Thursday, April 30, 2009

Definition, That Elusive Quality - Bruce Randall

Definition, That Elusive Quality

by Bruce Randall

“I just can’t seem to get the definition that I want! I guess I just have naturally thick skin.” This statement, made by many people who are interested in the art of physical development, is voiced frequently. Definition, or cuts, as this quality is referred to in gyms throughout the country, is indeed a most elusive quality. It seems unattainable to some men irrespective of how hard they may train to attain it.

Definition, as applied to physique development, is the quality the body takes on when the delineation of each muscle group becomes highly apparent. You might call it the “detail” of the body. For example, if you went to a museum of art and viewed statues of the human body, the statue which might impress you the most would be the one depicting the greatest detail. The one in which every muscle is highly apparent and each surface fiber is carefully emphasized.

A well-proportioned man in “smooth” condition will almost invariably be improved when he attains that final, finished look which becomes apparent with greater detail or definition. It is, of course, also true that this definition is greatly accentuated and emphasized when the muscle is seen under contraction and tension.

Often the word separation is used in lieu of the term definition when referring to the muscle delineation. Actually, the term separation is generally meant to imply the degree of delineation BETWEEN the various muscle groups. Each muscle group is clearly and discernibly separated from one another. For example, a physique with excellent separation might be one in which the lateral deltoid is developed to a degree that it is very discernible and thus well separated from the anterior and posterior areas. The bicep of this physique would stand out clearly apart from the tricep, the pectorals would look as though they could be plucked from the rib-box, the quadriceps would appear to stand out in sharp relief, etc.

It is possible for a man to have a good degree of separation and yet not necessarily be well defined. It is quite rare, however, when it does occasionally happen. The physique would appear as though, because of great definition, the muscles, “run into one another” without clear lines of demarcation. This occurrence is, as previously stated, a very rare thing and is usually seen among fellows of light bodyweight.

To get back to the original statement, “I guess I just have naturally thick skin.” Just what does the person mean by “thick skin”? How thick can skin be? Actually, the skin is composed of two main layers which are known as the epidermis, the outer skin, and the dermis, the inner skin. The dermis consists of connective tissue and contains blood vessels and nerves, oil glands, sweat glands, and the roots of hair. The epidermis contains no nerves of blood vessels. The lower cells of the epidermis grow, divide, and are pushed to the outer surface where they die. The point is that although someone might possibly have 1/100 of an inch thicker skin than someone else, this is almost infinitesimal and certainly no deterrent to acquiring the desired definition. No human has the hide of a rhinoceros or the thick skin of an elephant! What then determines the degree of definition that one may attain?

The amount of body fat BETWEEN the skin and the muscle and the amount of fatty tissue within the muscle group will primarily determine the degree of definition the physique attains. You will never see a well-defined fat person. Obviously, the greater the degree of body fat the less the degree of definition; and the less the degree of body fat the greater the degree of definition. The idea is to try to get the muscle as close to the skin as possible, thus enabling the surface fibers to show through.

Speaking from my own experience, I believe it is safe to say that at a bodyweight of around 400 pounds no one ever has LESS definition than I! On the other hand, when I was fortunate enough to win the Mr. Universe title I weighed 222 pounds, and had fairly good muscular definition. By reducing the bulk of the body, which I found to be an asset in heavy lifting, the body took on a “harder” look.

Fat is the way the body stores energy. If one is to take in more fuel (food) than one burns up, the excess will be stored in the form of fat. And, if a person wished to rid himself of this fat the best way is to reduce the food intake and increase the energy output. The body will then call upon this fat deposit in order to make up for the deficiency in energy requirements. Many people who train with weights feel that the best system to employ to bring out definition is one in which high repetitions are used during each set. Personally I feel that while this will work to a certain degree, there are more effective training methods to reduce this subcutaneous layer of fat.

I prefer to REDUCE the repetitions and INCREASE the number of sets.

To illustrate the above point let us take the following example. Instead of performing 3 sets of 20 repetitions per exercise, I would prefer to perform 10 sets of 6 repetitions per exercise when training for definition. Let us say that we were able to do 3 sets of 20 reps with 100 pounds in the curl. Now, if we were to increase the sets to 10 and reduce the reps to 6 we would be able to increase the weight substantially to, let us say, 150 pounds! The point is that at the end of the exercise we have performed exactly the same amount of repetitions. However, on the high set, low rep principal, we use 50% more weight thus accomplishing more work and therefore burning more energy which is necessary in order to reduce fat and attain definition. Remember, it is the amount of energy you have burned up which in turn is determined by the amount of work you have performed that will determine the amount of fat reduction. This approach to definition should also enable the trainee to retain a great degree of muscle density, at the same time encouraging greater definition. The writer is not suggesting that the reader follow the idea of 10 sets necessarily. It is true that the more sets you perform the longer will be the length of your workout. It is also true, however, that it is necessary to put in many long workouts in order to bring the body around to top contest condition. Ask any top physique winner and you will find that this is true.

Diet is always essential when training. For the person who is desirous of attaining great definition it is absolutely imperative that a strict diet be adhered to. I would suggest that those who find it difficult to refrain from the cake pie and candy routine remind themselves that each candy bar will cost them another 500 situps to work off! I found this to be a very persuasive means of combating temporary dietary temptations! It is also very well known that many, many people are often advised by competent authorities to have a diet which is high in protein when losing weight. This helps the body to burn up fat while at the same time retaining the muscular firmness. Fruits, salads and lean meat along with plenty of fish and chicken, particularly chicken breasts, are important. Liver is an excellent fitness food.

Since milk has a great degree of butterfat, I have found a good way to get the great value of milk while cutting out the butterfat element. Empty a quart of skim milk into a pitcher and add 1½ cups of dry, nonfat powdered milk and mix thoroughly. Place the pitcher into the refrigerator and wait until it is thoroughly chilled. Actually, what you have done is to double the protein, calcium and other valuable bodybuilding elements found in milk, and yet you have almost entirely eliminated the butterfat content which you don’t need. In this manner you do not have to take in two quarts of liquid and get that bloated feeling in order to get the value of two quarts of milk. The powdered mild seems to give the skim milk more “body” flavor. Try it if you are on a definition diet.

Remember that anyone can have the definition he desires if he is willing to train and will apply a little “exercise” of the will power. In conclusion I think it might be wise to add that there is a time to be extremely defined and a time not to be quite so defined. I feel that it is unwise to maintain an extreme degree of definition for great lengths of time because, by reducing the body fat to an absolute minimum, one also reduces his resistance and may subject his body to colds and many other possible illnesses. You will find that the extreme training necessary to bring about and maintain this definition also tends to sap your strength and you will not feel as “vital” as you would at a slightly heavier bodyweight. Often a person will become more irritable when trained down in an extremely defined condition. I personally prefer to stay about 10 to 12 pounds above what I consider to be my contest bodyweight as I can work out with heavier weights and have more energy for life in general. An extremely defined condition is not a healthy state to maintain for any great length of time.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Two Hands Curl - Jim Halliday

Doug Hepburn demonstrates a perfect
"near-finish" position.

Bruce Randall

Two Hands Curl
by Jim Halliday

See here to read Jim Halliday's book - Olympic Lifting -

We now discuss one of the pure basic lift (at least it was pure until some modern performers caricaturized it all out of proportion) and this is the Two Hands Curl, lift No. 33 in the Society’s list of definitions. The rules for correct performance read as follows:

The barbell grasped with both hands (palms to the front) shall hang at arms’ length across the lifter’s front, from which position it shall be lifted to the height of the shoulders by bending the forearms completely on the upper arms. The commencement of the curl shall be indicated by the referee’s signal.
Throughout the curl the trunk must not be inclined backwards, forwards, or sideways, and the shoulders must be kept quite level, the legs straight. The slightest deviation from this position shall be counted cause for disqualification.
The conclusion of the lift shall be indicated when the referee gives his signal after the expiration of two seconds.

Points of Interest

The above definition in, as naturally it is meant to be, self-explanatory, and needs no additions to guide the lifter in the manner he must perform the lift for competitive purposes. It is purely and simply an arms’ movement, but there are two points that may assist some performers in reaching higher figures.

