Saturday, February 28, 2009

Training Down - Anthony Ditillo

Dave Hannah doing a bent-arm pullover with 430 lbs. He has made 455. This was performed on a bench 16" high and he started with the weight on his chest, then lowered it till it almost touched the floor and pulled it back over his head and chest.

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Casey Viator

Effective Methods of Training Down (1971)
by Anthony Ditillo

If you are one of the many lifters or bodybuilders who are trying to, or have tried in the past, to lose excess weight either for lifting competition or a physique contest, you have my deepest sympathy. No, I am not trying to be sarcastic with such a remark. On the contrary, I feel for you fellows like nobody else can, because I have experienced myself the frustrating feeling of having my muscle size slowly diminish, along with my power, while trying to lose weight. It is truly a heartbreaking occurrence when a guy knocks himself out for months on end, trying to really build up additional size and power, only to lose this size and power when competition time rolls around again. It doesn’t seem fair, really. It’s as though somebody is not ‘playing the game’ as it were. But as unfair as it may seem, and is, there is really nothing one can do in such a situation (up until now) except to accept the size and power decreasement as the price one must pay for a truly muscularly impressive and strong physique.

In the past, I myself have tried many training down programs and while I seemed to be partly successful each and every time, I never really struck paydirt’ as the saying goes. Sure, I always managed to lose the excess weight, once I made myself stick to the particular type of diet I was about to experiment with at the time, but whenever I would lose any significant amount of excess bodyweight, along with this positive reduction would go a good deal of muscle and strength as well as the fat.

To be sure, there are various ways in which to train down to a lighter bodyweight. This goes for weightlifters, powerlifters and bodybuilding enthusiasts as well as the normal, everyday health-conscious reader. All can benefit from this article and this is why I am so happy to be able to bring you fellows the great news. Believe me, this is just what you have been waiting for. Just bear with me for a while, while I go through the already accepted methods of weight reduction showing their good points as well as their bad points and how to reap as much of a positive gain from their proper utilization as you possibly can. The reason for my going into these various details is to the benefit of the ‘new recruit’, for the fellow who may be dieting for the first time and doesn’t even know where to begin. Besides, I have always said in my past articles, he’s the man (the beginner or intermediate) who I am most interested in anyway.

The first method of bodyweight reduction which we will be taking into consideration will theoretically be considered the easiest to follow as far as mechanics are concerned. This is the CALORIE COUNTING method. By using this type of dietary regime, the trainee will simply purchase a calorie counter at the nearest drug or department store and shall endeavor to count the calories contained in everything he eats or drinks each and every day. In order to determine just how many calories are allotted to him in order for him to reach his bodyweight goal, he usually is advised within the book to check his caloric requirements which are listed next to his ideal weight at the beginning of the book. Let us suppose then that he is told that may ingest 1500 calories per day. The only thing to take into consideration now would be therefore just how would the calories be divided up? Certainly, 1500 calories is 1500 calories, or is it?

Suppose two men were going on a diet. They had similar builds, similar metabolism, similar bodyweight, etc., and they both were going to go on a 1500 calorie per day diet to lose excess weight. Now the first fellow ate whatever and whenever he pleased. He partook of protein, fats and carbohydrates. He was sure, however, not to go above 1500 calories. He also exercised quite regularly with the weights. The second man, who was also training with weights, decided to partake mainly of high protein foods, leaving a few hundred calories left for the intake and enjoyment of carbohydrates. Now, I ask you, who do you think would be dieting properly. The answer is NEITHER.

When taking into consideration the necessities of a properly executed diet, we must remember that basically we need two types of food for our bodies: we need fuel to grow on and fuel to ‘go’ on. This means that although we must always be sure to obtain the necessary protein in our diet for adequate muscle growth, we also need foods to supply us with the necessary energy not only for our exercise periods but for our everyday living as well. The truth is that as far as we lifting enthusiasts are concerned, many, many times we miss up on the energy foods when we are dieting. This leads to many pitfalls in our training routine by way of lack of training desire or endurance, lack of pep, endless anxiety and frustration, lack of proper sleep, lack of confidence in our training capabilities and most important of all, an unhealthy, mono-faceted ‘fad’ diet which in the long run will bring us nothing but internal harm!

In comparing both types of diets which I have just outlined for you, in my opinion one is just as bad as the other. Let me explain just what I mean. The first diet, in which the man consumes whatever it is he wishes providing he does not go over 1500 calories, is the worst. In using this type of diet you can never be sure or certain that you are getting all the necessary nutrients for good health, let alone proper muscle growth or maintenance. Needless to say, such a diet might be alright from a convenience point of view, but from a healthy lifter’s point of view it is far off the beaten track. On this type of diet, if you wished to, you could eat 1500 calories worth of pizza pie and as long as you ate nothing else for the rest of the day you would be keeping your diet. But what about the necessary vitamins and minerals which everyone needs daily and in large doses for the proper maintenance of the body? What about the protein requirements of such a weight trainee? Could he be positive he was obtaining a correct amount for proper growth muscle-wise? The answer is no, he could not. And although this method of dieting is the most popular in this country, it is my opinion that it leaves quite a lot to be desired.

And what of the diet of trainee number two? Doesn’t the inclusion of a primarily high protein intake in such a diet guarantee that he will obtain the correct number of muscle and strength building nutrients? Doesn’t the inclusion of a moderate amount of carbohydrates and fats guarantee a balanced regimen of dietary significance? Shouldn’t this type of diet be the one to follow when one is trying to lose fat but build muscle at the same time? The answer to all these questions is a big fat ‘NO’!

Let me ask you a few questions. How many grams of complete protein do you think you can get into about 1000 calories? One lb. of lean beef has well over 1000 calories and it contains about 120 grams of protein per lb. Mild contains 32 grams of protein per quart so it would take 3 quarts to give you almost 100 grams of protein of high biological value, but the calorie content would once again be too, too high. To make a long story short, you are not going to get very many grams of complete protein in 1000 calories and this is why the second type of diet isn’t too good. You see, when you get into counting calories you are taking from Peter to pay Paul. Sure, your calorie level is low and adequate for you to lose weight with but just where will you be losing the weight from? A weightlifter or bodybuilder wants to lose fat, not useful muscle. And that is why such a diet of counting calories just will not work for him. No matter how you try to arrange it, either the amount of protein will not be high enough for proper muscular maintenance and the result would be a great loss in muscle size, or else the foodstuffs which produce training energy would be lacking and the result would be a loss of muscle power. In short, for the lifter, counting calories to lose weight will not work!

The second most popular type of diet for training down is the low carbohydrate diet. This diet centers around the ingesting of primarily protein foods while the carbohydrate is kept rather low, around 60 grams in most cases. One does not have to count calories while on this type of diet for on the low carbohydrate diet, calories don’t really count. One counts the grams of carbohydrates one ingests butt that is all. The amount of protein does not matter, and one can literally gorge oneself on steaks, eggs, fish, most cheeses and fowl. The good points in this diet are that the weight trainee is assured that he is obtaining sufficient protein in his diet for the mainstay of the diet would be primarily protein. Thus he is certain that he has enough protein to guarantee himself adequate muscle growth and repair. The sixty grams of carbohydrates give him a chance to vary his dietary schedule somewhat, by way of fruits and some vegetables (in small quantities of course) and all in all such a diet seems better than the first mentioned ‘calorie counting’ one.

However, even this type of diet has its drawbacks. For one thing, the energy level is not that much better than it was in the second trainee’s method of reducing while counting calories. Sixty grams of carbohydrates will not give you a great deal of energy, that’s for sure. And although I realize that the theory behind the low carbohydrate diet is one of utilizing your own fatty deposits for an energy fuel system while only partaking of primarily protein foods at the table, I still have not found many trainees who can thrive on such a diet for any length of time. Either their weight reduction comes to a halt or they lose training enthusiasm and endurance as well as strength. Now the average man might possible get by on only sixty grams of carbs per day. After all, he is not a weightlifter. But I sincerely doubt if the average trainee can do this. I myself have tried both the calorie counting and the high protein, low carbohydrate diets, and as I stated before, on both diets I lost excess weight, but on the calorie counting diet I also lost quite a bit of muscle, and on the high protein diet I lost quite a bit of training energy. It just seemed as though neither diet could really do the job.

