplish so much. But they are able to set priorities. They are wise enough to know that
trying to do everything would distract them from attaining their goals.
5. Theyre committed. You wont find a disciplined person drifting away from a task, getting bored,
losing interest. Disciplined people stick with it through the boring parts, because one of their aims
is to achieve mastery and skill.
6. Theyre resourceful. They are smart enough to know theres always another way around an obstacle,
and they find it. Whatever it takes!
7. Theyre optimists. They remain positive-minded enough to find solutions that others may not see.
8. They keep on keepin on. When everyone else has given up, disciplined people do what needs to be
done. Thats because doing has become a habit for them. When all else fails, they rely on that habit.

Validation
Many of us got good advice right from the start of our training, but because it seemed too simple to
be true, and because the hyped-up distractions and alternatives were so appealing, we got confused
and misled. Heres how a new subscriber succinctly put it, although be aware that many hard gainers
will gain more from the bent-legged deadlift than the squat.
After following the training routines of the genetic mega-superiors for 17 solid yearswith little
benefitIve found your work only to validate what I was told by an Iron Game old timer when I first
started to train seriously, in 1977. He advised, Stick to the very basic exercises for each body part,
drink lots of milk, squat religiously, spend more time at the beach, and less time in the gym.
Did I get off the track! Thanks for getting me back on the road to reality.

Seeing the light, by Dean Hiley


Before I made the decision to add your book to my otherwise useless but extensive library of
bodybuilding literature, Id spent the best part of 15 years front raising and dumbbell flying my way
through non-productive routines.
Ive spent many years in further and adult education whilst holding down a skilled job. But in
hindsight, I can hardly believe just how dense Ive been with regard to my training.
I knew the first time I thumbed through BRAWN that this was going to be the gem in my library, and
the other books would remain forever shut and ignored. By the time Id reached the third chapter Id
sent off my subscription for HARDGAINER, and quickly found my place in this sporthome at last.
Now, its as if Im a rank beginner again, and have to study the truth of drug-free bodybuilding. With
my newly-acquired power rack in my garage in a quiet suburb of Plymouth, England, I feel born again.
I train alone and always have done, and came to terms with the difficulties long ago, but now feel a
strong helping hand from you and your colleagues.
I find it incredible to believe that during those long years I never understood the reasons or recognized
the symptoms of overtraining. The never-ending repetition of the errors of too much and too often.
242

The countless times I would eagerly start a new routine, only to run out of steam a few weeks later, and
be forced to stop while I devised another unproductive routine. It never occurred to me that I must
reduce my sets and concentrate on the big movements. The closest I came to a productive routine
during those years was when I used a Platz power routine, but even that was too much.
Now, at the age of 34, I no longer give up after a few weeks. Instead, I can milk a cycle for all its
worth, savoring the gains that come. The benefits to my training, and indeed the whole spectrum of
my life, have been enormous, and I wish, like yourself, Id found in my teenage years the truth behind
productive training.

243

244

Chapter 10
Editorial, by Stuart McRobert
543
Not just bigger and stronger. How to add life to your years, and perhaps years to your life.
Form and Technique: The Deadlift, by Brooks D. Kubik
544
The 10 components of how to deadlift with correct technique.
The White Moment, by John Christy
552
How to train aggressively and intensively.
Asking Dr. Ken, by Dr. Ken E. Leistner
555
Farmers walk; training for rugby; training variety; iso-lateral training; squat substitutes.
From Experience, by Dick Conner
559
Neck work; squat alternative (handle squat).
The Quarter-Ton Hacklift: Strong at Last, by Eric Bryan
Barbell hacklift; single-rep chin-ups.

560

Training the Old-Fashioned Way, by Bob Whelan


566
No-bull high-intensity training, and a training routine.
How Not to Wreck Your Lower Back, by Stuart McRobert
Forty points to apply in order to keep a healthy lower back.

569

From the Grassroots, by John Leschinski


574
How to set up your own home-gym: a real-life detailed account.
Factors of Success, by Wesley Silveira
577
Eleven factors to implement for bodybuilding and strength-training success.
The Odds for a Super Physique, by John McKean
581
Odd lifts including the incline bench press, bent-arm pullover, parallel bar dip, pullover,
reverse curl, and weighted push-up.
High-Intensity Workouts at Home, by Drew Israel
Training flat out at Drews home-gym.

586

Chiropractic, by Dr. R. Keith Hartman


589
How to find chiropractic help; bursitis and tendinitis; sternum noises; death of Dr. Hartman.
Forum, edited by Stuart McRobert
592
Kettlebell handles; split routine for hard gainers; nutrition tips; 12 weeks of gains.
542

EDITORIAL
Not just bigger and stronger
by Stuart McRobert
While our primary mission is the provision of practical and productive bodybuilding and strengthbuilding information for drug-free typical trainees, theres much more to training than that.
Im all for big and strong muscles. They have dominated much of my life. But being totally focused on
them can lead to neglect of factors central to long-term well-being. Theres much more to looking
good, feeling great and being healthy than having big, strong muscles.
Always being locked into the bigger and stronger mode, even after youve built impressive size and
strength, is something to avoid. Once youre over 35, the heavy diet and the training program free of
cardio work that packed on size and strength in your youth will make you bigger and stronger still, but
at a cost. Poor cardiovascular fitness takes its toll as you get into middle age and older. Excess body fat
is harder to take off the older you get. Decreasing flexibility will become increasingly apparent.
After youve reached age 35 you need to balance your total program and give serious attention to your
nutrition, cardiorespiratory training, and flexibility work. If youre already into your middle years, but are
a training novice, you need to build bigger and much stronger muscles but by using a balanced training
program right from the start.
Ive known many trainees who have recognized the value of aerobic work, a healthier diet, and
reducing body fat, but yet forever put off making changes in their lifestyles because they first wanted
to get even bigger and stronger.
A healthy and appearance-conscious goal at, say, age 40, for the experienced male trainee, is to bench
300 and squat 400 at 190 pounds and 12% body fat, while being able to sustain 80% of age-adjusted
maximum heart rate for 20+ minutes three times a week, and be flexible to boot. Compare that with,
for example, a 350 bench and 500 squat at 220 pounds and 20+% body fat, but without the
conditioning needed to be able to run up a mere two flights of steps without being winded.
As you age, move away from a diet thats heavily dominated by animal products. Get a better balance
between animal and plant foods, and eat much more raw food.
A balanced exercise program that includes aerobic work and stretching will involve training time
outside of your weights workouts. Do just 15 minutes of stretching on alternate days. Add 30 minutes
of aerobic work (including the warm-up and cool-down phases) three times each week. All that, plus
two abbreviated but intensive weight-training sessions of about 90 minutes each, totals less than six
hours a week training time. But consider that the stretching and aerobic work can be done at home,
perhaps while watching TV. Because you would probably be watching TV anyway, you wouldnt have to
cut out anything to fit in the home exercise. But even if you had to, that would just be part of the
discipline needed to stick to a long-term exercise program.
The reward will be extra life to your years and perhaps years to your life.

543

FORM AND TECHNIQUE


The Deadlift
by Brooks D. Kubik
For my money, the squat, bench press and deadlift are the big three for hard gainers. Of the three,
the deadlift is by far the easiest from a technical point of view. That doesnt mean its an easy exercise.
As all serious lifters are well aware, the deadlift is sheer torture when performed for a maximum single
or a hard set of reps with a heavy poundage.
If you think about it, these factors make the deadlift a perfect exercise for a hard gainers training
program. Its relatively simple to perform and easy to learn, yet its one of the most demanding of
movements. In contrast, the squat is a tremendously demanding exercise, but one thats difficult to
perform and hard to learn. That doesnt make the deadlift a better exercise than the squat, but it does
mean that the deadlift should be included in a lot more training programs than is presently the case.
In this article, Ill discuss the proper performance of the deadlift as an exercise rather than as a
competitive lift. As Ken Leistner has noted repeatedly, theres a world of difference between the
deadlift as an exercise and the deadlift as its performed in powerlifting competition.
In competition, your goal is to make things as easy as possible. For example, a competitive powerlifter
might use the sumo-style deadlift because it reduces his range of motion and allows him to elevate his
maximum poundage. However, that doesnt mean that you should use the sumo style in the gym. As
an exercise, the sumo-style deadlift ranks far behind the regular style of performance because the
conventional style requires a greater range of movement, involves more muscle groups more
intensively, and makes you work harder.
Since Im focussing on the deadlift as an exercise rather than as a competitive lift, Ill not discuss the
sumo-style deadlift. Nor will I discuss any of the other manifold aspects of competition-style
deadlifting, e.g., whether to wear wrestling shoes or ballet slippers instead of a regular athletic shoe,
whether to wear a squat suit for deadlifting, how to use baby powder on the thighs to reduce friction
as the bar is pulled upward in the final stages of the lift.
For using the deadlift as an exercise, there are ten points that require discussion.

1. Trap bar
If youre going to work hard on deadlifts as part of your exercise program, use a trap bar [or other
parallel-grip deadlift bar]. The trap bar makes the deadlift a safer, more efficient and more productive
exercise. It doesnt make it an easy exercise, and it wont add hundreds of pounds to your personal
record, but it will make the deadlift a much better movement for you.
You may have noticed that one area where virtually all HARDGAINER authors are in unanimous
agreement is the value of the trap bar. Stuart McRobert, Ken Leistner, Jan Dellinger and Keith
Hartman alone have written about the value of the trap bar. Mike Thompson has a trap bar in his
home gym. So does Stuart. So does Jan. So do I. Ken Leistner has several of them at the Iron Island
Gym. Dick Conner has one at The Pit. Bob Whelan has one at his gym in Washington, D.C.
544

We all use and recommend the trap bar because it works. Its one of the best purchases you can
makeand its not expensive. The current price for a Gerard trap bar is about $150. If you deadlift
once a week, that amounts to three dollars a week for the next year. If youre serious about weight
training, three dollars a week is a small price to pay to pack some significant power into your lower
back, hips and thighs.
Several readers have complained that their gym doesnt have a trap bar, and they dont want to buy
one and carry it to the gym because doing so makes them self-conscious. If this is your excuse for not
buying a trap bar, I have four suggestions:
a. Find a new gym.
b. Buy a bar and leave it at the gym. Perhaps the owners will give you a break on your membership
fees in exchange for leasing the bar to the gym.
c. Buy a bar and plates and train your trap bar deadlifts at home.
d. Take your own bar to the gym whenever you do deadlifts, and ignore any comments from the
peanut gallery.

2. Lifting surface
Always deadlift on a non-slip surface. Lifting on a slick surface is a real danger when you deadlift. If
your foot slips during a heavy lift, youre in trouble. Moreover, a slick surface will make it almost
impossible to position the bar properly between reps. The bar will roll out of position.
The easiest way to assure a proper surface for your deadlifting is to buy two matching pieces of leftover carpeting. They should be 1-foot x 2-feet or 2-feet x 2-feet. Place these under the plates and the
bar wont roll so easily. A third but larger piece of carpeting can go under your feet so that you have a
non-slip surface to stand on. Much better, buy a heavy piece of plywood7 x 4 should sufficeand
glue the carpet remnants onto the plywood. This will give you your own deadlifting platform.

3. Foot placement
Most lifters will do best when they place their feet with the heels about shoulder-width apart or a little
bit wider. Turn the toes out at an angle of about 45 degrees. If you deadlift with your feet pointing
straight ahead, you place unnecessary shearing forces on your knees. In addition, you minimize the
involvement of your hip muscles. This results in a loss of strength because you have to rely on your
back to do more of the work, instead of spreading the effort over your thighs, hips and back together.
If you use the trap bar, position your feet so that the center of the handles runs through the center of
your ankles. This will give you the most efficient lifting position. If you use a straight bar, your shins
should be brushing the bar or almost brushing it. Many people position themselves with their shins
too far away from the bar. This causes a tremendous leverage disadvantage when they pull the bar.
For maximum lifting efficiency with the straight bar, as well as maximum safety, you must position your
feet so your shins are up against the bar at the bottom. Then you must pull the bar up along your
legs. The bar should be in contact with your legs (or almost touching them) during the entire lift.
Foot positioning may sound like a minor detail. But the little things add up when it comes to strength
training. Pay attention to the detailsthey make a difference!
545

Heres an example of the great importance of correct foot positioning: I recall an occasion when I was
judging a powerlifting meet and one of the guys missed his opener on the deadlift after a terrific
struggle. It was a terribly hot day in July, and the air conditioning unit in the room where the meet was
held was broken. The heat sapped your strength worse than a 20-rep set of breathing squats. Hardly
anyone was making his third attempt on any lift, and most lifters were missing their second attempts
as well. Given these conditions, I figured the lifter would have a tough time coming back for a
successful lift after so hard an effort on his opener.
The lifter came out for a second attempt. Again, there was a ferocious struggle. He made it half way
up to the finish position, then stalled out but continued to fight for about ten seconds. His arms and
legs were shaking with effort. Finally, the bar dropped out of his hands and crashed to the platform.
History repeated itself on the third liftexcept the bar had been incorrectly loaded by 20 pounds.
Consequently, the lifter was allowed a fourth attempt. After three misses, each a tremendous
struggle, and the third fighting an overloaded bar, it appeared impossible for the lifter to pull the
weight. However, the meet director and Id noticed that he was lifting with his toes pointing straight
ahead. I spoke to the meet director, and he ran back stage to give the lifter a few minutes of quick
coaching on just one topicfoot placement.
The lifter came out for his fourth and final attempt, turned his feet out at a 45-degree angle, reached
down, grabbed the bar, set himself, and pulled it all the way up. The simple procedure of turning his
feet out had increased his pulling power substantially. Why? Because it allowed him to bring his
powerful hip muscles into play to a far greater extent than the toes ahead position.
I know what some of you are thinking. I dont want to involve my hip muscles in the deadlift. I want
small hips so my thighs and upper body will look bigger. Guys, that sort of thinking will do more to
hold you back than almost any other idea you could put in your head. Sure, the deadlift builds the hip
muscles. So does the squat. So what? A man is supposed to have strong hips. You cant play games
with the human body. You cant expect to blow your arms and thighs to big proportions while
maintaining hips that belong on a 145-pound teenager. It just doesnt work that way. If youre
obsessed with keeping your hip muscles small, the rest of you is also going to remain small.
Moreover, if you train hard and heavy on your deadlifts youll grow all overnot just in the hip
muscles. Everything will develop in a natural, harmonious proportion. Large and powerful hip muscles
dont look out of place on a large and powerful physique. In fact, they fit in just fine. What looks
ridiculous is a man who tries to pump up the showy muscles while deliberately not working his hips,
lower back, abdominals, external obliques, and traps. This is precisely what many trainers urge you to
do in order to make your thighs and upper body appear as if they are larger than they actually are.
If youre interested in getting really big and strong, youre going to have to do squats or deadlifts, or
preferably both. The end result of heavy work on those movements will be an enormously impressive
level of development throughout your entire body. Youll be much larger and much more powerful if
you do squats and deadlifts than youll be if you avoid those movements in order to keep from
building the hips. Its your decision: real strength and development, or the beach-boy look.

4. Locking your upper body


Deadlifting is primarily a lower-body exercise, but that doesnt mean you relax your upper body. When
you stand above the bar before beginning a rep, flex your lats and brace your arms against them.
546

Tighten your abs. Contract your triceps to pull your elbows as straight as possible. Your upper body
should be as tight as a coiled spring when you deadlift.

