Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hepburn Speaks - Ray Beck (1954)

Hepburn Speaks
by Ray Beck (1954)

On the 24th of April, 1954, I interviewed my friend Doug Hepburn and asked him some of the most frequently asked questions concerning himself and his training. Some of the opinions Doug voiced may surprise and even shock the gentle reader, so please bear in mind that these are the opinions of Doug Hepburn and not necessarily those of the writer or this magazine. I am using the Q & A format, quoting Doug directly.

Q: How about a few vital statistics, Doug?

A: I’m 27 years old, weigh 296 lbs., chest 57½ normal, thigh 32½, arm 22 (on anybody’s tape), forearm 15¾ held straight and I span 26 inches across the shoulders. (Here is a man who actually does turn sideways when he goes through a doorway.)

Q: What is your present diet?

A: I adhere to no set schedule . . . I eat when I feel like it. In the case of a man competing with heavyweight lifters in an area where they weigh up to 300 lbs. and over, he must force-feed himself to get and maintain this needed bodyweight. Forced food intake is not a healthy thing, but there is no moderation for a competing man. Extra weight around the midsection acts a support in pressing by giving better leverage and acts also as a cushion in squatting . . . A strongman should be 5’10” tall and have a “squat-like” build like Paul Anderson. (Doug went on to say that he eats large quantities of protein supplement to retain his heavy bodyweight because “it’s easier assimilated than other foods.”

Q: Who is the best lifter?

A: Pound for pound Tommy Kono is the best lifter. A number of Russian lifters in the lighter divisions are very outstanding. The most efficient lifter, I think, is Norbert Schemansky. I have great respect for men lifting such enormous poundages at such a bodyweight. Marvin Eder is a very strong young man, especially in the pressing department, and should do well in the three lifts if he can get amateur standing.

Q: Can you give some hints to would-be strongmen?
(This question led to several other topics and his principal comments are quoted here.)

A: I must see a man try . . . train for six months before I would help him . . . he must have the drive. It is harder to be a lifter than a bodybuilder . . . lifting is purely masculine whereas bodybuilding entails feminine traits. Bodybuilders remind me of a woman getting ready to go somewhere. Can you tell me that greasing your body up and posing in front of a mirror is masculine? A bodybuilder puts strength secondary to his physique, whereas the lifter puts strength foremost because it is more masculine to do so. The reason bodybuilding is on the upward trend is that the opposite sex have more and more influence over the males. Women do not like the large waistline necessary for the weightlifter . . . No! You don’t have to first become a bodybuilder to become a weightlifter . . . three reps in the various exercises are all you need to build size and strength. Low reps give a maximum improvement in strength and size of muscle and a minimum of fatigue. You don’t need a “pumped up” feeling to get big muscles. I tried high reps for my arms when I wanted to make them larger and I found they did nothing for my arm size. In any exercise I like doing 3 reps and no more than 5 reps. Sometimes I do one rep for good results. Exercises should be devoted to increasing the strength in regard to certain muscles used in lifting and that does not include the calves, pecs or biceps . . . I work out when I feel like it and do as many sets as my energy will allow. (My personal observation of Doug is that he does only one or two exercises a day when training for strength, and these exercises are: the full squat, supine press, and military press. He is now working really hard on the dead hang pull-ups in reps of two. This has brought his clean up to 400 lbs., which he did while training.)

Doug then went on to say, “I believe the king of all exercises is the bench press. However, I did get most of my power from handstand presses at which I did 15 reps at a bodyweight of 245 lbs. (Doug doesn’t do these handstand presses anymore, nor does he do the deadlift very often, except when training for a record in this lift, although he thinks they are important strength-giving exercises.)

Q: What hours do you sleep?

A: I average ten hours sleep a day. Weightlifting is very hard on the nervous system, so therefore must sleep and rest is needed for the muscles and the nerves. (Doug’s regular sleeping hours are from 2 a.m. to 1 p.m. He keeps late hours.)

Q: Doug, what do you do in your spare time?

A: I rest . . . lay around in the sun . . . conserve my energy. Among my recreational interests are playing snooker, going to the cinema, reading my encyclopedia, discussing philosophy, memorizing poetry. (He then gave a wonderful 10-minute recitation of Kellogg’s

Spartacus to the Gladiators at Capua

Ye call me chief; and ye do well to call him chief who for twelve long years has met upon the arena every shape of man or beast the broad Empire of Rome could furnish, and who never yet lowered his arm. If there be one among you who can say that ever, in public fight or private brawl, my actions did belie my tongue, let him stand forth and say it. If there be three in all your company dare face me on the bloody sands, let them come on.

And yet I was not always thus,--a hired butcher, a savage chief of still more savage men. My ancestors came from old Sparta, and settled among the vine-clad rocks and citron groves of Syrasella. My early life ran quiet as the brooks by which I sported; and when, at noon, I gathered the sheep beneath the shade, and played upon the shepherd's flute, there was a friend, the son of a neighbor, to join me in the pastime. We led our flocks to the same pasture, and partook together our rustic meal. One evening, after the sheep were folded, and we were all seated beneath the myrtle which shaded our cottage, my grandsire, an old man, was telling of Marathon and Leuctra; and how, in ancient times, a little band of Spartans, in a defile of the mountains, had withstood a whole army. I did not then know what war was; but my cheeks burned, I know not why, and I clasped the knees of that venerable man, until my mother, parting the hair from off my forehead, kissed my throbbing temples, and bade me go to rest, and think no more of those old tales and savage wars.

That very night the Romans landed on our coast. I saw the breast that had nourished me trampled by the hoof of the war-horse,--the bleeding body of my father flung amidst the blazing rafters of our dwelling! To-day I killed a man in the arena; and, when I broke his helmet-clasps, behold! he was my friend. He knew me, smiled faintly, gasped, and died;--the same sweet smile upon his lips that I had marked, when, in adventurous boyhood, we scaled the lofty cliff to pluck the first ripe grapes, and bear them home in childish triumph!

I told the prætor that the dead man had been my friend, generous and brave; and I begged that I might bear away the body, to burn it on a funeral pile, and mourn over its ashes. Ay! upon my knees, amid the dust and blood of the arena, I begged that poor boon, while all the assembled maids and matrons, and the holy virgins they call Vestals, and the rabble, shouted in derision, deeming it rare sport, forsooth, to see Rome's fiercest gladiator turn pale and tremble at the sight of that piece of bleeding clay! And the prætor drew back as I were pollution, and sternly said, "Let the carrion rot; there are no noble men but Romans."

And so, fellow-gladiators, must you, and so must I, die like dogs. O Rome! Rome! thou hast been a tender nurse to me. Ay! thou hast given to that poor, gentle, timid shepherd lad, who never knew a harsher tone than a flute-note, muscles of iron and a heart of flint; taught him to drive the sword through plaited mail and links of rugged brass, and warm it in the marrow of his foe;--to gaze into the glaring eyeballs of the fierce Numidian lion, even as a boy upon a laughing girl! And he shall pay thee back, until the yellow Tiber is red as frothing wine, and in its deepest ooze thy life-blood lies curdled!

Ye stand her now like giants, as ye are! The strength of brass is in your toughened sinews, but to-morrow some Roman Adonis, breathing sweet perfume from his curly locks, shall with his lily fingers pat your red brawn, and bet his sesterces upon your blood. Hark! hear ye yon lion roaring in his den? 'Tis three days since he has tasted flesh; but to-morrow he shall break his fast upon yours,--and a dainty meal for him ye will be!

If ye are beasts, then stand here like fat oxen, waiting for the butcher's knife! If ye are men, follow me! Strike down yon guard, gain the mountain passes, and there do bloody work, as did your sires at old Thermopylæ! Is Sparta dead? Is the old Grecian spirit frozen in your veins, that you do crouch and cower like a belabored hound beneath his master's lash? O comrades! warriors! Thracians! if we must fight, let us fight for ourselves! If we must slaughter, let us slaughter our oppressors! If we must die, let it be under the clear sky, by the bright waters, in noble, honorable battle!

Memorizing lengthy bits of poetry is only a small part of Doug’s literary activities. He is well read on many subjects pertaining to human behavior and is at present studying Yogic teachings and mysticism as interpreted by Paul Brunton

Doug is constantly enlarging his knowledge and understanding of life and its many forms.
To Doug Hepburn, weightlifting is hard work. His right calf deficiency will not permit the full movement necessary for heavy cleans. This is a barrier, one that he is fighting in order to please public demand that he continue in the Olympic lifts. He is a weightlifter by public pressure and not by personal choice. He is and will be by his own choice a strongman, in the true sense of the word. He enjoys doing feats which require a minimum of skill and a maximum of strength. He can’t picture Louis Cyr doing the Olympic lifts. He wants to be known, for years after his death, as the strongest man that ever lived.

It is quite common to hear Doug say something like this:

“Where is it all getting me? You do a 381 clean & press and they want 400. Do 400 and they want 430. And what do you get for it? Pats on the back . . . all the pats on the back won’t buy you a meal when you’re fifty and forgotten. I want security now and in my old age. Sure, I could go on remaining an amateur and more than likely clean & press 430, but why should I? Cleaning that much weight would require much hard work on the clean . . . something I don’t enjoy doing . . . something which is painful and difficult for me because of my right calf deficiency.”