This next diet is the one that I have been all along leading up to. It is the latest one I have tried and is, so far, by far the best. I ran into this theory some time ago while. Do you fellows remember a while back when the ‘high protein and cream’ diet was popular? Most claims were very impressive to say the least. And it was this diet which first prompted me to try my variation of it. I read how those famous bodybuilders would live primarily on a high protein diet mixed with cream and drunk throughout the day. Most of these fellows claimed that this type of diet really enabled them to grow like mad and also, they lost excess fat from around the midsection while their training energy really soared. Now I always understood this theory. The high protein assured the trainee that his muscles were fully nourished and the high fat (cream) part of the diet would perk up the metabolism and allow him to oxidate more body fat while the high caloric value of the cream would give the trainee more than adequate training energy. The end result: increased muscle size and strength, decreased body fat. The bodybuilder’s dream come true! The answer to the most frustrating problem of them all: how to lose excess body fat while you build or maintain muscle. So you see, it was not that I did not fully understand this particular method of weight reduction that made me go into the other various methods of weight loss, rather it was the depressing awareness that I had always loved and enjoyed eating and I would never be able to get used to eating only protein powder and cream no matter how fast I gained while doing so. So although I read and reread the many claims made for this revolutionary type of diet, I had never tried it myself.

Recently, my uncle had to see a doctor because of his cholesterol level. He was told that it was much too high and the doctor explained how my uncle was to try to relieve the condition by the proper diet and the proper exercise. In his diet, my uncle was told to consume only poly-unsaturated fats, not animal fats. He was told that there was contained in certain types of fats, a substance which would help reduce the cholesterol level and would also aid in the proper utilization and oxidation of body fat. He was given a list of foods to eat and was told to use either corn or safflower oil for cooking. This started me thinking. Was not this type of diet very similar to the protein and cream diet of the past bodybuilders? Was it primarily not a high protein and high fat diet?

Since by now my enthusiasm knew no bounds, I had to try such a diet on myself while using weight training as a physical catalyst. At the local heath foods store I purchased one quart of safflower oil and one container of 96% protein powder. My diet would consist primarily of protein supplements, various complete protein foods and no more than sixty grams of carbohydrates per day. As far as the high fat portion of my diet was concerned, I relied upon safflower oil used in cooking and corn oil margarine used throughout the day on my various foods with hopes that these measures would not only give me an abundant protein supply, but a high energy level (from the fats) and a desired well-roundedness (from the inclusion of the carbohydrates) which would insure proper weight loss, proper muscle growth and last but not least, proper energy level. The following paragraph shall explain the results of this experiment.

When I began to incorporate this training down procedure into my living habits at first I was alarmed at the amount of change I would have to undergo. Certain foods would have to be excluded from the diet, certain ones added. But after a while, when the results began to show, I knew I was on the right track and I did not mind the various inconveniences I had up to that point encountered. I ate approximately six meals per day and at each meal I would have some form of protein and some form of polyunsaturated fat. I would really take in the protein and I was always sure that my intake of water was adequate to insure proper ‘ventilation’ of the urinary tract. Thus I made sure that no protein waste was left over in the colon or liver, etc. My sources of carbohydrates were natural in content. A few pieces of fresh fruit and vegetables per day. My training was geared for bulk and power, high sets of low reps with limit poundages. I trained at a fast pace, not resting for more than two minutes for each set, and I trained three times per week.

In the beginning, my weight began to drop slowly but surely, from a high of 260 lbs. down to 248. Up until this time I had no trouble with either training energy or training poundages. Both were more than adequate. But as time went by and I began to lose more and more bodyweight the limit lifts also began to recede, once again, little by little. I did not let this deter me, however, and I continued on with my experiment, come what may. My squat had dropped from 515 at 260 lbs. down to 465 at a bodyweight of 245. I noticed that my training energy wasn’t lacking at all. It just seemed that the power just was not there the way it used to be and come what may, I just couldn’t shake the feeling that once again I was wrong with the method I had incorporated to bring about the sought after results.

Approximately five weeks ago I weighed in at 238. My squat was down to 425 lbs. My energy was more than adequate, however, at this time. It was then that I decided to use more of the fats in my diet. Three times per day, after each of my main meals, I would fill a whiskey glass with safflower oil and I would drink it down. I forced myself to bear the taste until now I don’t mind it at all. And suddenly things began to happen. First of all, my weight shot down to 228 in a matter of days. And for the first time since I began the experiment my lifts began to improve. Up, up, up went my squat. Down, down, down went bodyweight and most important of all, my waistline. And all the while I was simply overjoyed at the entire affair. It seemed that at last I had found the right way for me.

Today, at a bodyweight of 225, I squatted to just above parallel with 505 lbs. My waist is seven inches smaller than when I began the experiment. My chest is still 54” and my arms are almost 20”. My thighs are 31” measured while standing relaxed. I have about fifteen more pounds to lose and then my experiment will be over. In a few weeks I shall have reached my goal.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Sig Klein - Chapter Five

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The diamond scarf pin presented to Attila by Queen Victoria
which was found clutched in his hand when he died.

My Quarter-Century in the Iron Game

A Tribute to Attila

by Siegmund Klein

One evening during my conversations with Mrs. Attila, she brought forth the Attila scrapbook. This book, about the size of a large bible, was beautifully bound in heavy leather, and had on the cover an imprint of two dumbells crossed over one another, and in large letters, “Attila’s Scrap Book.” Naturally I read and re-read this book, and it taught me much. In it I found newspaper clippings about the Professor from all over the civilized world! There were articles in French, German, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Russian, English and other languages. Old reproductions of photographs of Attila and Sandow graced many of the pages. In short, this book was really a goldmine of information about Professor Attila.

At night I would often sit before a huge oil painting of Attila, painted in London in 1887, representing the pose he always took as the curtains parted and the stage lit up at the beginning of his act. As I gazed at the painting in the dimly lit room, a feeling of nostalgia would come over me. I visualized many of the interesting happenings that I had read about in scrapbook, and suddenly the painting would seem to come alive and Attila would be actually performing for me. It was as if I was being tendered a command performance to the accompaniment of Victrola music that I always played during these daydreams.

I “saw” Attila going through his manual of arms with a huge ninety-pound steel bar, his famous Roman Column and Roman Chair feats, his juggling and his renowned “ball and cup” stunts. Again I would visualize Attila and Sandow performing, and would see them in the fashion of the day bow in acknowledgement to each other while one performed and the other stood on the side. Yes, it even seemed that Attila looked at me through his clear brown eyes and was pleased with his new successor. He was my spiritual mentor and my guide.

What a rare combination of mental and physical inspiration I had in Attila and Sandow, the two greatest forces in molding my life! While I exercised I would look at Sandow’s pictures. If any problems came up regarding my training, I tried to imagine what Attila would say or do under the same conditions. It helped me immeasurably; it gave me courage and fortitude. I knew m decision was then right. I patterned myself after these two athletes as much as possible. As to the extent that I have succeeded, I will leave to others to say.

This month (July, 1944) we are celebrating Attila’s hundredth anniversary. I think it would be very appropriate and fitting at this time to let my life story lapse for the time being and write about a man and athlete who was a guiding light and inspiration and was appropriately called “The Dean of Strong Men.” I will lift the curtain just a bit to reveal a few incidents about the man whose influence brought the strongman game and weightlifting to the heights of popularity it has enjoyed ever since.

Professor Louis Attila was born July 2, 1844 in Karlsruhe, Baden, Germany and adopted the name of Attila from Attila the Hun, also called the Scourge of God. Attila the Hun was a conqueror, and Louis Attila was a conqueror as well; not of men’s lives and possessions, but of the indispositions that made men weak and apathetic. True, he aspired to and became a leader of men. As a great influence for good and not one whom others had feared or obeyed because of dire consequences that would follow defiance; he was revered and respected for the rightful counsel he would give. Instead of a demolisher he was an upbuilder. Incidentally, the name “Attila” often spelled “Atli” means “Iron” in the Hunnic language; the modern Germanic form for Attila is Eitel. I have read articles by press agents about Attila where it was stated that he adopted this name from his mother’s family name as it would be most suitable in his profession, and that his mother was a descendant of the ancient Attila, the King of the Huns.