You will note that the rules say the shoulders must be kept level, but this does not mean they must be kept stationary. If it is of assistance, you can raise the shoulders, providing the above rule is not broken during the process.

The second point I wish to make is that some lifters may find it advantageous to take the elbows back during the first part of the lift, bringing the bar into the body until the forearms are at the halfway position, then pushing them forward again as the forearms bend on to the upper arms to conclude the lift. These two factors may of may not improve performance, but they are worthwhile experiments in the early stages.

It is when we contemplate the movement as an EXERCISE that the causes for controversy become apparent. In these days of “cheating” movements, “peak contraction” movements, etc., some lifts became different exercises altogether from the ones originally devised. The Curl is no exception.

In an endeavor to increase the amount of weight the performer can handle, many bodybuilders now use the cheating method, which usually consists of bending forward at the commencement and then swinging the weight into position, using the whole body, (and even the legs) whilst so doing.

I do not intend to invite any arguments by writing too much on this subject, but I would like to point out one important factor.

Look at the photo illustrating the concluding position of this lift. I maintain that this is the position that MUST be attained (in fact, I feel the arms should be bent even more) if the biceps are to be correctly (i.e. adequately) exercised. I also maintain that at the commencement of the lift (and also when the weight is lowered at the end of the movement) the arms should be fully straightened. Ask yourself how often this is possible with the weights used in a cheating movement.

I believe that when one is doing an exercise to benefit one specific group of muscles, one must ensure that the BULK OF WORK is done by that group; otherwise, the purpose is defeated. When you use a poundage that the muscles in question cannot cope with, you are forced to use other muscle groups to successfully complete the lift. I see no point in adding weight to help develop a muscle, if you have to overly use other muscles to lift such a weight.

If you do like to cheat, do so by all means, but do not call it a “curl”. Give it the appropriate name and call it a “reverse clean”. I also give you some further advice – gratis! If you perform cheat curls, ensure that you also perform some form of the orthodox full curling movement to ensure the muscles are exercised through the full range.

Training Hints

I believe one can successfully employ a HEAVY AND LIGHT system in conjunction with this movement. It is an “easy” exercise and does not call very much upon the performer’s energies, neither does it unduly use up any nervous forces. Consequently, a lot of work can be done without interference with the rest of the training programme, and I feel the point to watch is that one does not become too enthusiastic about “big biceps” and spend too much time on this lift.

The programme can be founded on many variations of groups and reps, and you can try the following schedules based on a four-days-a-week system:

(1) 1st and 3rd days – 5 sets of 5 reps, light weights.
2nd and 4th days – 6 sets of 2 reps, heavy weights.

(2) 1st and 3rd days – At the beginning of the schedule 4 sets of 4 reps with light weights, and later in the schedule 4 sets of 2 reps with heavy weights.
2nd and 4th days – At the beginning 8 singles with a heavy poundage, followed later by 3 sets of 5 reps with a light weight.

Other curling movements can also be employed, but when this is done, the over-all work should be approximately confined to the limits set out above. These additional movements include single-arm dumbell curls alternately, and as a variation the reverse curl with barbell.

Whenever the performer wishes to attempt this lift competitively, I think he will best be served by confining himself to SINGLE ATTEMPTS – say 8 lifts with near-maximum poundage – for the final week leading to the personal record attempt or competition. During this time he should pay strict attention to style and all the aspects of a correct lift, ceasing all curling on the two days immediately preceding the attempt.

Biceps - Chuck Sipes

Biceps Development
by Chuck Sipes

Many, many fellows over the past few years have asked me about developing arms. As I perform my posing or strength routines, the question most often asked by an appreciative audience is, “How did you get those arms?” Even though many of my strength feats do not call for overwhelming arm development, this area of my anatomy gets the query every time.

I suppose this is an American symptom, for overseas bodybuilders accuse this country of being arm-happy. Of course, foreign arm development as a whole is well below ours, so this could have a bit to do with it too.

Actually, I think it goes a lot deeper than this, and the appreciation of big, powerful arms is an American folk custom. By this I mean that this country was developed by the labors of all the various pioneers and explorers over the past 300-400 years. As they pushed into the wilderness and afterwards, wresting a living from the land, these men had to work hard, work with their hands and arms and whole body, to get along. The settler, the village blacksmith, the lumberjack, the carpenter and builder . . . all needed powerful arms to ply their trade well, and in time those with the greatest, most powerful arms grew to be respected for their contributions.

Bodybuilding today, with the glorification of the entire, well-developed physique, is still influenced by this great American heritage to the extent that big arms and powerful arms are the most respected part of the body. Sometimes this fact is lost sight of in the race for pecs, lats, delts, etc. but it is there nonetheless.

Arm Strength and Size Go Together

The strength factor in arm training and training as a whole is lost sight of by some bodybuilders today. But without strength you cannot have maximum development. The more powerful you can become, the better developed you will also become.

This is especially true in the arm area, and one of the basic tenets of my arm training. Bodybuilders are so conscious of the bigness of things. Many of them concentrate just on pumping and forget the strength part. As I’ve trained and developed power for my strength feats, I’ve found that my development of size has kept pace with strength increases. Simple, but true. If you want more size, then go for strength.

But it is not as simple as “lift more weight, get bigger.” My feats involving great arm strength, such as breaking chains, bending spikes and the like, need the application of continuous arm strength over a period of time. It is this continuous application of power over a long period of time, the long holding of a contracted position, that differentiates my approach to arm training from that of other bodybuilders. And, I think my method certainly has been successful.

Too many bodybuilders are used to doing a rep, resting, then doing another rep . . . they don’t have that continuous application of power in training. I design my training to take advantage of this long period of holding tension, and do many exercises that involve constant tensing of the arm muscles, especially the biceps.

I’ve found that applying this strength principle to my workouts has resulted in greater power for my strength exhibitions, and greater size through working the muscle harder.

Anatomy and Importance

Many bodybuilders say the triceps is first in arm importance, saying it is the largest muscle in the arm. I rank the triceps last on my list. Why? An unimpressive, large but droopy and poorly shaped arm is not what I want. Besides, the triceps are not as important in my strength feats.

With the triceps last, next up the list with me is forearms. This muscular area of the arms is vital both to appearance - nothing is so unsightly as a big upper arm and a pair of sticks for forearms - and for gripping strength well developed forearms are essential. Every bodybuilder should work the forearms regularly as part of their workouts. I worked in sawmills and lumberjacking when I was younger, and this helped my development and strength quite a bit.

But, at the top of the list is the biceps area. The better developed and stronger your biceps are, the better off you will be physically. They should be #1 on your arm training list. Therefore, this arm development article will concentrate on developing this area, the biceps.

Note I said biceps area, for another important muscle vital for strength and development is located under the biceps. That is the brachialis. You should also include some work for this muscle in your biceps training, to make it as effective as possible. It will be worth your while.

My Arm Size and Power Routine

As I mentioned earlier, I feel continuous contractions are both beneficial and essential for power and clean-cut musculature. Because of this I design many of the biceps exercises I use to be continuous tension movements.

Also, to make sure I get full muscular shape as well as power and cuts, I also do movements that are complete extensions and contractions, with a bit of rest in between the reps. For the best benefit I superset one of these full-movement exercises with a continuous tension/continuous motion movement.

Super Set I
1.) Cheat Curls – 5 sets of 6 to 8 reps. I make this a real power movement, starting the weight with a slight lean-back, and curling it to the top with biceps power. Once at the top, I immediately start to SLOWLY lower the weight, fighting it all the way down, making the descent last as long as possible. Once it hits the thighs I don’t relax, but swing the weight up again immediately. This way I handle the utmost in weight while keeping the motion continuous from the beginning of the set to the end, no rest for the biceps at any time.
2.) Concentration Curls – 5 sets of 10 to 12 reps. To counterbalance the cheat curls, I do concentration curls, going through a full and complete extension and contraction of the biceps. Whit my elbow braced on the thigh, I bring a moderate weight up, stopping for an instant at the peak; lower it, relax for a moment, then start the next rep, all the while concentrating on guiding the biceps through a perfect path.