5. Set-up and descent


Standing inside the trap bar, lock your upper body, breathe deeply, hold the breath, and squat down
in exactly the same manner as if you were performing the descent of a regular squat. Bend at your
knees first and then youll naturally bend forward as you descend. Keep your back straight. Neither
arch nor round your back. Maintain a straight line from your shoulders to your hips. Deadlifting with
either an arched or rounded back can be a crippler. Why? Because either position exposes the lower
portion of the spine to dangerous shearing forces. A straight backthe same position described in
my articles dealing with the squatis what you want.
Please dont point to powerlifters who use a round-back style for their deadlifts. I know that there have
been powerlifting champs who used that style to elevate huge weights in the deadlift. I also know that
some of the most famous names to practice that style of performance have had operations to fuse their
spines after their lifting days were over. It makes no sense to try to use the deadlift as an exercise to
build your lower back while employing a style of performance that can cripple your lower back.
Theres a place for round-back lifting for those who are training for size and strength. Round-back
lifting was one of the secrets of the old time strongmenHackenschmidt, Saxon, and others of their
era. My training partners and I specialize in round-back movements and its making us tremendously
strongas reflected by my current best of 400 pounds in the bent-legged good morning and 420
pounds for 5 reps in the Hammer row. But we use special exercises on special types of equipment for
our round-back work. We deadlift with flat backs. Do your deadlifts with a straight back.
What happens if your back insists on rounding when youre in the bottom (starting) position of the
deadlift? One of three culprits is causing the problem. First, youre not flexible enough for deadlifting
and need to work on your flexibility for at least six weeks before training the movement. Second,
youre losing concentration and not focusing on proper form, in which case you need to practice the
movement in a serious manner for a month or two until good form becomes second nature. Third, your
body structure doesnt permit you to go low enough to deadlift a barbell placed on the floor without
your back rounding. In this case you need to elevate the height of the bar by 2-6 inches to achieve a
starting position that permits you to maintain the all-important straight-back position.
Much has been written in recent issues of HARDGAINER about the need to revise standard or
traditional methods of exercise performance to accommodate certain body types. This advice is
extremely valuable for certain liftersprimarily very tall and long-limbed trainees, or those who have
unusually long torsos compared to the length of their legs. The number of readers who fall into one of
the categories where a shortened range of movement on either the squat or deadlift is necessary, is
fairly small. The majority of readers can and should do full-range movements. Unless, for example, you
have very long legs yourself, dont sell yourself short by applying training advice aimed at a man who
wears pants with a 36-inch inseam. Theres a danger that people who have no actual need to modify
exercise performance may do so for a way to avoid learning proper form in the full-range movement,
or to avoid having to work on their flexibility, or just to make the exercise easier.
We expect our readers to train very hard and cultivate a no excuses attitude. We expect our readers
to be mentally toughto take pride in their training and their accomplishments, and to approach
every training session with ferocious determination, intensity and focus.

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Dont complain to others or to yourself about bad leverages, poor genetics or being the worlds
hardest hard gainer. Take what you have and make the most of it. You can never do more than that,
but you can do far less. If you need to elevate the bar to prevent rounding of your lower back when
you deadlift, do so. But if you can perform the full-range movement, then do so.
Back to the descent. As in the squat, keep your jaw parallel to the floor as you descend. This means
you must look straight ahead. How do you see where to grab the handles of the trap bar? You dont.
You do it without looking. All it takes is practice. Of course, you must be sure to grab the center of
each handle, but if you practice the movement for a while, your positioning will become second
nature and your hands will always hit the center of the handles.
By practicing with light weights, you can also learn to lower yourself into position and grab a straight
bar without looking to check your hand position. Use your knees and lower legs to guide your
hands into the proper position.
Keep your shins as close to vertical as possible when you descend. Again, the position is the same as
in the squat (see my articles in last two issues). If your knees drive too far forward, you place lots of
stress on the knee joints, and over time this can add up to big problems. With the straight bar, if your
knees drive too far forward, youll have to pull the bar up and around them. In other words, you wont
be able to pull the bar in a straight line. This will substantially reduce your poundages as well as set
the stage for troublesome back problems in the future.
If you consciously attempt to lower your hips and sit back into the starting position, youll find its
much easier to maintain the close to vertical lower leg position. If you cant keep your lower leg at a
close-to-vertical position, then youre probably one of those trainees who needs to elevate the bar in
order to perform the deadlift in a safe and productive manner.

6. Grip
You may have noticed that my description of how to get into position makes it impossible to use
straps or hooks to attach yourself to the deadlift bar. Theres a good reason for this. Straps and hooks
reduce the results you get from your deadlifting.
As Ken Leistner noted in THE STEEL TIP, you tend to train more intensively on the deadlift when you
do the exercise without straps or hooks and have to rely entirely on the strength of your grip to hang
onto the bar. Why? Im not sure, but I have a theory. I believe that high-intensity training demands a
very strong link between the brain and the musclesand gripping the barbell activates the mindmuscle link throughout the entire body. If your hands dont have to work as hard during an exercise,
the rest of your body automatically eases up a little bit. Consequently, using artificial aids to help hold
onto the bar when you do deadlifts is self-defeating. It will reduce, not increase your training intensity.
On the straight-bar deadlift, use an overhand grip, i.e., one where the knuckles of both hands are
facing forward. Competitive powerlifters use a reversed grip, with the knuckles of one hand facing
forward and the knuckles of the other hand facing the opposite direction. But this isnt a good idea for
regular training. The reverse grip causes the body to twist slightly when you deadlift, and over time,
pulling a heavy bar with a slight twist can cause serious lower-back or hip problems.
If you have trouble holding onto the bar, use chalk. If you still have trouble, start doing some serious
grip work along the lines suggested by David Horne in his articles in HARDGAINER. With some
serious grip work anyone can develop the strength to hold onto a deadlift bar.
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Heres a specific grip exercise I recommend: Get a 2-inch-diameter barbell and use it to finish every
deadlift session, with one or two sets of the maximum reps you can do in the regular deadlift with
50% of your top working weight when you use the regular-diameter bar. (Do these after your
scheduled sets with the regular-diameter bar.) With time, your hands will grow so strong that using the
regular bar will seem like childs play.

7. Ascent
As soon as your hands are grasping the straight bar, or handles of your trap bar, start to ascend. Begin
the ascent by shrugging your shoulders as hard as possible. This helps to position your body for the
rest of the lift, and helps break the bar off the ground.
The second movement is a coordinated leg and hip drive. When you do this, push through your heels.
If you push through your toes or balls of your feet, youre going to be out of the groove.
With the trap bar, its designed to move the bars center of gravity back through your heels. This is
one of the main reasons why its superior to an ordinary bar. Take advantage of the bars design by
driving through your heels, which are lined up to be centered with your hands, i.e., lined up with the
center of the ends of the bar. This is the most efficient pulling position for the deadlift. It also reduces
shearing forces on the knees, hips and lower back.
The lower back remains rigid at the beginning of the ascent. You must keep the back straight and
maintain the flat back position discussed in section five of this article. Dont attempt to pull with
your lower back at the start of the movement. In other words, make the beginning of the lift (after the
shoulder shrug) a leg and hip drive as opposed to a pulling movement where only the lower back is
providing the force.

8. Midpoint
As the bar reaches knee height, your legs will approach a fully-straightened position. Exactly where
this happens will vary from lifter to lifter. For everyone, however, theres a point where it becomes
necessary to begin a hard pull with the back muscles to finish the lift. To do this, imagine that an 800pound gorilla has one hand on your hips and one hand on your shoulders. To guide you through the
midpoint of the lift, the gorilla pushes your hips forward and pulls your shoulders back. The result will
be that the bar moves straight up and you pop into the fully-vertical finishing position.
The trap bar is ideal for teaching the proper combination of hip thrust and back pull. With an ordinary
bar, the bar hits your thighs when you try to drive the hips forward. With the trap bar, the hips can move
forward in a natural and unimpeded movement. This is one of the primary benefits of the trap bar.

9. The finish
The finish of the movement will have you standing perfectly straight. Dont lean back to complete the
movement. Leaning back is a waste of time as far as building any muscle goes. Youre not working
against gravity because youre moving horizontally rather than vertically. Youre not going to build any
extra muscle by leaning back. What youre going to do is hurt yourself.
The spine was not intended to bend backwards like a pretzel while youre holding a heavy poundage
in your hands. Forget the backwards lean. Stop once your upper body is in the vertical position.

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10. Doing reps


I prefer to do reps in the deadlift in the manner described by Stuart in HARDGAINER issue #38by
resting the bar on the floor between reps. This style of performance allows the lifter to set up properly
between reps. Consecutive reps often lead to a situation where the lifter gets out of the groove and
finally injures himself on one of the later reps. This is particularly likely when the lifter bounces the bar
off the floor. A non-stop series of bounced reps will make it impossible to maintain the proper groove.
In addition, you can breathe much easier between reps if you stand while the bar is on the floor.
If you must do consecutive reps, lower the bar until its about one inch above the floor. Dont actually
hit the floor. Pretend youre lifting in a room with a sleeping baby and try not to wake the child (other
than through screams, groans and moans as the set progresses).

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551

The White Moment


by John R. Christy
Berserker (noun):
An ancient Norse warrior who worked himself into a frenzy before battle.
Do you understand what Im getting at? Its aggression, pure 100% focused effort. You can use the
perfect routine, sleep eight hours a night, eat great, concentrate, visualize, feel the movement, and
do everything right, but get minimal results unless you experience what, at my gym, we call the
white moment. Youll never come close to reaching your potential without it, no matter how perfect
you do everything else.
Ken Leistner calls it going balls to the wall. Brooks Kubik describes it as approaching it as though it
were a life or death situation. Mike Thompson describes it as committing homicide on a loaded
barbell. Bob Whelan describes it as going all out as if you have a gun to your head. Other
HARDGAINER authors have also mentioned the importance of giving it your all. At my gym, what we
call the white moment is the time immediately before you approach the barbell. A time when the
mind is filled with white-hot aggression, with pure rage, ready to attack the barbell to get that new
max or that extra rep.
Dr. Ken has mentioned, and I agree, that most properly-designed weight-training programs (like those
in HARDGAINER) fail or fail prematurely not because of the program, or because youve plateaued,
but simply because youre not trying hard enough! Ive prevented many training cycles from coming to
a close by simply demanding more effort.
We arent machines. You cant continually put your one pound on the bar every week and expect to
get your reps by just going through the motions, with no spirit, without a burning desire to excel. You
have to be fired up with emotion. You have to want it worse than anything. Im not saying you have to
bounce around the gym yelling, and pounding your head against the bar until it bleeds. Although Ive
seen this work for some, I feel it wastes too much energy, and you could get seriously hurt. Everybody
is different. Personally, my white moment looks outwardly calm, but if you look into my eyes youll see
a tiger ready to attack.
It doesnt matter how you get that internal rage going, as long as you dont hurt yourself, waste too
much energy, or lose focus on good technique.
While a focused rage is a must to achieve ones ultimate goals, a wild rage will destroy you. Like a fire
out of control burns all the trees of the forest and not just a select few, unfocused aggression destroys
the body (through poor form, resulting in injuries) instead of building it. Your aggression must be
focused like a laser beam. A laser is a focused concentration of light that can cut through anything.
Staying aggressive is not only important when youre moving your biggest weights. Its important
every time you train. You must not get complacent! You must monitor yourself so that you never fall
into complacency.
Over the past ten years of personally training hundreds of athletes, Ive recognized that there are
several times when you become vulnerable to the dreaded disease called complacency.
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Early part of a training cycle


During the very early stage of a new training cycle, when the weights are at 80% or so of your
previous best, it doesnt take 100% effort to move the weights and get your prescribed reps. Ive seen
trainees cruise their way through this early phase of a training cycle, not giving it their all. They get
to about 90% of their previous best and then fail to get the target reps. They wonder what happened.
Well what happened was that they trained their minds and bodies to operate at less than 100%. Being
aggressive is a learned skill. It must be practiced if youre to become good at it.
When you start a new training cycle its critical that you dont let down mentally. Since the weights are
light you may feel you dont have to push or pull as hard as possible. This spells training disaster.
Let me further illustrate my point. If it requires you to give 100% effort to press 200 pounds with
relative ease, at 95% effort it will be extremely difficult, but at 90% effort it wont go. This is just an
example. I dont know at exactly what percentage it will get tough, but I do know that anything less
than 100% will make it harder than it should be. What you should do is approach the bar as if youre
going to exceed your previous max, and rip the bar apart with 100% effort. You should concentrate
and get psyched up for the set. Now the weight will feel like its only 85% or whatever of your best, as
it should early on in a cycle. Dont misunderstand me thoughyoure not to throw the weight, or get
out of control with it. Just push or pull as hard as you can while maintaining perfect form. You want to
dominate the rep, not just complete it.
Before continuing, I want to make it perfectly clear that Im not an advocate of or tolerant of sloppy
form, ever!

When cleaning up your technique


This is another time when I see a let down in effort. For instance, lets say you read one of Brooks
Kubiks fine articles on improving your bench press technique. Youre ready to apply a one-second
pause at your chest because you realize that youve been bouncing the bar off your chest. (The
bruises on your chest, the pain in your shoulders, plus the lack of pec improvement made you decide.)
After the pause on your chest, make sure you push the bar as hard as possible. Drive it with maximum
force! Just because youre improving your technique, and initially using reduced weights, is no reason
to let down in the effort department. But be sure to brake the speed of the rep near completion.
Dont keep accelerating so that you slam into the lockout.
Concentration on perfect form without concentration on giving 100% effort will fail to bring the
results that improved technique should deliver. Aggression, 100% effort, is a constantit always has
to be there.

After breaking a long-sought-after goal


So you finally did it: 300 x 5 in the bench press. Youve been training for six years and you finally made
it. Next week, the 301 x 5 feels unbelievably hard. You just dont feel motivated. Then the excuses set
in. You say to yourself, Well, maybe Ive reached the end of the cycle. I hit the 300, now its time for a
rest. Wrong, wrong, WRONG! If youre not experiencing any of the symptoms of overtraining (see
my article in HARDGAINER issue #37), then you need to keep pushing to derive all this cycle has to
offer. You have to drain it dry. What you need to do is to set a new goal, immediately. Start thinking
about getting 315 poundsthree big plates on each end of an Olympic bar. If you dont set the new
goals right away, complacency will get you, I promise.
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The new weight trainee


Some trainees crash through the front door of the gym with so much fire they could burn the place
down. But many more come through the door with barely a glimmer of a pilot light burning. But thats
okay because if theres a trickle of a flame you can create a tremendous blaze. I often hear, Im just
not an aggressive person.
My response to that is, Yes you are. You just dont know it yet. Just as a good coach puts his
charges on a good program, and teaches them how to eat right, I feel he also needs to teach them
how to give 100%. Getting up for training is a learned skill (behavior) just as is learning the proper
way to squat. Just as it takes most beginners time to learn to squat, it also takes time to learn to get
aggressive, to give 100%. You have to practice it every time you lift. What I do is constantly remind
them (sometimes calmly, other times by getting in their faces) to get aggressive, to try hard. That
effort is one of the most essential parts of good technique!
One way I teach aggression is to shock them into it. I have them think of something that really riles
them. Thats right, I want them to get madREAL MAD. The set that was once hard to complete is
now completed with ease. Now I know this may sound radical to some, but it has never failed to get
the response Im after. Once they experience this (not the getting mad part, but the aggression that
was the result of getting mad) theres a complete understanding of the importance of getting up
and giving it all theyve got.
Most of the time, though, I dont have to get this radical. All I have to do is get them to follow one of
the basic principles thats constantly promoted in HARDGAINER: Start the trainee out slow by
handling weights within his capabilities, and then add a small dose of iron to the bar each workout.
As he sees the bar grow it fuels his desire, which in turn makes him want to put out more effort.
His motivation then grows from within, instead of relying on me, or anyone else to provide it. He
gains confidence that he can get bigger and stronger. What was once a pilot light has grown into a
small but strong flame. This spirit flame will grow stronger each year and hell want to put out
more and more effort.

I believe effort is the product of desire. If you want something bad enough youll put forth every
possible effort to get it.
I want to leave you with a quote from a man I consider one of the greatest coaches of all time. Vince
Lombardi, the legendary coach of the World Champion Green Bay Packers football teams, had this to
say about effort:

I firmly believe that any mans finest hour is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good
cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle, victorious.
Enough talking. Enough analyzing your program. Go and get your butt into the gym; and when you
sink your fingers onto the metal, commit yourself to trying as hard as humanly possible on every rep of
every set you perform. Learn a lesson from the Berserker, and get fully prepared for your next battle.