In his early teens Attila was on the stage doing a song and dance act. He was, however, interested in strength and strong-men even before this time and had taken some gymnastic lessons at the Turnvereins and also some private lessons from one Professor Ernst in Berlin. His decision to follow the strongman profession was at the time he first saw the great Felice Napoli (1821-1887) perform. Napoli was the greatest performer of strength feats from a classical point of view at the time, and engaged Attila to assist him. It was from Napoli that Attila learned the art of posing and doing pantomimes, for Napoli was, before venturing forth as a strongman, a pantomimist.

When Attila was old enough, he enlisted in the Baden Sharpshooters and soon became known as the best athlete amongst the outfit, excelling in swimming, running and jumping. While doing guard duty on the grounds of the Duke of Baden, a baby carriage in which the Duke’s son was sleeping accidentally rolled into a private lake nearby. Attila saved the baby fro drowning and thus gained the friendship of the elder Duke and the man who was later to become Duke of Baden.

After finishing his military service, Attila would accept numerous theatrical engagements. He would however open gymnasiums from time to time, and had them in Paris, Brussels, Berlin, The Hague, Vienna, Rotterdam, Leyden, London and other European cities.

Attila was the originator of many of the exhibition feats of strength and barbell exercises which have become standard. He was the originator of the Bent Press, having taught this famous lift to Sandow and Strongfort. Others have learned the style from these two strongmen. He popularized the Roman Column, the Roman Chair and the Human Bridge. he was the originator of the hollow globe barbell, being also he first athlete to use these weights on the stage, made with brass and nickel plating. He originated his famous Five Pound Dumbell System which was later adopted by Sandow, Desbonnet, Strongfort, and was used as the basis of the military gymnastics by the British German, French, Turkish, Bavarian and Italian armies. He also introduced the plate loading barbell, universally used today.

His fame was worldwide. he was an artistic performer, always preferring the artistic to a mere exhibition of strength. The highlight of his career was reached when he was summoned to appear at Queen Victoria’s Jubilee at Buckingham Palace, London, in 1887. Here, in the presence of practically the entire European Royalty, Attila gave his fabulous exhibition. One of the famous feats he displayed was going through the manual of arms with a ninety-pound steel bar about six feet in length instead of with the regular exhibition rifle. He would usually ask an officer to come on stage and command him through the drill.

Frederick III, father of the late Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany, praised him thus: “You have done something that I have never seen before.”

Besides a huge financial remuneration for his exhibition at the Jubilee, he was presented by the Prince of Wales with a jeweled scarf pin the size of a half-dollar bearing a miniature of Hercules, with leopard skin and sandals all highly colored. This was carved out of crystal and was surrounded by thirty-six diamonds. The Prince, later to become King Edward VII, engaged the Professor as private physical instructor, and a class of Royalty was formed. Among his royal pupils were the six children of King Christian of Denmark, Crown Prince Frederick, the future King Haakon of Norway, King George of Greece, The Duchess of Cumberland, the Queen Mother Alexandra of England, the Princess Dagmar of Denmark (later Empress of Russia) and mother of the late Czar Nicholas.

His distinguished clientele brought him other pupils from among the elite. Among them were the Rajah of Haidarbad, the Rajah of Baroda in British East India, the Earl of Winchester, who presented Attila with a leopard skin and asked Attila to do the honor of making a leotard out of for his stage costume. The Count d’Oultremont, Grand Marshall of the Court of Belgium, Count Bielandt, General Aide do Camp of Her Majesty Queen Wilhelmina of Holland, Lord Lonsdale, Baron Edmond de Rothschild, and many other dignitaries, great financiers, noted men of state, dukes and duchesses, lords and ladies, princes and princesses, were also pupils of the famous Attila.

Attila was not only a strongman, but also a man of large mental caliber and of wide education. Among other accomplishments, he was master of five languages and was an accomplished pianist. The famous Professor Desbonnet of Paris was his pupil also.

His title “Professor” was not of his own creation but had been bestowed upon him by the beneficiaries of his scientific training. It was in 1886 that Sandow first came to him while Attila had a school in Brussels. Sandow, whose right name was Frederick Muller, was trained in the niceties of stage presentations and posing by Attila, and he even gave him the name “Sandow.” The Attila-Sandow combine would make a small book in itself.

In 1893 Attila came to America and opened his first school in New York City. Just as the prominent, the distinguished, the eminent and the great were pupils of his in Europe, he also had similar pupils in New York. He had here as pupils Supreme Court Judge Leaventritt, The Most Rev. Doctor Steele, Rector of Old Trinity, Richard K. Fox, owner and publisher of the Police Gazette, J. Pierpont Morgan, Jr., Julie Opp Faversham, Banker Seligman, Banker John C. Tomlinson, Alfred Vanderbilt, Florenz Ziegfeld, Oscar Hammerstein, Klaw, Erlanger, John Philip Sousa and hosts of other famous names too numerous to mention. His pupils among athletes, besides Sandow and Strongfort, of note were Louis Cyr, Horace Barre, Arthur Dandurand, Warren Lincoln Travis, G.W. Rolandow, H.W. Titus, Anthony Barker, Adolph Nordquest and many other athletes, some of whom became famous later. He had a way of inspiring pupils and had the knack of getting the finer qualities out of an athlete in the highest degree.

Before James J. Corbett’s match with Charley Mitchell in 1894, Corbett enrolled for lessons with Attila. So well pleased was he that during his performance at the Bijou Theatre in Brooklyn, he invited Attila to witness his act from a box in the theatre. During this act, he invited the Professor on stage and presented him with a beautiful locket. On one side was a figure of the champion in fighting costume and attitude, and on the opposite side was a facsimile and the right arm of the pugilist surrounded by the paraphernalia employed in the strongman’s methods for muscular development. Within the locket was a miniature photograph of the fighter and a graceful tribute of esteem.

During his professional career Attila was presented with over 200 medals. He had the honor of being a member in high standing in the lodge of which King Edward VII was Grand Master. He was also an Elk and a member of other orders and a Fellow Sloper, having received the degree simultaneously with King Edward VII.

Can Gottfried, the bandleader of the Coldstream Guard, London, honored Attila by composing “The Attila Waltz” and also the “Attila March” which was published later in England. Attila used both of these compositions during his act. Professor Attila was the only athlete, professional or amateur, mentioned in the National Cyclopedia of American Biography. The compilers, determining to make mention of the greatest of the then athletic trainers, after several months of careful research, were brought to the recognition of Attila as the man who deserved that honor.

In 1896 the Professor was married to Miss Rosa Sanders, who was one of his pupils. The event of the marriage of the strongman and the strongwoman by Mayor Strong of New York City attracted great attention, and although it was intended to be a simple, unconventional affair, many thousands of persons were gathered to witness it. Newspapers of that day used headlines mentioning that “Strongman and Strongwoman Married By Mayor Strong.” It was a newspaperman’s “natural.”

In 1908 Attila opened another studio in Chicago at 2001 Michigan Avenue, and in 1912 he opened a studio in Detroit. He did not, however, stay there very long, for his personality was missed so much at his New York Institute that he had to return.

When Attila was seventy-seven years of age, he still could do some exhibition feats of strength. He, on one occasion, lay on his back, brought a 220 lb. barbell over his head, and pressed it to arms’ length with a “shoulder-bridge.” I believe the last famous athlete to come to Attila for special training was Ernest Cadine, the French strongman, but Attila could not, at that late age, give Cadine the training that he needed; Cadine then went to Montreal and later returned to France.

Professor Louis Attila died March 15th, 1924, at the age of eighty years. His name will live as long as barbells are used. Had it not been for Sandow, the physical culture teachers since his time would not have been the teachers of the present group of weightlifters and culturists, and you, reader, would probably not be reading this. Alan Calvert, who was the founder of “Strength” magazine, wrote some years ago that had it not been for Sandow, he would never have been inspired to make barbells and teach the methods of using them. It was through Attila’s famous pupils that the present generation of weightlifters and “Muscular Marvels” owe their success, for it was they who inspired us.

He was truly a “Friend of the Human Race.”

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Back Specialization - Bradley Steiner

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Larry Scott, Steve Reno

Back Specialization
by Bradley Steiner

For gaining size, power and well-shaped bulk, your efforts in training should center around developing two major muscle groups to their maximum via hard work on the basic exercises for those groups. The first muscle group is the leg-hip structure. The second is the back.