Super Set II
3.) Alternate Dumbell Curls – 5 sets of 6 to 8 reps. I use the heaviest dumbells possible, and swing the weight a bit. Also, to add to the momentum, I swing one dumbell up, then as I’m lowering it I swing the mate up, so that both bells are going continuously from the beginning of the exercise to the end. Remember, maximum weight, swing the dumbells a bit, keep curling continuously until the end of the set.
4.) Incline Curl – 5 sets of 8 reps. To finish off my second superset, I go to incline curls, a great favorite of Steve Reeves. I do them slow and concentrated, with a moderate weight, bringing the elbow up slightly at the end of each rep. I bring one bell up as the other is going down, alternating, but go through a full correct exercise motion each rep, resting and refocusing for a moment at the bottom point of each rep. Maintain good form.

5.) Reverse Barbell Curl – 6 sets of 6 to 8 reps. This exercise, done properly and with the maximum weight you can handle, will really add power to the arm. Naturally, the overgrip limits the amount of weight you can properly handle, but you should still go for the maximum, in good clean style, and really work up the weights constantly.

My final comment is against what seems to be a common practice among eager lifters and bodybuilders who want fast gains. That is, to train like a demon and then live in a state of suspended animation, doing as little as humanly possible outside of the gym. This is such a poor practice psychologically, and equally foolish when it comes to recuperation and development. You need constant circulation for best results, so light work and/or games are good. Of course rest is important, but your strength and muscle will not shrink away if you engage them in a little useful enterprise, and as I previously mentioned, working in the sawmills when I was young helped my strength immensely. Don’t worry about working or playing outside of your lifting routines as long as your barbell training keeps flowing along properly. Train hard, but remain involved in all facets of life.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Sig Klein - Chapter Thirteen

Joe Weider performing a 95 pound one arm military press at Sig Klein's gym.

My First Quarter Century in the Iron Game
Part Thirteen
by Siegmund Klein

I believe that it was some time in the year 1932 that a powerful young man visited me, and after speaking with him a few moments I could not help but notice his thick wrists, though he had a rather small, well-shaped hand. I asked him to roll up his sleeve, and I must say that he has quite a job of rolling his sleeve up to the elbow. Here was about the best looking, largest forearm that I had ever seen. It was more impressive than Massimo’s or Dandurand’s – and that is saying something for forearms. Naturally I became more and more interested in this visitor, and asked him if he would be kind enough to strip down for me, as I would like to see the development that he possessed. I showed him into the dressing room. It was about six o’clock in the evening and the regular pupils were now coming in for their workout. The dressing room was getting a bit crowded. When this visitor started to undress, it looked as though the more clothing he took off the larger he looked.

The other men as well as myself could not help but stare at the visitor. I loaned him a pair of trunks and asked him to go on the gym floor and perform some stunts for us. He was bashful, very bashful, and immediately told me that there was not much that he could do, anda furthermore I must have plenty of boys around that could do so much more and had much better physiques. He finally did a few lifts for us. But what really surprised and pleased us all so much was when he took a 185 pound barbell, placed it on his shoulders, and did about a dozen deep knee bend jumps, with this weight on his shoulders. He leaped up about ten inches, straightened his legs as he jumped up, then came down into a deep knee bend, and from there jumped up again. This was something to see. His leg muscles stood out in bands as he did this.

This was my first meeting with John Grimek. I asked him his name again and why it was that we in the weightlifting game had not seen or heard more about him. It was, I assure you, genuine modesty that prevented him from making appearances at the various shows. I intended to do something about this, and after he left that evening I at once wrote Mark Berry about this remarkable athlete and muscular marvel, and informed Berry that he must write and get in touch with John Grimek. I could write and tell you much more about Grimek, but if I did so, I would be telling you the story that John himself will tell you so much better than I could ever do.

It was also about this time that I heard that Adolph Nordquest was in New York, and he visited the gymnasium too. We had some very interesting talks about the oldtimers, and I introduced Mr. Nordquest to Carl Easton Williams, then editor of “Physical Culture” magazine, who was training at my gym. Mr. Williams thought it would be a fine idea if Adolph Nordquest would write about his experiences as an athlete for the magazine.

The English “Superman” magazine, always trying to arouse interest in physical development, would from time to time conduct posing contests. In the Spring of 1933, it occurred to the editors that they would like to find out who was the most popular physical culturist. In the May 1933 issue the results were published, and as could be expected, two English athletes, Alan P. Mead and Lawrence A. Woodford, won first and second place. They only published the first five winners, and the next three were myself, winning with 1830 votes, Lionel Strongfort with 1450 votes and Tony Sansone with 1440 votes. I do not wish to belittle the first and second winners, for they both have remarkable physiques, and their poses were really exceptionally beautiful.

Bob Hoffman, who had now started his “Strength and Health” magazine, featured my picture on the cover of his fourth issue, the March 1933 issue. I was invited by Bernarr MacFadden to spend a few days at his Physical Culture Health Resort in Danville, New York. The occasion was a physical culture convention, and here gathered physical culturists from all parts of the country. It was the first such convention, and was held from July 1st until July 4th 1933. Of course I had to give an exhibition at the convention. Here I met quite a number of well known physical culturists whom I had heard about for a good many years but had not, until that time, had the pleasure of meeting in person. Me. MacFadden was kind enough to have a picture taken with me, and I have always cherished this picture taken with the man who has done so much to make people throughout the world more physical culture minded. See photo here -
Mr. MacFadden also asked me to pose for the illustrations on weight lifting exercises to be featured in his new and revised edition of the “Encyclopedia of Physical Culture.” I appeared at various shows from time to time, and it seemed that at most of the shows I was introduced as the lightweight and middleweight weightlifting champion of America, and open to challenge.

In the March 1933 issue of “Strength” magazine, I noticed that Mr. Mark Berry claimed that Mr. Linwood Lilly was unquestionably the strongest middleweight weightlifter in the country, barring the three Olympic lifts, and so on March 4, 1933, at a weightlifting show held in New York City, Mr. Linwood openly challenged me to a contest for the title of middleweight weightlifting champion. Of course I accepted this challenge, being very eager to meet all comers in contest, and considered Mr. Lilly a worthy opponent. Since I was the accepted champion and Mr. Lilly the challenger (Mr. Berry admitted that Lilly could not beat me on the Olympic lifts), I felt that I should be the one to select the lifts, particularly since Lilly wanted to prove that he was stronger than I was. I believe that it would be proper to reproduce here the letters that were published at the time in “Strength’ magazine.

My first letter regarding the challenge follows.

My Dear Mr. Berry:

On March 4, 1933, a weight lifting show was held in New York City, as you know. For the past ten years I have been acclaimed by writers and weightlifting authorities in this country and abroad as the Middle Weight Lifting Champion of America. In the March 1933 issue of “Strength” magazine I noticed that you have claimed Mr. Linwood Lilly to be unquestionably the strongest middleweight in the country, barring the three Olympic lifts. On March 4, 1933, Mr. Linwood Lilly openly challenged me for the title. I am happy to accept this challenge. Since you grant that Mr. Lilly cannot excel me in the Olympic lifts, and since I am the one challenged, I feel that I am entitled to name the lifts which shall determine the issue. In accepting the challenge I do so with the understanding that the contest shall take place within ninety days, preferably in New York City. These are the lift that should decide the issue:
1.) Two Arm Curl – Body in Military position throughout the lift.
2.) Crucifix – two dumbells lowered from above, body in Military position.
3.) Two Arm Pullover – weight to be raised from the thighs only to upright position.
4.) Two Hands Clean – using 100 pound dumbell, in each hand. pressing as many times as possible, weight not to be less than 100 pounds (See-Saw style).
5.) One Arm Clean and Side Press, stiff-legged press.
6.) One Arm Get-Up, with kettlebell, right handed, left hand not to touch the weight throughout the lift.
7.) Two Arm Military Press, from behind neck.
8.) Two Hands Dead Lift.
9.) Deep Knee Bend, weight to be put on back unassisted.
10.) Two Arm Press lying on back – Body to be flat on back throughout the press, weight can be brought to starting position from thighs with slight bridge.