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Russian Pressing Style - Bob Hoffman

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Tony Garcy

The Russian Pressing Style
by Bob Hoffman ((1963)

When we first met the Russians, in 1946 at the World’s Championships in Paris, they had a pretty good pressing style. They held the bar on the chest with a rather wide hand spacing. They stood with raised chests and a moderate back bend. Kassianak, the featherweight champion of Russia in that distant day, claims to be the inventor of this method. I have seen Kassianak in Moscow on my last two trips, and he officiated both times.

With this pressing style Gregori Novak pushed the lightheavyweight record from an ordinary 253½, held during the war years officially by Gietl of Germany, to 308½ lbs. in the lifting in Paris in 1946. He broke the record a pound at a time, and received a lot of worldwide acclaim as well as considerable coin of the realm, rubles in this case, as the Russians pay well for each world record.

The Russians were good pressers and at times held some of the world records. Members of the American team have at various times held all the world records, also, but all of those records have gone, and most of the Russian lifters’ records too. The Hungarians learned to outpress the Russians, with what we would call a jerk press, so the bantamweight record is held by Foldi at 253½, the featherweight record by Foldi at 272, the middleweight record at 324 by Veres of Hungary, the lightheavyweight record, 341, by Veres. The Russians hold the lightweight record, the midheavy record and the heavyweight record. Vlasov, who somehow or other broke Paul Anderson’s world record by pressing 415, was unable to press more than 391¼ at the recent world championships in Budapest. I was one of the officials as Stepanov failed to make a world record in the mid-heavyweight class at Moscow a year ago, yet since then he has been credited with 351½, which has been accepted as a world record.

All of this proves just one thing – that a lifter who “presses without sin” cannot hold a world record. It has been said that in Rome, you must do as the Romans do. In weightlifting you must do as the Russians do, and the Hungarians, and a lot of others too, who have mastered this style of pressing. All of the members of the 1946 Russian team are still around. The middleweights of that team, Shatov and Bozhko, are the head coaches in Russia.

Pushkerev, who was the other lightheavyweight on that team of 1946, claims to have been the man who invented the present Russian style of pressing. The present style of Russian pressing starts, as they did in 1946, with a fairly wide hand grip, the chest raised, the body leaning back slightly. From this point, most of them move the weight overhead like lightning. The lifter straightens up a bit, and then drops back to pass the sticking point, and he comes up as the weight raises. Thus they lean back, push forward with their body, as well as their arms, lean back, and press the weight up. A good share of them have knee action, some smooth like Vorobiov used to do it, some rough like Plukfelder’s pressing of last year. Starting with the knees already bent, he would bend still farther and get the weight up with a heave of the knees and a jerk of the body. He received three white lights for a 308½ press, a 319½ press and a 330½ press in the 181 lb. class. I asked him what he thought he could press correctly, and he said 286½, but I think it would be as low as 264½.

Perhaps the officials have bad eyes, perhaps the lift is done so quickly that they cannot see the knee action, the overall body movement. Bushuev, who was a former world, and the last Olympic weightlifting champion, the lightweight of the Soviet Union who lifted against the American team in Chicago, Detroit and New York, was one of the first masters of this style. He would ram it up so fast that the officials could not see what happened. At Rome he pressed 275½ and totaled 876¼.

Soon Lopatin, 20 year old son of the Russian lightweight lifter who was beaten by Pitman, Kono and George back in the days when the Americans were winning world titles, made a world record press record of 292½. Even this record has been beaten, just as Bushuev’s total record was beaten with Lopatin’s 892¾, and at the last world’s championships Kaplunov, the hunter from Siberia, made a new world record of 914¾ in the lightweight class. The world press record in this class is just short of 300 pounds.

When Lopatin is about to press, he lowers the weight and sinks back slightly, waiting for the signal to press to be given; then suddenly the weight is at arms’ length. I do not believe that any present-day official could see what happens, that is, with the naked eye. I knew there was a lot of hip action, but the rules say nothing about hip action. I did not see any knee action as I could see with Vorobiov, Plukfelder, Stepanov, Vlasov and others. I did not see any leaning back after the signal to press was given, but like a shot from a gun, it went from the shoulders to arms’ length. Only with the Analizer, a new method of viewing athletes in action, five times as slow as slow motion, can you see just what happens during this explosive effort. There is at least an 18-inch movement of the center of the body, as is shown with the sketches accompanying this article.

Look at the photos of Lopatin carefully. You will notice that he is leaning back slightly, not nearly enough for disqualification; his knees are slightly bent, but again, not nearly enough for disqualification. Note that he has drawn his hips back, and that he shoots them forward. The legs are ten times as strong as the arms, the hips and legs are ½ of the muscular bulk of the body, so here you see a lot of help in the press, from the largest and strongest muscles of the body.

If the lean back in the third picture were assumed slowly, many officials would rule it out. At the Melbourne Olympics, Jim George, who at that time had not mastered this style, would bend back like a hinge, and was disqualified for his second two presses with 275½. He later learned to do better, smoother work with this type of pressing, and has pressed in pretty good form 308½ lbs. Something of a triumph for a man who certainly does not have favorable leverage.

If you had seen Lopatin press as often as I have you would think that he is pretty close to being the best presser in the world, and you would be doubly amazed then to see what the Analizer shows of his pressing style. As the lift is made, there seems to be no cause for disqualification, almost no noticeable movement, no noticeable back bend. The action is so fast that you cannot see it, but the pictures show just how much movement there is.

As I said before, it is no longer possible to place high in world championships by pressing without sin. Tommy Kono made one of those presses without sin at Budapest with 330½. But you will notice that even Tommy, a smooth presser, puts his hips back as he is ready to press and brings them forward into a more favorable position.

This style has been adopted all over the world. It can be done smoothly enough that no official can turn such a press down. At Budapest, the Russians in particular were amazed as they saw Tony Garcy press 275½ to a three-white-light success. They asked if all the Americans pressed that way. I had to admit that all did not, but we are trying to. Not one of our team was turned down on a press except Gary Gubner with his second press with 380¼, which was definitely a back bend, but he took it again and got a success. Our fellows made tremendous presses – 314 for Gary Cleveland, 325 for Bill March and 402½ for Norbert Schemansky.

Tony Garcy spent his summers in York, before he came here permanently as a high school teacher. He ran the films time after time as he watched Bushuev in particular press, and he finally mastered the style. He pressed 290 while he weighed 154, just before the Olympics. After the Olympics he did not lift for a year, as he wanted to complete his education, but lifting was back in his blood so now his ambition is to win the Olympic title in his class at Tokyo. That will take a lot of lifting, but I feel sure that no one in his class will outpress him at Tokyo.

Others of the American team are making progress with a correct version of this style of pressing, for it is not the intention of officials in this country to pass jerk presses. Floyd Spirito is one of the best with this style, having pressed 290 as a middleweight. Bill March would press this way to about 310, and then just stand and push, which caused some disqualifications as there is usually a noticeable lean back with a slow press. But now he is mastering it better every day, so that his 343½ press made recently would have passed anywhere. I believe that Bill will reach the world record in his class. It is essential that American lifters master this style in passable form, for it helps a lot in weightlifting competition to go ahead in the press. The time has gone where a poor presser can come through to victory in the snatch and clean & jerk, as Pete and Jim George would do with their world record ability in the quick lifts. Now you have to be a star in all three lifts. So study the pictures, and learn to do likewise.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

High Rep Training - Dick Conner & Dave Wedding

Harold Poole, 18.

Gary Gubner

High Rep Training
by Dick Conner & Dave Wedding

What many lifters may not know is that in the area of high reps they may be gifted. I am not saying there is anything easy about a tough 50 or 100-rep set of squats or deadlifts. What I am saying is you might naturally be suited to high reps. You might ask, of what value is such high-rep work, and what is needed to actually do it?

First of all, you will have to be relentless to do it. Not so much to be intense, but to be relentless. When you get to the point where you can go below parallel on the squat with 200 lbs. for 100-150 reps, in no more than 10 minutes, and do the same with the deadlift, you will have made yourself tougher and will also be in great shape. You definitely won’t have to worry about being an “average” lifter.

At the Pit, a 500 lb. deadlift is average, and we have a 123-lb. lifter trainer who is after such a lift. But not many are after Dave Wedding’s squat and deadlift records because the high-rep work is so tough to do. Lots of people could do it in time. Most of all you have to be relentless, unforgiving in intensity and merciless to your own body.

Dave Wedding

As a child, I never envisioned myself as being a weight lifter. I played baseball and football and did well. I was a catcher on my Little League team, and middle linebacker on my 8th grade football team. My problem, then, was that I was 4’ 11” and weighed 78 lbs. During my high school years I grew at a slow rate, so that in my senior year I was about 5’5” and 130 lbs.

It wasn’t until I was 18 that I started a program trying to make myself bigger. At home I would do pushups while watching TV, then go outside and do chins off an old swing set. Later on, I joined a health spa. It was the usual ‘get as many members as possible’ place, bank the money and then forget about the members. Not one person in that spa trained their lower body. In 1980, after a year and a half of the spa mess, I joined the Pit.

After several weeks in the gym I approached Dick Conner and asked him if he could teach me to powerlift. The next six months nearly killed me. I was not used to training my lower body or the big muscle groups. Dick also cut out all the excessive movements I was doing at the health spa.

When I first learned to squat, it was like trying to ride a bike, learning to ice skate. I felt clumsy and embarrassed, and started with an empty 45-lb. bar until I could keep my back flat and squat below parallel. I could not believe that 10 exercises per workout would build my body. I had always seen the spa members perform set after set of each exercise and now Dick Conner was telling me that I had overtrained immensely. I am happy I trusted Coach Conner and stuck with it.

