Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Story of Joseph Curtis Hise - Peary Rader (1940)

Article and Photos Courtesy of Liam Tweed and Michael Murphy

This is a very rare treat, and it allows us a view of just how different the world of weights was not long ago. Now, we suffer from a deluge of training info and nutritional details. Call it The Poverty of Abundance if you like. Back then for the majority of lifters it was for the most part word of mouth, hand written letters and experimentation on oneself. But make no mistake, there was, as this article on our first Powerlifter J..C. Hise shows, no lack of passion and an almost iron-like bond between practitioners of the Barbell Arts. 

Joseph Curtis (J.C.) Hise

Hise, at a height of 5'9" brought his weight to 298 pounds.
Both photos from the late Andy Jackson's collection. 

A few years ago there was a little magazine published by the Milo Publishing Company and edited by Mark. H. Berry. I have had many Iron Men tell me that never before or since has there appeared a magazine of such value to the barbell man. Anyhow Mr. Berry in his little magazine and also in the old Strength Magazine made a practice of promoting the squat or deep knee bend exercise as the finest growing exercise in existence. He always gave the stories of men who had used the squat to gain their desires of added bodyweight. All of them were startling enough but one day while reading through the latest issue of the "Strong Man" which was the Feb. 1932 issue I came across a letter in the back from a man who neither gave his name or address.

His gains on the squat and milk drinking were so great as to seem absolutely impossible. However the simple and compelling style of his letter proved to me that he was really telling the truth and had made the marvelous gains he claimed. I was very much impressed for I, myself, had for years labored unceasingly in my efforts to gain much needed bodyweight. I at once decided to go on this program which was sketched in his letter and I too received the same results though not quite so startling yet sure and certain never the less. 

To be sure I had read all of Berry's instruction in regard to the squat as a weight gaining medium but never seemed to get the true meaning until I read of the efforts of this man. Well, I went on with my squat program and milk drinking and continued to gain until I had made a gain of 75 pounds in bodyweight. 

From time to time more appeared about this man, whose name I had not yet found, showing that he was still making the same fast gains and surely becoming the world's strongest man on the squat and dead lift. At last I got hold of this man's name. It was J.C. Hise of Homer, Ill. I at once wrote him telling him of my own experiments since reading his letter. He wrote back at once a very long letter full of very helpful advice and details that were very valuable to me in my training. Since that time we have corresponded regularly and several years ago he visited me at my home here in Alliance for 10 days and I came to know him very well.

Now before going further in the story let's look at the condition of Mr. Hise when he started and note a few of the gains he made in the first part of his experiment.

He had some years previous bought a barbell from the Milo Barbell Co., and worked very hard at the regular courses in an effort to build a powerful body. He had gained from about 160 pounds at a height of 5'9" to a bodyweight of slightly over 180 pounds. However here he stopped and try as he might he could not gain for some years time.

Now we find that he had been reading some of Berry's articles on the deep knee bend and had been thinking it over and decided to give it a trial. He at this time found himself weighing near 190 and with some spasmodic squatting had brought his weight to 200 pounds.

Then he went at it in earnest and began drinking one gallon of milk per day in addition to his regular meals. He also ate considerable meat, and especially salt pork as he said this increased his thirst and caused him to drink more and thereby aided his weight gaining. He also cut out all abdominal exercises and concentrated on the deep knee bend with his only other exercise being the press behind neck for 10 or 15 reps. In one month on this program he gained 29 pounds of bodyweight! His measurements gained as follows:

Weight 200/229
Chest 43.5/46.5
Arms 15.25/16.25
Thighs 25.5/28
Calves 14.5/15.5
Forearms 12-3/8 to 12-7/8
Waist 36/41.

He started out using 240 pounds in the squat and increased to 320. He first used this poundage and did 8 counts (reps), then rested and did 8 more, then rested and removed 100 pounds and did 20 more. He then progressed to 365 pounds in the squat in the next two weeks and weighed 231. At this time he lost his balance and strained a small muscle in the calf and had to lay off for two weeks and gained to 237 pounds bodyweight and now had a 47 inch chest. He was 26 years of age at this time.