These lifts are a test of general strength, which means, as you know, strength throughout the body, and are lifts which have been used by recognized “Strong-men” of the past whose feats have earned them ratings as champions. They are the standards by which others have been estimated.

I would like to be arbitrator for the contest between Mr. Lilly and myself and set the date for the contest and select the judges, you being the referee, since I believe that you are recognized as being fully qualified to act in such a capacity and attend to all other details that such a contest calls for. I am sure that you shall be accepted by Mr. Lilly for this task. I shall be grateful to you for your cooperation. You would be doing me a great favor, Mr. Berry, if you would publish this letter in your magazine, as I am sure that your readers would like to know about such a contest.

Trusting to hear from you in the very near future,
Siegmund Klein.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Two Hands Snatch Performance - George Walsh

Two Hands Snatch Performance

by George Walsh (1946)

The new definition of the Two Hands Snatch reads as follows: “The barbell shall be taken from the ground to outstretched arms’ length overhead in one continuous movement. In fixing the bell the legs may be bent to any extent, but to lock the arms by an obvious push shall be counted cause for disqualification. The distance between the hands shall be a matter for the lifter’s discretion. But they may not move or slide along the bar once a grip has been taken. In the recovery to the erect position in readiness for the signal of approval, care must be taken in resuming the erect position speedily in a continuous movement. Any delay in the recovery will be counted cause for disqualification. At the conclusion of the lift the trunk shall be erect with the legs firmly braced and feet, if separated, must not be placed wider apart than 15 ¾ inches and held firmly until the referee has given the sharp clap with both hands.”

It sounds quite simple, doesn’t it? It is quite simple! As with the press, the differences between the old and the new definition are not nearly so important nor so confusing as may be imagined. But they are vitally important differences nevertheless.

If you are unable to understand the new Press and decide to play it safe by continuing to lift in the old “British” style, you will not lose much ground; the next man, by taking full advantage of the laxity permitted, will not gain more than 10 to 15 pounds.

If, however, you decide to do the same with the snatch, you are likely to experience a shock, for the man who does understand the definition of the lift and who takes advantage may possibly confront you with a style of lifting that may not seem to bear any resemblance to the snatch movement, and, what is more important, he may lift an extra thirty pounds by means of it!

The first difference, recovery, is not of great importance. If you are at all a stylist you will have no difficulty in adjusting your performance to a definition which requires the finishing position to be assumed without delay and you should certainly not drop in your poundage because of it.

The really important difference is that which applies to the spacing of the hands on the bar. Formerly the hands could not be placed wider apart than “dumbell supporting” distance; now their placing is a matter of the “lifter’s discretion.” And it is the latitude permitted in this respect which opens up such astonishing possibilities – which permits a lifter, if he is clever enough, to handle heavy poundages in a style which is really not a snatch movement at all!

Under a new definition you may still, of course, employ the old “British” style of snatching in which the arms are kept at approximately shoulder-width apart and in which the feet are split directly fore and aft. Whether the ultimate possibilities of this style of snatching are quite so great as others which are now permissible is, perhaps, a debatable point/ but some of the greatest exponents of the lift in the world still use it and it is beyond question, the most easily learned and least risky of all.

The other possible styles may be briefly tabulated as follows:

1.) The wide grip, fore and aft split, style. In this style of snatching the bar is grasped about mid-way between shoulder-width and maximum distance; wide enough, in other words, to allow the broad-shouldered lifter plenty of “space” but not so wide as to limit the power of pull. The feet, in this case, are split in the usual manner. (The ordinary snatch-split)

2.) The wide grip, half squat, style. Here the bar is grasped in the same fashion but instead of a fore and aft split a half squat is employed. (Half-squat wide grip)

3.) The maximum grip, full squat, style. This is the style of snatching which, to most American lifters, seems altogether grotesque when first seen. But it is now a permissible style and as some of the world-record holders employ it, there is no reason why those Americans who can master it should not also use it.

The bar, in this case, is grasped in such a way that the hands are as wide apart as possible. The feet do not move but as soon as the first effort has been made a full squat is employed and the head is thrown well forward so that the bell is delicately balanced upon arms which are almost at dislocation point. (Full squat and wide grip – head forward)

4.) The wide grip, fore and aft split, bent back style. This style of snatching will be new to American lifters. So far as I know there are very few lifters of front rank class who can successfully employ it, but Ronald Walker now uses it and if he can smash the world’s heavyweight record upon it, it is obviously a style with possibilities.

The grip, in this particular style, is wide but not maximum. The pull is the same as in the old “American” style and the feet are also split fore and aft. But instead of keeping the body erect throughout the movement, the lifter bends backward from the waist to facilitate fixing, and very often a weight which would normally fall forward can be taken, in this manner, to arms’ length.

Sometimes the fixing of the bell in this style is very slow, slow enough for nine British referees out of ten to declare that a push had taken place. The continentals, however, do not take the same view; their interpretation of a “push” is a little different from ours and they admit this style of snatching without hesitation. (Split, wide grip, bent back style)

5.) The wide grip, fore and aft split, lunge forward style. This style of snatching involves stepping well forward, lunging forward from the waist up as much as possible, and bringing the arms well back. (Split, wide grip, lunge forward style)

Here then are the five different methods of snatching, only one of which was permissible a few weeks ago. Which, you may ask, should a lifter adopt to achieve the highest poundages? I can only advise you to experiment.

If one particular style was definitely superior to the rest for every type of lifter there would be no alternatives to choose from; every lifter would employ the same. But one style is not superior to another for every type, as a little investigation will prove.

Tony Terlazzo, the phenomenal American Lightweight who recently smashed several world records, still uses the “American” fore and aft style. His teammate Bob Mitchell, former holder of the world’s record in the lightweight class, employs a full squat. Ismayr, the German middleweight employs a half squat; Ronald Walker, the world’s greatest exponent of the snatch, splits fore and aft and bends back to fix the bell.

There are, you see, possibilities of world-record performances in every style. All that can be said is that the fore and aft split is the safest method of using the feet and that the maximum grip, full squat style is the ugliest form of snatching. But when that is said there is nothing more to say.

If you prefer to stick to the old “British” style you may do so secure in the knowledge that other lifters employ it and can break world’s records by means of it; but a far safer thing to do would be to experiment with all the different styles so that you can be quite sure that you are doing the best for yourself. If you decide to do this, experiment with all the styles, do so thoroughly, for none of them are easy to acquire and, even if one of them happens to suit you, you will not register sensational improvement in a night.

Experimentation with the wide grip, fore and aft split style should not be difficult. You will find it easier if you widen your grip by small stages so that the process takes at least a week and you will also save yourself a lot of trouble if you use chalk or tape to mark the bar. You should discover whether this style suits you in less than a month.

The wide grip, half-squat style is more difficult to master but it has this advantage; it is a necessary preliminary to the full squat style. Start by practicing the lift with light weights from the hang. Endeavor to lower the body by bending the knees, but keep the trunk more or less upright and don’t move the feet at all.

In order to hold even a light poundage you will have to cultivate an immediate recovery so that the legs are no sooner bent and the weight fixed than you commence to come up. Keep at this for a month or two before you make up your mind as to its suitability.

The maximum grip, full squat style is merely an exaggeration of this movement. Grip the bell with the hands as wide apart as possible and concentrate upon a short, fierce upward and backward pull. As soon as the bell has commenced to travel the legs must be bent and the upper body thrust forward from the waist.

The bell will reach arms’ length in a remarkably, a first even disconcertingly, short space of time, and the locking point will find the bell carried well to the rear and the head thrust as far forward as possible. Don’t forget this forward inclination of the head when you try the lift, or the balance will be upset and the bell will pass backwards out of control. And don’t forget that the pull must be directly towards the rear or the bell will reach arms’ length and then drop forward.

The bent back style of snatching is the most difficult to learn and I warn you that it needs a back of super strength and mobility to stand up to it. The bell is pulled in the ordinary way, the feet split fore and aft. As the bell passes the eyes, the head is bent back to allow the eyes to follow its progress; and the fixing of the bell on locked arms is achieved by bending the back while watching the bar.

Before you can decide whether this style is suited to you, you will have to spend several months practicing it. You must practice it with light and heavy weights and its final test –and for that matter the final test of all the styles – must be whether it enables you to lift more weight.