For my first powerlifting meet, Dick welcomed me to lift with his team so I could be introduced to the sport. He emphasized that I shouldn’t worry about my total since this would be a learning experience. My lifts were 265 squat, 195 bench and 380 deadlift in the 165 lb. class. I decided I was going to work my rear end off and show Dick I wasn’t a quitter.

Over the next several years I trained diligently, and listened to Coach Conner and his training philosophy. He would tell me to come to the gym, give it everything I had, then leave and not worry about it. My lifts rose slowly, but they rose.

After six years in powerlifting I squatted 455, deadlifted 540 and bench pressed 259 in the 165 lb. class. These were fair lifts but six years of grueling training told me that I would never be a top lifter. Something I found out in my years of training was that I had the ability to train high reps with moderate weight quite well. I had read stories from Dr. Ken Leistner about people performing high reps in the squat and deadlift and I knew I would have a better chance of performing these types of strength feats than single reps. I talked this over with Dick and he agreed with me. He told me I should only train twice a week since I’d be going at it so hard.

As of the time of writing (1995), I have squatted 200 lbs. for 123 reps, which is a gym record. It took me a few seconds over 10 minutes. I have squatted 300 lbs. for 30 reps and 235 lbs. for 65 reps, each in under 10 minutes. My bodyweight was 175 at the time. I have also deadlifted 200 lbs. for 120 reps and 400 for 15.

Bulk Training - Jack Delinger

Jack Delinger

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Supplement production at Weider factory

Bulk Training

by Jack Delinger (1955)

If you’re having difficulty gaining weight, don’t for one minute imagine you’re the only one with troubles. 80% of all bodybuilders go through the same trials and tribulations as you. Out of this vast number, a mere half-dozen will solve their problems through sheer luck. They’ll hit on the right combination of sets, reps, exercise and rest through the process of trial and error, and after many months of effort have gone by will eventually begin to put on the pounds. The rest will waste just as much time floundering around trying this or that routine without the remotest signs of success and will at last give up in despair and disgust.

I’m going to show you a sure way to gain bulk and power and I’m also going to show you how the “hit-or-miss” trainer and the “bulk-gaining failure” could have succeeded. All they had to do was try and completely understand their individual gaining problems, for the simple reason that when every side of a problem is understood, a man almost automatically knows what to do to overcome it. Plenty of people will tell you that your physical type has an influence on the degree of bulk you can obtain, and this is mainly true. Obviously no man with the framework of a Tony Sansone can hope to build the bulk of a Doug Hepburn. But such and individual CAN get rid of his skinny appearance, and gain the right amount of muscular massiveness and proportionate appearance that his frame is able to carry.

As for age preventing you from gaining bulk . . . I can’t go along with this theory either. Modern weight training has made it possible for anyone from 16 to 60 to gain weight. So long as a man enjoys good general health, no matter what his age or physical type, his body MUST and WILL respond.

Failure to gain can be caused by many things, and it is always advisable for a lifter to examine his own case objectively. Is he getting proper food and enough of it? Has he any focal points of infection? Does he smoke heavily? Is he getting sufficient rest? Does he find himself constantly worrying over trifles that have yet to even occur? Any one of these factors can mean the difference between success and failure to gain.

If you have bad teeth or tonsils, have them examined and treated. If you are a night owl, prone to missing sleep, start keeping regular hours. If you smoke heavily, cut down the number of cigarettes daily, or quit altogether.

Perhaps the best thing a bodybuilder can do if he wants to gain bulk is to see that his meals are big and hearty. A nourishing diet is the only way to add weight to your frame. There is no escaping this fact, so determine now that you will fuel your efforts with the proper quantity of healthful food.

You MUST eat three big meals daily and you MUST drink plenty of liquids . . . milk with your meals and milk or fruit and vegetable juices between meals. Your diet should be high in protein. All types of meat should be eaten, starch intake should be stepped up, a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables should be eaten in abundance. In addition to the above changes in your diet, you should make use of weight-gaining and protein drinks prepared in a blender.

Close companion of the adequate diet is the exercise routine. It is useless for you to perform exercises which affect only local muscle groups. Increases in body weight come from OVERALL increases. Obviously you stand to gain more weight if EVERY muscle group in the body is worked than if you exercise say, only your back or your arms. Yet at the same time, such a weight gaining schedule must be planned with an eye to energy conservation. In other words the schedule must use as FEW exercises as possible yet effect affect as MANY muscle groups as possible. This is where cheating versions of compound exercises can be used.

There’s one other factor to take into consideration that some may disagree with. Contrary to popular opinion that low reps build bulk, it is my personal experience that a system of working up to 15 repetitions is best for bulk building. This will create an appreciable appetite for food, and effect changes in metabolism that will lead directly to weight increases . . . through the more efficient utilization of the food eaten.

Take my experience as an example. At the time I made my biggest bulk gains I did six sets of every movement using 15-20 reps. I gained 33 pounds in a 2½ month period. It seemed like each time I stepped on the scales I’d gained a couple of pounds! And let me again emphasize the high reps, which I used with all the weight I could handle in the various movements . . . AND I kept myself supplied with plenty of nutrient-rich foods.

The very best time any man can begin a bulk training routine is right at the start of his lifting career. After he has gained all the bulk he wants he can then begin to specialize for proportion and muscularity. But bear in mind that a bulk program does not imply that you pile on mere flesh. Hard MUSCULAR BULK is what you MUST strive for. Don’t overdo the eating and think it will miraculously turn to muscle. Beyond a certain caloric level all you will gain is fat that will have to be lost at a later date. I have chosen some of the finest movements for building bulk and which form the basis of any bulk training program. The first one is . . .

1.) Heavy Bench Press – Lie on an exercise bench with a barbell held at arms’ length above your chest, hand spacing about an inch from the collars. Lower the weight down with a slight bounce off the chest press it back to arms’ length. As the reps become increasingly tough, bridge up off the bench to press the bar to full lockout. FORCE out each and every repetition. Cheat all you have to and don’t be afraid to take several breaths between reps. Start off with the reps performed in fairly strict style and then bounce and bridge the barbell up to force out the repetitions.

2.) Heavy Cheat Barbell Curl – What your best single curl performed in strict style?
Well . . . take that weight to use as your EXERCISE poundage in cheat curls. Standing, use your normal curl grip, bend forward at the waist, then return swiftly to an upright position, starting your curl at the same time and bending back a little to complete the curl. The motion of the body should assist the curl to the shoulders. Lower the weight back to starting position as steadily as you can and repeat the exercise. This movement, especially the lowering, forces the biceps into growth.

3.) Cheat Bentover Row – Grasp a barbell in your hands as you stand erect . . . your hand spacing should be a few inches wider than shoulder-width. Now bend forward at the waist until your body is level with the floor, forming right angles with your legs. Drop your body down a bit then pull swiftly up to just above parallel position, at the same time pulling the barbell up to the chest. The movement of the trunk and the pull up of the bar should be made together, so that body movement imparts motion to the barbell. Lower the weight steadily down from the chest and repeat the exercise. this is an all-round movement for the back.

4.) Squat – This movement has always been a mainstay of a weight gaining program since it works the largest muscle groups of the body. Take the weight off the squat racks, and spread your hands along the bar wide so the largest shoulder area supports the bar. Take three deep breaths, forcing the air in and forcing it out. On the third breath drop down into a deep squat and as soon as you hit rock bottom, bounce back up to the erect position, breathing out as you do so. Take another three deep breaths and repeat the exercise. Don’t forget to force that air into your lungs and force it out.

5.) Cheat Upright Row – Stand erect with a barbell held in your hands, fairly narrow grip, at full downward stretch of the arms. Lean the body forward a little at the waist and return it with a snap to upright position, at the same time pulling the bar up to the throat. The movement of your body and rowing motion should be made at the same time, so body motion helps with the pull up. Lower the bar down to commencing position steadily and repeat.

In all five of these movements, start off with a poundage you can handle for 9 repetitions and work to 15, 3 sets each exercise. As soon as you can manage the 3 x 15 increase the weight and drop back to 3 sets of 9.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Squat - Brooks Kubik

John Kuc

Larry Pacifico

Dennis Tinerino

The Squat: Form & Technique
by Brooks Kubik

Many trainers forego squatting entirely, often because they have hurt themselves by doing the exercise in an incorrect way. Or, they squat, but perform the movement in an ineffective and potentially dangerous manner because they do not know how to perform it properly.

This is hardly surprising, because most books and magazines that deal with exercise technique teach squatting variations that are dangerous, ineffective and nonproductive. As a result, most coaches, trainers, instructors and lifters have learned to do the squat in an improper manner. It is a sad but inescapable fact that the vast majority of weight trainees DO NOT KNOW HOW TO SQUAT. This is the reason why some people hurt themselves, aggravate previous injuries, or get little or no results from their squatting. It is not the squat that is to blame in such cases, but rather, the style of performance used by the lifter.

Proper squatting is not a difficult athletic feat. Almost anyone can learn how to squat productively and safely. (Those who cannot learn to squat are the rare individuals who have injuries or unusual body structures that make squatting impossible.) All that is required is patience, motivation and tenacity. Proper form WILL NOT come to you overnight. You cannot learn how to squat properly in a single workout. Not with any substantial weight. It doesn’t work that way. For many of you, particularly those who have been using improper form for a long time, it may take several months of careful, concentrated effort to learn squatting technique.