You can, and should, alternate between programs of specialization for both these key areas, until you’ve finally gained your maximum desired bulk and muscular bodyweight. But doubt if it would be desirable (or even feasible) to include a full leg AND back specialization routine in a single workout. Done properly, a back OR leg specialization program is PLENTY of work. A back AND leg specialization program probably couldn’t be done “properly” unless of course you were such a miraculous physical specimen that you didn’t actually need either!

I have chosen to present a back specialization program because I feel that the leg emphasis program is by far the simpler of the two types, and beginners needing basic information on building up are likely to be confused when it comes to setting up a back program.

Leg specialization, besides, has been covered to a large extent by me before, in previous writings. It amounts to, in essence: SQUATTING HARD AND HEAVY, three times a week.

Back specialization is not quite that simple, and in order to eliminate any confusion about the subject, I want to deal with it now.

One question: “Why is leg and back specialization so important?”
Answer: Because your hip-leg and back muscle groups are the BIGGEST and the STRONGEST muscle groups in your body. You can handle the heaviest weights in leg and back exercises, and the carry-over value of leg-back work for EVERY OTHER muscle in your body is tremendous.

Leg work will build your chest, widen your shoulders and give you an A-1 heart and lung workout that will keep you in tiptop shape and health.

A second question: “What kind of results, specifically, can I expect from following a back specialization course?”
Answer: You will develop (if you work as hard as you’re supposed to) unbelievable upper-body power, width, bulk and shape. You will build arms that are strong and look strong. You will develop your vital lower back region, and this will have carry-over benefits that will last your entire life.

You will definitely, unless there is something wrong with you organically, pack on lots of solid, muscular bodyweight, providing you eat properly.

You will have real enjoyment and experience great satisfaction from dominating heavy weights, and from watching your working poundages go up.

Some basic facts you ought to know: The back consists of THREE primary muscle substructures.
1) The trapezius
2) The latissimus
3) The erector spinae
that is: the upper back, below the neck – the bulky, central upper-back – and the lower back. Each of these three muscle groups must be fully developed. Since the average bodybuilder usually devotes most of his back training, if not all of it, to the showy lats, that point about total development bears repeating:
DEVELOP THE WHOLE BACK. To neglect the erector spinae muscles is sheer insanity. If anything, this group is MORE important than the upper back, from a health standpoint. Fully developed, the erector spinae group will DOUBLE of TREBLE your present body strength. The lower back, in short, is not showy, it is essential.

The trapezius muscles ARE showy, in a way, when fully developed. They impart a slope to the shoulders that gives the impression of great power and athletic prowess. Perhaps you’ve noticed that boxers tend to have well-developed traps. This is the inevitable result of their boxing workouts, of keeping the arms up on the guard continually, blocking fast body punches, throwing fast, hard punches. Don’t worry – there are easier ways to build up the traps than going hard rounds every day with a sparring partner!

So – we’ve established the following:
1) the back consists of THREE main muscle substructures.
2) each of the three main groups must be fully developed.

From that beginning we go on to examine the best exercises for each of the major muscle groups in the back – then we will formulate a routine, employing selected movements.

For the trapezius group I recommend Presses behind the neck, Power cleans, Shrugs, High pulls, and Upright rowing.
For the latissimus I recommend BENT-OVER ROWING – nothing else!
For the erector spinae I recommend Stiff-legged deadlifts, Regular deadlifts, good mornings, and the Snatch.

Please be sure that you understand that UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you EVER attempt to employ every one of the aforementioned movements in a single program! If you do try it, be sure to reserve a bed beforehand at your nearest hospital. Just don’t do it.

A good sample back schedule that I DO suggest you try, is the following:
1) Warm up first with 2 sets of 15-20 Prone hyperextensions.
2) Do one warmup set of Stiff-legged deadlifts, then do a very heavy set. 12 reps for the warmup. 12-15 reps for the work set.
3) Do 6 light Power cleans to warm up. Then do 3 sets of 5 Power cleans with every ounce of iron you can pile on the bar.
4) Do 3 sets of 12-15 heavy Bentover rowing movements with a barbell – or alternately for each side with a heavy dumbell.
5) Do 4 or 5 sets of VERY HEAVY Presses behind the neck. 4 or 5 reps a set
6) Do 2 sets of Shrugs with a weight that forces you to use wrist straps in order to maintain your grip on the bar. 20 reps a set.
7) Do a very light set of Stiff-legged deadlifts, again. This time, stand on a solid bench or box and lower the weight below your ankles. Use only a VERY LIGHT WEIGHT and try for maximum stretch. 15 reps.
8) Finish your workout with a single set of deep-breathing pullovers lying on a bench, with a very, very light barbell. The bar alone, in fact, will be quite sufficient. 12-15 slow, stretching, deep-breathing reps.

Such a program, followed THREE TIMES A WEEK, will build for you such great back (and, in fact, overall!) power, that you’ll literally be a new man.
The most effective way to use a back specialization program is by following it for two, two-month periods, interspersed with a two-week layoff so you don’t overtrain and go stale. Work out three times a week using nothing but this program.

This is a good place to point out that a layoff need not be spent in bed. The only requisite for a good rest is that you STAY AWAY FROM THE WEIGHTS. You can swim, if you like, jog, play tennis, ride horses or any other moderately vigorous thing – so long as you don’t work out with barbells or dumbells.

After a two-week layoff go right back to your same back specialization schedule. Be sure to start in again with REDUCED WEIGHTS, because a slight loss of power is almost inevitable after two-week layoff. Don’t worry about this slight loss of power. You’ll be much stronger in the long run, after a layoff, than you ever possibly could be if you were to train endlessly, with no break in your course at all.

Work into really heavy weights where I’ve indicated heavy weights are to be used. If you take it easy and train light, then forget about gaining anything worthwhile.

I do not suggest that any trainee employ this back routine – or any other specialization routine, for that matter – for more than two, two-month periods. To do more than this would, I am afraid, simply be overtraining on your program. After all, you can get just so much from a single routine before you’ll milk it dry and require a different program for continued gains. So be sensible. Follow this course as outlined for two months. Layoff two weeks. Go back and train for two more months. Then, STOP. After your specialization, you should go right into an all-round schedule that works your entire physique evenly. Keep at this for 6 to 8 weeks before trying anything resembling another specialization program.

Although a specific leg specialization program is not being outlined here, I want to stress that the same method of training (two months’ work, two weeks layoff, two months’ work) is the best for this purpose, too.

So that everything is covered, let me mention two other essential elements that must go with the training program if it is to be maximally successful: REST AND GOOD FOOD. Nobody can make maximum gains without either of them.

If you are young and growing, or if you are generally active outside of your lifting activities, you should get a bare minimum of eight hours uninterrupted sleep. Nine or ten hours is even better.

You should eat plenty of meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish and poultry, rice, thick soups, spaghetti, cheeses, etc. Drink plenty of milk every day if you’re seriously underweight. Two quarts a day for underweight teenagers is a must. In the winter months take hot milk with Ovaltine.

Plenty of spectacular routines exist, other than the one I’ve given you here. But this basic back specialization program – for all its stark simplicity – will produce spectacular RESULTS. Train very hard – CONCENTRATE - and use HEAVY WEIGHTS. Train three times a week and try never to miss an exercise period. Then, after four and a half months of hard work, sit back and be proud of what you accomplished.

You will be.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Powerful Arms - Chapter Five - David Willoughby

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Powerful Arms

by David Willoughby

Chapter Five

Exercises for the Upper Arms

As previously pointed out, the best method of developing the arms is the method practiced by those subjects who possess the finest arms. In this connection an ounce of fact is worth a ton of theory. Some mail-order instructors have found it more convenient and more profitable to advocate some other form of training other than that actually employed by the outstanding examples of bodily development.

In considering the best exercises for developing the upper arms, one should bear in mind the chief functions of the muscles in that part. The muscles of the upper arm extend, or straighten the arm.

The most effective of all exercises for the flexor muscles of the arm is curling. To curl a weight means to raise, with one hand or both, slowly from a position in which the arm hangs straight, to a position in which the arm is fully bent and the hand is near the shoulder. In curling a barbell, the bar is grasped with the hands about shoulder-width apart and the palms facing upward. The commencing position of the exercise is with the body in erect standing posture, and the weight held hanging at arms’ length with the bar touching the front of the thighs. From this position the weight is curled or raised slowly to the shoulders in a semi-circular movement by bending the arm.