During the past four months I have seen lifters achieve amazing results on every one of the styles mentioned. I have seen fresh records established by means of the old “American” style and good performances put up by exponents of the half squat theory. I say again, therefore, you must experiment and continue to experiment before you or anyone else can tell which style offers you the most.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Completing the Development of the Trapezius - Charles A. Smith

Part One, Developing The Trapezius, is here:

Completing the Development of the Trapezius
by Charles A. Smith

I wonder how many of you notice the pictures and model illustrations that often accompany these articles. Notice the type . . . the distinct muscular shape of each lifter. For example, Henry Steinborn, with the hollow formed in the upper back by the trapezius. The high “trap” formation of Reg Park. The full bulk of Ed Theriault. Steinborn exhibits the heavy uniformity of development while Park shows a more modern combination of bulk and definition. Theriault exemplifies what a light-boned man can build with modern exercise.

Steinborn’s trapezius development came from heavy cleaning, snatching with one hand, plus supporting immensely heavy weights across his shoulders. when squatting, Reg Park practices Hack lifts with weights up to 500 pounds, and High Pull-ups . . . a movement that is an “extension” of the upright rowing motion, in that does not stop when the bar is chin height but continues on until it is at arms’ length overhead. Ed Theriault uses very heavy stiff-legged dead lifts and bent-forward rowing motions. In all these exercises the muscle is influenced in different ways and the fact that each man has obtained a widely differing trapezius development . . . apart from what significance his physical type has on the musculature . . . points plainly to one thing . . . that for COMPLETE development of any given muscle group a COMPREHENSIVE schedule of exercises is needed. One or two exercises with a standard piece of equipment, are not nearly sufficient to gain the maximum in strength, size and musculature. You MUST use a wide range of movements with apparatus that provides a wide range of muscle action. It would do well for you to remember here that there are some muscle actions that cannot be obtained with the use of barbells, or dumbells, and particularly is this true where the squeezing and crushing muscles are concerned.

And it should also be plain that a “constricted” system of exercise will give you a “restricted” development. You will never build a symmetrical or fully developed physique unless you do two things – Specialize, and use as many movements as possible within your energy limits. Nest to these principles comes the selection of the most effective movements, grading the exercises so that the one that affects you the most comes first in the program, with the others in order of their effectiveness. The type of exercise a man follows shows plainly in his development, as the above examples prove. Yet, if these men had stuck to a single movement to provide trapezius development, their shoulder musculature would not be nearly so marked nor half as powerful as it is.

In an earlier article we studied the action of the traps, and we saw that the muscle is in reality divided into four parts, and NOT TRIANGULAR shaped as some authorities have previously taught. We also learned that it has a profound effect on posture, lifting weights to the shoulders and above the head, and weight gaining. You were also shown the movements that worked the muscle in its four ways. Now in this article we well consider the other exercises that can be part of a trapezius specialization schedule.

It is customary with novelists, when they write about men from the “Frozen North” or any other place where pioneering is at a premium to talk about the build of the story’s hero. They usually wind up something like this: “He had those thick, sloping shoulders, the true hallmark of the naturally strong man.” It’s a shot in the dark but one that hits the mark, for, if you have been at any lifting show and watched the champions go through their paces, you will notice the long powerful fall of the traps from the neck to the deltoids. It has been said that too heavy a trapezius development detracts from a square-shouldered appearance, and this detracts from the breadth of chest and shoulders. With this I do not agree. Shoulders that are square because of lack of trap development make the neck look too long, thus adding height and actually minimizing the appearance of broadness.

Study a picture of any bodybuilding star. What do you see? There is, in addition to the downward sweep of the trapezius, a marked superiority of deltoid musculature. And in addition to this the collar bones are very long and the chest high and arched. Broad shoulders are composed of many factors, the most important of which is framework; then comes the muscle development. But it is a fact that en who have well developed traps find it easy to build huge and powerful deltoids. The famous anatomist, Mackenzie, in one of his books pointed out that the deltoids are merely continuations of the trapezius muscle. How profoundly trapezius work affects the deltoids can be seen by conducting the following experiment. Hold an extremely heavy weight in the finish position of the deadlift for as long as possible without putting it down. Repeat this for a number of times. Next day observe what muscle groups are stiff. You will find that not only are the trapezius muscles sore, but also the lateral head of the deltoid from its crest right down to its insertion on the upper arm bone.

As I have been constantly hammering at in all of my articles – it is NOT POSSIBLE for any bodybuilder to get the utmost from his physique potentials unless he can and DOES work HARD, work OFTEN and work SENSIBLY. At the risk of being accused of constant repetition I will again tell you that if you want to get an outstanding development of any given section of the physique you have GOT to drop work on a general routine and first consider your specialization needs.

Now to get to the practical side of the article – the exercises for trapezius development and how to make use of them. First, the need for a course of specialization in trapezius development. Have you been using one or two standard exercises for a considerable period? Have you the feeling you’ve obtained all you can from your present course? If the answer is yes to these questions then the need for the exercise in this article is apparent. It is doubtful if you have used more that two or three of them, so I can promise without fear of my promise failing that you are going to make good progress with these movements which you may not have used up to now. Any profound change in an established order of things is bound to have an equally profound effect, and that is what you are seeking.

First we have an exercise that to my knowledge has never before appeared in any publication and is little known out of certain bodybuilding circles. This exercise can be used to warm up with, and wind up, your trapezius routine. It increases circulation in the exercised area, thus helping to clear it of fatigue products. Lie on an incline bench, face down. Hold a towel in each hand. Have your training partner face the backboard of the incline bench and grasp an end of each towel. Your arms should be straight out and LOCKED at the elbows. From this position rotate and shrug the shoulders, squeezing the shoulder blades together as your training partner resists. He must learn to adjust his resistance so you are just able to move the shoulders. Perform as many reps as possible with the arms held straight out before you. Then, after a rest, lower the arms somewhat and again perform the movement from the new angle. After another short rest, repeat the process altering the angle of the arms as shown in the illustration. Don’t attempt to bend the arms. Keep them straight. All you should do is shrug the shoulders, rotate the shoulders and squeeze the shoulder blades together. Trainees who work out alone will find a way to implement this idea with a bit of thought and the use of heavily weighted pulley cables and proper incline bench placement.

Here is another shrugging motion but with that little difference that produces better results. Sit on a flat exercise bench holding a heavy dumbell in each hand. Get your training partner to place his knee in the middle of your back and his hand against the back of your head. Shrug the shoulders as high as you can and at the same time press your head BACK. Your partner should resist the pressure of your head against his hand. Hook your legs around the legs of the bench for greater stability. Again, trainees who work out alone will find a way to improvise, for example, seated in front of a post with a ball behind the head, etc. Read the first installment of this article where the functions of the Trapezius muscle were explained . . . and you’ll see the need for that additional movement of pressing back the head.

Use as heavy a poundage as possible with 4 sets of 5 reps, working up to 4 sets of 10 reps . . . then increase the exercising poundage by 10 pounds each dumbell.

One of the main reasons Olympic lifters have such good trapezius development is the amount of snatching and heavy cleaning they practice. This development is made even more complete than if a single movement was used, because of the varying width of hand spacing in the two quick lifts. Now for an exercise that utilizes the favorable aspects of Olympic quick lifting. Stiff-legged cleans with a varying hand spacing can give you a good development of the second and third sections of the traps. Haul the weight up without the slightest bend of the knees and pull it as high as you can before settling it down across the collarbones. Lower and repeat. Start off with a poundage that you can handle for 3 sets of 8 reps, working up to 3 sets of 15 reps before increasing the weight. You will be obliged to handle a weight that seems light for the first few reps. This is in order that the main action is on the traps instead of the small of the back.

