Principals of Power
by Clarence Ross (1951)
In recent years weightlifting and bodybuilding have been considered by some as being separate sports. Despite the fact that the same exercise medium is essentially used in both, certain individuals insist on establishing a clear distinction between the two, claiming one phase as being superior to the other. This is not so! All types of weight training should be utilized by the sincere bodybuilder, and have a definite place in his program. Particularly in the advanced training of the bodybuilder is he required to practice every principle of weight training for maximum muscle size and power. Only THEN will he mature into the finished product.
Weightlifting is an older sport than bodybuilding. Long before individuals attempted to improve their physical appearance through constructive bodybuilding exercises weights were used in competition to demonstrate power. As so often happens, the old refuses to accept the new, and the new ignores the old. This is the type of breach which has occurred among the ranks of some weight trainers. It must be corrected for the benefit of all.
It’s hard to understand why such a distinction is insisted on. Both the training for weightlifting as a sport and bodybuilding as a means of physical development employ the same major principle, which is the handling of weights in certain accepted styles so that fuller strength and muscle ability is gained. Each encourages the progressive use of more resistance in muscular movements as proficiency in the mechanical action and strength ability increases. It is not logical to differ between the two on the premise that the principle behind one is superior to the principle behind the other, for in fact, both are identical.
In application, the bodybuilder who uses more and more weight in an exercise movement is just as much a weightlifter and the weightlifter is a bodybuilder, as he practices repetitions in the snatch, press or clean and jerk. The principles are the same, only the actual movements differ.
Weightlifting when restricted to certain movements, such as the three Olympic lifts is a highly specialized means of training. Emphasis is placed upon those muscles which are most urgently called upon for a demonstration of power, speed and muscular utility. The actual size of the muscles is considered secondary by the weightlifter. It must be admitted that because of this method of training, pound for pound the muscles of a weightlifter when expressed in regularly practiced weightlifting movements are more efficient and much stronger than a strict bodybuilder in these same movements.
On the other hand, the bodybuilder can use much heavier weight in characteristic bodybuilding movements than the specialist in weightlifting, and does show a better all around muscle development and size.
Therefore, each possesses certain advantages, and the bodybuilder should not be so stubborn as to refuse to take the best out of weightlifting, which he can do, and still in no way neglect his bodybuilding practice.
Proof that modern bodybuilding has long realized the necessity of using really heavy weights in advanced training is shown in the fact that it has advocated following “cheating exercises” as well as specialized “power movements” in the program so that the bodybuilder can use greater poundages and in this way increase his strength and development.
It must be understood that while up to a certain point muscle size and muscle power are directly related, just getting stronger and more efficient in any particular movement in itself will not necessarily increase muscle size to a great extent. The great benefit of stronger muscles is not that they will permit the bodybuilder to work harder in a single, limit attempt on any lift or exercise movement, but that they will give him a greater reserve of strength for higher repetitions with a heavier weight. They will also permit him to recuperate more quickly after muscle exertion so that he can perform more sets of an exercise with heavier weights. It is this continued high degree of muscular action over a specific period of time which encourages increased muscle size, not the single limit attempt. The more vigorously you can work the muscles over some period of time the larger they will be forced to grow. It is in this way that greater strength will give you larger muscles sooner.
In weightlifting movements, such as the snatch and the clean & jerk, the lower back and legs are stimulated tremendously. The bodybuilder should realize that the legs, lower back and hips are the real props of substantial power in the body. If they are weak, the bodybuilder will not be able to extend himself fully in his training and will never obtain maximum results. While certain bodybuilding movements such as the squats and deadlifts do develop this area greatly, by necessity these exercises are rather slow in performance. They do not incorporate the vital principle of spontaneous muscle coordination among the full chain of leg, hip and back muscles, which weightlifting requires.
Here too, on the other side of the picture we find that while the dynamic display of speed and power in weightlifting movements develops all around body strength and utility, just because of this speed, there is lacking that quality of sustained muscle stimulation, so imperative to building large muscle. Muscle growth depends upon a very definite mathematical formula, based upon muscle stimulation, gained in a certain given period. The length of time used in a single attempt in weightlifting is not sufficient to stimulate maximum muscle growth, though it will develop great speed combined with a burst of muscle power.