554

Asking Dr. Ken


by Dr. Ken E. Leistner
The farmers walk
One of our readers noted the effectiveness of the farmers walk. I couldnt agree more. If you did
nothing but squats, some form of deadlift, the farmers walk, a press and a pull, and not necessarily
all in one workout, you wouldnt have to do much more. The farmers walk will really stimulate overall
body growth. When some of our members ask what it works, I laugh and tell them, Your body! The
forearms, traps, shoulders, upper and lower back, hips and thighs scream when you really work hard
on it. Use it as your last exercise and its a great way to end a workout. We have 75-pound old and
beat up Jackson dumbbells made in 1936 for this exercise, a pair of 125-pound bombs made by Jim
Sutherland, and, of course, the 169-pounds-each pair of I-beams. For those needing more, our
dumbbells go up to 200 pounds, but to get a good workout we havent had to use them too often.

Training for rugby


We seem to have a lot of rugby enthusiasts who read HARDGAINER, at least in the UK. When training
for rugby, or any other sport, the emphasis should, of course, be on the skill work of ones sport and
specific position. You have to know how to play! One needs a certain amount of aerobic and
anaerobic conditioning. Ive found that one way to cut down on the need for so much running is to
use the squat and the trap bar deadlift for higher reps, or timed sets so that ones anaerobic
conditioning is benefitted as well as strength improvement. With the weights, one has to train the
major muscles involved in the sport. In rugby, this is obviously everything, so like American football,
one should place the emphasis on the big groups. Squat, deadlift or stiff-legged deadlift, shrug,
press, row, bench press, and chin or pulldown should be the basis of the program, with additional
shoulder, calf, and/or forearm work as the need demands. As always, it isnt necessary to do much
work if its hard work.

Training variety
We vary our trainees programs often. In any particular program they may train two times per week
and both workouts differ. The next week, one or both of the workouts may differ from those done the
week before. Its an individual thing. We do enough of the same things so that over a few weeks or
months we have a real idea of improvement, but variety is important for most.
Im one of the few who can do the same small group of movements month after month, year after
year. Ive found what works for me. For pressing strength I do the overhead press, press lockout,
bench press and almost nothing else. I may occasionally use dumbbells for a change of pace for a
workout or two, but thats it. For pulling I do the deadlift or stiff-legged deadlift, a row (I vary the
use of the Hammer and Flex machines), and an occasional pulldown. The pulldown is one of the
exercises that I have freak strength on and most of the time, without help, I cant get the resistance
down by myself to do the movement, so cant do it unless there are others around. For the lower
body (besides the deadlifts), I squat. I do shrugs when my brachial plexus neuropathy isnt too bad,
and lots of different forearm work. Thats really it. Others need more things to do, but I can rotate or
use these movements to have a productive lifetime of training. No one says that theres a rule that
dictates one must use certain movements or do them a certain number of times a week or month.
Thats BS. Sometimes, an entire workout may be lifting the log, running with our cannonball behind
the gym, and then doing bomb deadlifts. Scientific? No. Effective? Definitely.
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Benefits out of the gym


Ive had many questions regarding the benefits out of the gym of weight training and competition
lifting. I can only say that in working with kids on the street for many, many years, most of these young
people will benefit from anything that gives them a greater sense of self, and more confidence. We all
know that bullies are bullies in order to bolster their own self esteem. Most of the toughest gang kids
cling to the gangs because of the sense of worth and family the gang provides. Simply put, with
greater self awareness, and the confidence that they can function productively within society, many of
these young men and women do very well in time. Weight training often is one of those things that
can really help them towards the quest for greater self esteem. This obviously applies to almost
anyone, gang member or professional person.

Motivation
We continuously try to remind our trainees that they are at the Iron Island Gym in order to foster
improvement. For those, like Stephen Boyd who signed with the Detroit Lions, and Fritz Fequiere
who signed with the Denver Broncos, a professional football career is a very good motivator. For our
strongman competitors and lifters, the competitions ahead keep them training hard. For the average
non-competitive individual, the goal of increasing strength, daily function and appearance is usually
enough to keep them going workout to workout, especially because we give them constant
reminders to that effect.

Deadlift change of pace


For those who cant deadlift weekly due to fatigue or recurring injury, 45-degree or regular
hyperextensions can be a good off-week substitute. I dont like good mornings because of the injury
potential. Lighter, or sub-maximal stiff-legged deadlifts on alternate weeks may also maintain the
strength built by heavy all-out deadlifts every other week, without overly fatiguing the low-back area.

Iso-lateral training
Ive been asked a number of questions about iso-lateral training. In 1988, Gary Jones stayed with us
for a while. Gary, of course, used to be known as Arthur Jones son, but in the past number of years
has established his own reputation. Gary was the driving force behind many innovations at Nautilus
when Nautilus was in fact the leader in the field devoted to making machines that effectively worked
the body. With Kim Wood and Pete Brown, Gary formed Hammer Strength Corporation. I think its
safe to say that, in what has become a tired industry, despite the protestations of those in it, Hammer
is the hot item on the market today.
During Garys short visit, we spent a lot of time talking about machine design, and watching Gary
noodle around on what was then a new computer-aided design and manufacturing system. Based
on a statement made by Kevin Tolbert, we essentially came up with what because a series of isolateral machines. Kevin had looked at the Nautilus Leverage Leg Press (a design of Garys) and said,
It might be good if we could use that with either one leg or two. Based on that statement, Gary
and I came up with a row, a press, a decline press, and a bench press. Now, to be accurate, I didnt
do that much, as Gary handled all the technical stuff. I made a few suggestions based upon
orthopedic recommendations and the practical experience of being in the gym for many years. Gary
did the genius work.
When it was time to name them, Kim said, Well, what do we call them?
556

I suggested, iso lateral because one could work ipsilaterally, bilaterally and simultaneously, and in
doing so, with a properly designed machine, isolate the muscle or muscle group that one wanted to
work. This was all done in less than five minutes and, of course, Gary and Kim have continued to
innovate and fine-tune the equipment to make it better and better.
The best way to use iso-lateral equipment will vary from one person to another. Some will do best
going one arm or leg at a time. This will allow for a greater range of motion and stricter form. Others
will be able to get a better workout using the specific machine both limbs together, as they might not
have the muscular endurance or firing ability to do more than one total set vs. one set for each
individual limb. Injury may dictate that one do one or two legs at a time on the leg press as one way
may feel more comfortable than the other. The advantage of the equipment is that you have the
option(s) of performing the exercises in a variety of ways to accommodate all these circumstances.
The appeal of Hammer is the feel that the equipment has. The ability to use each of the iso-lateral
pieces in a variety of ways makes it possible to tune in to the needs of the body in a particular
workout and do what you think needs to be done. You may do leg extension, one legged-Hammer leg
press, and squats one day. The next week you might pile the plates on and go both legs at the same
time. You might want to hold one limb in the contracted position while doing a rep with the other
limb, and then alternate those positions. You can mess yourself up in many ways and this is what
makes the equipment so versatile and desirable.

Squat substitutes
More questions about doing squats, or more accurately, not doing squats. Should they be done on a
Smith Machine? Why, if you can do barbell squats full range and without injury? This is an example of
trying to make squats easier. Try to make them more difficult. Try to make any exercise more difficult,
for best results. Dont arch on the bench press, dont use a very wide grip, go slower (within reason)
not faster to complete reps. Knock yourself out each and every workout, and youll respond.
Its so frustrating to listen to guys write with, Im doing my squats on a Smith machine . . . and they
give every reason but the truth. . . because barbell squats for high reps done until my hamstrings
sit on my calves are so uncomfortable I could cry, and I dont really want to train that hard.
Take the Smith machine, Manta Ray device, Safety Squat Bar and all the other devices designed to
make the squat easier, cut it all up, weld it to the front, rear and sides of your car, and know in your
heart that you can park in New York City without having your vehicle destroyed.

557

558

From Experience
by Dick Conner
Neck work
Regular neck work can save you all kinds of problems, from headaches to even helping the whole
spine. It can help in a car wreck like nothing else, and as far as the athlete, wrestler and football player
are concerned, could save much pain and even death.
All you need is a $4.00 soft playground ball and work it with very slow reps, twice a week, front,
back and sides. Stand next to a wall, and position the ball between your head and the wall. Apply
pressure through your head against the ball. First do four reps as a warm-up, and then continue to
add pressure to the ball as you slowly roll it up and down. The last 5-6 reps of each set should be
done with high intensity, but still done with slow speed. This builds super strength in the neck.
Manual resistance is one of the best forms of neck work if you have the right person working on you.
That person must be very sensitive to your resistance needs.

Squat alternative
I saw a picture of the handle squat in PLUSA and then with what we had at the gym I put a set-up
together in about 10 minutes. Its one of the easiest ways to squat with correct style Ive seen, and
also the easiest to teach. This is great for assisting the squat and the wide-stance deadlift.

Note from Stuart: This exercise is akin to a hip-belt squat, but while holding the resistance with your
hands rather than attaching it to your hips. Attach a handle to a loading pin, stand on two sturdy
boxes with enough space between them for the resistance to travel inavoid full-size plates if you
prefer a closer stance. With both hands, hold the handle between your legs, and do a deadlift motion
but with the knee flexion of that of a squat. Minimize forward lean, and perform as great a range of
motion as is safe for you. Once youve mastered the exercise, and have adjusted the length of the
attachment between the handle and the loading pin to suit your range of motion, gradually add
plates to the pin.
The movement is safe when done properly, and is especially great for home training. But we still make
room for it at The Pit. In my mind its better than a trap bar deadlift because its so easy to keep good
form. It can be a squat or a deadlift.
The whole set-up is homemade and can be put together by anyone who wants to. Its one of the best
tools for home training Ive seen in years.
Even a tall man who cant do the barbell squat safely and effectively can do the handle squat safely
and effectively.

559

The Quarter-Ton Hacklift:


Strong at last
by Eric Bryan
Weights have been a part of my life for probably 25 years. As a boy I fiddled around with a 42-pound
barbell and a pair of 8-pound dumbbells in the basement of our California home. Back then I wanted
to become the strongest man in the world. As I got older I simply wanted to get really strong. Little
did I know that the lean and lanky asthmatic hypoglycemic that I was destined to become was not
exactly prime material for developing super strength.
As I got older I had to rely on mainstream bodybuilding literature for instruction. I was unaware of any
other source. My routines were the usual madness complete with lateral raises, leg extensions and all
the rest. Pumping-style training mostly gave my muscles a nice tight feeling the following day. The
result was that Id limp from workout to workout in pursuit of that pump, but rarely if ever gained any
strength. I was devoted, though, exercising four times per week on a split routine.
After I subscribed to HARDGAINER it took me a long while to become convinced that abbreviated
training was for me. You could say that this happened incrementally, with the little exercises dropping
off one by one. I said farewell to lateral raises, then wrist curls, followed by superfluous ab work. I
dismantled my leg extension attachment, and dropped flyes and concentration curls. This was a giant
leap in the right direction, but my pernicious lower-back trouble and leverage disadvantages still
stymied my progress.
After doing hip-belt squats for a couple of years I itched for a change. I tried partial deadlifts from just
below the knees. I tried this using a pair of canisters to bring my barbell up to the proper starting
height, but it spelled disaster for my lower back. But I intuitively spun around and tried the same lift
with the bar behind mea partial hacklift. Success. It felt good. I could get right over the weight and
pull straight up with minimal forward bend.
I played around with my version of the hacklift for high reps, but it wasnt until I read John McKeans
Record Day article in HARDGAINER issue #30 that my stagnated strength career suddenly and
crazily lurched forward into life. I was skeptical of singles training, let alone doing only one lift per
workout, so it took me some time to be convinced. But once I tried Johns suggested pattern of
increasingly-heavier singles, I became surprised at the power I could generate. I started my cycle on
September 23, 1994, with the hacklift looking like this:
205 x 1, 235 x 1, 270 x 1, 300 x 1
It was a mental boost to handle the 300 so well, because 300+ deadlifts from the floor had gripped
my lower back in spasms of sciatica. September 28 saw me doing this:
220 x 1, 255 x 1, 285 x 1, 315 x 1
Now the 300 barrier was behind me forever. The next few workouts were:
Oct 2: 245 x 1, 275 x 1, 305 x 1, 335 x 1
Oct 7: 265 x 1, 295 x 1, 325 x 1, 355 x 1
Oct 11: 275 x 1, 305 x 1, 335 x 1, 365 x 1

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At this stage I realized that a long-time dream of lifting 400 pounds was a stones throw away. I was
flabbergasted, unable to believe the rapidity of my progress. I was still fooling around with other lifts
at this point, usually following my hacks with a set of dumbbell deadlifts and either dumbbell presses
or rows. Inspired, I decided to chuck it all and follow the precise directions laid out in Record Day.
This meant that I did an aerobic or Longstrength warm-up, then the hacklift (adding the iso set and
speed singles), followed by a Longstrength finish. Since I was only 35 pounds away from my new goal I
decided to jump right in and set it up as my iso set for that day, rather than trying to reach it a few
pounds at a time. I would have been content with 400 as an iso set for several workouts, but to my
delight I pulled the barbell for a complete rep. A years-old dream brought to fruition. I stepped back
and looked with satisfaction at the stacks of plates on each end of the bar. What a confidence-builder
to know I could now handle 400 pounds. Heres that days routine:
240 x 1, 280 x 1, 320 x 1, 360 x 1, 400 x 1
speed singles: 300 x 1, 300 x 1, 300 x 1
I loved the speed singles (only 20 seconds rest between them) because after the 400, 300 seemed
paltry. This was so invigorating that I felt like I could have thrown the 300 across the room. I now
entertained thoughts of exceeding 400. The cycle continued:

Oct 25
260 x 1, 300 x 1, 340 x 1, 380 x 1, 420 x 1
speed singles: 315 x 1, 315 x 1, 315 x 1
Nov 3
280 x 1, 320 x 1, 360 x 1, 400 x 1, 440 x iso hold
speed singles: 330 x 1, 330 x 1, 330 x 1
Nov 11
280 x 1, 320 x 1, 360 x 1, 400 x 1, 440 x iso hold
speed singles: 330 x 1, 330 x 1, 330 x 1
At 440 I started to have grip problems. I grew depressed about stalling out here, though I was now
well beyond 400. On November 27 I tried the 440 again, but with a hook grip, and succeeded. I used
this method for two more workouts:

Dec 1
300 x 1, 340 x 1, 380 x 1, 420 x 1, 460 x so hold
speed singles: 345 x 1, 345 x 1, 345 x 1
Dec 5
300 x 1, 340 x 1, 380 x 1, 420 x 1, 460 x iso hold
I couldnt get comfortable with the hook grip, so I was now stuck at 460. I now started to use a mixed
grip. I wasnt prepared for the contrast. Even heavy weights were now a breeze to hang on to. I
resumed my hacklift cycle, backtracking slightly to ease into it. For some reason, at this point I
dropped the speed singles, probably because the one heavy limit lift was enough work for me. I was
also fiddling around with some dumbbell presses on the same training day, but in retrospect I should
have just stuck with the hacklift, saving any extra lifts for non-hacklift days.

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My cycle recommenced:
Dec 24
300 x 1, 340 x 1, 380 x 1, 420 x 1
I was encouraged by how easy the 420 was.

Dec 27
320 x 1, 360 x 1, 400 x 1, 440 x 1
The 440 felt good. I kept on.