One of the finest pieces of equipment for developing the upper back is a set of cables, and when it comes to trapezius musculature, few men have the contour, definition and power of Floyd Page, who has used a lot of cable work in his training programs. As you can see from the illustration, the arms are pulled back from straight out in front of the chest to the crucifix position. You will also get a lot of posterior deltoid work, too. Start off with a single strand and pull the arms back for 3 sets of 20 reps. Add a strand as soon as you can perform these 3 sets comfortably. Start off again with 3 sets of 15 reps and work up to 3 sets of 25 reps before adding another strand. This type of work will give you considerable definition because it employs a peak contraction principle, in addition to the normal type of muscle contraction. As the muscles work over a shorter range in pulling back, so the resistance of cables increases, providing the right amount of work exactly when it is needed. Don’t bend the arms at the elbows. Keep them straight throughout the movement.

For building power in addition to size, the well-known cheating exercises are unexcelled, despite the “knocks” they get from various quarters. Here is one of them – Bouncing Power Shrugs. Start the movement as shown in the illustration. The weight should be resting on two boxes so you do not have to lift it too far. Take it up to the finish position of the two hands dead lift, then drop the weight down to the boxes and pull it up on the rebound, with a strong shrug of the shoulders. Pull the tips of the shoulders up as high as you can, making an effort to touch your ears. Of course you won’t do this, but make the effort. At the height of the shrug, squeeze the shoulder blades together. Use 3 sets of 8 reps. Work up to 3 sets of 12 weights before adding weight to the bar.

Dumbell rowing motions are immensely popular in weight training routines, and for one reason: They are the closest approach to a movement that works the trapezius muscles it their entirety. Bend forward until the trunk is level with the ground. One hand rests on a bench or a box while the other grips the dumbell. The dumbell is pulled up as high as possible until it is level with the shoulder. At this point the ELBOW is pointed up as high as the upper arm can be pulled back. You must take care not to twist the trunk to get the dumbell up. Keep the body as still as possible. Start off with 3 sets of 7 reps each hand, working up to 3 sets of 12 reps before increasing the exercise poundage.

In most of the above movements you have had to work other muscles in addition to the trapezius. In other words, it has been essential to employ other groups in order to get the desired effect in the group undergoing specialization. Here is an exercise that makes use of isolation – Prone Laterals. Lie face down on a flat exercise bench. Grasp a dumbell in each hand. The arms hang at full stretch from shoulder to the floor. From this position raise the arms upwards and sideways until you reach a crucifix position. When here, raise them still further so that there is a squeezing together of the shoulder blades. The posterior deltoid also comes in for a good deal of work. Start off with 3 sets of 8 reps and work up to 3 sets of 15 reps before increasing the poundage.

The final movement in this specialization schedule is one that has been used extensively by my good friend, Val Pasqua – the High Pull-up. Val uses a barbell but I advocate the use of dumbells because it is possible to obtain a better effect by pulling back the elbows when the weights are chest high, something you can’t do if the bar is used. Stand upright with a dumbell grasped in each hand. Pull the weights up in an upright rowing motion, but don’t stop at the chin. Continue on until they are at arms length overhead. As the dumbells get to chin level, squeeze the shoulder blades together as much as you are able. Start off with 3 sets of 8 reps, working up to 3 sets of 12 reps before increasing the dumbell weight.

It should not be necessary for me to tell you that in undergoing this routine, you must devote all your efforts to it. Unfortunately, it is necessary for me to point out that when specializing on any section of the physique, all our efforts should be concentrated on the section FIRST during workouts, with the rest of the general exercises coming after. Too many lifters have the idea that you can stick these routines any place in a workout of any length and the results will be the same as if you were fresh and full of energy. So, take care of your trapezius specialization movements first, and let a minimal number of exercises for the remaining sections of your body come after.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sig Klein - Chapter Twelve

January 3rd, 1931
Klein completing a Two Hands Military Press world record
with 221 1/4 lbs.

My First Quarter Century in the Iron Game
Part Twelve
by Siegmund Klein

The urge to go into vaudeville was still very strong in me, and after considerable thought about the matter I decided that I would once more like to do some stage work. But this time I determined it would be a large act. Writers were secured to prepare the act, after I gave them my idea or what I had in mind. Song writers were consulted about special music. My good friend Elmore Cole, whom I had known for several years, then was kind enough to design all the apparatus. Six girls and a comedian were selected. Arrangements were made with a professional dancing teacher to teach the girls their dancing routines. Special costumes had to be ordered. All of this, as can be imagined, took time, lots of time. After several weeks of rehearsals the act was ready for what is known as “break in dates” in small theatres, usually out of town, who hired these acts for a nominal sum. It was in reality a chance to rehearse in front of an audience. The first theatre selected was the Peekskill Theatre in Peekskill, New York.

The act opened. On stage there was first a backdrop (curtain) on which was painted a replica of my gymnasium equipped with barbells and other gymnastic apparatus. In the center of this curtain was a colored photograph a little more than life size in a huge frame. There were on the stage an exhibition barbell, a dumbell and a kettlebell. In the back of the stage was a rack that had six sets of wooden dumbells. There was also on stage a special built brass Roman Column and a small table about 24 inches square, that had on top of it 24 sharp pointed knives with the ends pointing upwards.

The orchestra started to play, the curtain parted, and the girls were in line on stage in front of a plain curtain concealing the full stage setting, dressed in street attire, and singing a song:

For you’ve got to keep your figure
If you want to keep your man.
If you are fat, and he likes you slim,
Just do this and that, soon you’ll appeal to him.
Take your daily sun-bath,
Acquire a coat of tan.
For you’ve got to keep your girlish figure
If you want to keep your man.

After this opening song, the girls went off stage, the front drape lifted, and Sam, a colored porter, was now on stage and busying himself dusting the apparatus, and started to talk: “Here it is almost nine o’clock, almost time for the Professor. The girls ought to be here too.” Just then, the girls walked on stage again dressed in street attire, stopped long enough to greet Sam, and he told them to hurry and get in their rehearsal suits as the Professor would be in any minute. Sam then talked a bit more telling them how so many ladies come to the gym. He glanced at the picture soulfully and remarked that “maybe the ladies come to the gym because of that beautiful picture.” Then scornfully remarking that he could do anything that the Professor could do and more, nonchalantly walked over to the kettlebell and tried to lift it. He tugged at it but could not budge it. Then, with a tremendous heave, pulled it off the floor, fell back and fainted! Just then stage lights were put out and the orchestra gave the impression of thunder and lightning. Like a flash, the picture was pulled out of sight, and I was posed there in exactly the same position that the picture portrayed.

I first went through classical poses, and followed this with muscle control. When this was finished, the lights again were dimmed and the picture was lowered into the frame. The stage lights flashed on again and the girls entered on stage in their gym costumes. Rushing over to Sam, who was lying on the stage, they shook him, and finally he came to and told the girls that the picture was moving. They tried to convince him the picture was stationary, but he informed them that it wasn’t stationary at all when it came out and hit him with that weight. The girls told Sam that the trouble with him was that he did not get enough exercise, and he informed them that the trouble with him was that he was getting too much exercise and the exercises were killing him. Here the girls left the stage again and Sam sang a very comical song, complete with grand gestures.

As Sam sang the chorus, the girls came on stage again, reached for the wooden dumbells that were in the rack, and went into a dance while going through a dumbell drill. When this was finished, Sam announced that I was now ready to put them through a drill (here I made my entrance on stage), announcing that instead of the usual routine I would perform some feats of strength with them. One of the girls sat on the floor, and bringing her knees close to her chest, I grasped one of her wrists and did a one arm swing with her, first facing the audience, then sideways, and repeating this feat, five times in all.

Next I did a thigh curl with another girl, and then mounted the Roman column, which had a stairway leading up to the cross bar. On the column, I first performed a “lay-out,” keeping my body parallel to the floor. While this was being done another girl lay on the floor directly under the column. I reached back towards the floor for her and grasped her under the armpit with one hand and one of her thighs with the other hand, and slowly raised her from the floor to my chest. Then I slowly raised up until my legs were straight at the knees, looked out at the audience, and then described the steps while still holding her overhead. A spotlight followed me on stage while this number was featured. Still holding her overhead, I walked to the center of the stage, and two girls carried the small table with the pointed knives to the center too. There I paused for a moment, and slowly lowered the girl forward with my straight arms (as in muscling out in front) until her body just about touched the shiny knives. I raised and lowered her to the knives three times in succession.

After this number I made an exit and the girls came back again. This time they wore costumes that were treated with radium.