Let me give you an example of how a “long and lanky” trainee can learn to squat safely and effectively. Three years ago, a scrawny beanpole named Bruce Bullock joined the gym I then trained at, and after a couple of weeks asked me to teach him how to squat. Bruce was 6’3” and weighed around 195, with long arms and legs and a body that was as tight and inflexible as a telephone pole. He couldn’t squat with a broomstick because he was too tight in the lower back, the hamstrings and the Achilles tendons. I worked with him for 45 minutes or so, and told him he would have to train his flexibility for 6 weeks before he could begin to squat. I gave him some free copies of articles by Mike Thompson that stressed the importance of developing flexibility in order to learn how to squat.

Bruce devoured the information. The next time I met him he had practically memorized Thompson’s articles. He stretched diligently before and after every workout, and did more stretching at home. he gradually became looser and more limber, and was able to squat to parallel without leaning so far forward that his forehead touched the floor, and without having to elevate his heels to keep his balance.

At that point, we started Bruce on the squat as an exercise. He used 95 pounds for 3 sets of 6 reps and it almost killed him. He was so sore he could hardly walk the next day. But he came back, and stayed with it, and he added weight gradually. Today, three years later, he trains with me in my basement gym, weighs 260 and does a bottom position rack squat - with no wraps or power suit – with 420 pounds. His form is impeccable. His body position is perfect. He hits the exact power groove on every rep he does.

I have another training partner, Ted Solinger, who had the same sort of problems when he started squatting two years ago. Ted was so tight he could only do a quarter squat unless he put his heels on a board. We worked on his flexibility and his technique, and then, after those were in order, started to work on his poundage. I personally spotted him doing 95 pounds for 3 sets of 5 reps that were painful to watch – the weight almost killed him. He begged me to let him wrap a towel around the bar or use a foam pad to keep the bar from cutting into his back. (I didn’t, and I’ll explain why later.) I doubted he’d ever try squats again. But, like Bruce, he came back for more punishment, and kept at it week after week and month after month. Two years later, Ted is doing a bottom position rack squat with 365 pounds – no wraps or suit – and his weight has gone from 145 at 6’ to 190.

Here’s the squatting system I taught to Bruce and Ted. It worked wonders for them, and it can work wonders for you. All it takes is time, patience, toil and sweat. And guts.

1.) Do Flexibility Work.
As described with reference to Bruce and Ted, many hard gainers have ectomorphic physiques that are tight and inflexible. It is impossible to squat properly if your lower back, hamstrings and heels are so tight that they pull you forward as you bend your legs. For many, the key to successful squatting lies in 6-12 weeks of concentrated flexibility work. STRETCHING, by Bob Anderson, is an excellent reference book. If you have trouble squatting and have never given flexibility work a try, start a stretching program today and keep at it religiously. Improved flexibility will do wonders for your squatting.

2.) Use a Rack With Safety Pins
Never squat without using a power rack and safety pins, or a sturdy set of safety-catch devices. You cannot rely on spotters, and you cannot rely on being able to get the bar back into the squat stands on your own. ALWAYS use a power rack of safety-catch devices. If you do not, sooner or later there will be a bad accident.

When you use safety pins, set them an inch or two below your bottom position. Do not actually touch the pins on each rep. If you do, you probably will throw yourself out of the groove. You also run a risk of hurting a finger if you bounce off of the safety pins. Set the pins low enough that you do not actually touch them, but high enough that you only have to lower your body an inch or two to rest the bar on the pins if you get stuck at the bottom.

I always squat in a rack, with TWO sets of safety pins. I use two top sets so there is still protection if a top pin lets me down, as impossible as that may seem. My basement gym features a free-standing York power rack that has pins/rods with a self-locking mechanism. Always use something to lock your pins into position. Have a hole drilled through the end of the pin and run a nail through to keep each pin in place. Or use a regular barbell collar to hold the pin in position (attach the collar to the part of the pin that extends through the back or your rack). Don’t take chances on needless injury caused by short cuts in equipment, or by failing to take the 10-15 seconds that are required to secure your safety pins.

3.) Position the Bar Properly
Squat technique begins with the proper placement of the bar. Most trainees place the bar too high. Many place it on the seventh cervical vertebra, i.e., on the spot where the neck joins the top of the back. If you place a barbell directly on top of the seventh cervical vertebra, you are inviting orthopedic problems. You are also risking injury to the low back because you have positioned the bar too high, which changes the geometry of the movement in the bottom position.

Picture holding a barbell at arms’ length overhead and try to do a squat. Picture the overhead squat. Even an empty bar provides a challenge to the inexperienced. Why? Because the bar is much higher than a usual squat and the result is that you are fighting an extreme amount of leverage in the bottom position of the movement. If you position the bar on your seventh cervical vertebra, you increase the distance from the hips to the bar by two or more inches compared to a more proper bar placement. This significantly increases the leverage that works against you.

Some of you will think, “The harder an exercise is, the better, so I’ll position the bar too high on purpose and this will make things harder and I’ll get bigger and stronger as a result.” WRONG! What you’ll get is a chronic back problem.

Where do you position the bar? It varies from person to person and from squat style to style. The basic rule is that the bar should be an inch or two below the top of the shoulders (i.e. the highest point of the deltoid muscle – NOT the traps – when viewed from the front). The higher position is more suited to high-rep squats than the lower one.

There is a natural ridge of muscle that forms when you raise your arms, hold the squat bar and simultaneously FLEX the muscles of the upper back. The bar should rest on this ridge of muscle. It should not rest on the neck, the seventh cervical vertebra, or the scapula. We don’t want the bar laying on top of bone; we want it laying on top of a ridge of muscle. Remember, when you squat, EVERY muscle in your upper back is flexed hard and tight through the entire set. You cannot squat properly if your upper back is not tensed and tight for the entire set.

Skinny people will not have much muscle in the upper back, and they will complain that the bar cuts into their back. They are right. The bar DOES cut into their backs – at least for the first couple of training sessions before you get the bar placement right, your muscles toughen up, and the bar doesn’t feel like it’s cutting you in two. Just gut it out for a few sessions and the problem will go away. I have trained 115-pound women who learned to tolerate the discomfort o a bar on the upper back in about three training sessions.

Whatever you do, do NOT succumb to the urge to use some sort of padding to keep the bar from “cutting into” your upper back. Why? Because a padded bar cannot be positioned and held in the proper position. It will slide down as you try to squat. The only way to keep a padded bar from sliding down is to position the bar on the very top of the shoulders, i.e., right across the neck. This places the bar way too high, alters the geometry of the movement, and causes low back problems.

Here’s another tip – always wear a long sleeved shirt of sweatshirt when you squat, not a tank-top or sleeveless shirt. Why? Because the bar rests across the rear of your shoulders and your upper arms when you position it properly, and when you are sweating the bar gets slick and slides out of position. The sweatshirt will probably hold the bar better if you wear it inside out. The knurling bites into the cotton and the effect is sort of like Velcro.

That leads to a related point – always use a bar with knurling when you squat. A smooth bar will roll on you no matter what you do. In addition, chalk the bar in the center, and the part of your shirt where the bar will rest. This will help the bar stay in place.

Many of you will find that a cambered bar is the tool of choice for your squats because it stays in position better than a regular bar. You also may find that it is easier on your shoulders because you don’t have to stretch backwards so far to get your arms into the proper position to hold the bar in place. This is particularly true for unusually large or thickly-muscled men.

4.) Learn the Proper Grip
If you position the bar 1-2” below the top of your deltoids, you must use a fairly wide grip. For many of you, a full collar-to-collar grip will be necessary. (At the bottom of the squat, be careful not to trap your fingers between the bar and the rack pins.) Some of you will be tempted to drape your arms over the bar. PLEASE don’t do that. Draping the arms over the bar is inevitably going to cause you to lose the bar some day, and if it slides down on you the most likely result will be a dislocated shoulder.

Some trainees say they need wrist wraps to help keep their wrists straight when they are handling heavy poundages in the squat. Throw your wrist wraps in the trash can and build your forearms and wrists with serious grip training.

If you use a cambered bar you will find it is easier on your wrists than a straight bar.

5.) Learn the Elbow Position
When the bar is positioned properly, you need to raise your elbows to help hold it in place correctly. Trainees who place the bar too high can keep their elbows low and the bar won’t move. When you position the bar properly, you need to raise your elbows and try to keep your forearms parallel to the floor. This also helps reduce wrist strain. A cambered bar makes it easier to maintain proper elbow position.

6.) Learn to Unrack the Bar
The only way to unrack a bar properly is to begin with the bar at the proper height. If the bar is too high, you have to position it too high on your upper back. If the bar is too low, you have to lean forward to unrack it. The bar should be positioned so that you get under the weight and straighten your legs 1-2” to unrack the bar. You should be able to unrack the bar by moving straight up with it. If you have to lean forward too much to unrack the bar, you are using low-back strength that could be put too much better use during the actual performance of the exercise.

Always face the weight saddles when you unrack the bar, and move backwards to get into starting position after unracking it. If you face away from the weight saddles when you unrack the bar, you will have to re-rack the bar by walking backwards when you are tired – which is a good way to hurt yourself. Also, you are more likely to pinch your fingers when you re-rack the bar while facing away from the saddles. That can be a painful injury at best, and a serious one at worst (think about lifting with a crushed finger).

After you unrack the bar, take only ONE step backwards. Move at a slow, controlled speed. SLIDE your feet, don’t lift them. Make it a “one-two” movement: unrack the bar, stand straight, slide the right foot back and into position (“one”), then slide the left foot back and into position (“two”). Keep your head up and look straight ahead. Do not look down at the floor or at your feet when you are stepping back into the starting position. Why? Because you round the upper back when you look down, and this means you have unflexed your upper back muscles. Thus you will no longer have a cushion of muscle on which to rest the bar.