Dec 30
340 x 1, 380 x 1, 420 x 1, 460 x 1
At 460 I had to pinch myself. Remember, this was after years of toil, with anything over 300 a fantasy,
let alone 400. With the mythical 500 in sight, I could scarcely believe it was me lifting such weights. I
had for so long associated these high numbers with other guys. The cycle continued:

Jan 5, 1995
360 x 1, 400 x 1, 440 x 1, 480 x 1
The 480 felt ponderous, but now I was so close to 500, I couldnt not get it. I got a little nervous,
however, and put it off, making sure I was completely recovered. On January 17, I did the following:
350 x 1, 400 x 1, 450 x 1, 500 x 1
Years of stagnation and frustration had come to an end.
On my heaviest single of each day I would hold onto the weight for a few seconds rather than put it
down immediately. I was enjoying my newly-discovered power, revelling in how easy some of the big
weights felt.
As far as physical gains go, heavy singles in the hacklift have done more for my traps than shrugs ever
did. They have also done more for my forearms than direct work for that area has. My neck, back,
hips, and thighs all got great exercise. Unexpectedly, my calves also were worked, and not just
indirectlyreally worked. I havent undergone any miracle transformation. Im still relatively lean and
lanky, and always will be. But Im getting strong and building muscle apropos to my genetic type.
This was a lesson in the value of total-body work. A few heavy lifts in a big exercise are better than
breaking the body down into pieces and training each section with an isolation or little exercise. It
would take five or six small exercises to cover the ground I did with the hacklift, without the rewards in
strength or development.
This was also my first real experiment with singles. I never reaped the same benefits with high-rep
work. I think singles are perfect for the hard gainer, because the work is both concentrated and cut
back to its bare minimum. The possibility of overtraining is reduced, and as John McKean has noted,
singles encourage good form.
Some say that constant singles training is too hard on the body and mind, but cycling and adjusting
poundages to how one feels on any particular day negates any ill-effects. Some will warn that a
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trainee should start a cycle with fives, then threes, and finally twos and ones. Why not start with ones
in the first place? A lifter could begin with the same poundage he or she would use for fives, but only
do one for each set. This saves energy, and promotes concentration on lifting form. On my hacklift
lead-in sets, I could have done multiple reps, but that would have only detracted from the top
singlethe one that requires and builds the most strength and power. John McKean suggests saving
reps for a back-down set, certain dumbbell lifts, or a Longstrength finish, using singles on just about
everything else. Please see Johns articles in issues 23, 25, 27, 30, 31, 34, and 35. People can go crazy
trying to discover the ideal rep scheme. Why not forget such confusion and just carefully lift a weight?
I wish that Id known about partial lifts ages ago, and stopped trying to force my body into unsafe
positions. My lower back would be in better shape today if Id never done the full-range back squat.
The distance a person lifts or pulls a weight is relative to their height, limb lengths, etc. My partial lift
may move the bar the same distance as anothers full-range lift. Hard gainers who have problems with
full-range movements might save themselves years of injury by altering their range of motion on
movements like squats, deadlifts, straddle lifts, dumbbell deadlifts, and hacklifts. It doesnt follow that
people of all shapes and sizes should have to lift a weight the same relative distance. After all, were
more or less stuck with the one-size-fits-all barbell.
The point Im trying to make here is that to compare strength, a weight should be lifted the same
actual distance by each lifter. As it is, a super-tall guy may have to pull a deadlift over 30 inches
whereas an average-sized lifters deadlift range of motion might only be 20-25 inches. Tall and lanky
lifters might want to decrease their range of motion by a few inches on lifts like squats and deadlifts,
to avoid injury and to equalize or make up for ones bodys incompatibility with a full-range lift or the
size of equipment used.
Perhaps the greatest reward for me now is that I regularly handle at least 400 pounds in my workouts.
A weight that used to make me wince to even look at is no longer a big deal. Not only has this given
me a cheery training outlook, but lifting 400-500 pounds habitually is taking me closer to my genetic
potential than repping out ever did. And its fun.

Single-rep chin-ups
If youre anything like me, youre lousy at chins. I find that after a few reps the movement restricts my
breathinga big minus when it comes to weight training.
It was after burning out again on dumbbell rows that my thoughts returned to the old pull-up/chin-up.
I decided to approach chins differently. Instead of one or two all-out sets, I tried a few sets of 3-4 reps.
This was an improvement. Fewer reps meant less gasping for air. But after adding weight to these sets
I began to go nowhere again. Lack of progression was the problem. Just as I could never get an extra
rep on a high-rep set, I reached the point where I couldnt add any more weight to the low-rep sets.
Then it hit me. Why couldnt I apply the McKean singles system to chins? For some reason I hadnt
viewed chins as a lift. Id falsely thought they were somehow different, as if they werent the kind of
exercise which could be approached with the singles philosophy. Wrong!

Advantages
I recognized the advantages of single chins right away: The breathing problem was eliminated,
progression was achievable, and, most importantly, I could approach the bar optimistically, knowing I
only had to make one good pull. There were no reps to dread. Also, I could work my back and arms
heavily without injury.
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Back-down set
To swipe another McKeanism, if youre not happy with only a few singles, try a lighter back-down set
after your single chins. Sometimes, I do one of 5-6 reps, which seems easy after the heavy pulls.
Another option, inspired by Barbells Up, Dumbbells Down in HARDGAINER issue #34, is to do a set
of dumbbell rows for 3-7 reps as a back-down set. The heavy chins will transfer power to the dumbbell
lift, making it seem easier.

Form
I find a supinated grip a few inches narrower than shoulder width the strongest and most
comfortable for chins. I dont think very narrow or wide grips are a good ideatoo much strain on
wrists and elbows. I like to get a few preparatory breaths before I jump for the rafter/bar. The last
breath I hold until exhalation at or near the top of the pull. I also like a bar high enough so that my
legs can hang loosely. This lets me focus all of my effort into the pull, without having to hold my feet
clear of the floor.

Comments on single chins


Singles allow me to concentrate on pure strength and progression without the complications of reps
or getting enough air. Most systems call for progression of both weight and reps, e.g., build to 5 reps,
add 5 pounds, build to 5 reps, etc. With singles, progression is restricted to poundage only. There are
no distracting reps. I can clear my mind and center all my attention on the one single. Its the simplest,
most pared down progressive training system there is.
I recommend single chins to other lifters who have had bad luck with the old chin, and/or want an
alternative to dumbbell rows that wont harm the lower back. Sometimes, when lifts become old and
tired, its not just the lift itself, but how its done that causes staleness. Approach it with a different
philosophy, do it a new way, adapt it to your needs, and your gains and cheerful outlook will return.

Editors note: In the USA, a ton is usually considered as 2,000 pounds (i.e., the short ton), but in
Great Britain a ton is usually considered as 2,240 pounds (i.e., the long ton). Erics quarter ton lift
is relative to USA conventions.

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565

Training the Old-Fashioned Way


by Bob Whelan
Downtown Washington was quiet and still dark as I walked through the Gallery Place Metro Station.
My gyms front door was only about 50 feet away, in the heart of China Town. I arrived to open for an
early morning training session with Vernon Veldekens. Ive been training Vern for about eight months
and hes about to achieve 300-400-500 status any day now. Hes knocking on the door in all three lifts.
He trained for a few years before I met him, so he was not a beginner when I took him on. For the last
eight months he has been training at a new level of intensity, just what he was looking for.
Vern is the type of guy I especially love to train. Hes a young (24) tough kid from Texas, 5-8, and now
weighs a solid 195 pounds. Hes a throw-back type, not a sensitive 1990s reader of a fitness
magazine. He listens, loves to work hard, gives no excuses, and takes no prisoners. He doesnt use
lifting gloves or other wimpy supportive or decorative gear. He doesnt let minor aches and pains stop
him. He eats endless cans of tuna and drinks gallons of skim milk. He does everything I tell him,
without complaints or arguments. He spends far more time talking about his training poundages than
he does his body fat percentage. I like that. Guys who are more concerned with their body fat
percentage (when they arent fat) than they are with their training poundages have missed the boat.
No matter what I dish out, Vern never complains and always comes back for more.
Vern arrived a few minutes after I did. Yo Vern! Ready to kick some ass? Verns growl let me know he
was ready. We started the warm-up routine. Wed both already had coffee and big breakfasts.
Aerosmith was blasting out high-energy music and the atmosphere was good. We quickly forgot that
it was 6am. After he was fully warm and stretched, he began with inclines. After a warm-up set, Vern
did out a set of 5 with 185 pounds using a 2.5-inch-thick bar. After incline presses he quickly moved to
preacher curls using a custom 2-inch-thick EZ-curl bar made by Bob Hise of Mav-Rik. Vern willed his
energy to get sets of 5 reps with 85 pounds. After a short rest it was over to front pulldowns with 155
pounds, and Vern took it to failure.
Vern did three work sets for all three exercises. For the first two sets he used the controlled-failure
method, stopping at the rep goal even if he could do more. On the third work set of each set he went
all out to total failure and held nothing back.
After finishing the third set of pulldowns he was dripping with sweat. The black rubber floor looked
like it had been raining and there was a hole in the ceiling. He took just enough rest to recover, but I
didnt let him waste time. We had a lot of work to do in a little over one hour.
I kept him busy doing a set of 20 reps in the good morning exercise while I changed some plates. We
started the next round and I was screaming in his ear. Youre on national television. Hit the roof!
Vern pushed through 3 sets of 5 reps in the seated military press with 145 pounds using a 2.5-inchthick bar. Good work! Youre moving up 5 pounds next time! I shouted. He was breathing steam,
with piercing eyes. With good focus he headed across the room for pushdowns. Two sets of 5 with 95
pounds. On the third set Vern looked like he had been struck by lightning as his whole body shook
and he went to failure doing 7 reps. Moving up again, Vern.
Vern recently switched to a 5-rep routine after spending about six months building a solid foundation
with 8-10 reps for upper body and 10-20 for legs. I believe in periodization or cycles, but dont want
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to have a long build-up period. We make a few minor changes and back down a little, but are back to
full-force effort in a few weeks. I believe that long build-ups waste productive training time. In any
event, Vern has been going like a rocket since I made the switch. Well ride this wave for as long as it
will go. But Ill make minor changes for mental purposes along the way. If he gets stuck on a particular
poundage for several workouts, Ill take the pressure off by making a change, like using 5-3-1 instead
of 3 sets of 5. Theres always something you can do to get a mental edge.
Sometimes, when youre stuck at a certain poundage, the best thing to do is to add weight. If you
miss it, you have nothing to lose and you can say that you got the feel of a heavier weight. But you
might get it. In the mid 1970s, when I was stationed at Castle AFB in California, I got 300 pounds for
the first time on the bench press. I remember I was stuck at 295 for months. I finally put on 305, had
no pressure, and got it.
We were heading down the home stretch and Vern was slightly nauseous. I let him take a few extra
minutes to rest and drink some water. Are you okay, Vern?
Lets do it! he replied. Next was the seated cable row for 3 sets with 165 pounds, and then 3 sets of
5 reps in the squat with 325 pounds. I yelled in his ear so that he got the final reps in the last set. He
got them, but collapsed after the last rep. I was about to call 911 but felt reassured when I
remembered that Vern was only 24 years old. Some of my other clients would have been dead if Id
pushed them that hard. The nauseousness reappeared with a vengeance. I got the puke bucket.
Puking is nothing to be proud of, but sometimes it happens to the best of us.
Vern was still keen, and the workout was not over. A little puking wasnt going to stop him. He felt
better after a few minutes and said, I feel good. Lets finish! (My kind of guy.) He did some wrist
rolling with a 2-inch pipe and a 15-foot rope that I hung over the balcony. Some people in the
building were watching, and thought we were crazy. They cant believe that people pay me to do
this to them.
After the wrist roller and a set with the Weaver stick, the final challenge was for Vern to transport a
200-pound sand bag around the building, keeping it at chest height. Its a bitch and even harder than
20-rep squats. You cant believe how hard this is until you try it, especially at the end of a workout.
About six months ago Brooks Kubik advised me to add this to the routine. At first I thought, Yeah,
right. But I decided to try it, and it was brutal.
I now have four 50-pound bags and can adjust the weight by putting them in a larger canvas duffle
bag. The sand shifts and its hard to grab. Your whole body struggles to grip, squeeze, balance and
control the bag just to get it to chest level, bear-hug style. Vern had previously got 150 pounds and
today he was going for 200. When anyone can get 200 around the building, they get a free workout
and their names and date put on the bag, like the Stanley Cup. Vern collapsed about five times and it
took him about ten minutes to get around the building. Each time he collapsed he had to wrestle the
bag back in position in a sort of clean, which is no simple matter with 200 pounds. He made it, but if I
hadnt been yelling Free workout! he wouldnt have got it.
He made it around and collapsed. Good work, Vern. Free workout. See you Saturday. Today, you
built muscle the old-fashioned way. You earned it!
Heres Verns weekly training program:

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Wednesday
1. Incline press
2. Preacher curl
3. Pulldown
4. Good morning
5. Overhead press
6. Pushdown
7. Seated cable row
8. Squat
9. Grip and sandbag work as time permits
Saturday
1. Bench press
2. Standing barbell curl
3. Pulldown
4. Leg press
5. Overhead press
6. Pushdown
7. Seated cable row
8. Trap bar deadlift
9. Grip and sandbag work as time permits
Since we have the equipment to ourselves, and we have a time limit, I group the exercises and usually
have Vern doing three different exercises in a row, taking about 30 seconds rest after each of the first
two. Then he takes about 90 seconds rest after the final exercise in the group. This gives him about
four minutes rest between repeat sets for the same exercise.
A workout lasts between 60 and 80 minutes, depending on if someone is scheduled after Vern. If no
one is coming during the next hour, I hold Vern hostage for an extra 10-20 minutes for grip and
sandbag work. Between workouts he does abdominal work, aerobic work and additional stretching.

568

How Not to Wreck Your Lower Back


by Stuart McRobert
Lower-back problems are among the most common complaints among bodybuilders and lifters. This is
no surprise when you consider how many abusive training practices are rampant in gyms. Clean up
your training, and extend your training longevity. Without a strong and injury-free lower back you
cant do some of the most productive exercises. And if you cant do the most productive exercises,
you substantially reduce the size and strength potential you can achieve.
Due to individual variation in hardiness of structure, leverages, training experience, and age, different
people are affected to differing degrees by the same lower-back abuse. Some people can apparently
get away with the abuse for a long time before paying the heavy price, but others start paying the
price almost immediately.
Act on all of the following, and help spare yourself from having to travel the path of frustration,
despair and waste of training time that accompanies lower-back injury. The points that follow arent
given in any particular order.

Deadlifting
1. If you cant finish a deadlift, never let your shoulders slump. If you do, your back will crumple and
round massively, and you could be out of training for a long time.
2. If you cant keep your shoulders pulled back in the final stage of a deadlift, dump the bar.
3. Never lean back when at the top position of any deadlift. Finish at the vertical standing position.
4. Dont descend in any type of deadlift to a depth that causes your lower back to round. If need be,
elevate the plates an inch or two or three, so that you can maintain a flat back. Do this by putting
plates or blocks of wood under the plates that are loaded on the bar.

(A flat back actually has a slightly arched lower spine, but the muscle there fills out the slight hollow.)
5. During a deadlifts ascent and descent, never let the bar drift forward out of the groove.
6. A reverse grip when deadlifting can produce rotational stress. Use an overhand grip. If you must
use a reverse grip, vary which hand is the pronated one so that the rotational stress isnt always
applied in the same way.
7. Dont do any type of deadlift to absolute failure. Keep the do or die rep in you.
8. Use a trap bar for deadliftingits superior to a straight bar.

Squatting
9. Dont descend in the squat to a depth that causes your lower back to round. Only go down as deep
as you can while maintaining a flat back. While its best if you can safely squat to parallel or just
below parallel, you dont have to squat to that depth. What you have to do, if youre to benefit
from the exercise, is to squat safely over the long-term.
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10. Between reps of the squat, while youre standing, dont flatten your lower back by moving your
hips forward. Maintain your natural degree of inward curvature in your lower back by keeping your
hips pushed to the rear somewhat (but without exaggeration). If you flatten the natural curvature
by bringing your hips forward, youll greatly reduce your lower-back strength. Keep your hips in
the position that maintains the natural curvature.
11. While standing between reps of the squat, dont shuffle around and take more of the stress on
one side of your body than the other, or rotate at your hips. And never try to reposition the bar by
jerking it up after a sharp lockout. If the bar is out of position, rack it and reposition it properly.
12. Never squat without rack pins or safety bars positioned to catch the bar if you fail on a rep.
13. Never hump or round your upper back when squatting. Stop a set if you feel your back is about
to start rounding.
14. Never let a squat turn into a good morning. If you fall forward or lose the groove, dont push on
with the rep. Descend immediately and dump the bar on the supports.