I next came back and did some juggling with the barbell and dumbell, and followed this by doing a supporting stunt, where I was suspended between two trestles that were lowered from the stage ceiling, with two steel coat hanger shaped bars. My heels rested on one and my upper back on the other. A cross bar on top attached the two hangers while four of the girls had special straps that were placed, one over my outstretched arms and one over my wrists, another over my chest, one over my thighs and the last over my ankles. The girls had these straps wrapped around their wrists securely, and the apparatus, with me supporting the girls, was now raised higher and higher until the girls were clear of the floor.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Trapezius Development - Floyd Page

Clarence Ross

Trapezius Development

by Floyd Page

Very seldom do you see a weight trained man with no development of the trapezius, due to the fact that they aid in practically every exercise. Every time you lift a barbell or dumbell from the floor or carry it from one place to another the traps are brought into play. Their contraction is the force that resists the downward pressure of a weight being held in the hand at arms’ length by the side. They keep your shoulders from dropping out of place when you carry a bride across the threshold. They are very powerful muscles when developed and are forever present on each and every strong man. Flat, square shoulders are an indication of this strength.

Even though it is practically impossible to perform a barbell or dumbell exercise while standing without working the trapezius, I would like to explain two or three in particular I practice and find affect the trapezius quite directly.

The Shrugging Exercise has always been popular and is one of the most direct and effective exercises for the traps. To properly perform this exercise stand erect and hold a barbell at arms’ length across your thighs. Hold the knuckles forward. Keep the shoulders slightly forward, then raise them as high toward the ears as you can. Holding them in the raised position, force them as far back as you can. Lower, then raise to the back, then force them as far forward as you can. Use a very light weight until you learn and feel the motion.

The next exercise is certainly a well known movement and is performed by all weightlifters, but to my knowledge it is seldom practiced as an exercise by body builders. The Dead Hang Clean is a very good movement for developing the trapezius and deserves a part in every enthusiastic body builder’s program. There are those who have failed to include this very important exercise in their workouts because they consider it to be an exercise for weightlifters only, and fail to realize its merits as a body building movement. There are no exercises that bring the traps into play more vigorously than cleaning and pressing, jerking, as well snatching. It is my sincere advice to you who lack development in the traps and upper back to include the three lifts in sets of 8 to 10 reps. The Dead Hang Clean can be done with either barbells or dumbells. Take the same weight with which you perform your military presses. A greater demand is made upon the trapezius if the first pull in the clean is started from knee height rather than from the floor as usual. This eliminates a fast start with the aid of the back and forces a more direct pull on the traps. Do not squat or split in order to get under the weight. Pull it high each time.

It must be remembered that the traps pull the shoulders back as well as up in a shrugging motion. Therefore, I consider Barbell Rowing a very effective exercise for developing the lower trapezius. I have also found that the lateral raise bending forward has also proved satisfactory. The barbell rowing motion can best be performed by standing with the feet wide apart, legs straight, and the back bent over and parallel to the floor. From this position slowly pull the barbell to your chest without bending your knees. Straighten your back as the bar comes in contact with your chest and pull your shoulders back as far as possible. Begin with a grip the width of your shoulders. As you improve in this exercise widen the space of your hand grip. Keep your elbows pointed directly out.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Deep Knee Bend - Bob Hoffman

Irvin "Zabo" Koszewski

Weighing slightly less than 130 pounds, Jack De Ment clean and jerked 260 lbs. at an official contest at the Mutnomah Athletic Club in Portland in 1939. A phenomenal jerker who has performed 5 repetitions with 255 lbs. while weighing 129. His best continental jerk is 270. When the York team was giving an exhibition in Portland in 1941, Tony Terlazzo, the York lightweight class lifter, had just made an unsuccessful attempt to clean 320. While he was taking a rest, Jack, weighing only 131 pounds, continentaled this terrific poundage to his shoulders! He is the nation's leading authority on fluorescent matter and as a chemical engineer has catalogued about 5,000 substances that emit light.

The Deep Knee Bend

by Bob Hoffman

Many body builders place overemphasis on the deep knee bend. They come to feel that it is the only exercise. It is one of the best, certainly one of the three best, and it should be included in the roster of exercises in every day of training, but other exercises should be practiced to, exercises which bring into action and develop all the major muscle groups of the body.

Every one of the York courses include the deep knee bend in some form. The famous York barbell system, the four York dumbell courses, the York leg course, and the new simplified systems – barbell training, dumbell training and the swing bar course. In each of these courses there is a somewhat different method of performing the deep knee bend. The two most generally practiced methods are the deep knee bend flat footed, in which a very heavy weight is employed by the advanced barbell man, and the deep knee bend on toes. First we will describe the deep knee bend on toes.

This exercise is practiced with a moderate weight, seldom with more than bodyweight in the style I am about to describe. When the weight is light, merely lift it high and overhead, allowing it to rest on the back of the shoulders. When a fairly heavy weight is employed you will need some form to get the weight to the shoulders. When a very heavy weight is used you will be wise to build some form or a rack or trestle so that you can load the weight while it is supported, then bend under the weight, step away from the supports, and practice your bends. There are some men who have practiced with very heavy weights in deep knee bending on toes. Frank Shofro, the winner of this year’s junior and senior heavyweight lifting titles, habitually deep knee bends with 400 lbs. while maintaining the on toes position.

If the weight is one which is fairly heavy for you, assume the position you use in the dead weight lift, or clean to chest. Bend down with your back flat, grasp the bar with knuckles front, hands shoulder width or more apart, pull the weight up straight, as close to the chest as possible, resting it momentarily on the chest. If the weight is heavy bend the legs a bit as the bell reaches the highest possible position, whip your elbows forward and catch the bell on your chest. With a sudden jerk of your legs throw the weight overhead, lowering it to rest behind your head upon your shoulders. You now stand with heels together, toes pointed well out, at least at an angle of 45 degrees. Bend the legs at the knees and lower yourself until you are sitting on your heels. By keeping the knees turned well out it will not only assist you to balance, but will develop the outside of your thighs to a pleasing extent. At first it may be difficult for you to go the entire way down, but soon your leg muscles will become stronger and more flexible and the exercise will be fairly easy to perform. As you lower the body keep the back flat and permit the heels to arise from the ground.

The exercise most regularly practiced by body builders is the old standby, the deep knee bend with flat feet, or while holding heels on the floor. It is one of the best exercises known, and a close rival of the regular dead lift to be the exercise in which the most weight resistance can be handled. The heavy weights which can be used in this exercise cause the legs and back to rapidly increase in strength and development. As it brings into action the largest and strongest muscles of the body, those farthest from the heart, it is one of the best means to greatly stimulate all the internal organs and functions.

The exercise should be performed with the back flat, for if you don’t, it becomes partially a back exercise, robbing the legs of some of the benefit it is expected to produce for them. Also there is danger of straining the back, as it bends greatly to raise under the weight. If you find difficulty in keeping the back flat, try holding the bar as low as possible on the shoulders, turning the head well back as you look toward the ceiling. A one or two inch board placed under the heels will aid in keeping the back flat. Many men who practice and use in competition the squat snatch employ a specially constructed high-heeled pair of shoes.

This oldest and best of the deep knee bending movements develops the muscles of the upper leg from the extreme of contraction to the extreme of extension. Load the bar to a weight which you can properly handle for the desired number of repetitions. If you are a beginner, be satisfied to train with a moderate weight for a time until the muscles become accustomed to the movement and until your body has learned to maintain balance. You can bring the weight to the chest unassisted in the style briefly described for the deep knee bend on toes, you can have two friends lift it there and stand by while you perform your exercises, or you can load the upon a rack or trestles and bend your legs to get under the weight and take it off yourself.

Advanced barbell men use heavy weights in this movement. It’s common for Dick Bachtell to practice his deep knee bends with 375 lbs. And Dick never weighs over a pound or two above the 132-lb. class limit. His record is 400 lbs. The stronger fellows in the York barbell gym can use 400 lbs. or more in this exercise. Grimek, Davis and Stanko have used 500 lbs. Henry Steinborn, the famous strongman of wrestling, many years ago established a world’s record of 552 lbs. in this exercise. It is still one of his favorite exercises, and in strength exhibitions which he gives regularly in conjunction with his wrestling bouts, or in touring army camps, he places 450 lbs. on his back unassisted and performs a number of bends. In traveling from coast to coast he has never found another man who can do this. He stands the bar on end, squats down, permitting the bar to fall upon his back, from which position he performs repetitions.