I have gone into this analysis relative to both sides of the weight training question so that the full advantages of certain weightlifting movements would be realized by the bodybuilder, and that he will recognize in them the principles of power which he can use to his advantage.
In my own training I utilize this principle often, and I am certain that in doing so I have reached a greater degree of muscle size and real power than if I had neglected them. Often, I begin a workout with record attempts on the press, snatch and clean & jerk. I find that after such a workout I usually notice that I have muscular soreness the next day, generally in the upper and lower back and hips. To me, this is proof that my muscles have worked a bit differently than usual in these weightlifting movements. While it is true that the same muscles I use in every one of my workouts have been called into play, there is something about weightlifting training which affects them differently, makes them sore and of course more fully developed and stronger. This means that I have added a new element to my training, one which benefits me greatly. Never forget that the purpose behind bodybuilding is to leave no step unexplored which will aid in promoting greater muscular ability. Training the muscles from every angle is imperative and weightlifting uses the muscle units differently than ordinary bodybuilding movements.
I have already pointed out that while weightlifting as generally practiced in competition and training for a contest is in itself not ideally suited for developing the usual muscle size, in the accepted standards of bodybuilding, it is still an important means of muscular expression and a definite factor in creating great power. Therefore it must not be overlooked. The weightlifter can well afford to gain a little more muscle size through bodybuilding for specific parts, and the bodybuilder can well afford to gain more power and muscular ability through weightlifting. Combined, such a program represents the ultimate in weight training.
Armand Tanny is a good example of such a combined program. He excels in the one arm clean to shoulder, having succeeded with about 300 pounds in this lift. He has also made a two arm clean & jerk with 365 pounds. Malcolm Brenner includes weightlifting movements in his program. His 650 pound one hand deadlift off the ground gives some indication of his all around strength. Roy Hilligen, Sigmund Klein, Jack LaLanne and Bert Goodrich, all famous bodybuilders who have used weightlifting in their training. If I continued on and on mentioning every name of a great bodybuilder that came to my mind, I could also point out where he used weightlifting to make himself better developed.
For greatest benefit weightlifting movements should be included in your routine at the beginning of it, and then you should go on to your regular bodybuilding workout. Do not add too many movements. In other words, don’t change your workout to become essentially a weightlifting practice session. If you are a bodybuilder, bodybuilding should still be dominant, with perhaps 15 minutes devoted to weightlifting.
You should, from time to time, attempt limit poundages on single attempts in the curl, bench press and so on. Then, for your first weightlifting movement, limit, or near limit attempts on the standing barbell press should be practiced.
You will then be ready to include practice in the two arm snatch, two arm clean & jerk, and even in the one arm snatch and one arm clean & jerk. I advise sets of 3 or 4 repetitions to be used in practice, performing 5 or so sets of each lift. Every once in a while try your limit, but not more often than once every several weeks. I also do not advise that you include the weightlifting movements more than twice a week.
If you want, a good plan at the start is to practice just one of the fast movements with each workout. You could begin your workout with a half a dozen sets of the repetition snatch from the hang position, 3 or 4 reps each set. Keep to this for several weeks, then drop that lift and go on to the clean & jerk. In other words, first practice the style of each lift for several weeks until you begin to feel comfortable with the lift. This will come more quickly if you concentrate on only one at a time.
Later on you can start your workout with several sets of all three Olympic lifts and then go on to the rest of your bodybuilding program. You will note that your lower back, lats and trapezius will be most affected by this, but you will also be gaining speed of leg muscles and fine coordination.
I know that you will enjoy including weightlifting movements in your routine. I know that they will help your training in many ways. You will gain a new type of power, a new burst of strength and greater, more usable development. In addition you will begin to understand the weightlifter more. You will appreciate his ability more fully, and little by little the gap between weightlifters and bodybuilders will be closed, through understanding and hands-on knowledge.