Deadlifting and squatting


15. Never do any squatting or deadlifting with anything other than a perfectly level bar. You must
apply balanced stress to both sides of your body. If you get out of the groove, tip the bar, and
lean to one side, you hugely increase the stress on that side. If you lose the groove on a rep,
immediately set the bar down on the safety bars/pins (for the squat) or floor (for the deadlift).
Battle through a skewed rep and you may not be battling any reps for a long time.
16. Avoid one end of the bar moving forward and the other moving back. This produces a dangerous
corkscrew-like effect on your motion.
17. Be sure you know and can apply good form in the squat and deadlift before you work hard on
them. Apply Brooks Kubiks guidance on deadlifting technique in this issue, and that on squatting
technique in the previous two issues.
18. Developing and then maintaining good flexibility in your hamstrings, glutes, calves and quadriceps
will help you maintain safe form in the squat and deadlift.
19. Deadlifting one day a week and squatting on another means two heavy workouts for your lower
back each week. That may be too much for many of you. It may be better to squat and deadlift on
the same day each week, and train both of them just once a week. This will give your lower back a
full week of rest before you squat and deadlift again.
20. High-rep and low-rep squats and deadlifts can injure your lower back. Its not the rep count thats
the most critical factor, but the form you use.
21. Never squat or deadlift heavily if you have lower-back soreness.
22. Never do forced reps or negatives in the squat or deadlift. They are fraught with a very high risk
of injury. Stick to regular sets where you do reps under your own steam, but with aggression,
passion and zeal.
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Pressing motions
23. Dont arch your back when doing any type of bench pressing, including inclines and declines. Your
lower back has a natural degree of curvature that will take it a little off the bench, but never
exaggerate the arch. Keep your hips glued to the bench and never intentionally shorten the
distance between your shoulders and hips. In the regular bench press, put a platform about 4
inches tall under your feet, to help force you to maintain an almost-flat back while you bench press.
24. On overhead pressing, avoid leaning back excessively. Whats excessively? When does safe
become dangerous? Do your overhead pressing while seated against a high-incline bench and
there will be no variation in how much you lean back. Keep your hips in place, dont exaggerate
the natural curvature in your lower back, and use a seat thats adjustable so that it can be inclined
a little to help prevent you slipping out of position.

Other areas
25. Avoid cheating curls. They are murder on the lower back (and shoulders). And avoid leaning back
to get a final curl that wont go by itself. Get a partner to apply just enough assistance so you can
get the bar up, or hold an isometric at the highest point you can get the bar to.
26. Regular hyperextensions are good, but never do them with any jerking or thrusting into the top
position. Ease carefully into the top position. Going up to parallel or just above parallel, is safe,
but going any higher may cause problems, so dont go higher.
27. Reverse hyperextensions may provide better therapy and supplementary work for your back and
supporting muscles than do regular hyperextensions. But do them with control and no thrusting
into the top position.
28. Avoid carrying a single heavy object or weight on one side of your body only. Better to lift the
single object with both hands in front of your body, or to hold a heavy object in each hand.
29. Be sure you always take a grip spacing the same distance from the center of the bar on both sides.
Uneven grips apply uneven stress to your body. And uneven stress can cause problems.
30. Do your lifting on a horizontal surface. If where you lift has a slope, albeit just a slight one, youll
increase your chance of sustaining an injury.
31. Dont do the T-bar row. And dont do the barbell row unless your torso is braced. Instead, use the
dumbbell row, pulley row, or any chest-supported row.
32. When using a calf machine for standing calf raises, never hump your upper back or thrust your
hips forward. Preserve the strong natural inward curvature of your lower spine.
33. Avoid the good morning exercise. While some people can do it productively, the exercise is
fraught with potential dangers. There are safer alternatives.
34. Even good exercises done in perfect form will wear you down and damage you if you do too
much of them, do them too often, or do them full-bore for too long at a single stretch. Dont
overtrain your lower back!
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35. Use excellent exercise technique at all times. Resist the temptation to do any final rep with lousy
form. Just a single rep done that way can be enough to devastate your training for a long time.
Keep the imperfect rep in you, and come back next time and try to get it in correct form.
36. Dont do maximum-possible-range leg presses. Cut the depth enough so that your lower back is
always kept flat against the back support.
37. Develop strong abdominal and oblique muscles. They will help to keep your lower back strong
and resistant to injury. Take crunch sit-ups or crunch pulldowns seriously, and build up to
impressive poundages. Do the same for side bends. But never overstretch in the side bend, and
be especially careful to use controlled form free of any jerking or twisting.
38. Get your back checked by a chiropractor to see if have a structural problem (e.g., scoliosis, or
different leg lengths) that could predispose you to a lower-back problem. By knowing of a
structural defect you may be able to tailor your training so as not to exaggerate the potential
problem that the defect predisposes you to.
39. Keep your brain a step ahead of your heart. Many lower-back injuries occur because reason and
sanity are overwhelmed by misdirected enthusiasm. Dont risk sacrificing many workouts by
succumbing to a moment of temporary madness in your current workout.
40. If you suffer from apparently minor aches and pains in your lower back, get a professional
opinion to be sure that youre not setting yourself up for serious injury. Never adopt a macho
attitude and battle on through aches and pains. If youre hurting, something is wrong. Find what
it is, and stop doing it.

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573

FROM THE GRASSROOTS


How to set up your own home-gym
by John Leschinski
No matter where you live, if youre serious about your training you should be serious about the place
where you train. Whether youre housed on the tundra, or in a hut in the tropics, you can set up a
high-quality home gym. If youve got some unused floor space youve already met the first
requirement. Though the saying more is better applies to space, dont view this as a hard and fast
rule. You can still set up a first-class spot even if you only have minimum space.
I live in eastern Washington State. My home is situated many miles from civilization, circled by endless
rolling fields of wheat. My gym is located in a garage separate from the house. In spite of the
isolation, Ive got a set-up most hardcore trainees would probably respect and even envy. If Im able
to make the best of my circumstances, you can too.

Equipment needs
In order to get the most from your workouts, theres a minimum amount of equipment you should
have. This, of course, depends on several things, including the amount of room you have available,
how much you can afford to spend, and your personal preferences.
There are three items that will always be the core of any dedicated trainees quarters. The first would
be several hundred pounds of weights and bar(s) that can endure the abuse of guerilla warfare. If you
plan on going for your best, youll need plates that are properly machined, a bar that can hold some
serious weight, and a pair of locking collars. Its not really important whether you use a standard or an
Olympic-style set. I use a combination of both, but mostly center my sessions with the Olympic bar
and plates. A set of durable dumbbell handles makes a useful addition, but they arent essential.
The second core piece would be a multi-positional bench that goes from a horizontal position to a
near or completely-vertical adjustment. This isnt a piece to skimp on quality. Get the best you can
swing, for the money. You dont want a bench thats going to collapse on you. Sturdy flat benches are
usually easier to come across than sturdy adjustable ones.
The third central item is a power rack. An alternative is a pair of adjustable squat stands together with
a pair of adjustable safety-spotter racks. Before you buy a power rack, make sure the one youre
considering will fit through the intended entrance door, and that youll have ceiling clearance.
The first two homes that sheltered my gym coincidentally had room to fit the rack through the door. I
wasnt so lucky in my present home, though. The day we moved in and tried to squeeze it in I sadly
discovered it just wasnt going to happen, under any circumstances (at least without tearing the walls
down). My alternative was to set up shop in the garage. Luckily I did have an alternative available.
Without pre-investigation you may not be so fortunate.
Also, make sure your power rack comes supplied with two pairs of cold-rolled steel pins at least an
inch thick, a set of hooks for your bar, and holes drilled close enough in the uprights to make
positional changes possible without a big jump from one position to another.

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If your budget and space are limited, with only this equipment and a properly planned program and
bags of enthusiasm you could go very far. But for most of us, this equipment list would be far from
ideal. Equipment variety will give you more options for keeping you motivated.
The word ideal is subjective. Youd be hard pressed to find two identical opinions on whats ideal.
But as someone whos been training for over 15 years, I feel qualified to paint a decent picture for you
of what ideal would be.
In addition to the three central components, the following would complete my ideal home gym: a trap
bar, a set of dipping bars, a chinning bar, a lat machine, a calf machine (though a dumbbell and a
block of wood will serve your calves well), a wrist roller, a grip machine, some sort of device for
working your neck, and weight trees to hold weight plates. A non-vertical leg press machine could be
handy, for a change of pace. But many a set of rippling thighs were built without ever touching a leg
press. So, actually, this piece leans more toward luxury. Some other useful items are chalk, a belt, a
dipping belt, and a variety of different bars.
You may need assurance in the financial department. In my opinion you definitely dont need to spend
a fortune to equip your gym. But you do need quality tools. Keep in mind, when it comes to gym
equipment you usually get what you pay for. If youre looking at buying new stuff, focus on ruggedness.
I purchased most of my equipment from a now-defunct company, at very reasonable prices. And
judging from its eight years of heavy-duty service Ill probably be passing it on to my children when I
leave this world. You may also want to investigate some of the bargains sold as used.
When it comes to weight plates you should have lots, in various sizes. And its extremely important to
have a decent supply of little gemsthose one, half and quarter-pound plates (and even washers)
so valuable when plowing well into a cycle.
Also keep in mind that when training HARDGAINER-style, simplicity works best. The same applies to
equipment. Its not necessary to pay for useless luxuries. Go with the basic and functional, as well as
what will be comfortable and not potentially injurious. If you have access to see before you buy, do
so. Inspect your potential purchase for technically correct welds, durable pulleys, bearings and paint,
and thick vinyl filled with firm padding. Thick gauge steel is also a must. Id advise going with 14gauge tubing or better.
If you happen to buy all the equipment mentioned here, and take care of it, youll probably never
have to get another piece of gear. Youll have some other considerations in setting up a place too, in
addition to equipment alone.

Your environment
Oxygen is essential in sustaining life. So more of it is used during workouts. Thats why picking an
area thats well ventilated is very important. Youve got to be able to breathe through the demands
of hard training. Make sure youve always got a fresh supply of air. You need windows you can open
that will let in fresh air.
Cleanliness is another factor. Sweat breeds fungus and germs, and so does dirt. Its advised that from
time to time you wipe down the surfaces you make contact with, and occasionally run a broom or
vacuum cleaner across the floor.

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Depending on what part of the world youre living in, temperature control is something you should
think about. In warmer climates you may not have to concern yourself with supplying heat. But air
conditioning may be necessary to avoid heat stroke during the hotter months. And in the cold
northern climates, the winter months may offer a real challenge. Your gym should be insulated and
heated. Unfortunately, my own place is neither. But I dress very warmly, and use a small space heater
while looking forward to the milder months ahead.
Its very easy to pull muscles in cold weather. So whatever youre stuck with, keep yourself warm.
Your potential spot should also have adequate lighting. Its natural for the physiology and metabolism
of many animals to become sluggish when less light is available. Humans are no exception.
Drowsiness under low or no light conditions is typical for us. The last thing youd want to do when
lifting, especially heavy weights, is to lose your alertness. This can lead to serious injury, which can
easily be prevented. So plenty of light is the answer.
What many people find energizing, in addition to bright light, are music, and posters with vibrant
colors or motivating images.

Safety
The last, yet one of the most important things you should take into account, is safety. Its something
often taken for granted, but without it your lifting days could be over indefinitely. Here are a few
simple tips that, if followed, will make your spot a sound haven:
1. Dont cram or clutter things in so tight that you cant move. Steel corners and edges notoriously rip
skin open. And to avoid tripping and possibly breaking bones or spraining muscles, dont spread
things all across the floor.
2. If youll be lifting on wooden floors, be sure the beams and floorboards can support you, your
weights, and all your equipment. Just imagine the severity of injury, or possibly fatality, if the floor
collapsed with you on it, holding several hundred pounds on your back or over your chest.
3. Hang up one or more mirrors to monitor your exercise form. When squeezing out heavy sets,
proper form can mean the difference between positive achievement or paralysis.
4. If youve got the appropriate temperament, a training partner can be a real plus. But not everyone
is cut out for this type of relationship (myself included).
5. If youll be training in your area alone, let a family member or friend know where youll be. Have
them occasionally check on you. And work out some sort of system or plan on how youll contact
someone for help, if the need arises. People have died waiting for a rescue with a bench press bar
pinning their necks to the bench.
With all this information at hand, youre now well prepared to put together one mighty-fine muscle
den. Keep in mind that this is only one persons view on what an ideal set-up would be. But
remember, it doesnt need to be fancy, sophisticated, or very expensive. Let common sense be your
greatest guiding force here. Give or take some, yours can still be ideal. But your home gym should be
just thata place where you feel confident, comfortable, and at home.

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Factors of Success
by Wesley Silveira
There are many factors that combine to determine if your training strategy is a successful one, or, if
youre wasting your time. Now is a good time to do yourself a favor, especially if your current
training and nutritional program isnt producing for you. Stop right now and analyze what youre
doing. Are you headed in the right direction? If not, dont continue down a road going in the wrong
direction, or to nowhere.
I sat down recently and looked at my training diary. Since resuming training in 1990 I have a written
account of every set and rep Ive done. This includes how I felt during each workout, brief notes on
how each cycle was going, notes on any injuries or unusual soreness, dietary notes, and planned
progression schemes to get me back to my previous best poundages, and beyond. This diary has
been one of the key factors in my training success.
I looked back and saw my humble beginnings at 20-rep squatting. I was using 110 pounds. I dont
know what my current 20-rep limit is, as I havent done twenties in a while. Ive been using sets of 5-10
reps recently, with around 350 pounds. The deadlift is about the only lift I feel Im naturally good at.
My usual work sets are with over 450 pounds.
My rate of progress over the last few years has been wonderful. Ive racked up slow but steady
increases on every cycle since I found the combination of factors that works for me. It really is true that
all those little increases add up to a lot of iron on the bar over the long-term.
Am I a hard gainer? Well, anyone who can only work out twice a week at most, can only train body
parts/lifts once a week each, and must do a very limited amount of movements for only one or two
sets each, while paying strict attention to nutrition and rest habits in order to make gains, would
definitely qualify as a hard gainer. This describes me perfectly. In spite of all this, my gains have been
consistently good since I started training in an abbreviated style.
To make good progress, here are some of the factors a hard gainer needs to have in good order.

Nutrition
1. Find the dietary requirements that must be fulfilled in order for you to make gains. Be methodical.
Write down everything you eat for a few weeks and get a book listing calories, protein and carbs.
Are you really getting enough nutrition to pack on muscle?
2. Getting enough protein is crucial for growth. Are your needs satisfied? By counting grams of
protein consumed per day over the course of a couple of cycles, I found out that I need at least
200 grams of protein a day, and do better on about 250. Consuming more than 250 doesnt seem
to have any more beneficial effect. This is a lot of protein, more than I can comfortably consume
by eating plain food. Lets assume a trainee is working at the proper frequency and duration for
him. His caloric intake is sufficient, he makes sure hes getting enough rest, and he isnt draining
himself with outside-the-gym activities that would cut into his ability to grow. All is well except he
needs 225 grams of protein a day to grow on, but is getting only 125-150. What happens?
Nothing, and by nothing I mean no gains. This is exactly how it works for me. As long as my intake
is above 200 grams per day, all is well. Much below that and I can kiss any potential gains
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goodbye. Your requirement may be higher or lower. Only you can determine it. The important
thing is finding the level that your body needs, and consistently providing yourself with this
amount. I often wonder where I would be today had I not discovered this key.
3. With training, less is more. But with nutrition, more is usually better. Without getting carried away,
make sure your body has in abundance all the nutrients it needs. In most cases, the average person
who is having a difficult time trying to gain size and strength isnt consuming enough wholesome
foods and supplements. Beware of mega-calorie weight gainers. For most people, those
supplements are more appropriately termed mega waist gainers. Im not saying that weight-gaintype supplements are useless, but for most people, adding a couple of very high calorie liquid
meals a day will make one fat very fast indeed. Be moderate. I almost always use a weight-gaintype supplement towards the end of a cycle when Im in new poundage territory. But I use a 1,000
calorie drink, and break it up into two servings of 500 calories each. This, combined with one or two
low-calorie milk or egg-based drinks of 200-250 calories each, provides the additional carbs,
calories and protein I need when training at high intensity in the heavy part of a cycle.
4. As far as supplements go, stick to the basics. A good protein or carb/protein mix and a good
vitamin and mineral mix should be enough for anyone who is eating a reasonably balanced diet.
You dont need a bunch of pseudo metabolic-amino-optimizers to make good progress. Many will
find that good wholesome food in the right quantity together with lots of extra milk is all thats
needed for optimum gains.