You will probably need to practice many times before you can automatically place your feet in the right position to squat without having to fiddle around to get the positioning right. See the next section for precisely where you place your feet.

Be very careful to move slowly and deliberately when you step back with the bar. Too many people get under the bar and rip it up and out of the weight saddles, and simultaneously move backwards in one motion. This is dangerous because you can stumble and fall, or lose control of the bar. It also creates enough momentum to cause the bar to “whip” up and down, which means you have to stand and wait for it to stop moving before beginning your squat.

7.) Learn the Proper Stance
You can’t squat properly without a proper stance. A proper stance sets you up so that your legs, hips and back can work as an integrated unit to perform the exercise. An improper stance forces you to do the exercise in a manner that overstresses the lower back, places the knees at risk, or leads to chronic hip problems. The proper stance lets you handle the heaviest poundage you are capable of handling, and lets you do so in relative safety. An improper stance forces you to use less weight but places your joints at much greater risk.

A proper stance calls for the heels to be placed shoulder width apart, or even a bit wider. You cannot squat properly with your heels together, or closer than shoulder width apart. If your heels are too close together, you change the squat from a leg/hip/back exercise to one that isolates the front thighs. The lower leg and the knee will have to move forward EXCESSIVELY as you squat, to make up for the lack of horizontal rotation around the hip. As a result, the tendons and ligaments in the knee will be placed in an overstretched and dangerous position at the bottom of the movement. Do this movement often enough and you will ruin your knees. (In contrast, a proper stance allows the lower leg and the knee to move forward much less as you squat. This places far less strain on the tendons and ligaments of the knee.)

Similar points apply to the “flare” of the feet. If the toes point forward when you squat, the knee is twisted into an unnatural position at the bottom of the movement. This leads to knee injuries.

The proper position calls for the feet to be flared at an angle of approximately 45 degrees. As you squat, the knee will move slightly forward, directly towards the big toe. The thigh will be in line with the knee and the big toe. The entire leg, from toe to hip, will “line up” in a neutral plane.

With the proper foot position, you do NOT need to put anything under the heels to maintain your balance as you squat. This is important, because you should NOT squat with your heels raised higher than the elevation of a regular athletic shoe. (Use a solid shoe, not one filled with air, gel or anything else soft. Squatting with raised heels changes the geometry of the movement and will cause lower-back problems sooner or later. Raising the heels also puts your knees at great risk, because there is much greater horizontal movement of the knees.

If you cannot keep your balance when you squat with flat feet, then you need to work on your flexibility. Don’t try to make up for a lack of flexibility by raising your heels on a two by four, or something similar. By raising your heels in this way you may THINK you have improved the situation, but all you have done is set the stage for chronic lower-back and knee problems.

Many bodybuilding “authorities” would have you believe you can affect different portions of the thigh by changing the angle of your feet when you squat. This sort of claptrap has been around for decades, and all it does is encourage people to do the exercise in a dangerous and unproductive manner. The angle of the feet has little or nothing to do with the muscles in the thighs when you squat. The angle of the feet does, however, spell the difference between squatting in a safe and productive manner, and doing it in a style that leads to chronic joint pain.

Most of the “vogue” exercises for the thighs place the knees at severe risk because they cannot be performed without gross horizontal displacement of the lower leg and the knee. Machine hack squats, barbell hacks with raised heels, sissy squats, front squats with raised heels and lunges all require the trainee to bend the knee and simultaneously push the lower leg and knee forward excessively. If anyone ever urges you to train on one of these movements (or to squat on raised heels) DON’T LISTEN TO HIM.

If you ever buy a magazine, book or training course that urges you to train your thighs with any movement requiring you to put a board under your heels. burn it, bury it or send it back to the publisher and request a refund. Training your thighs on raised heels is one of the biggest (but most common) mistakes you can make.

8.) The Proper Starting Position
The proper starting position in the squat requires the lifter to stand straight, tall and erect. Many trainees lean forward (usually bending from the hips) when they are in the starting position. Others round their backs. Both styles are incorrect. If you round your shoulders or lean forward, you move the bar forward horizontally, taking it out of line with the center of your heels. This will make it impossible to perform the lift properly. Set up and begin the lift with the shoulders and upper back tight, hips locked, waist and lower back tight, and torso straight. Keep the bar centered over the middle of your heels.

If you set yourself up with rounded shoulders or a forward lean, you will tend to exaggerate the forward movement of the bar the lower you go. In other words, if you start out by leaning forward, you will lean forward more and more as you descend into the squat. This is why it is critical to begin the lift with an upright torso.

To assure that you avoid rounding the shoulders, keep your head up. However, do NOT arch your neck backwards and look up at the ceiling. Look straight ahead, with your jaw parallel to the floor. Looking down is an error, so is looking up.

9.)The Correct Descent
The descent has two distinct movements. To begin the descent, you unlock your knees and bend your legs. This will lower you several inches WITHOUT any rotation around the hip joint.

The second movement involves the hip joint. As you continue to descend, unlock your hips and sit down and back – just as though you were sitting down on a chair.

If you start the squat by unlocking your hips, your torso will move forward and you will begin the lift by doing a partial good morning (i.e. a forward bend). This means you are bending forward before you even unlock your knees, and the result will be an excessive amount of forward bend throughout the entire lift.

As you descend, keep your bodyweight and the weight of the bar over your heels. If you shift forward so that your bodyweight and the weight of the bar are over your toes, you will exaggerate the forward lean as you descend. Keep the weight on your heels through the lift.

Keeping the weight on your heels makes it easier to keep your lower leg as close to vertical as possible. You always want to keep the lower leg as close to vertical as you can. If the lower leg moves forward excessively, you place enormous pressure on the tendons and ligaments surrounding your knees. Over time, this will lead to chronic knee problems.

Of course, you cannot keep your lower leg completely vertical when you squat. You should, however, strive to keep the lower leg as close to vertical as possible. It will be difficult and awkward at first. Stay with it, though, it will get easier with every workout.

Maintaining a close-to-vertical lower leg position is one reason why you should not squat on elevated heels. If you wear weightlifting shoes, the shoe will have an “interior” heel built into it. This is fine so long as it is not an unusually high heel. When I refer to “elevated heels” I am talking about putting a barbell plate or a 2x4 under your heels. Squatting on elevated heels makes it impossible to maintain the proper close-to-vertical lower leg position. The elevation of the heels causes the knees to move forward as you descend, and you end up with the lower leg bent forward to an excessive amount at the bottom of the lift.

I know that many people advocate squatting on raised heels, particularly for those who have tight ankles. This advice is WRONG. If your ankles are tight, work on your flexibility. Never use a board under your heels because your ankles are tight – or for any other reason.

Another factor involves lateral displacement of the lower legs. Never allow your knees to buckle in as you descend, or ascend, in the squat. If your knees move in, your stance is wrong, the flare of your feet is wrong, or something else is wrong. Allowing the knees to buckle in is one of the most dangerous things you can do when you squat. It is easy to damage a knee tendon or ligament if you bend your knees inward as you squat under a heavy weight. Even if you avoid acute injury from this form defect, over the long term you will set up a chronic knee problem. Take the time you need to do whatever is necessary to avoid this error, if it is one you are prone to doing.

One way to help avoid the problem of knees buckling is to concentrate on sitting BACK when you squat, and on moving straight up when you ascend. This helps to distribute the load over all of the muscles involved in the movement, and eliminates knee buckling that occurs as a result of having the knees take too much of the stress.

The proper descent in the squat involves the question of SPEED. Most trainees move too quickly when they descend into a squat. Descending too quickly into the bottom position of the squat is one of the most common, and most critical, of training errors. It dramatically reduces the benefits of your squatting. It is also dangerous and will lead to injuries if you keep on doing it.

The squat has you move from a relatively stable starting position to a relatively vulnerable bottom position – a position where your knees, hips and lower back are exposed to large forces. And you are doing this with much more weight on most, perhaps all, other movements.

When you squat, descend at a controlled speed. You do not need to “count the seconds” or adhere to some artificial speed. Simply control the descent. I cannot tell you precisely how long you should take, in seconds, to move from the start of the squat to the bottom position. If I watch you squat, however, I can tell in a flash if you are doing it right. You can determine this just as well as I. You KNOW when you are controlling the descent. You also know when you are dropping and bouncing. And you know if you are going too slow – the sensation is somewhat akin to feeling your way in a dark room. Personally, I take about 3 seconds to descend to parallel in the squat, though I never count the seconds. It just feels right for me.

When you descend at a proper speed, you feel the bar on your back the whole way down. If you descend too quickly, the weight of the bar diminishes during the descent because your body is moving slightly faster than the bar, and then the weight suddenly “catches up” at the bottom of the lift. This is one reason why you need to descend under control. If you do not, the weight will “hit” you at the bottom of the lift and inevitably drive you forward. Allowing a heavy barbell to drive you forward when you are in the bottom position of a squat is an open invitation to knee, hip and lower back problems. Moreover, it means that you are out of position to begin the ascent. What will happen is that you begin to ascend by raising your hips – which only compounds the problems caused by the forward lean.