After this he used 20 reps straight in the squat and found that he gained best on this number. He also did plenty of deep breathing between each squat making 3 to 6 deep breaths between every repetition.

He continued his experiments along this line and always continued to gain. He finally reached a bodyweight of 298 pounds and had an arm of 19 inches and a chest of 56 with a thigh of over 33. His waist never measured over 44 normal.

One day he came to do his workout on the squat to find that his bar had been bent by someone using it for a crowbar while working on a Ford. Mr. Hise just had to do his squats and so used his bar bent. Much to his surprise he found his squats went easier than ever before. The bent bar actually helped. It did not roll up and down his neck as before and the weights had a perfect hang for squatting in his style which was the round back style. That is he would come up from the squat position with the back rounded. Since that time Mr. Hise has made the bent or cambered bar very popular for squatting. All the boys have been putting a camber in their exercise bars. For as Joseph said, "A man can't exercise right with a straight bar and can't lift with an exercise bar and exercise right."

Later on he decided to try his hand at the dead lift knowing that it went hand in hand with the squat in developing power. He worked on it in regular style for a while then stiff legged but this caused back trouble when performed in the regular way. However Joe did not give up. His inventive mind turned to ways to remember the trouble as he knew that the stiff legged dead lift was the key exercise for great power if it could be used in some manner that would not cause the back trouble. It wasn't long before the exercise world was hearing of J.C. Hise and his "Hopper" system of doing the stiff legged dead lifts.

Joe had discovered that if he bounced the weight from hard wood planks which were raised at each end about 2 inches it relieved the strain from the back at the danger point and allowed him to handle the weight where it did the most good. He was soon doing the stiff legged dead lift with 550 pounds five times.

His regular dead lift reached a figure of 675 pounds. This was nowhere near his best mark for his training was never regular as he had to train out of doors and often the weather would not permit his workouts. However this was more than any other man in the world had done. He did repetition squats with over 500 pounds.

Mr. Hise was perhaps the first man in America to jerk 300 behind his neck which he did during his early training with the squat and hardly thought it worth mentioning. He also pressed 190 behind his neck.

He never practiced the [Olympic] lifts because he had only exercise bars and had to train either in a cold garage or in the open out of doors. However, with his power he could have cleaned 400 as he could pull that much or more almost nipple high. It was just a matter of proper training in form and style. He was fully confident that with proper training he could have cleaned and jerked 450 with a press and snatch of proportionate poundage.

It is his belief that all present records are far below their possible top. He believes that if lifters would work intensively on their back and legs with the squat and stiff legged dead lift they would bery greatly increase their lifting poundages.

During Mr. Hise's experiments he found that if a man would take about bodyweight and squat approximately 20 times and take from 3 to 6 breaths between each squat he would make remarkable gains in chest development. He has applied this system to many of his pupils whom he helps by mail and has proof that it really works. Many gain as much as 3 inches in one month in chest size.

Joe also believes in plenty of good food and he himself eats plenty. However many stories told about him are slightly exaggerated in regard to his eating habits. While staying with me he did eat a lot but I also noticed that he ate rather slowly and he drank huge quantities of water with his meals. Finally my mother sat a quart of water by Joe's plate for each meal and often this would require a second filling.

He also believes in plenty of rest and sleep. In justice to Joe I will say that he is not lazy as some seem to think. With his it is a philosophy. Something he believes in and knows he must do if he is to gain in his aims. When necessity arises he can do a terrific amount of work. When he left my home here he weighed 270 pounds. From here he went to California where he worked in lumber camps and such was his labors that his bodyweight went down to 208 pounds. From there he went to Careta, W. Va., where he worked in the mines and his weight still remained the same as he was working very long hours at the very heaviest work. Now he is back in Homer, Ill. and at present weighs around 250 pounds in pretty hard condition. He has an unusual ability to weigh whatever he wants to at any certain time providing he can train as he wishes.