Training
5. Find the training volume and frequency that works for you, and train within those limits. Dont
waste your time trying to do a routine that has you doing too much, and too frequently. Even
though this is one of the most basic of the principles of effective training, Im convinced that even
many readers of HARDGAINER use programs that are well beyond their optimum level for best
gains. Hard gainers cant work on detail and size at the same time. Concentrate on getting strong
in the big movements. Who cares if your rear delt, or outer thigh, or whatever, isnt up to par? All
this means nothing if you arent already big and strong.
6. Train for strength in the powerlifts. This statement is intended for those who are more focused on
bodybuilding, because the powerlifters reading this already know. Spend the majority of your time
focused on the big lifts, using the rep range that suits you best. It doesnt make any difference if
you want to be a powerlifter or not, the three powerlifts are the answer for overall size and
strength gains for all who use them. Of course, there are some trainees who arent structurally
suited for these movements. For those people, good substitutes must be found. No matter what,
you must be doing one of the big full-body movements if you expect to make real progress. Cant
squat? Focus on the deadlift. Cant do the conventional deadlift? Try the trap bar deadlift, or
heavy dumbbell deadlifting. Make sure that youre doing at least one of the big full-body
movements. Without them, most hard gainers are doomed to failure.
7. Have a sound cycling strategy that works for you mentally as well as physically. To a certain extent,
your training should fit your personality as well as your physical structure. If youre someone who
thrives on change, it probably wont do you much good to set up a six- or eight-month cycle with
a very slow progression on movements that you dont plan on changing until the cycles end. If
youre just the opposite and are the type that likes to do things the same way all the time, and are
blessed with a generous amount of patience, the long and slow cycle may be well suited for you.

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8. Keep a training diary. Its much easier to figure out how to get where youre going if you know
where youve been. Not only should your training diary list what youve done, it should also have a
list of goals and planned progression for your next training cycle. Youll have a much better chance
of getting to your goals if they have been written out and youve spent some time coming up with
a strategy that will work for you. Dont just copy a program out of a magazine and follow it blindly.
9. Have faith in the abbreviated and basic style of training. Never be swayed by others. Abbreviated
training is the only way the average trainee will ever get to his genetic potential. Turn a deaf ear to
those who try to convince you otherwise. They either have much better genetics than you, and/or
use bodybuilding drugs, or just plain dont know what they are talking about. Stay the course!
10. Safety is of the utmost importance. If youre injured, you cant train. It doesnt make any difference
if you have the perfect training routine, the best dietary intake, and all the rest you need. If youre
injured and cant train, all those factors are meaningless.
11. How big and strong you can get depends on your genetics. Never let anyone tell you different.
What will make you successful is how well youre able to make the best of what you have, and
then, most importantly, how well you accept your limitations. Dont fall into the trap of comparing
yourself with others, especially drug-using genetic superiors. This will only lead to frustration and
grief. I have almost too many structural faults to count, and even after building up to some fair
poundages I still dont look real impressive by the standards of competitive bodybuilding. Yet Im
a success. Believe in yourself, and enjoy your achievements. Compare yourself with how you were
when you started lifting, or with where you were before your last cycle, not with other trainees.
Then youll become one of weight trainings success stories.

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580

The Odds for a Super Physique


by John McKean
What excitement for an enthusiastic young trainee! I was 16 at the time and about to witness my very
first physique contest. As a home-based practitioner Id never yet had the opportunity to meet or see
anyone in the real Iron Game, but felt that the big annual Mr. Pittsburgh show would allow me to
eyeball local stars.
As the contestants marched on stage for the introductory lineup, I was impressed with their shape and
definition, but disappointed in their overall body size. Well, this wasnt the big leagues of California or
New York, I thought. But just then a tremendously thick fellow, with the largest thighs Id ever seen on
a human, walked into view. Moments later another absolutely awesome individual, equally impressive
in the leg area but possessing unbelievably deep total body cuts, strode onto the platform. To my
young wide eyes these two men were far better than anyone Id ever seen pictured in mags. It was no
surprise to see one win the contest and the other copping the most muscular award.
What was a surprise was to hear the announcer mention that these two were actually weightlifters, not
strictly physique men, and that each had just won a major award in something back then (early 1960s)
called an odd lift meet. In fact, it seems the first fellow had just achieved the milestone feat of
performing a 500-pound squatalmost unheard of in those pre-powerlifting days. Immediately, a
500-pound squat and those huge thighs became a personal goalwell, at least I eventually achieved
the squat. The second guy was a state champion Olympic lifter in addition to being an odd lifter.
The odd-lift meets proved to be unofficial contests that a few years later evolved into powerlifting.
Since Olympic lifting was the only game in town back then, the odd lifts offered variety and a
chance for men strong in other areas to strut their stuff. And these meets were usually more diverse
than the three eventual powerliftssometimes such things as curls, bent-arm pullovers, hack lifts,
presses and other lifts were contested. Even bodyweight chins and dips for reps were featured. These
affairs were very similar to our present day IAWA all-round events.
Ive always maintained that the most powerfully built men Ive seen through the years were always
those who concentrated on strength with basic exercises. Some really strong guys dont look too
impressive to the average eye, yet whenever I actually witness a slimly-built lightweight push 250
pounds overhead, or deadlift 500+, he immediately looks as good as any Mr. Universe. Conversely, I
once watched a local physique star struggle to press 140 pounds overhead (he weighed 180).
Instantly, my mind reduced his big arms and cuts to absolute zero. All his formerly impressive bulk
might just as well have been pure fat. But for the most part, when I run into someone who has
devoted years to acquiring strength, he looks genuinely rugged and impressive to everyoneyou can
always tell hes a lifter.
With all this in mind, come down memory lane with me as I recall some fantastically built odd lifters
and the key exercises which helped form them. The approach that helped build them may help build
you. Just choose odd lifts you can perform safely and in consistently good form.
Odd lifts always had a way of surfacing at the famous York Barbell Club picnics, which Bob Hoffman
hosted the day after big lifting meets in his home town. Generally, the staff of the old STRENGTH
AND HEALTH magazine would circulate and ask those in the visiting crowd if anyone would like to
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demonstrate any strength feat on the big open-air stage. We were always treated to amazing
performances by unknowns as well as the current lifting stars. It was a rather loose atmosphere amidst
the picnic-style eating and drinking. And it was always amazing to see a few of those super staunch
health food advocates gobbling a hot dog and drinking a beer. But such relaxation often led to world
record (but unofficial) performances.

Incline bench press


At one of these picnics we coerced a few of our home-town buddies to take the stage. Neither had
ever been in anything but small Pittsburgh events. One of them, whose nickname was Pig, stood 56 and weighed nearly 300 pounds, decided to show the crowd his bench pressing technique. When
he warmed up with more weight than any superheavyweight had done at the previous nights National
Powerlifting Championship, the normally boisterous picnic became very quiet. Oblivious to the
attention, Pig quietly called for heavier and heavier singles, casually approaching the then-current
world record held by Pat Casey. Each lift was done in picture-perfect form complete with a long pause
of the bar at his chest. Never breaking a sweat, he ignored the enthusiastic chant to attempt the
world record, instead quietly commenting to his buddy, Say, Doug, Im gonna take a break. Why
dont you do something easy for the guys like a strict curl with 250 or so?
Doug, dressed in his long-sleeved plaid shirt, was as huge as the mythical Paul Bunyan who he
resembled, and could have curled such a weight with ease, but was painfully shy.
Both Pig and Doug always trained hard on their favorite odd liftthe incline bench press. They
acquired huge upper-body size by merely performing five or six progressive heavy singles on this lift
each workout. Amazingly, they both achieved weights in excess of 500 pounds on the incline press.
Pig did some regular benching but very limited work (almost never) on the squat or the deadlift, and
therefore never made much of a dent in the annals of powerlifting. On the other hand, big Doug used
his huge frame to bull up high poundages in the squat and the deadlift, entered one national power
meet, took the superheavyweight division easily, then disappeared from the scene.

Bent-arm pullover
One guy I occasionally saw training during my late teens was a bona fide physique star. Charlie would
suddenly appear, do several very heavy sets of half squats, weighted parallel bar dips, or bent-arm
pullovers, then leaveusually just one exercise per session. We often wondered when he did his
actual bodybuilding routine with all the super sets, pumping, and concentration-style movements.
After all, the guy was phenomenal. Though only 4-11 tall he had superb muscle size in all major areas,
long muscle bellies, and mind-blowing definition. His arms were especially impressive.
As it proved over several years of observation, Charlie never did standard pumping routines, only the
quick heavy moves we got to see every so often. His favorite exercise seemed to be the bent-arm
pullover. I once saw him load an Olympic bar to nearly 300 pounds (close to double his bodyweight)
for a couple of sets of 2 or 3 reps. What was hilarious that day were the taller and heavier
bodybuilders who were also performing pullovers, but with a toy barbelloff the fixed-weight rack
and a weight of perhaps 60 pounds.

One-arm barbell clean


Another intense individual trained at our large downtown YMCA. We nicknamed him Nasser. We
young trainees were afraid to ask this huge unsmiling Syrian for any personal details. This wideshouldered man never seemed to push himself but easily handled sets of progressively heavier bench
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presses, and big seated presses behind the neck with around 275 pounds. Most impressive was his
unusual closing exercisethe one-arm barbell clean. Nasser did this so easily that he required no
collars to keep the pair of 45s on each end of the Olympic bar. Thats right, he used 225 pounds! He
flipped up a few quick singles with about the same effort with which modern bodybuilders expend to
upend their cans of mega-super-special fast-gain drink. Of course, Nassers upper forearms were
about the circumference of an average 16-pound bowling ball.

Reverse curl
In an unusual twist of fate, the benefits of an odd lift possibly saved my life one time. A local young
lifter who I know only as South Side Stan competed in a little of everything but specialized on the
reverse curl. He got big all over from squats, military presses, pulls and the Olympic lifts, but had
especially striking forearms from the strength he built from palms-down curling.
A bunch of us teens who trained together ventured to a popular lakeside resort during a summer
holiday one year. We were joined by 75,000 other teens, college people, bikers, and general party
goers. My small group of friends ran into South Side Stan and his lifting buddies one evening. While
bar hopping we spotted one of those sledge hammer, ring-the-bell carnival towers and Stan couldnt
resist it. Using those massive, reverse-curl-built forearms, he one-armed the hefty sledge and
proceeded to ring the bell about a dozen times in quick succession. A crowd formed and Stan kept
slamming, spurred on by both the cheers and the beer in his system. Other kids our age started
noticing that the rest of us were lifters (rare, back then) and requested us to flex and show off in
general. We were all a little tipsy and had a good time obliging them.
About a year later I visited a buddy in a neighboring big city, not too far from the small resort town.
The friend called some college chums and we eventually located a neat looking little bar. As we sat in
the club talking for a while, everyone else suddenly grew quiet. It seems this nightspot was the main
turf of the most rugged street gang in the city, and they had just arrived. Their leader promptly
came to our table, started jawboning to the biggest guy among us, a football player, with the general
theme being that our peace-loving group was about to be escorted outside for a very bad time. We
were outnumbered about three to one. Then one fellow began vigorously pointing at me and talking
quickly to his leader. I was petrified. The two approached me and asked, Hey, arent you the guy who
did that big chest pose in Geneva-on-the-Lake last summer? After coercing me into an impromptu
demo (yeah, like I was going to refuse) they forgot all about fighting and just wanted to talk lifting.
(So, Stan, a much belated thanks for working so hard on your reverse curls. Your acquired hammering
strength indirectly saved me from being really hammered.)

Weighted floor push-up


Another outstanding Pittsburgh odd lift competitor may be well known to many readers.
Professional wrestlings long-time world champion, Bruno Sammartino, lifted in many of those early
events. Every now and then I get the opportunity to discuss his lifting days with him, because he
lives about a mile away. Ive taught his sons in junior high school, and often see him jogging the
local roads on my way to work. Incidentally, at nearly 60 years old, he still looks like he can body
slam a bus. Of course, Bruno always was, and still is, a huge proponent of total body conditioning
exercise prior to actual lifting. Even from his humble beginnings as a thin frail teenager his flair
towards athletics saw him doing extensive road work, calisthenics, and wrestling. But when he got
to lifting it was rarely lightweight stuffjust fierce determination to always pick up something
heavy, then heavier. He established records in all of our locally-contested odd liftssquats, curls,
bench presses, deadlifts, presses, etc. As his strength moved up he acquired unbelievable muscle
density on a 260-pound frame.
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A facet of Brunos early strength-conditioning training was an unusual exercise that can be termed an
odd lift. Hed get a heavy training partner to sit on his back and then he would perform as many reps
as possible in the standard floor dip (push-up). I still recall a photo in a local newspaper showing a 19year-old Bruno supporting five pretty young ladies in this manner.
The weighted floor dip is almost a forgotten exercise these days despite its huge potential. For
interesting variety from bench pressing, with much more total body involvement, try a cycle of these,
having partners safely stack progressively more 45-pound plates (or even 100s) on your back. You may
not build the ability to shoulder and slam a 600-pound wrestler as Sammartino once did, but weighted
dips will add slabs of muscle to your triceps, pecs and delts.

Parallel bar dip


Speaking of dipping, lets not forget the benefits offered by the parallel bar version. One of my
friends, Antonio Fratto, used this as his only official bodybuilding exercise. He won every physique
contest in Western Pennsylvania. He was also a top caliber powerlifter who won the National and
World Championship at 198 pounds back when powerlifting was one big happy organization and
supersuits hadnt yet been invented. Im sure Frattos routine of super-heavy singles on the three lifts,
and a youthful preoccupation with the clean and press (he did over 300 pounds officially at 181
pounds) had a great deal to do with his muscularity. Still, he always snuck into the Mr. events
scheduled directly after his meets. He felt his thrice weekly 4 sets of 50 reps in freeform parallel bar
dips kept his upper body sharp.

John Grimek
Perhaps the most heralded odd lift practitioner was mighty John Grimek. Seems, in his building years,
whenever there was any strange form of seriously heavy barbell, dumbbell, apparatus or chain lift
even remotely mentioned, John would train with a vengeance to best it. In fact, for his pioneering
efforts and prowess in so many odd lifts, Grimek was awarded the first lifetime achievement award
granted by the International All-Round Weightlifting Association. A permanent plaque verifying this
award resides on the wall of the famous End Zone Sports Hotel (official meet site for Frank
Ciavattones 1996 USAWA National Championship) in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

An assortment of lifts
One time I was competing at a large powerlifting meet in Buffalo, New York. As was customary during
the 1960s, a major physique contest was to be held directly after the lifting. Powerlifters and
bodybuilders shared the warm-up room. At that time Buffalo was famous for its physique men, with
several having acquired top placings in Mr. America contest.
The guys pumped and chattered, wondering aloud who among them would take the title that night. I
was surprised to spy what I knew would soon spell their doom. A little guy dressed in shabby, cheap,
plain gray sweats sat quietly in a dimly lit corner, half asleep. It was Federal Street Tonyanother
training mate from the early days at the Pittsburgh YMCA.
Tony was unknown outside the Pittsburgh area and at 150 pounds was not real noticeable, being
without the genetics to ever become muscularly huge. Though short, Tony was blessed with nearlyperfect symmetry. The late Peary Rader once described Tony as having the best shape and razor-sharp
definition hed ever seen in his long career as a top official. Id have to agreeeven in all the time
since, Tony would make my top five list. Oh yeah, Tony easily dominated the Buffalo event.
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Tonys training was as unconventional as his show preparation. A true bodybuilder by anyones
standards, he nevertheless preferred heavy, low-rep basic movements for the bulk of his training. He
employed Olympic lifts, powerlifts, and odd lifts, not for competition but for muscular enhancement
through strength training.
Once, he was unjustly accused by jealous local lifters as being nothing more than a wasp-waisted
weak bodybuilder. So, he entered an Olympic meet, just once. Though he could hardly deny that his
waist measured a paltry 26 inches, he shut up critics with a magnificent 235-pound clean and press,
and an easy victory in a tough middleweight division.