For the sake of clarity, let me compare the result of a controlled descent to an uncontrolled descent. In the former, the lifter reaches the bottom of the movement in a rock-solid position. His body is positioned exactly where he wants it. His ascent will be perfect because he is starting from a perfect bottom position – i.e., with back flat, lower legs as close to vertical as possible, bodyweight and weight of the bar felt over the center of the heels, head up and jaw parallel to the floor.

In the uncontrolled descent, the lifter reaches the bottom position slightly in advance of the bar, and then the bar catches up with him and knocks him a bit forward. This causes his hips to be positioned a little above where they should be, his shoulders mover down and forward, his bodyweight goes out over his toes, the weight of the bar is felt over his toes, his back bends forward and rounds, his head goes down and he looks at the floor. It will be impossible for him to pull himself back into a proper position. His ascent will be uncontrolled, dangerous, out of the groove, painful and ugly.

A very simple way of explaining the proper speed of movement on the descent is to say, “Use a controlled speed that allows you to stay in the groove at all times without artificially reducing your speed of movement.” Remember, the “groove” is of critical importance in any exercise you do, and is particularly important in a compound, multi-joint exercise performed with a heavy poundage, such as the squat. Always stay in the groove!

10.) The Proper Bottom Position
How low should you squat? There is a very simple rule, but to implement it you will need a careful observer watching you from the side – or use a video camera placed at the side to film your squatting.

The rule is as follows: Squat until the tops of your thighs are parallel to the floor or until your lower back begins to bend – whichever comes first.

You often read articles where lifters are told to squat to parallel, i.e., to the point where the tops of your upper thighs are parallel to the floor. For many of you, this is excellent advice. For some, however, the parallel position is actually too low for safety. Why ? Because your body structure is such that your lower back rounds forward if you go down to the point where the tops of the thighs are parallel to the floor. If your lower back starts to round at an inch or two above parallel, then stop the movement at that point. You simply cannot go lower without putting your lower back at severe risk of serious injury. This assumes, of course, that you are using the correct stance, bar position, etc. If your form is in a mess, then that alone can account for your lower back rounding before you reach parallel.

Are you “cheating” if you only go to two inches above parallel? No, not at all. You are simply dealing with the individual quirks of your physical structure in a rational and sensible manner. Of course, I am speaking to those of you who cannot go to parallel without rounding the lower back. For the rest of you – those who CAN go to parallel without putting their back at risk – they you ARE cheating if you cut your reps short.

When I talk about “rounding the lower back” I do not mean “leaning forward.” Everyone leans forward when performing a squat. The only way to maintain a vertical torso is to do the squat on your toes, which turns the exercise into a silly isolation movement that will destroy your knees. But leaning forward is different from rounding the back. A moderate forward lean is a necessity AS LONG AS THE SPINE IS STRAIGHT. If there is a straight line from shoulder to hip, things are fine. However, if there is a curve from shoulder to hip, then there is a problem. When I speak of “rounding the back” I am talking about a curve in the spine.

Some individuals can go BELOW parallel without rounding their lower backs. However, I would urge even these lifters to go no further than parallel. If you stop at parallel you are allowing a margin of error. If you go lower, you lose the margin. If you lose the groove with a heavy weight on your shoulders, and your thighs are below the parallel position, the results are not going to be pretty. Always stop at parallel even if you can go lower without rounding the back.

Parallel is actually quite low compared to the depth to which most people squat. the majority of those who squat do a one-third movement. They usually stop at the point where there begins to be a significant degree of rotation around the hip joint. This is usually the result of placing the bar too high on the shoulders, raising the heels, or looking down during the descent. If you do any (or all) of these things, then you transfer the weight of the bar from over your heels to your toes, and consequently, lean forward excessively as you descend. The people who always cut their squats short usually do so because errors in their technique have caused them to tip forward and they are afraid they will fall forward if they go lower.

Many coaches allow lifters to do partial squats because they don’t know how to teach the exercise and are concerned that the lifter will “pull something” if he squats to parallel. This is the other side of the problem detailed in the preceding paragraph. It all goes back to improper technique. If the coaches in question knew how to squat, and how to teach others to squat, they wouldn’t tolerate the one-third reps for a minute!

As already noted, you need to have someone watch you and tell you if your lower back is rounding as you approach the parallel position. You also need to have someone watch your thighs to tell you if you have reached parallel. You cannot judge these things for yourself, nor can you judge them by squatting in front of a mirror. Depth and back rounding can only be judged from the side. Have someone else do it for you. Alternatively, use a video camera to film your squats from the side. Set the camera so that it is at the same height as your thighs when you reach parallel. If the camera is positioned too high or too low, the picture will be distorted. The same holds true of the observer who watches from the side. The observer’s head should be at the same level as the tops of your thighs at the parallel position, with his jaw parallel to the floor.

Some lifters squat while straddling a bench or box, so they know when they reach the bottom position. Don’t copy them. If you do bench squats and hit the bench hard, you will hurt your lower back because you have jammed it between a heavy moving weight and a rigid object. While that problem is removed if a cardboard box is used, that type of box can cause other problems. Trainees tend to “feel” backwards with their butts as they are about to touch the cardboard box. This causes excessive forward lean and throws the squatter out of position. Learn to hit the proper depth without any aids. All it requires is practice and patience.

11.) The Proper Ascent
As you DESCEND in the squat you should keep your bodyweight and the weight of the bar on the center of the heels. Why? Because this is where the weight must be felt to be centered as you ASCEND. If you keep the weight on your toes on the way down, you will have to rock backwards to get the weight over the center of your heels as you go up – an almost impossible task, a waste of energy and an excellent way to hurt yourself.

When you reach the correct bottom position of the squat, drive up HARD immediately. Do not pause at the bottom position. Hit the bottom position and start right back up without any hesitation or delay.

Drive UP rather than forward. If you watch a good squatter from the side, you will see that the bar moves straight up. A poor lifter will tilt forward during the ascent, causing the bar to move horizontally as well as vertically.

Never start the ascent by raising your hips. If you begin by raising your hips, you will exaggerate your forward bend. You will reach the midpoint of the lift with your legs almost straight and your back bent far forward, and will either miss the lift or have to do an ugly (and potentially dangerous) good morning to finish the movement.

Driving from your heels makes it much more difficult to ascend by raising your hips. In contrast, if the weight of the bar is felt over your toes and you drive through your toes, then it is almost impossible NOT to ascend by raising your hips. Driving through the heels keeps your entire body in position and helps to use the coordinated strength of all of the muscle groups involved in the squat. Driving through the toes takes you out of the groove and turns the exercise into one that stresses the lower back.

As you reach the top third of the movement, drive your hips forward. This pulls you up and into the proper finishing position – back straight and bar over your heels. If you miss the hip drive, you end up leaning forward at the end of the lift.

12.) Learn to be Aggressive!
Poor squatters are timid and tentative. A good squatter attacks the bar when he squats. I don’t mean that he moves quickly, that he bounces up and down, or that he loses control when he lifts. A good squatter lifts with ferocious, white-hot concentration, a total absence of fear, tremendous intensity, and a burning determination to complete every rep that he is scheduled to perform.

Some readers complain that they feel they are being “crushed” as they squat. As a result, they either squat with light poundages, switch to inferior exercises, or cut their range of movement way down. This is a mistake.

I will let you in on a big secret. A heavy squat makes ANYONE feel like he is being crushed. A 500-lb. squatter feels just the same – “Wow, that’s heavy!” – as does the novice struggling under the 90-lb. bar or the intermediate who can’t get over the 250 mark because the bar “feels too heavy.”

The difference between a good squatter and a poor one is two-fold. First, the good lifter uses proper technique. This allows him to control the weight and stay in the groove at all times. When you are properly positioned, it is much easier to fight to fight a heavy weight than when it has pushed you out of the groove. In fact, many lifters cannot squat heavy solely because poor technique causes them to lean forward as they descend, and as a result, they naturally feel that they are being “crushed.”

The second difference between a good squatter and a bad squatter has to do with mental attitude. The good squatter is TOUGH. He knows that the lift will feel heavy, he knows it will hurt, he knows the bar will feel like it is crushing him – but he doesn’t care. He is not going to let a minor thing like discomfort keep him from doing what he desires to do. In contrast, the poor squatter feels the bar on his back, panics, and convinces himself he cannot lift it. The good squatter uses to his advantage the sense of being “crushed.” He reacts by driving upward as hard and forcefully as possible. The poor squatter lets the feeling overwhelm him.

I have a personal theory that the sense of being “crushed” by a heavy weight is a GOOD thing – a good thing when you squat, a good thing when you bench, and a good thing in any other heavy exercise. I believe that the fear of being crushed will trigger a harder muscular contraction solely as a result of your body’s reaction to what is perceived as a dangerous situation. Remember, the mind, body and emotions are linked in ways that science can barely begin to unravel. If the bar feels heavy when you squat, WELCOME that feeling and use it to tap into some extra power. Use your emotions to help you, not hold you back.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The One Hand Snatch - David Willoughby

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Professor Edmond Desbonnet

The One Hand Snatch

by David Willoughby (1981)

The One Hand Snatch:

An Ideal Lift for Strength & Dexterity.

French: “Arrache d’une main.”

German: “Einarmig reissen.”

Although the pair of two-handed lifts currently performed in Olympic-lift competition have proven their popularity over the years, they are by no means the only set that could be used with equal – or possibly even greater – success. The same type of lifts – Snatch, and Clean & Jerk, respectively – when performed with one hand rather than with two – call upon general bodily strength to the same degree as when using two hands, and in addition require greater control, agility, grace and balance.