Throughout the movement, the elbows should be kept by the sides, a little to the front, and not allowed to move backward. The hands should be kept bent upward at the wrist, this position developing the flexor muscles on the inside of the forearm. As stated, the barbell should be raised to the shoulders slowly. By “slowly” is meant to proceed at a rate of motion that would allow the weight to be stopped at any stage of the exercise. In other words, you should avoid any swinging or sudden starting of the bell that would assist you in getting it past the “tough” stages of its travel. By observing this rule, you will train your muscles to possess equal strength and capacity of all stages of their contraction. In lowering the bell, let it down in the same slow manner until the arms are straight, meanwhile keeping the wrists bent upward, the elbows in the position stated, and the weight at the half-way stage well in front of the body, so as to throw the maximum leverage on the muscles being exercised.

Curling, as here described, is the best and quickest way of developing the biceps. The exercise may also be performed with a pair of dumbells, using the arms either together of alternately. Using a dumbell permits the wrist to be flexed further toward the little finger side, with added benefit to the inside forearm muscles. Otherwise, the use of dumbells possesses no particular advantage over a barbell in this exercise.

A second form of curling is with the backs of the hands uppermost. This exercise is usually termed the reverse curl. In raising and lowering the barbell the wrists are again kept bent upward, the only difference being that in the reverse curl it is the backs of the hands that remain uppermost. The reverse curl is particularly valuable for developing the forearm. During this exercise, care should be taken that the elbows remain close by the sides; for here more than in the regular two-arm, there is a tendency for the elbows to move outward as the barbell is being raised. If the latter tendency is not avoided, much of the developing effect on the forearms is lost. When the reverse curl is performed as a competitive lift, with the most weight that can be raised once, it is called the Rectangular Fix, and the forearms are raised only as high as the horizontal position where they are “fixed” momentarily at right angles to the upper arms – hence the name “rectangular fix”. As a development exercise, however, the reverse curl should be performed by raising the barbell all the way to the shoulders precisely as the regular two-arm curl.

In all forms of curling it should be remembered that the lowering of the weight develops the muscles almost as much as the raising; and that in both motions a bending of the wrists upward increases the developing effect on the muscles of the forearm. In performing the reverse curl the wrists should occasionally be held straight, rather than bent upward, so as to put the maximum effect on the muscles that extent the wrist. A suggestion is to do the first 4 counts of this exercise with the wrists straight, and the remainder of the counts with the wrists bent well upward. In this way, strength of the wrist in both positions will be developed.

A form of curling that is intermediate between the regular curl and the reverse curl may be performed with a single dumbell or a pair of dumbells. It consists of holding the dumbell with the hand pointing fore and aft instead of crosswise, and maintaining the hand in that position as the curling and lowering movements of the arm are made. This style of curling, with the hand in semi-supination, or supinated only half-way, is especially effective for developing the large brachioradialis muscle in the forearm, which when well-developed shows up on the top or front of the forearm in a swelling ridge. In this exercise, too, an appreciable developing effect is thrown on the grip if the dumbell handle is grasped in the middle, as shown in the illustration, so that the weight of the dumbell is sustained by the grip alone and not by the top of the fist. An even more effective form of this exercise is to curl with one hand a long barbell, by grasping it in the middle and levering it over to the shoulder purely by arm and wrist strength.

In any discussion of arm development, it is customary to mention the familiar exercise of chinning the bar. In actuality, however, this exercise depends to a greater extent upon the development of the muscles of the front chest and the broad of the back than upon the muscles of the arms. Although the flexors of the arm do come strongly into action in the first part of the chinning movement, they are not developed nearly so much by this form of exercise as they are by the curling movements with a barbell or dumbell that we have just described. Rope climbing, also, while often considered primarily as an arm developer, produces results similar to chinning. However, both chinning, and dipping on the parallel bars, are effective movements for exercising the muscles of the upper arms in conjunction with those of the chest and upper back, and they are useful supplementary exercises for specialized routines such as will be described in Chapter VII. In chinning, an overhead horizontal bar is grasped by the hands, which are shoulder-width apart, and the body is slowly raised by the flexing of the arms until the chin reaches the level of the bar. As with curling, there are two principle ways of chinning. In the regular chin, you grasp the bar with the palms of your hands facing toward you; while in the reverse chin the palms face away from you. Both varieties should be practiced. In chinning the bar for arm development, be sure to make the movement as complete as possible, both when raising the body and when lowering it.

The three forms of curling previously described, if practiced judiciously in accordance with the suggestions to be given later, are adequate for the full development of the flexor muscles in the upper arm. Variety in exercise is, of course, desirable to relieve what otherwise might be monotony. Therefore, a pair of adjustable dumbells may be used to advantage to supplement one’s exercise with the barbell. And by “barbell” we mean a modern plate-loading barbell that can be quickly adjusted to any of a wide variety of poundages. This barbell apparatus, being well-nigh indispensable to the body culturist, we shall throughout this book assume to be the mainstay of his exercising equipment. An adjustable barbell weighing, when fully loaded, from 150 to 200 pounds, is sufficient for the full and complete development of the average masculine physique. Such barbell sets, as sold today, almost invariably include two dumbell handles as well as a long barbell handle.

We may now opportunely turn our attention to the extensor muscles of the arm. The triceps muscle on the back of the upper arm, together with the anconeous muscle in the forearm, is brought into play in any exercise where against resistance, the forearm is extended into line with the upper arm. Lying flat on the back (supine) on the floor, and pressing a barbell to arms’ length, is one of the best exercises for these muscles. A modification of this “press on back” movement, about equally valuable for triceps development, and which permits greater poundages to be handled, is to press while in the “shoulder-bridge” position. In this latter position, the back is arched up off the floor and the feet are flat on the floor close to the hips, with the knees bent. (See Figure 5) There are various ways of getting the bell into position for performing the press on back or the shoulder-bridge press. If it lies on the floor behind the head, it may be drawn over the face into the starting position for the press. In doing this, it will be helpful to arch into the shoulder-bridge, whether one is going to press the bell in this position or not, and then arch again into the bridge when lowering the bell over the face to its position on the floor. It is a good plan to have the barbell rest on two wooden blocks, so that the bar is raised almost, but not quite, as high as it will be when in the starting position for the press. By then lying on the floor as it will be when in the starting position for the press. By then lying on the floor and sliding your head beneath the bell until the bar is directly over our neck, you can then easily lift the barbell off the blocks and replace it thereon at the conclusion of the exercise. Care should be taken to see that the bell does not roll off the blocks while one is sliding one’s head beneath it or crawling out from under it. A third method is useful if one does not exercise alone. Your partner simply hands you the bell and removes it when you have finished pressing. Your partner should grasp the bar with a narrow grip, so that his hands will not conflict with yours when he gives you the weight or takes it away.

Another effective exercise is to dip on the parallel bars. That is, to first support the weight of the body on straight arms between two bars, then lower the body until the arms are completely bent, and then return to the starting position by re-straightening the arms. A good substitute for the parallel bars, which as a rule are available only in a gymnasium, is to perform the dipping exercise between two chairs faced back-to-back, the hands grasping the backs of the chairs. In the latter form of dipping, in order for the feet to remain clear of the floor, the knees must be kept bent during the lowerings and raisings of the body. This movement of dipping between two chairs is one of the most result-producing exercises that can be performed with simple household furniture. Regular parallel bars, however, are much more satisfactory, since in using chairs one must waste a certain amount of energy in keeping them steady, and moreover, if the chair backs are not padded, they may cause uncomfortable pressure on the hands. But one can often find other articles of furniture that can be adapted to this dipping exercise, without the disadvantages possessed by chairs. A window sill and a typewriter table, for example, are often of approximately the same height. Or two tables can be placed near each other; or a table and a bureau. But one can sometimes find articles of furniture that are as high as regular parallel bars or even higher. Two bookcases, for example, of a bookcase and a chiffonier. In all of these cases, if one article of furniture is somewhat lower than the other, it may be equalized by placing upon it a book or books of the necessary thickness.

If the reader wishes to go to the necessary expense, he can have a pair of sturdy parallel bars made as shown in Figure 7. Someday, perhaps, architects will consider built-in chinning bars and parallel bars as essential and indispensable to a house as bathtubs and showers.