Olympic-related lifts
My wife and I traveled to Columbus, Ohio some years back, mostly to see the pro Mr. World contest,
which was to be contested directly after the World Weightlifting Championship. We were anxious to
see the superstars who were entered in the physique show, but the superb Olympic lifting captivated
our attention. This was the meet where Alexeev became the first person to officially clean and jerk 500
pounds. When we got a glimpse of the gigantic muscle bulk of Belgiums superheavyweight, Serge
Reding, we instantly forgot any need to watch mere bodybuilders. This mans shoulders, arms, chest
and thighs were huge beyond belief. Seeing him deftly move in the snatch and the clean and jerk sure
topped any static muscle pose. Marilyn and I left exhilarated at seeing the largest muscular human we
could ever expect to see. We didnt bother staying for the physique meet.
I remember reading that Reding concentrated on very heavy front squats, high pulls, and various strict
forms of pressesodd lifts in the truest sense. Magazine photos of him performing these exercises
with wide stacks of 45-pound Olympic plates on the bar demonstrated clearly exactly what it takes to
really develop size.

Do you want the best shot at achieving your ultimate physique? Well, train for peak strengthyou just
cant beat the ODDS.

585

High-Intensity Workouts at Home


by Drew Israel
In HARDGAINER issue #36 I wrote about a workout I had at Iron Island Gym. While I always have
great workouts at the gym, I also take some of my workouts at home. Over the years Ive had lots of
equipment come into my house. When I no longer wanted a particular piece I would sell it. For me
there are few differences between working out at home and at the gym, except for the level of
variety thats greater at the gym.
If it were not for Dr. Leistner opening a gym in the area I would probably do all my workouts at home.
Iron Island Gym, unlike most New York gyms, has a great training environment, so for me, training at
home and at the gym is a nice combination.
In the middle of one room of my house I have a Hammer leg press. On the far side away from the
door theres a Hammer shrug machine. When you first enter the room theres a Hammer incline
bench press. Against the back wall are squat racks and a utility bench for my dumbbells, which go
from 120 pounds up to 200 using 10-pound jumps. I also have a Hammer four-way neck machine
next to my television set. In one corner I have a thick bar, cambered squat bar, a Sutherland bar, and
two different-sized trap bars. Ive always liked to keep other items such as a wrist roller, hand
grippers and a leverage bar.
I had to pull my sink out to have room for comfort and collapsing on the floor. Ive about 3,000
pounds of weight in my room.
The front of the garage also has equipment. I have a bench press unit made by Jim Sutherland that
could survive a bomb dropped on it. Against the opposite wall I have a seated free-weight front press
set-up. Towards the back of the garage I have a Nautilus plate-loaded pullover machine. I also keep a
lot of weight in the garage to keep me from carrying plates back and forth from house to garage.

A workout
Dean Trifari is a New York City policeman who has trained with me for about two years. He stands 511 and weighs 260 pounds. Dean has lots of strength and could become much stronger if he put
some uninterrupted training time in. Dean loves high-intensity training, so we always have great
training sessions together.
On this particular day everything was preset for Dean, who would be training first. Dean, like myself,
tends to get punchy if not reminded of hand, feet and body positioning. His first exercise today was
going to be the squat, using a cambered squat bar. I set the squat stands up and we were ready to
go. Dean stepped out of the rack with 330 pounds and began doing the reps, which were being done
easily. At about the fifteenth rep he began working. At number 20 he was shaking and trying to
control his breathing. I was trying to push him through for another 10 reps. At rep 23 I had to keep
telling him to lift his head and keep the bar from rolling down his back. When he got to the final rep,
and completed it, he wasnt looking too good. I told him to rack the weight but not go down because
there was a lot of work to be done.
We went out to the garage and no more than 30 seconds had passed but he was ready to bench
press. We were lucky it was only 30 degrees out. Dean took 225 pounds and did 16 reps.
586

We quickly moved to pullovers. I would break the weight down three or four times until he could
hardly move any weight at all. Next up was outdoor standing shoulder presses using a super-thickhandled trap bar. Dean had no color in his face and looked like he was going down. I stood next to
him and made him complete the set, but he was not a happy person. I then had him do trap bar
shrugs with 275 pounds for about 15 reps. He was one sick person, but was having a great workout. I
told him the final exercise would be the squat, again with 330 pounds, and I wondered if Dean had his
gun with him. He didnt, and I felt relieved. He had an angry look as he ground out the reps. When he
got to the seventeenth rep he wanted desperately to rack the weight, but he stayed with it. I almost
had to block his way back to the rack so he would complete the set. As Dean racked the weight on
the squat rack after doing the rep number 21, I told him he did a great job. He gave me an
expressionless stare moments before he went down. He looked like a giant bleached whale who
hadnt a clue where he was or why he was there.
Now it was my turn to train. I had a quick passing thought before Dean had recovered, in case he had
a lot of vindictive thoughts about trying to destroy me during my workout. But I was there to have a
brutally hard and productive workout, so I waited for Dean to regain his feet.
Recently, my focus has been on deadlifting for super-high-rep sets, giving myself two weeks in
between deadlift sessions. I began the deadlift set with a goal of 260 pounds for 100 reps. I
knocked the first 35 reps off. While squatting down and holding the bar I took five breaths and did
another 10 reps. I was only at 45 reps but my brain wanted no part of it. I took another 10 reps,
bringing me up to 55. I was very nauseous and I knew I had to dig in deep. I let a scream out and
took 5 more reps, and then another 5, bringing my total up to 65. As dedicated as I felt before the
workout, my resolve was really being tested, but I kept going, taking the reps 5 at a time, getting to
90 reps. At this point I took 2 reps at a time. I felt like the end was near, but completed my target
100 reps in about nine minutes.
Next was the seated shoulder press. Dean mentioned that I was moving too slowly, and I had some
nasty thoughts for him. I took 165 pounds and did about 22 reps. I felt like Id nothing left, but
onward I went. Hammer seated shrug came next. I took about 500 pounds and did 7 or 8 reps. I was
trying super hard to keep on my feet and not to vomit. Hammer iso-lateral bench pressing followed. I
used 200 pounds for 20 reps. Dean stood me up for manual lateral raises and then front raises. The
workout was over and, like Dean had been, I was down for about half an hour.
For the rest of the day I walked around like a zombie. Later in the day I got together with friends but
could barely utter more than one or two sentences; but I felt great because both Dean and I had great
training sessions that day.
Motivation is absolutely essential for this type of training, as more reps or weight, or both, must be
added from workout to workout. This type of training has a great carryover effect for powerlifting and
other types of strength demonstrations. All thats necessary is to give yourself enough time to get
conditioned to the skills associated with low-rep training.
For those who love training as I do, I hope this article has presented new, exciting ways to work out.

587

588

Chiropractic
by Dr. R. Keith Hartman
Getting help
I keep getting asked how to find a chiropractor who understands the stress that weight training
gives the body. Ive done this before, but will do so again. Look in the Yellow Pages under the
heading of chiropractic. Look for a DC who advertises that he or she is a CCSP (certified
chiropractic sports physician). Call the doctors office, request to speak to the doctor, and ask if he
or she trains with weights.
If the doctor doesnt train with weights, the advice he or she can give people who do lift weights and
who have injured themselves training, is very limited and palliative at best. This applies even to my
fellow doctors who have the CCSP qualification, no matter how much they have read, how well they
scored on the qualifying exams, how well they did in professional school, or how successful a practice
they have. Treating the injury with chiropractic techniques is no problem, but for being able to advise
the patient on what to do to prevent the problem from reappearing, they just dont know. Keep on in
the quest to find someone who does train.
Most of the doctors who have the CCSP qualification and train have lifting equipment in their offices
to observe how the injury occurred, and to critique lifting form once the injury has healed. Or, they
are willing to meet you where you train to help you lift correctly so that you minimize reoccurrence of
the same injury.
Even when all precautions are taken, please remember that we have decided to participate in a sport
that includes exposure to an element of risk at all times. We all must think carefully and focus during
training, and never just bull the weights around. Technique, technique, technique; form, form, form.

Bursitis and tendinitis


A readers asked about training with bursitis and tendinitis. My answer is short and sweet: dont! If
you truly have been diagnosed as having an acute bursitis or tendinitis, that joint area doesnt need
further traumatization. It needs rest, treatment, therapy (ultrasound, galvanic stimulation, ice) and
rehab, not active strength training. The injury must be healed before you begin to depend on the
area for strength. If the physician youve gone to is an MD, and the injury warrants a cortisone
injection, remember that in order for that medication to work most effectively you must rest the
area for a week before training again. That word rest is inclusive of heavy labor that would involve
the joint injected.
I have many patients whose MD just administered the injection and sent them on their way without
these instructions. The results that they paid for didnt then occur. I tell you this from personal
experience. Also, its important that the MD you choose to administer the cortisone therapy knows
enough to take his time and be certain that the needle is placed so as not to create more problems.
If care isnt taken, the injection can perforate the tendon the physician is intending to relieve and
heal with the medication. My experience has taught me that interdisciplinary treatment of shoulders
and elbows is in the best interest of the patient. By that I mean an MD administering cortisone when
called for, and me using chiropractic techniques and ancillary physiotherapy modalities. Quicker and
more complete results can be obtained this way, and the patient is back in the gym sooner.
589

Sternum noises
A reader asked about the seriousness of a crackling sound he gets from his sternum when he stretches
his chest and shoulders. As long as the crackling sound isnt accompanied by pain, and there are no
symptoms of aches or pains in the sternum, dont worry about it.

Rep selection
I was asked if theres any connection between bone structure and rep range preference and
productivity. I would like to be able to rattle off an answer that I could back up with empirical
evidence, but I cant. What I can state from my personal and coaching experience is that, in the end,
the trainee has to determine whats best for whatever is the immediate training goal. Its a result of
trying different rep and set schemes, and using them in combination at different times in the training
year that I believes achieves the best results. The bottom line is trial and error within the guidelines
of a philosophy of intensive training.

Gender recovery variation


I was asked if I thought that women have a faster recovery time than men, all other variables being
equal. I dont think so, but thats just my opinion. To my knowledge there are no studies that
definitively prove it one way or the other. My logic tells me that recovery time among females would
be just like it is among malesa function of genetics, rest schedules, work regimen, personal and
work stress, and nutritional habits. Those, in my mind, are more likely candidates for different recovery
rates than is gender. But perhaps gender is an influencing factor.

Knee care
If youve found that when you squat your knees just cant take it, either from past injuries or genetic
anomalies, I recommend either the Tru-Squat machine or the trap bar. Both of these pieces of
equipment will reduce the stress on your knees and back. You may ask about leg press machines. Im
skittish and leery of leg press equipment. Ive seen many guys in the gym hurt their backs on a leg
press machine and Im one who has done that. The injuries range from a simple strain, to serious disc
bulges, to one female who herniated a disc. But, of course, these were injuries from not using the
equipment properly and/or not using a safe machine to begin with. I recommend you dont use a leg
press machine unless you have someone to coach you who knows what hes doing, and that the
program you follow is conservative. The problem is the temptation to stack as much as you can on
the machine and go for it. This will get a trainee into trouble quickly. But using the machine properly
is another matter.

Neck care
A patient of mine called the office for care out of the regular schedule he keeps for maintenance. He
had hurt his neck during the course of an exercise for his shoulders. When I picked at him with enough
questions I found out that the mechanism of injury was the movement of his head during the exercise.
Whenever you do an exercise, find a spot to focus on and dont move your eyes or your head until
youve set the weight down. Other than for neck work, its very easy to hurt your neck if you move it
during the course of an exercise.

Dr. Hartman, dead!


Note from Stuart: With great regret I inform you that Dr. Keith Hartman died on September 8, 1995,
from what police believe was a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 50 years old. Keith had a
traumatic last couple of years and apparently succumbed to depression.
590

Keith was a multi-talented man. He was born in 1945, and as a boy he was given a classical vaudeville
musical education. He was the youngest member of the American Guild of Variety Artists. After 25
years of being in the entertainment business, he made a career change. At age 32 he started training
to be a chiropractor. He had been lifting weights since age 16.
Keith contributed to HARDGAINER since issue #5. He was also a friend, and Ill miss him.
Keith, may you rest in peace.

591

Forum
Edited by Stuart McRobert
Kettlebell handles, by Tony Pattison
In HARDGAINER issue #39 there was an article on the back, extolling the virtues of the prone row
exercise but ignoring its main shortcoming, i.e., limited range. Modern benches are usually padded
with a strong steel base frame. The padding is good for cushioning the chest, but the thickness of the
bench cuts inches off the movement.
Ive used this exercise since Stuart promoted it as the modified bent-over row way back in
HARDGAINER issue #2. I tried it with the bent bar that some people use for the bench press (wrongly
described as a cambered bar by some). This, however, restricts the grip because it must be wide. Also,
the bent bar has a tendency to twist if its pulled at an angle to the lower chest. The solution is to use
kettlebell handles. It took me months to find a pair. Some of the lads had never seen them previously.
If you can obtain an old long bar, four collars and the kettlebell museum pieces, you can take a grip
on the bar as wide or as narrow as you wish. Fix the kettlebell handles in position on the long bar as
desired. The effect is tremendous.
One-arm rowing with a kettlebell handle on the dumbbell is a vastly superior movement to the regular
dumbbell version. In the latter, as the plates get bigger you have to hold the dumbbell out away from
your body, at an awkward angle. A kettlebell is far easier to control. A prone row with two dumbbells
fitted with kettlebell handles is another fantastic back movement. It allows a palms-parallel grip.
Bradley J. Steiner used to write much of kettlebell rowing. He believed that once youd used it youd
never bother with the limited dumbbell version again.
The combination of the bent-arm pullover and the prone row gives a tremendous upper-body
workout. If, however, the bent-arm pullover becomes a pullover and press, followed by the prone row
and the parallel bar dip, you have a superb upper-body routine and an alternative to the bench press.
I found a use for the Smith machine additional to the one noted by Maurice and Rydin in
HARDGAINER issue #39: Its excellent for hooking your knees under when doing bent-arm pullovers.
I appreciated the advice in HARDGAINER issue #37 on shoulder care. I hurt my rotator cuff area years
ago, with lockout squats on the power rack. The bar bounced, with 600 pounds. I developed winged
scapulae. It took months to rectify. I now use the lying L-fly and it has helped my shoulders a lot.

Split routine for hard gainers, by Ned Byrne


I want to share my training routine that will work wonders for you. Its rotation for recuperation, a
training principle promoted by Frank Calta years ago. Basically, its a split routine but instead of
following the routines of champion bodybuilders, you work out three times a week and alternate two
different workouts. Heres my current program:
Tuesday
1. Seated press: 1 x 5 light warm-up set, 1 x 5 heavy work set
2. Bent-over row: 1 x 6 light warm-up set, 1 x 6 heavy work set
592

Thursday
1. Breathing squat: 1 x 10 light warm-up set, 1 x 20 heavy work set
2. Rader chest pull
On Saturday I do what I did on Tuesday. Then on Tuesday Ill do the routine I did on Thursday, then on
the following Thursday Ill do the press and row workout, and so forth.
It makes sense to follow a split routine as Hank Hammons stated in his article, Split Routines for Hard
Gainers, in a 1977 issue of IRON MAN, Volume 36 No. 2. Hammons wrote, If the squats are done
properly a true hard gainer will have nothing left when it comes time to work the upper body. If the
exercises for the upper body are done first, then the hard gainer will be very fatigued when its time to
do the squats . . .
I used to do seated presses and squats in the same workout, but it was too much of a strain on my
lower back. Thats when I knew I had to make a change. Another thing is that I dont do the press
behind neck anymore. It was bugging my shoulders so I stick to the regular press.
For the extreme hard gainer I would recommend training no more than twice a week, say Monday and
Thursday, or Tuesday and Fridaywhatever schedule suits you bestand alternate the two workouts.
You can do bench presses or incline presses in lieu of seated presses, and chins or deadlifts in place
of rows. Maybe add curls to your upper-body workout. But the main thing is to keep pushing
yourself in the squat.
This schedule has worked for me, so what do you have to lose? Give it a try. Youll be glad you did.