It is wise to have men standing by when you are using a very heavy weight on your limit day for there are times when a man finds that he can not complete one more bend and there he is bent over with a great weight on his back. He can always drop it back over his buttocks, but this is dangerous for the weight may fall on the back with some damage to the trainee. I could always give the bell a toss forward and over the head. My record is only 350 in this exercise, for to me it has always been just a good exercise and I never specialized in it. But I tossed 375 over my head when I could not get up with it. If you don’t toss it right it could strain your neck. And sometimes a man is held down and can’t get out from under without assistance or possible injury. One day recently, John Terry came into the gym while we were training. I doubted very much if he had trained more than a few presses, snatches or other lifts since he was discharged from the Army due to injuries. Among other feats he wanted to try a deep knee bend, As he got under the bar he asked how much it was. “285,” I replied. “Are you sure you can handle that much?” I asked. “Sure,” said John, “I did it just last night.’ Well, that weight pushed him down like it was going through him and the floor too, and there he sat folded up almost like an accordion. I didn’t know what he would have done if we had not promptly come to his rescue. So if you are lifting alone, be sure you have the ability to get out from under like some do, or lift well within your limit. If you are trying a heavy bend, your limit or more, it’s wise to have someone stand by.

Most barbell men hold the feet about shoulder width apart. Art Levan, who was always good at the deep knee bend (older readers will remember that Art won ten consecutive national championships in weight lifting in the 126 or 132-lb. classes, that he was the first native born American to lift double his bodyweight overhead, having hoisted 262 when he weighed 131 way back in 1933), always made his bends with his feet quite wide apart and his toes turned out. Dick Bachtell kept his feet only about a foot apart, toes almost straight front. But Dick used the squat style in the clean and the snatch, while Art used the split in both of these lifts.

So you will find by practice the best position for your feet, whether they should be wide or close. The major group of muscles developed by this exercise are the Vastus Externus, Vastus Internus, Vastus Intermedius, and to a partial extent the Gluteus Maximus or buttock muscles. Most deep knee benders will find it easier to carry the bar low on the shoulders, and turn the head toward the ceiling to assist in keeping the back flat. Some hold the hands at shoulder width apart in the position they used in pulling the weight to the shoulders, while others will wrap their extended arms around the bar, holding the hands as far out toward the weights as possible.

While there are the somewhat different positions of the feet I have mentioned, the chief difference in performing the deep knee bend by leading strength athletes is the number of repetitions and the method of breathing. The case of Roger Eels is well known. About ten years ago he, as the result of a chest injury, had reached an advanced stage of tuberculosis and had been given by his doctor just three months to live. He was pleased to find that he had not died at the end of three months, so cast about hi to determine if there was not some way in which he could win back a measure of his strength and health. He wrote me, asking what he could expect from the York courses, purchased them, and in a matter of several years was not only completely cured, but a far stronger, healthier, finer looking man than he had ever been in his life. He came to weigh 185 lbs. and lifted 250 lbs. overhead with one hand. I was cited by the Federal Trade Commission late in 1935 for stating that Roger was completely cured. He came to the hearing and testified that he was a bona fide York pupil, that his physical improvement resulted from following the York courses, and he showed his medical records before and after. He had a total disability from his insurance company and they ceased payments when they found that he had been completely cured. The deep knee bend was Roger’s favorite exercise, and to it he attributes the lion’s share of the credit for his startling recovery.

Roger is doing wonderful work now. He is conducting a large gymnasium in Columbus, Ohio, where he is amassing the most amazing collection of “cures” any gymnasium or and institution operator ever acquired. Full pages in the Columbus newspapers have told the story of his wonderful successes. Roger has promised at the first opportunity that he will write an article for this magazine telling of some of the outstanding cases which have resulted from his “treatments” which consist of good standard barbell exercises, with the deep knee bend practiced 20 repetitions with three deep breaths between each bend. With this system of weight training he has overcome the ailments of many of his pupils. Men like himself whose lives were despaired are now strong, healthy, happy, and successful. Look forward to receiving this account which Roger has assured me will be forthcoming quite soon.

In the York courses it is recommended that not more than 15 repetitions be practiced. It is advised that weight be added when 15 repetitions can be performed properly, the repetitions dropped to ten, then progressively working up to 15. For men who are in bad condition as are Roger Eels’ pupils, light weights are the starting poundages and more repetitions with a great deal of breathing have served well.

In practically all movements it is recommended in the York courses that one inhale while exerting force, and exhale as the weight is brought back to the original position. But in deep knee bending it is difficult to do this, so usually a full breath is taken before lowering into the full squat position or while rising from the full squat. This will usually suffice for about 10 bends, then a condition of breathlessness results and it is wise to take several breaths between each bend. Better results can be obtained if the bends are performed rather continuously without too lengthy pauses between each bend. If the pauses are too long, it becomes a series of strength feats rather than a continuous exercise.

Some of the nation’s star lifters, notably Weldon Bullock, the first 17 year old boy to clean and jerk 300 lbs., and Louis Abele, a youthful star lifter of a few years back, who was the first American to break a world’s heavyweight lifting record, have specialized in the deep knee bend. Although Louis Abele was never successful in winning the senior national weight lifting heavyweight title, he became one of the world’s best lifters, having totaled a splendid 980. The deep knee bend served well for him, but he happened to come along when Dave Mayor and Weldon Bullock were winning the championships, and later Steve Stanko and John Davis prevented him from winning.

These two fellows would practice 20 repetitions and they would take huge breaths between each bend. You could hear Bullock in particular for a full city block as he continued his ohs, ahs, and breathing groans between bends. But the York champs who won national titles year after year, Terry in the 132, Terlazzo in the 148, Terpak and Davis winning in Europe, Terry establishing his world’s record in Vienna (Stanko was at is peak after the war in Europe had its inception, although his best record total is just short of 100 lbs. more than Manger, the Olympic champion, required to win his title at Berlin, he did not win an official world’s title, but he was very definitely the world’s champion) did not specialize in the deep knee bend. To them it was just one good exercise and was practiced no more than any other good exercise. Emerick Ishikawa, the former Hawaiian lifter, who lived and trained in York this last year, winning the junior and senior national titles, establishing U. S. and world’s records, always performs a few with 200 lbs. which certainly does not seem to be nearly his limit.

You will do no harm if you practice as many as 20 repetitions, and it will not hurt if you make a habit of three deep breaths between each bend. But my thought is that 15 are sufficient, that it would be better to increase the weight rather than go to higher repetitions when you can perform 15 correctly with a heavy weight. Thus you will continue to go forward in building your strength and all around physical ability. In breathing, I think it is the best plan to breathe just as your body can make use of the oxygen, it can’t be forced to use more than it needs. And after about the tenth repetition with a heavy weight there will be such a crying need for air that almost every fibre of your being will be shrieking for air. Then breathe as many times as necessary between bends. Two may suffice at first, then three and perhaps as many as four or five.

It is best to practice a good all around training program which puts into action all of the muscle groups of the body. You should practice the deep knee bend on toes at times, as well as the flat foot bend. When you train with your dumbells practice the recommended deep knee bends too, also when you are training with cables. For all of these movements, the dumbell press while lowering into the full squat, the deep knee bend with weight held overhead, the press while rising from the squat, the press while using springs and stirrups, all bring the muscles of the legs into action in a somewhat different manner, developing more of the complex muscles of the huge and powerful extremities.

Do not practice the deep knee bend to exclusion of all others. Do not neglect to practice your deep knee bends while you specialize on other movements or body parts. Many en of the past mistakenly practiced little more than the deep knee bend coupled with very heavy eating to gain weight. They gained weight, but the vast majority of them never had an attractive physique with this system, but were only huge, fat men. Strive for all around physical perfection, let the deep knee bend play its important part, but please remember that there are numerous other good exercises, all of which should be included in your training programs.

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