The exercise of dipping on the parallel bars, as customarily performed, although effective for the triceps in the final stage of straightening the arms, has even greater effect on the muscles of the breast. A method of dipping that has far greater effects on the triceps, is to grasp the bars with the backs of the hands uppermost and the thumbs nearest the body. This position of the hands causes the arms to point outward from the sides of the body, throwing greater leverage on the elbow-joints, and so in turn making greater demands on the triceps muscles. (See Figure 7) Because the hands, in this position, must push strongly inward, this exercise requires either regular parallel bars or solid and heavy pieces of furniture. It is one of the most strenuous and effective of all exercises for the triceps.

The familiar exercise known as floor-dipping, which consists of alternately bending and straightening the arms while supporting the body face downward on hands and toes, is somewhat similar in action to the exercises of pressing weights while lying on the back. The floor-dip, however, has its principal effect on the muscles of the breast rather than the arms. It can be made more effective for the triceps if the hands, instead of being placed shoulder-width apart, are placed together, with the fingers interlaced.

A very simple way to make the floor-dip more difficult and thereby increase its developmental effects is to do most of the work with one arm, keeping the elbow close to the side. Sway the weight of the body first over one hand, then over the other. This form of dipping may be made progressively more strenuous by resting one hand on a bench or chair (See Figure 8). In the latter style, after exercising one arm, be sure to reverse the position of the hands and do a similar number of pushups with the other arm. Gradually increase the weight on the hand on the floor until you can finally do a series of pushups with each arm while bearing little or no weight on the hand on the chair.

A highly effective gymnastic exercise for the triceps is the breast-up or full mount on the Roman rings. In this feat the performer first chins himself, or pulls his body upward until his shoulders reach the level of the rings; he then continues by a powerful downward pressing on the rings which brings his shoulders above his hands. From the latter position the movement is completed by a straightening of the arms which raises the body to a position of rest, as on the parallel bars. During the first half of the breast up, that is, until the body is pulled up to the stage where the turning over of the hands and the effort of pressing downward begins, the rings are grasped not in the usual manner, but with what is known as the “double grip.” This double grip is taken so that the ring crosses the hand diagonally, coming close to the wrist on the little finger side. While employing this grip the wrists are held in a bent position. Without the use of this grip, a breast-up becomes extremely difficult to accomplish. The effect of the breast-up on the development of the triceps muscles is most powerful at the halfway stage where the effort is changed from pulling to pushing. It would be hard to find another exercise, or feat that brings the triceps into as sheer and vigorous action as does the breast-up at this point.

A standard exercise of the weight lifter, and one that develops the triceps in addition to many other muscles, is to press a weight from the shoulders to arms’ length overhead in the standing position. This fundamental exercise of pressing admits of many variations. The exercise may be performed with both arms or with one arm at a time, using either a barbell, a single dumbell, or a pair of dumbells. Its performance depends more upon the shoulder muscles than upon the arms, although the triceps muscles are brought into action in the final stage of straightening the arms. Before continuing with the description of this exercise, it will be opportune at this point to mention, for the benefit of the beginner, some fundamental principles to be applied to the handling of barbells.

There are two main ways of holding a barbell while exercising: the “undergrip”, in which the bar is grasped with the palms of both hands turned upward, and the “overgrip”, in which the palms face downward. The undergrip is used in the regular two-arm curl, as already described. The overgrip is used in nearly all other barbell exercises, including the two-arm press.

The preliminary movement by which a barbell is taken from the floor to the shoulders, preparatory to lifting it overhead, is known as “cleaning”. The pupil must at the very beginning learn the technique of this method of shouldering a barbell, which will here be described in detail. Standing immediately up to the barbell (the ankles almost touching the bar), reach down and grasp the bar, using the overgrip, the hands being about as far apart as the width of the shoulders, and the arms straight. In stooping over the back should be kept as flat as possible, all the bending takes place in the hips, knees and ankles – the feet being flat on the floor, and about fifteen inches apart. In other words, bend over just as though about to sit in a chair, the legs being bent considerably and the body inclined forward from the hips, with the back straight. As soon as you have this commencing position right, straighten up suddenly, pulling the bar up close to you in a vertical line until it reaches the height of the chest; then shoot the elbows forward, turn the wrists over, and bend the knees very quickly – all at the same instant, and as the body is thus lowered several inches the bell will be “received” at the shoulders, after which you merely straighten the legs to be in a position for the exercise of pressing. (Note the this “clean” lift to the shoulders is accomplished mainly by the power of the back and legs, the arms acting chiefly as connecting-links which transmit this power to the handle of the barbell) Although the arms are straight at the commencement of the upward pull on the bar, they must be held loosely, in readiness to bend as the bar is “yanked” upward vertically and reaches its maximum height with straight arms.

Now to return to our description of the two-arm press. Holding the bar across the upper part of the chest, slowly press it upward by straightening the arms until it reaches full arms’ length overhead, with the arm or arms extended completely, with the elbow and shoulder joints “locked” – that is, with the arm bones in vertical alignment – so that the weight can be supported in the finishing position with a minimum of effort. In repeating the exercise, the bell is not lowered to the floor each time, but only to the shoulders, after which it is again pressed overhead. For the best results, the body should be maintained in an erect position, with the knees rigidly straight, and the feet on one and the same crosswise line about fifteen inches apart, as the barbell is pressed from the shoulders to vertical arms’ length. The movements, both of raising and lowering the weight, should be performed in a slow and steady manner, without jerk, swing, or other assistive maneuver. An important point of advice to beginners is that in every exercise where the weight is raised overhead, the gaze should be fixed steadfastly on the bell in order that it may be kept under control. Always watch your bell!

Pressing a weight with one arm and assisting the movement by simultaneously bending the body to the opposite side possesses no advantage over straight two-arm pressing insofar as development of the arms is concerned, although such elaborated movements are instrumental to the development of the trunk muscles.

A variation of two-arm pressing that is especially effective for the triceps is to raise and lower the barbell from behind the neck. The commencing position of this exercise requires that the forearms assume a more horizontal position than when the barbell is held in the usual manner in front of the neck. Consequently, in the act of straightening the arms and raising the barbell overhead, the triceps muscles are required to work against greater leverage and so take on greater development. The loser together the hands are placed on the bar, the greater the effect on the triceps. If the arms are tired at conclusion of the exercise of pressing from behind the neck, the pupil is faced with the problem of getting the bell over the head and back to the chest. This is accomplished by quickly bending the knees and then straightening the legs with a snappy movement, at the same time heaving upward with the arms. In the way the bell can easily be lifted, or jerked, over the head and brought to the chest.

After performing the two-arm press exercise, the barbell is lowered from the chest to the floor by a movement the reverse of cleaning, bending the legs as it descends from chest to hips to floor so that no shock may result to the back.

That portion of the triceps known as the middle or long head, which in addition to assisting the other two heads of the triceps to straighten the arm, acts to draw the arm backward and downward, is not affected in its latter function by any of the pressing or dipping exercises previously given. To develop the long head of the triceps completely, it is therefore necessary to use exercises wherein the arms are forced backward against resistance. Typical exercises requiring this movement of the arms are chinning on the rings or bar, rope climbing, rowing, and barbell and dumbell exercises in which the arms are raised backward and upward while the trunk is maintained bent forward parallel with the floor. In these exercises the long head of the triceps works in conjunction with the large muscles of the upper back. An effective exercise is the backward dumbell raise. With a pair of dumbells in the hands, bend forward from the hips, letting the arms follow so as to remain in a hanging position. Maintaining the trunk of the body parallel to the floor, and the arms straight, raise the dumbells straight backward as far as you can, keeping them close to the sides. At the finish of the movement, check the bells a moment before lowering and repeating. This is an example of an exercise where, due to ligamentous restriction (in this case, of movement of the head of the humerus in the scapular socket), momentum may be introduced to effect a more complete contraction, with consequent development of the muscles involved. So, after repeating the exercise at the usual rate of motion until it is felt that only a couple of additional counts could be performed, speed up the latter part of the backward arm movement so as to raise the bells as high as possible.

An exercise that has an isolated effect on the triceps similar to the effect that curling has on the biceps, has been called the “triceps push-away”. Grasping two dumbells with the undergrip, bend forward from the hips till the trunk of the body is parallel to the floor, the upper arms being held horizontal and the forearms vertical. Maintaining the trunk and the upper arms in the same position, the dumbells are then raised backward by straightening the arms. At the finish of the movement, the bells are held firmly for a moment before lowering and repeating. This exercise can be varied by grasping the dumbells with the overgrip, so that the palms are facing backward; and also by holding the bells with the handles pointing fore-and-aft.