Too, one-arm overhead lifts of all kinds bring into play and develop the muscles of the side-waist (external or oblique muscles) to a far greater extent than do lifts made with two arms acting together, since the latter require no side-bending at the waist. Some of the greatest professional strongmen on record have been capable exponents of one-arm overhead lifting: Sandow, Cyr, “Apollon,” Hackenschmidt, Lurich, Rolandow, all three Saxons, Edward Aston, Charles Rigoulot, to name only a few. The present dissertation will be confined to the One Hand Snatch (OHS) which one British writer referred to as “The lift that calls for brain and brawn.”

In the days when the English heavyweight Ronald Walker was astonishing the followers of weightlifting with his remarkable performances at a bodyweight of only 195-200 lbs. (height 71.5 inches), the following encomium to the OHS was made in the London weekly Health and Strength:

“In all the various phases of weightlifting there is no spectacle more thrilling than a perfectly executed One Hand Snatch. Swiftly and cleanly the bell leaves the ground. With lightning speed the body drops beneath it. For a trembling second the weight hangs motionless. Then speed and control, timing and power combine and verge. The arms lock; the body straightens; the legs snap into position. In two short seconds the lift is finished – two seconds of scientific strength technique at it thrilling, most spectacular best.”

In view of such praise, why is it that in both Olympic lifting and Powerlifting only two-arm lifts are used – is it because today’s lifters are unwilling to master the skill required in one-arm lifts? Or is it because today’s enthusiasts are apprehensive about tackling something unfamiliar? More on this delicate subject anon; meanwhile, let’s get on with the One Hand Snatch.

To start with, the OHS can be performed with a DUMBELL as well as a barbell. However, the latter is the conventional piece of apparatus. So, unless mention of a dumbell is made in the following discussion, it can be assumed that all the records quoted were made using a BARBELL. For the benefit of those not thoroughly familiar with the technique of the One Hand Snatch (and among present-day Olympic and Powerlifting men there may be an army of such individuals!), a concise description of its performance is as follows.

Standing over the barbell, space the feet equidistant from the center of the handle and about 12 inches apart from heel to heel. Stoop down by bending at the knees, hips and back. Grasp the bar in the exact center, which should be marked beforehand, either with chalk or by adhesive tape wrapped around the bar. Then – assuming that the lift is being made with the right hand – place the left hand just above the left knee, as in the accompanying drawing. Note that the fingers of the left hand (NOT the thumb) are on the inner side of the thigh. This position of the hand enables the left arm to be bent freely as the subsequent “dip” under the weight is made. Another point connected with the start of this lift is that the lifting arm should not SLANT too much from hand to shoulder, but for maximum efficiency should be STRAIGHT UP AND DOWN, or nearly so. This can be brought about by moving the feet slightly to one side of the center of the barbell handle. Thus, in a snatch with the right arm, as illustrated, the arm can be brought to a perpendicular position by moving the feet slightly to the LEFT, which will bring the right shoulder directly over the right hand. This may seem like a lot of explanation before the lift is even on its way, but it is details such as these that can add a few pounds to one’s lift.

Now, when perfectly “set,” as just described, straighten the body and legs simultaneously, press down strongly on the left knee with the left hand, and pull the bar upward and backward as high as you can. Put every ounce of your strength and speed into the effort. As the bell reaches shoulder-level and its momentum slows down, dip under it by bending the knees to the extent necessary to “fix” the weight on a straight arm. With the bell held securely in balance, straighten the body to a fully erect position and hold the weight overhead for several seconds. Be sure, in this lift – as in all other one-arm overhead lifts – to KEEP YOUR EYE STEADILY ON THE BELL so as to maintain it (as well as yourself!) in perfect balance. A sure sign of an inexperienced (or just careless) lifter is where the performer staggers all over trying to recover the balance in a lift that he has already started in an off-center direction.

It may be added that in order to dip under the weight with the least loss of time, the feet should be placed at the start of the lift in a position that enables a full squat to be made WITHOUT MOVING THEM. To accomplish this, before grasping the barbell, find out by experiment the distance apart that you must place your feet for the easiest position to squat in while holding the weight on one hand overhead. The toes should be pointed outwards to whatever extent best permits dropping into the position shown in our illustration. In this connection, Mark Jones often would perform a snatch with his left arm in a foot position where the weight should be held in his RIGHT arm! However, since Jones was perhaps the best all-round weightlifter of his bodyweight in the United States in his day (c. 1919), it only goes to show that there can be exceptions to every rule.

When smoothly and correctly performed, the several aforementioned stages of the Snatch all merge into one, and the bell is taken from the ground to overhead seemingly in a single, continuous movement. Preparatory to lowering the weight, it should be shifted overhead into both hands, then lowered to the shoulders and down as in a two-hand lift. If one is attempting a really heavy lift – specifically a One Hand Snatch, where it may get out of control – there should be a “catcher” stationed at each end of the bell, ready to grasp it the instant it is seen as falling. In this connection, I personally, many years ago, was seriously injured when one of my catchers was “asleep at the switch.” I was attempting a One Hand Snatch of 171½ lbs. with my left arm. One of my catchers was the famous Henry Steinborn, who caught his end of the backward-falling weight satisfactorily; but the other catcher, who is best left unnamed, shifted his gaze at the crucial moment to a girl whom he saw crossing the street outside. The result? – my left arm was dislocated (hyperextended) at the elbow, with the ligaments so damaged that to this day I am unable to fully straighten the arm.

In performing a Snatch, the bell must be raised overhead WITHOUT PRESSING OR PUSHING to get the arm straight at the finish. That is, the lift must be accomplished by the power of the initial pull, plus the extent to which the lifter is able to dip and get his arm straight after that pull is exhausted. With a light weight, the pull may be sufficient to carry the bell all the way to arm’s length overhead without need of a dip. With a heavy (to him) weight, however, the lifter may have to squat clear down on his heels in order to get under the bell with a straight arm.

Some of the old-time super-heavyweight strongmen were so huge and bulky that in making a lift to the shoulders or overhead they either could not or did not dip under the weight. For a long time, I had supposed that the reason lifters weighing over 300 lbs., such as Louis Cyr and Karl Swoboda, were unable to lift to the shoulders in a single “clean’ movement as much weight as they could easily jerk overhead, was because they couldn’t clear their huge bellies with the barbell handle. However, when the phenomenal Soviet super-heavyweight Olympic champion Vasily Alexeev, who allegedly had a waist girth of over 60 inches (!), became the first man to clean 500 lbs., subsequently increasing this to over 560 lbs., it became evident that a big belly was no bar to speed and agility in shouldering a weight, provided one trained long enough and hard enough. But as will be related further on, whether any of today’s top performers in Olympic two-hand lifting can remotely approach the proportionate poundages in one-hand lifting, especially the One Hand Snatch, remains to be seen.

The best performers in the OHS – all of whom must now be looked upon as “old-timers” – were principally French and German lifters. In their time – which extended from the 1890s up to 1930 or so – weightlifting standards, because of fewer performers and lesser competition, were necessarily lower than they are today. And in the One Hand Snatch – which during a period of over 40 years was one of the favorite competition lifts – it was considered a noteworthy performance for a lifter, whether amateur or professional, to snatch with one hand a bell as heavy as himself, that is, a bodyweight one hand snatch. Quite a number of lightweight and middleweight strongmen came to be able to snatch more than their bodyweight, but the number of heavyweights who could do likewise was, and remained, very small. The reason for this, of course, is the fact that muscular strength varies in relation to muscular CROSS-SECTION rather than body volume or weight. However, in cases where the cross-section is high in relation to the weight, on account of the HEIGHT being low or short, strength CAN vary directly as bodyweight. As a general rule, though, muscular strength and quickness of bodily movement both become relatively less as bodyweight increases, and this is the reason why big men rarely lift as much in proportion to their weight as do smaller men. Here too, however, there are exceptions to the general rule, as witness the One Hand Snatch by Charles Rigoulot, which is commented upon later in this discussion.

Perhaps one of the first athletes to attain a high standard of proficiency in the OHS was a German professional named Simon Bauer, who in or about the year 1890, and at a bodyweight of 141 pounds, did a Right Hand Snatch of 75 kg. (165.34 lbs.), or over 24 pounds more than his own weight. An even more remarkable lift by the same athlete was to snatch 70 kilos (154.32 lbs.) on a bar 55 mm. (2.16 inches) in diameter. This indicated tremendous gripping strength; but perhaps Bauer had disproportionately large hands for his height and weight.

Some of the old-time strongmen in the light bodyweight classes who excelled at the One Hand Snatch were Otto Arco (Poland), who at a bodyweight of 138 pounds snatched 71 kilos (156.52 lbs.). Aaron Beattie (Australia) who weighed 136¼ pounds, snatched 145.50 lbs. Josef Whur, (Germany) at 138 lbs. snatched 145.50; while Emil Kliment (Australia), who weighed only 130 pounds, snatched 141.53 lbs. Arco, when weighing 137 pounds, also snatched 137.12 pounds with his LEFT hand. He was thereby perhaps one of the first to snatch his bodyweight with either hand. However, if he had shown the average 6% difference between his right and left hand snatches, instead of over 12%, he would have been capable of 147 lbs. with his left hand instead of only 137. Evidently he was very much stronger in his right hand than in his left – a condition which has been noted in a number of other topnotch strongmen. Edward Aston, for example, who at a bodyweight of 161 lbs. snatched 184 with his right hand, did “only” 162 pounds with his left, which was still a highly meritorious performance.