Weight-loss, by Steve Stocker


One of the most crucial aspects that the drug-free hard gainer has sometimes to contend with is the
reduction of surplus body fat. Theoretically this shouldnt be a big problem because were often
reminded that all we need to do is reduce our caloric intake and simultaneously increase our energy
output. This will result in overall weight loss. I wouldnt dispute this, but I think a different approach is
needed for the hard gainer.
Ive been on and off the diet bandwagon for many years. Ive tried almost every conceivable diet, all
with hardly any success. I remember reading an article supposedly written by a big-name bodybuilder
who said that he regularly followed a diet of tuna fish, runner beans and water. In my naivety I was
following that diet the very next day. I stayed with it for weeks on end until I got sick from lack of
nutrition. After that incident I never believed much of what was written on nutrition.
Now I take a much more sensible approach when I feel the need to shed a few pounds of fat. I still see
many hard gainers make one of the biggest mistakes in their quest for fat loss. They severely restrict
their caloric intake with the hope of losing weight much quicker. These crash diets are physically
dangerous and are always guaranteed to fail.
Ive just recently reduced my bodyweight by 14 pounds. This was done without losing any muscle
size. For the duration of the diet I continued to increase my working poundages in all of the major
compound exercises. And whats more, I didnt suffer from any diet-related fatigue thats often a
symptom of diets.
593

I decided to take 12 months to reach my goal of a 14-pound weight reduction. I dont believe in the
two-pounds-a-week weight-loss type of diet. I feel that this is far too much for the hard gainer and
would quickly lead to serious muscle loss.
In the past Ive tried the small but frequent meals approach to dieting, but this method never seemed
to suit me. It always left me feeling hungry, deprived of food, and continually thinking about my next
small meal. I decided to use the traditional three-meals-a-day plan: breakfast, lunch and dinner. From
my early training days Ive always been led to believe that this way of eating was inferior and served
little purpose for the serious bodybuilder. As it turned out, this method has been the best of them all.
The one proviso that I made whilst using this method was that my last meal of the day was no later
than six oclock. Having no food after this hour did a hatchet job on my surplus fat.
During this period I can honestly say that I never had the urge to binge. My energy levels remained
high because I included all of the essential foods.
What normally happens is that as soon as a hard gainer starts to diet he immediately turns his training
into maintenance workouts, automatically assuming hell lose strength. I didnt even consider this
approach because I was adamant I was going to progress throughout the diet plan. As far as aerobic
training was concerned, I just did my normal quota for my cardiovascular needs. Ive seen plenty of
hard gainers lose lots of muscle size because of the overambitious use of aerobics.
I believe the success of the weight-loss program was due to my patience in spreading my efforts over
a long period. Also, eating my last meal of the day before six oclock was very important.

Nutrition tips, by Eric Serrano, MD


Nutrition is a specific science. I called it specific because its different for each individual. The general
information provided in most magazines is just that, generic baselines that we need to create a
specific diet program for each individual. As a physician Ive discovered that most people have a good
idea of what they should eat, but unless you spell it out they wont follow it.
You need your height, body type, age, activity level, sex, and, most importantly, your goals. All these
variants affect ones nutrition.
After all the variants are known, I calculate the basal metabolic rate (BMR) of the individual. For this
there are many ways. Heres one:
For men, add a zero to your weight (in pounds) and then add your bodyweight twice. For women, add
a zero to your weight and then add your weight.
To your BMR add an allowance to cover the number of calories youre burning a day from exercising
or doing any kind of activity. This gives you the total needed to maintain your bodyweight.
Alternatively, to avoid having to make an allowance for caloric expenditure during your daily activities,
write down everything you eat for seven days. If you dont gain or lose weight, the daily average gives
you a rough idea of how much you need to eat to keep your current weight.
Decide what your goal is. If you want to lose weight, decrease your caloric intake. If you want to gain
weight, increase your caloric intake. Most people dont need a lot of extra calories a day to gain
594

muscle. Eat fat to gain muscle; you need it. Every time I cut the amount of fat below 15-20% for my
clients, they dont gain as much muscle as if they do I keep it at 20%.
Keep a diary of everything you eat and drink. Dont guess. Eat 40%, 40%, 20% (protein, carbohydrates,
fat) if you want to lose fat and keep muscle. Eat 50%, 30%, 20% if you want to gain muscle but minimal
fat. Never eat less than 1,000 calories a day. Its not healthy, and youll lower your BMR.
Vary your caloric intake day to day. If you want to lose weight, one day consume 100% of the calories
needed to maintain your bodyweight, and the next day consume only 70%. Over time this will produce
weight loss without changing your BMR. To gain weight, consume 100% some days and 120% on others.
How many days? Four days a week at 70% if you want to lose weight, or four days at 120% if you want
to gain weight. The rest of the week in both cases, consume at the 100% level. Eat four meals a day, or
more, but dont eat after 7.30pm because your metabolic rate starts going down after about 7pm.

Twelve weeks of gains, by John Wealthy


A blend of high reps and singles has produced my best period of gains yet. I train alone in my garage
gym dedicated to the 300-400-500 principle. This routine was derived from Mike Thompsons Why
300, 400 and 500? in HARDGAINER issue #29, and a super-abbreviated 20-rep squat routine.
Monday
Rack bench press 2 inches above chest: 5 progressively heavier singles working up to 100%, and
adding 2 pounds each week
Wednesday
Rack squat 2 inches above parallel: 5 progressively heavier singles working up to 100%, and adding 5
pounds each week
Friday
Trap bar deadlift: 5 progressively heavier singles working up to 100%, and adding 5 pounds each week
After six weeks of the singles I switched to a routine that used plenty of reps, done twice weekly, on
Monday and Thursday:
Rack bench press: 2 x 12
Squat: 1 x 20
Pull-up: 2 x 12
On this second part of the cycle, progression was still the key word. In the squat I started at 264
pounds x 20 and finished at 297 x 20. Getting the final 5 reps on the 20-rep squat sets was the most
significant factor in my gains. Everybody in my street knew I was training on those nights. But if I hadnt
done the heavy rack singles from the pins during the first six weeks I wouldnt have developed the grit
and drive at the bottom to shift meaningful poundages. The trap bar deadlift strengthened my lower
back and produced growth in my traps that forced me to throw away five shirts that no longer fit.
From just 12 weeks I increased my chest by 2 inches, my thighs by 1.5 inches, and my arms by almost
an inch. And I did this without any isolation work for my arms.

To buy individual volumes of BODYBUILDING GOLD MINE,


please visit www.hardgainer.com.
595

Appendix
Heres a summary of the contents of four of Stuarts bodybuilding books. For more information,
book excerpts, and many articles, please visit www.hardgainer.com.

BEYOND BRAWN
BEYOND BRAWN is 512 pages of information about every facet of bodybuilding, and weight training
in general. Now in a third edition.
This book is not just for novices. It can save you years of wasted toil regardless of your level of
training experience. It will propel you into the detailed, practical know-how needed to turn you into
an expertly informed bodybuilder or strength trainee. BEYOND BRAWN will take you right inside
weight training, to study the practical reality of applying knowledge. Its not a theoretical treatise, or
a pack of pseudo-scientific hokum.
BEYOND BRAWN is the most comprehensive, helpful and honest book on natural strength training
today. With great care and in extraordinary detail this book covers every training-related topic you
can imagine, and without any hype.
Bob Whelan, MS, MS, President, Whelan Strength Training, Washington, DC, USA
BEYOND BRAWN is the bible of rational strength training . . . Page after page is jam-packed with
practical, real-world training information you just cannot find anywhere else . . . This book has my
highest endorsementits without a doubt the very best book on strength training Ive ever read.
Kevin R. Fontaine, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of
Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA
For bodybuilding instruction, BEYOND BRAWN is par excellence, featuring an unprecedented depth
of practical, relevant and readily applicable training information. Even more than that, the book is a
training partner, companion, friend, and labor of love. A truly exceptional book!
Jan Dellinger, York Barbell Company, York, PA, USA

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction 8
How this book will help you 10

SECTION 1: Establishing a secure foundation


1. Setting the scene for building muscle and might 21
2. General philosophy for outstanding development 47
3. All-time #1 practical priorities 63
4. Expectationshow much muscle and might you can expect 75
5. How to plan your growth 99
6. Where to train, and the equipment you need 117

SECTION 2: How to train


7. How to set up your training cycles for big returns 139
8. How to achieve your fastest gains 167
596

9. Hard workthe biggest test of training character 171


10. Exercise selection and technique 189
11. How to perform your reps 223
12. How to design your own training programs 233
13. How to personalize your training programs 255
14. How to avoid the plague of overtraining 283
15. How to milk your training cycles dry of gains 297
16. Twenty-three extras for maximizing training productivity 305
Summary of how to ensure a successful training cycle 332
What if youre an extreme hard gainer? 333

SECTION 3: Special issues


17. A real-life training cycle for you to learn from 337
18. How a training nightmare was silenced 355
19. How to never let your age hold back your training 391
20. Your how-to of practical bodybuilding nutrition 401
21. Additional important training information 443
22. Beyond the exterior 459
23. How to get a grip on your life, and put all that youve learned
from this book into action, now! 465
Postscript: Did you deliver? 476
About the author 479
Index 487

BUILD MUSCLE, LOSE FAT, LOOK GREAT


Now in a second edition, with an all-new Chapter 17. With 640 pages and nearly 400 photos, this
book has an extraordinary quality and quantity of instruction and information, most of it additional to
whats in BEYOND BRAWN. This guide is for men and women of all ages, and its for you if youre a
beginner or even if you have many years of training experience.
About 200 pages of this book (Chapter 12) are devoted to exercise technique, but that still leaves
over 400 pages to cover other practical, usable information on bodybuilding and related topics.
Stuarts authoritative book is crammed with responsible, safe, and highly effective instruction. It has
my unreserved, professional endorsement.
Dr. Gregory Steiner, DC, MA, Allen, Texas, USA
A brilliant book! Follow the program developed by Stuart and youll reach your potential for
strength, muscle mass, fitness, and health.
Richard Winett, Ph.D.
Professor at Virginia Tech, USA, publisher of Master Trainer, and award-winning health researcher
Utterly complete, a book for men and women who want to be in shape, or to compete at the
highest level. All the required information is here.
Kathy Leistner, BA, MA, MS
Exercise physiologist, past competitor at national and world powerlifting championships, and a
former Ms. California, USA
597

Use this unique book as your own expert personal trainer. Its packed with wise advice.
Rachael E. Picone, MS
Exercise physiologist, speaker, and author, from New Jersey, USA

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction 1
Four Preliminaries 4

PART 1: The Foundation


1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.

Of first importance 13
How to get training immediately 17
The truth on age and exercise 71
How to optimize your recuperative powers 75
How to lose body fat 97
Physical restrictions, and their correction or management 105
Gym savvy, where to train, and gym conduct 123

PART 2: How to Train


8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
13.
14.
15.
16.
17.
18.
19.

The essential terminology of training 137


Cardio training 159
How to avoid injuries 173
Rep speed and control 189
How to master exercise technique 193
How to handle weights between exercises 403
Seven extras for effective workouts 409
How progressive resistance can help or hinder progress 417
How to optimize your exercise selection from the gang of eight 423
How to design your own training programs 441
Call to arms! 497
Beyond the programs of Chapter 17 501

PART 3: Supplementary Material


20.
21.
22.
23.
24.

Forewarned is forearmed 515


What scientific studies really mean to you 523
Burning issues 527
A primer on anatomy 531
The lexicon of muscle-building, and training 543
About the author 611
Resources 614
Index 621

BRAWN
BRAWN is the classic guide that started a bodybuilding revolution. Its Stuarts first title, and focuses on
genetic realities, appropriate role models, and most of the ins and outs of successful training. Its
especially strong in the philosophical underpinning behind rational training. It also details precisely how
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the genetically blessed are gifted, and shows why conventional training methods are so unproductive
for typical bodybuilders. BRAWN is now in a 230-page, third edition.
There are millions of people slaving away in gyms today who are living testimony to the utter futility of
conventional bodybuilding methods. Many of these misguided trainees are walking encyclopedias on
everything related to bodybuilding except that which will actually make them bigger and stronger.
Stop wasting time on routines that dont work. Apply instruction thats designed for people like you.
BRAWN is a wake up call to the ailing, and a get real cue to all bodybuilders who are wasting time
and energy on typical mainstream training routines. BRAWN shows you all the ins and outs on how to
make terrific bodybuilding progress.
BRAWN bowled me over. Its an exceptional nuts and bolts compilation of productive training
practices; so exceptional, in fact, that its avant-garde.
Jan Dellinger, York Barbell Company, York, PA, USA
If you thought Arnold Schwarzenegger put Graz, Austria on the bodybuilding map, how about Stuart
McRobert and Nicosia, Cyprus? Imagine, one man, on a Mediterranean island, who has the audacity to
directly challenge most contemporary bodybuilding advice. Instead of being yet another me-too
bodybuilding book, McRoberts BRAWN is unique: Its tone is serious, its manner evangelical, but most
important, its focus is on things that actually work for the average trainee. Drugs are evil and the
scourge of bodybuilding, says McRobert, in effect, and forget about Mr. O-type trainingit just wont
work for most people. Ill tell you about some things that do work.
Randall J. Strossen, Ph.D., Publisher of Milo, California, USA
BRAWN has no hype, no bull, and no commercial messages. Its the real thing.
Dr. Ken E. Leistner, Co-founder of Iron Island Gym, New York, USA
BRAWN cuts through the hokum of the current scene and revives a grand tradition of productive training.
Paul Kelso, Japan

TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. The Need: A different approach 7
2. Genetic Variation: How we differ 15
3. Expectations: Size and strength goals 29
4. PPP: Progression, performance, persistence 41
5. Variations on a Theme: No single, universal approach 51
6. Effort and Dedication: Bedrock of success 59
7. Intensity Variation: Cycling training intensity 67
8. Rest and Recovery: Recuperation and training frequency 81
9. The Squat: The growth exercise, and productive variations 97
10. Routines: Training schedules 121
11. Getting it Right: Injury prevention 149
12. Specialization: Focusing on specific body parts 173
13. More Diversity: Enriching the training armory 189
14. Nutrition: Food and supplements 203
Index 227
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New BRAWN Series, Book 1


Are you having a difficult time building muscle? If so, the legendary bodybuilding routine taught in
this book is tailor-made for you. It has 216 large-format pages, and over 200 photographs.
The guidance in this book teaches what Stuart calls Course #1. Before anabolic steroids started to
infest the bodybuilding world, variations of Course #1 were famous, popular, and responsible for
building tons of muscle. But in the 1960s, when the use of steroids became popular among
competitive bodybuilders, the popularity of Course #1 began to wane. Since then, the training
routines most commonly promoted in the bodybuilding world have been those used by physique stars
who were genetically gifted for bodybuilding and on steroids. But those training routines dont work
well, if at all, for most other bodybuilders.
This book is founded on the amazing progress that Peary Rader madearound 50 pounds of natural
muscle growth following 12 years of failure on other training routines. Here are the three primary
characteristics of Course #1:
1) Its track record for producing lots of muscle growth is illustrious, even for hard gainers.
2) Its up to date. The routine that Peary used has been modernized in this book. The version you can
apply is even better than the original one. (There are better training tools today, and knowledge of
nutrition and the other components of recuperation is much greater nowadays.)
3) Its personalized. Youll be taught how to modify the routine so that it suits you perfectly.
When applied properly, this may be the #1 muscle-building routine for drug-free, genetically typical
bodybuilders. And because this legendary routine doesnt require long or overly frequent workouts,
its suitable even for busy people.
This book provides the most complete, up-to-date and useful guidance ever published on this
fabulous bodybuilding routine. It includes the routines background and history, the modernization of
it, the essential foundation phase, the special training schedules, how to train (including exercise
technique in great detail), the components of recuperation, and two inspiring illustrations of how to
put Course #1 into practice (from Peary and Stuart).

TABLE OF CONTENTS
1: The Revelations: Foundation understanding 10
2: The Procedures: The essentials of proper implementation of Course #1 32
3: The Recuperation: How to permit growth 66
4: The Foundation Phase: What you must do to be ready to implement The Growth Phase 80
5: The Exercise Technique: How to master the correct form of Course #1s exercises 94
6: The Growth Phase: Course #1s training schedules, and how to apply them 176
Index 212

For more information, book excerpts, and many articles, please


visit www.hardgainer.com.
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