Many other exercises could be given for the upper arms if it were of advantage to do this. The majority of such exercises are mere duplication, in effect, of those here recommended. Certain other so-called arm exercises, still prescribed by some instructors, are devoid of practical value. Such, for example, is that old-reliable exercise of the light-dumbell advocate wherein the upper arms are alternately flexed and extended. It should be superfluous to expatiate upon the unnaturalness and the inefficacy of such exercises.

For the beginner to insure that he adheres to his training to the stage where real results are apparent (from which stage on, he will need no extra stimulus!), he should rely chiefly on a limited number of exercises of general character, that is, exercises in which the effect is shared by various parts of the body rather than confined to some one part. Such general exercises, besides being the quickest and most satisfactory means for developing the entire body, educate the various muscle groups to respond in an efficient coordinated manner. Over and above these general exercises, as a supplement thereto when the student has attained a good all-around development, strength feats may be used to bring about whatever special ability is desired.

We wish to stress, however, that the beginner should take advantage of every habit that will make it easier for him to persevere with his exercising until the desired results appear. A limited number of far-reaching exercises, even though the repetition of them may in time become monotonous, is far more conductive to a fine physique than is a ceaseless searching for new variations and novel exercises before one has laid the foundation for complete physical development. Some instructors, in an effort to impress the pupil with their knowledge, prescribe for use an overwhelming number of exercises, when a few well-chosen ones would be far more practical and beneficial.

A point commonly overlooked by the teacher is that a comprehensive training system os remolding the body in order to be productive of the results desired must take into account the inconstancy of human will-power. A program of body building exercise, to be followed faithfully until the coveted physical qualities are developed, must be interesting, enjoyable, practical, conveniently accessible, economical (for most of us), result-producing, and last but not least, a refreshment rather than an added burden, to the mind. If too great a number or too exhausting a series of exercises is attempted, it is inevitable that in due course, often only a short time after commencing, the entire program will be dropped in despair. Our endeavor, in this book, is to present the student with the best means known for developing his arms to approximate perfection.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sig Klein - Chapter Four

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My Quarter Century in the Iron Game

by Siegmund Klein

The Nordquest Brothers, Joe, Adolph and Arthur, whom Alan Calvert wrote so much about in “Strength” magazine, lived in Ashtabula, Ohio, some fifty-odd miles outside of Cleveland. I did want to meet these famous brothers who “put Ashtabula on the map.” I started out to visit them three different times, but each time it did not materialize; once the chap I was going with could not get his family car, at another time I was called for a special exhibition. I never did get to meet Joe or his older brother Arthur, who started both Joe and Adolph on weight lifting.

One of my first pupils was my nephew. He is the son of my older brother, whom I worked for in the bakery. My family lived on East 86th Street and Cedar Avenue at the time. Jonas was just a baby then, and I recall how his mother would continually tell me that she would be so happy if Jonas would grow up to be as strong and muscular as his uncle. Whenever Jonas came over to the house, he would ask me to take him up to my gymnasium so that he could watch me “lift the irons.” It pleased me no end to hear him say that, for I always hoped that he would, as time went on, become interested in the “Sport of the Strong.” Jonas was about six years old then, and he showed interest in physical activities even at that tender age. I presented him with a small pair of dumbells as he wanted to exercise the same way I did. As he grew older, I presented him with a set of barbells, and he was very happy with these, promising me that he would train faithfully. This he did, and in 1938, out of twenty-four contestants, he won the Junior National Weight Lifting Championship in the 165 lb. class.

I was training regularly and my progress and development was improving. More pictures were taken of me and published. I knew from the letters I was receiving from readers of “Strength” and from the Milo Barbell Co., that my reputation was spreading. Milo informed me that I was becoming one of the popular lifters of the day. About the latter part o 1923, I received a letter from Alan Calvert informing me that he was preparing a book called “Super-Strength,” and that he would like to have me illustrate some o the lifts and exercises in it. I would have to come to Philadelphia of course, and should wire him back at once if interested.

I had never expected to receive such a flattering offer, particularly when Milo had such outstanding pupils as Anton Matysek, Fred Rodhe, Archie Gillespie and many others. I was all keyed up about this opportunity, and had at the time the opportunity to purchase a small bake shop. Although I was still quite young to undertake such a responsibility, my father wanted me to buy it. He thought that if I would go into the baking business I would forget weight lifting and the stage, which I must admit was fascinating me more as time went on. When I told the family of my contemplated trip to Philadelphia, they discouraged me. I felt blue and disheartened, because they did not understand what this meant to me. They could not see how anyone could have taken to heart such ideas as I had. The youngest member of the family of eight children, I was given advice from all quarters. Although I was now twenty-one years of age, I did not listen to this advice. I cried – I could not help it, and was not ashamed of it. A wire was sent back that I regretted I could not accept the offer. This was the hardest blow I ever took in my physical culture career. When my copy of “Super-Strength” arrived several months later, I found the Mr. Walter Donald had been given the honor of posing for the illustrations.

Being somewhat sentimental, I had on many occasions during this period been “blue” and found that when I got started on my weight training this feeling left me. I started to work out harder than ever. I buried myself in my books! Georg Hackenschmidt, “The Russian Lion,” wrote a book, “The Way to Live” or “Physical Strength and How I Acquired It.” This was the latest addition to my strength library.

The thought and idea of a stage career was getting stronger, particularly after seeing so many wonderful acts. I tried from time to time to locate a more suitable partner, since Joe Okin did not at the time wish to make a career of the stage, and could not, hard as we both tried, master some of the intricate hand-balancing stunts that I had planned for us to do. I went so far as to advertise in the newspapers for a “top-mounter.” Several applied, but they did not come up to my expectations. I knew full well that the only place I would be able to get just the athlete that I wanted would be New York City.

There appeared one week, at the Hippodrome Theater in Cleveland, “Samsted and Marion.” I knew, from looking at the pictures in the show cases, that Samsted was Sam Olmstead, the famous Physical Culture Authority and strongman, having seen pictures of Mr. Olmstead in the old Physical Culture magazines in the library as far back as 1906.

Here was another act that I just could not miss. The act was called “The Batchelor’s Vision.” It opened with Olmstead on stage reading an article in a magazine, stating that an heiress was looking for a man who had the figure of an Apollo and the strength of a Hercules. He had a dressing gown on, and, as he read, soon fell fast asleep. There appeared on stage, behind a veil, a charming woman, dressed in a beautiful wrap, evidently the heiress. Lights were dimmed, and then Samsted dreamed that he would display his development to the heiress for her approval. Samsted had a large cabinet with sliding curtains. He struck a pose, the curtain opened, and there he was in a classical pose. Holding this for a little while, the curtain closed, and he repeated this several times, going through a magnificent routine of poses. This was followed by some muscle-control feats.

He then came face to face with his “dream girl” and invited her to come off the pedestal and he would, now, show his Herculean strength by doing some “lifts” with her. He would Bent-Press first his left arm for one performance, and then with the right arm for another. He also had a special apparatus made so that he would do the “thigh curl” with the fair lady standing on the soles of his feet. This he did with great effect. After a few more feats of strength, Samsted would lie down on the floor, holding the girl over his head, and slowly do a “get-up” with her, carrying her overhead, back onto the pedestal. Then Samsted came forward and gave a short physical culture talk, and followed this by doing a few “setting-up” exercises for the audience. When this was finished he walked over to the pedestal and, with great gestures, asked the heiress if he came up to her expectations. She disapproved, and Samsted proceeded to walk off stage, but turning his head for a last look, she nodded with approval. Lights were again dimmed, and Samsted was again back in the chair “dreaming.”

Years before this act, Sam Olmstead did a hand-balancing act, and before that, he did a straight weight lifting act. One of his famous feats was with a 100 lb. kettlebell, which was out front for the audience to see and try to lift. This weight would be carried on stage by two stagehands. A partner weighing 140 lbs. would b seated upon the kettlebell, and Sam Olmstead would then Bent-Press this ponderous poundage of 240 lbs. As I stated before, I became very moody from time to time, and during these restless moments I would, upon the slightest provocation, change positions. I was always looking for something else, just what I did not know. Whatever position I had, I worked well and satisfactorily. I would be promised an increase in salary if I would stay, but to no avail. These changes were taking place more and more frequently. Though I had by this time learned the baking trade quite well, I was determined that I would not make baking my vocation.