Monte Saldo, another English professional, at 144 pounds snatched 149 with his right hand, while Albert Soguel, a Swiss professional, in a contest with the English featherweight W. L. Carquest, did a left hand snatch of 144½ pounds at a bodyweight of 132. This was in 1911. Carquest, who was very capable at certain other lifts, notably the Bent Press, in which he had a record of 222 pounds at a bodyweight of 126½, was relatively poor in the OHS, in which he did only 123 pounds. The lifts made by a number of other feather-weight, lightweight, and middleweight strongmen in the One Hand Snatch are listed in the accompanying table. As will be seen there, the most extraordinary lightweight was Ibrahim Shams, of Egypt, who snatched with his right hand no less than 190 lbs. when weighing only 143. Even so, this lift was somewhat below the standards of his more familiar two-hand lifts, in which he had phenomenal records of 115 kg. (253.53 lbs.) in the Snatch and 153.5 kg. (338.42 lbs.) in the Clean & Jerk. As if these official poundages were not high enough, Shams had unofficial marks of 120 kg. (264.55 lbs.) in the Two Hands Snatch and 160 kg. (352.74 pounds) !!! in the Clean & Jerk. These fantastic “quick” lifts he was able to accomplish largely because of his dazzling speed. Indeed, in the 1936 Olympic Games at Berlin, Shams was adjudged as having the fasted reflexes of any athlete participating in any of the events.

To resume with the One Hand Snatch, probably one of the first “heavyweight” (although only 190-pound) strongmen to snatch more than his bodyweight was the famous George Hackenschmidt, who on April 27, 1898 (shortly after his 20th birthday), in an official World Competition held in Vienna, snatched with his right hand 89.5 kilos (197.31 lbs.). Although Pierre Bonnes, the French lifter, who had also competed at Vienna, snatched a half-kilo more, or 198.41 pounds, unofficially a short time afterwards, Hackenschmidt’s lift remained the amateur world record until August 1904, when Heinrich Schneidereidt, a topnotch German lifter, increased it to 200.17 pounds. Then, in May 1910, the celebrated lifter Louis Vasseur raised it to 95 kilos, or 209.43 pounds. The record returned to Germany in November 1912, when Heinrich Rondi, a big heavyweight from Düsseldorf, snatched the then-tremendous amount of 219.90 pounds. The world’s heavyweight amateur record remained in Germany until the summer of 1925, when the rising French champion Charles Rigoulot increased it for the first time beyond 100 kilos. His record was 101 kg. or 222.66 lbs.

Limited space forbids more than a brief mention of some of the many athletes who have made notable records in the One Hand Snatch. I have a list of over 30 different strongmen who have each snatched 200 pounds or more with one hand. By far the best heavyweight record is that which was made in Paris in the spring of 1930 by Charles Rigoulot, who by then had become a professional. His bodyweight at the time was 225 pounds (height, 67.7 inches). Accordingly, he stands at the top of the accompanying table, with a phenomenal rating of 1100 points. It should be noted, however, that in making this lift Rigoulot used a specially designed, shot-loading bell with globular rather than plate-loading ends. This barbell was over 8 feet in length, and the great distance between the globes made the handle exceedingly springy. And since, after the initial momentum imparted to the bar, the lead shot inside the globes would be momentarily suspended in space (and therefore not being “lifted”), it is possible that Rigoulot got an advantage out of using this barbell, even though the technique of handling it was a special one that had to be learned. What he could have lifted if he had used a regulation plate-loading barbell (or “Berg Hantel”) will never be known, but such a bell might have the effect of lowering his lift in the One Hand Snatch, for example, by as much as 10 pounds. Even so, Rigoulot would remain the world’s greatest exponent of the OHS in the heavyweight classes, although this point-rating might fall slightly below that of star performers in lighter classes. The accompanying table, along with the graph derived from it, should clearly show who were the leading performers in the OHS between the year 1898, when George Hackenschmidt made the first official heavyweight amateur record, and 1953, when Asdaroff, also of Russia, snatched 164.8 pounds when weighing 123. I may have overlooked a few performers who should also have been listed in the table, but if so it was unintentional!

A few “odd” or unstandardized, performances in the One Hand Snatch are here added for the benefit of those who may be interested. First, however, it should be noted that the poundage to be expected with the left (or less capable) arm is, on the average, about 94% of that with the right (or more capable) arm. That is, if a lifter can snatch 200 pounds with his right arm (assuming he is right-handed), he should, if properly trained, be capable of about 188 pounds with his left arm. Rigoulot’s best left hand snatch, though, was only 100.5 kg. (221.56 lbs.), which was less than 88% of his right hand record. Rigoulot made both lifts in the spring of 1930, in Paris, at a bodyweight of 225 pounds. Earlier, in 1928, when weighing 238 pounds, he made a Right Hand Snatch of 221.56 pounds using a DUMBELL.

Now for some unofficial, yet highly meritorious One Hand Snatches.

Away back in 1896, in a public exhibition in Chicago, Louis Cyr, the “Canadian Samson,” snatched with both his right and left hands a solid barbell of 188½ pounds, the handle of which was 1⅝ inches in diameter. But since Cyr’s right arm was six or seven percent stronger than his left, it could well be that, as a limit lift with his right hand, he could have snatched on this same bar 200 pounds. And since it is doubtful whether Cyr, with his relatively short, thick hands could have secured a strong “hook grip” (thumb- lock) on a bar 1⅝ inches thick (even if he had deigned to employ such an aid!), his one-arm snatches – which he is said to have performed virtually without bending his arm – are examples additionally of extra-ordinary grip strength.

John (Grunn) Marx, the old-time Luxembourg strongman, did a Right Hand Snatch of 70 kg. (154.32 lbs.) on a barbell the handle of which was 70 mm. (2¾ inches) in diameter. The world-famous Arthur Saxon, though he usually only weighed about 200 pounds, had exceedingly large hands and a powerful grip and fingers. One example of this strength was when he snatched with his right hand 93.5 kg. (206.13 lbs.) on a bar 42 mm. (1.65 in.) in diameter. If he made this lift without hooking his second finger with his thumb (i.e. using a “hooked grip), it indicated gripping strength. Saxon also snatched 237 pounds to shoulder height, then finished the lift overhead with a quick Bent Press. What a lifter! The giant French “super-athlete,” Apollon (Louis Uni) snatched with his right hand 80 kg. (173.36 lbs.), made up of four 44-pound rectangular ringweights, the ring of each weight being hooked with a single finger.

George Lurich – who next to George Hackenschmidt was the most famous old-time strongman to have come from Estonia (Russia) – was a remarkable all-around weightlifter, especially in “quick” lifts. He weighed generally between 187 and 190 pounds at a height of 69.3 inches. One of his “odd” lifts was to snatch approximately 160 pounds with his right hand while keeping his arm STRAIGHT (cf. Louis Cyr, above).

As to REPETITION one-arm snatches, Alexander Aberg, a Russian heavyweight wrestler and weightlifter who was a foster-brother of Lurich, snatched a barbell of 41 kg (90.38 lbs.) 53 times in succession and 49.5 kg. (109.12 lbs.) 30 times. For comparison with these lifts there is Hermann Goerner’s One Hand SWING of a dumbell weighing 50 kg. (110.23 lbs.), 48 times in succession. And the poundage possible in a Swing is slightly LESS than that in a Snatch.

Since neither the One Hand Snatch nor the One Hand Clean & Jerk (which in competition is to be performed with the OPPOSITE hand to that used in the Snatch) have been used in international or Olympic competition for many years, records have soared in the presently-used Two Hands Snatch and Two Hands Clean & Jerk, while remaining mostly what they were 50 years ago in the One Hand Lifts. In this connection, a possible new world’s heavyweight record was made when the Russian super-heavyweight former champion, Vasily Alexeev, snatched 105 kg. or 231.48 lbs. in an exhibition in Las Vegas, Nevada, when in 1977 a group of Soviet weightlifters visited the gambling metropolis. The reason given for Alexeev’s not performing in the customary two-arm lifts was that he had shortly before injured his right hand to an extent that it made it inadvisable to use it. So, after warming up with 90 kilos and 100 kilos, Alexeev snatched the 105 kg. bell. However, his style was atrocious, and the weight was out of balance at the finish. The significance of all this is that to be on a par with today’s super-heavyweight records in the Two Hands Snatch (over 400 lbs.) and the Two Hands Clean & Jerk (over 560 lbs.), the One Hand Snatch should be no less than 300 pounds and ideally about 350 pounds. For the ratio of a One Hand Snatch to a Two Hands Clean is, and always has been, 62½%, or as 5 is to 8.

The writer of the account of Alexeev’s “possible” one-hand Snatch record ended up with the remark, “who cares?”. Well, I for one, care; and so do the many other old-time lifters who remember the days when the OHS was the most thrilling of all exhibition or competition lifts. And the significance of Alexeev’s showing as a one-handed lifter, even though it is doubtless better than that of many present-day performer, is that the two standard (two-arm) Olympic lifts of today have been practiced to an obsessive degree while other, equally appropriate, competitive lifts have been abandoned – as though their practice belonged exclusively to a bygone era! It would be a refreshing change if officials in charge of international weightlifting would reflect on the extent to which the Two Hands Snatch and Clean & Jerk have become SPECIALIZED out of all proportion to the ideal goal; namely, a lifter who is capable of using not only his two arms together but each arm SEPARATELY. And the same criticism – over-prolonged specialization – applies also to the present speed-lacking trio of Powerlifts. AMEN!

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