To write this story in sequence I must bring in little facts that bear out just how deeply interested I was, how enthralled I was with barbell training and exhibition work.

At this time, though, I was still quite young; I was engaged to be married to a very charming young Clevelander. I knew if I married that it would once and for all shatter my hopes and my dreams of what I wanted to become. Fate, or whatever you wish to call it, did not approve of this marriage, and so quarrels occurred from time to time, until at last the engagement was broken. This upset me, and so I decided to leave home. I purchased a large suit case, brought it home, and started to pack. My mother was naturally upset, for never had I left home before. I recall very clearly her standing at the staircase, pleading with me to not leave. My father took an indifferent attitude. He was by this time disgusted with me. “You are old enough to know what you are doing,” was his only comment.

Of course I did not, upon leaving home, I did contemplate going to New York, as I always wanted to go there. On my way to the railway station, I stopped at the Central YMCA and told Art Cluelee, the head physical director, that I was leaving town, and thanked him for his kindness in permitting me when I first enrolled there as a member to bring my weights to the Y. There were now quite a number of young men availing themselves of the use of my weights; I had several bars and about 250 lbs. of assorted plates. These I presented to the Y, hoping that those boys who started to show such satisfactory improvement would continue to train, as I suggested to them, and make the progress in development and strength which they strived for.

I did not of course tell my family of my plans. I had a married sister in Cincinnati and a dear aunt living there, and I decided that I would first visit them. My aunt, on hearing of my proposed trip to Cincinnati, was happy that her “Siegmundchen” would at last visit her. Upon m arrival I informed them that I proposed going to New York, and both my sister and aunt tried to persuade me to return home. I remained in Cincinnati for the next few days, and then I changed my plans for the time being.

Ottley Coulter, who was living in Pittsburgh at the time, was, together with George F. Jowett, conducting the Milo Gymnasium in that city. I had read many of the interesting stories that were penned by this famous athlete and authority Coulter, and had always wanted to meet him personally. George F. Jowett, who came from Inckerman, Ontario, Canada, also contributed articles now and then to “Strength” magazine, and he was coming to the fore as an outstanding writer on matters pertaining to weight lifting and strength. I did want to meet both of these athletes and decided that I would make a stop over in Pittsburgh.

Arriving in the “Smoky City” about ten o’clock in the morning, and after registering at a hotel, I at once started for the Milo Gymnasium. Upon arriving at the proper address, it was, much to my dismay, closed. A caretaker of the building informed me that the gymnasium was only opened evenings. Naturally I asked about Mr. Coulter and Mr. Jowett. The only information I could get was that Mr. Jowett could be found at Donohue’s market, and that Mr. Coulter could not be located at this time.

So, to Donohue’s market, and upon entering it I inquired for Mr. Jowett. The market was a very huge place. It had dozens of stalls where meat, fruit, vegetables, butter, eggs and other produce were sold. I was told where Mr. Jowett could be found. Walking around the place, there behind the butter, egg and cheese department, and draped in a white apron, stood Mr. Jowett. He looked massive, but was much shorter than I pictured him, even though I knew he was about five foot five. His massive neck was most impressive.

Introducing myself, he told me that he was at the moment busy, but would shortly have his lunch hour, and would be very glad to call at my hotel for a chat. This he did. He told me some of his plans in the Physical Culture and Weight Lifting World. I guess we talked about an hour, when Mr. Jowett had to leave. I did not at this time meet Ottley Coulter, nor did I go back to the Milo Gymnasium.

Not having any other reason for staying in Pittsburgh, I left that night for Philadelphia once again. Upon arriving at the Milo Barbell Company, I had a very interesting talk with Mr. Calvert and Dan Redmond who was the owner of the company. I was informed that Mr. Calvert was planning to leave the company, and that Mr. Redmond was looking for someone to take Mr. Calvert’s place. After a little while, I was told that Robert B. Snyder, Ottley Coulter, George F. Jowett and myself were being considered. When I heard this I could not, for the moment, believe that I had been included in this famous group of writers. Mr. Redmond asked me what I thought of the idea. Naturally I told him that none could take the place of Alan Calvert, but that I certainly would not consider the position with such a man as George F. Jowett being available. Little did I know at the time just how much weight this carried. Mr. Redmond then decided to contact Mr. Jowett for the position as writer, consultant and physical training advisor and teacher of all Milo barbell pupils. I stayed but a couple of days at Philadelphia at this time, and after informing Mr. Calvert and Mr. Redmond of my stage plans, and receiving their wishes for the best of luck, I left Philadelphia one Saturday afternoon for New York.

During my ride on the train to New York, I thought of what I intended to do. First I knew that I did not, at least for the time being, intend to work at the baking trade. I had saved money while I was working at the trade, hence I was not short of funds. The money that I spent on anything pertaining to weight lifting was, I felt, a good investment, be it for weights, pictures, books or for going to the theatre to see the acts that gave me so much pleasure and delight.

I then made mental notes of those persons I was going to visit. First I had to meet Attila. Back in October, 1921, an article was written about Professor Attila, entitled “Seventy-seven – and Still Going Strong.” This article told me a great deal about this famous trainer of weight lifters. He was, I learned, the trainer of Sandow, Lionel Strongfort, G.W. Rolandow, Henry W. Titus, Warren L. Travis, MacLevy, Anthony Baker and many other famous weight lifters and physical culture teachers in this country and in Europe. I wanted to meet as many of these athletes as possible. Of course I wanted to meet Bernarr MacFadden too. all these meetings will, I thought, take time.

It was dusk when I arrived in New York, a hot Saturday in August, 1924. Hailing a taxi, I directed the driver to take me to the Herald Square Hotel, which I had seen advertised on the bill boards along the railroad tracks, as the train going to New York sped along. Registering at the hotel, I was very much excited at being at last in the city where I had read and heard so many famous athletes lived, trained and exhibited. After taking in a few sights, which did not particularly interest me, I went back to the hotel. That evening and the next day, Sunday, were

uneventful, save that I walked to 42nd Street near 8th Avenue, and saw George Bothner’s Gymnasium. I had read about this famous wrestler and his gymnasium in the past, and knew that this was the place where most of the hand-balancing acts and wrestlers trained during the layoffs from exhibitions. This, I made up my mind, would be the first place for me to visit.

Monday afternoon I visited this gymnasium. It was a large place, but I was not particularly impressed with the apparatus. Introducing myself to Mr. Bothner, whom I found to be a gentleman as well as a great wrestler, I was extended the courtesy of looking over the gym. There were a few weights around the floor and a few assorted dumbells, a 250 lb. sphere bell, a 140 lb. barbell and a couple of very light barbells. Mr. Bothner told me that every afternoon at two o’clock the professional hand-balancers arrived for their training and invited me to stay and watch them, if I so desired. Of course I accepted this gracious invitation, and it was not long after that these athletes did arrive. There were at least a dozen different teams. I recognized some that I had seen from time to time in the vaudeville houses. Making inquires about training there while I was in New York, I enrolled for the time being. Although I did not have the variety of weights that I wanted I trained as well as I could with the available weights.

It was not long after this that conversations between some of these hand-balancers and myself took place, my purpose being to find a suitable “top-mounter.” Some encouraged me, others tried to dissuade me from going into show business. Not knowing exactly what I did want to do I kept on training there several days. One afternoon, a young athlete who looked familiar to me started to ask me if I was Klein from Cleveland, an he introduced himself as Harry Glick. I had seen several pictures of Mr. Glick in “Strength” magazine and knew from some of the material that was written about him that he was a former pupil of Professor Attila. I at once asked him about Attila and where the Professor’s gymnasium was located. Much to my sorrow and regret, I was told that Professor Attila died five months ago. Harry Glick told me that I had missed the greatest personality in the strength world. Had I only come to New York as I intended to, after my first visit to Philadelphia!

Not knowing anything about the type of establishment the Attila Gymnasium was I at once asked Glick about it, and thinking it must be quite an institution, imagined that it would be continued, as so many other businesses are after the titular head passes on.

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