Mr. Hise is one of the best informed men on any subject that we have ever met. He loves to read and spends most of his spare time reading books on philosophy and all the classics. He has a wonderful memory and has at his command details about any subject that you might care to converse on. He is an able writer and has a style all his own.

He is a handsome fellow and usually wears some kind of a beard. For years he wore his beard natural without shaving. His most recent style I believe is a handlebar mustache.

He has one of the deepest chests in the world as a result of his great efforts on the "puff and pant" squats. His hips are trim and compact. His thighs while of good width when viewed from front and are simply tremendous from front to back. His waist doesn't look as large as you would expect in a man of his bodyweight. He certainly is the most massive looking man dressed we have ever seen. He is very light and fast on his feet and his lifting movements are as fast as those of a lightweight. He does carry a layer of fat over his entire body but this is deliberate as he believes and rightly so that he is much stronger when not finely trained down.

He has no bad habits and once he sets his mind to a task it is as good as done and successfully too.

We hope that we have given you a little of the information about this man that so many of you have asked for. it would take a good sized book to tell you all about him and detail the results of his experiments but much of this will come in later articles in the "Iron Man".

Mr. Hise has been the inspiration and promoter of the great deep knee bend craze that has brought success to so many thousands of barbell men in this country in their quest of added bodyweight, great chests and powerful backs. Many of us can attribute much of our success to information given so freely by this Kentucky Gentleman.


Forging Forearms - Steve Holman (1999)

Dave Draper

Forearms are a lot like calves. For one thing, if yu have high insertions of the extensor (top of the forearm) and/or the flexor (underside of forearm) muscles, it's harder to build mass - similar to having high calves. Also, forearms tend to respond to higher reps, much like calves, probably because they have a lot of endurance-oriented fibers due to the extensive use they get in everyday activities.

So, what's the solution? Super-sets or tri-sets, which not only build muscle but also increase vascularity. Keep in mind that a vascular forearm appears much more massive than a smooth one, even if the vascular forearm is smaller, so try to get the veins to surface.

You should also work the brachialis, which can help beef up the top of the forearm as well as heighten the peak on your biceps. Here are a couple of result-producing routines. 

Aftershock Forearm Routine
Hammer Curl, 2 x 8-10 ->
Rope Cable Curl, 2 x 8-10

Reverse Wrist Curl, 2 x 8-10 ->
Forearm Rockers, 2 x max

Wrist Curl, 2 x 8-10 ->
Behind the Back Wrist Curl, 2 x 8-10

Triple Aftershock Forearm Routine

Hammer Curl, 1 x 8-10 ->
Rope Cable Curl, 1 x 8-10 ->
Rope Cable Curl (lighter weight), 1 x 8-10

Reverse Barbell Wrist Curl, 1 x 8-10 ->
Reverse Dumbbell Wrist Curl, 1 x 8-10 ->
Forearm Rockers, 1 x max 

Wrist Curl, 1 x8-10 ->
Behind the Back Wrist Curl, 1 x 8-10 ->
Forearm Rockers, 1 x max.

Those are pretty extensive forearm routines, so you may want to cut back on other parts of your workout. For example, you could reduce your direct biceps work somewhat, as the brachialis exercises will also indirectly target the biceps. If you can't handle cutting back, you may want to try doing only one set of each of the exercises listed in the first routine - but really push them hard, working through the pain barrier. You have to punish the forearms to force new growth.

To do Forearm Rockers, stand, holding a dumbbell in each hand with your arms hanging down and the dumbbells next to the outsides of your thighs, pointing forward. Contract your flexors, curling the dumbbell toward your body as hard as possible. Then reverse the movement, taking them up away from your body as high as possible to contract your extensors. Do that till you can't hold the dumbbells any longer, but rack them quickly before you drop them on your feet. Pick a weight that has you screaming after about 45 seconds . . . and stay close to the rack.


Back to Basics - Curtis Shultz (1999)

Danny Padilla

More Articles by Curtis Schultz:

Getting Big With the Back to Basics Approach

The other day in the gym I was watching a couple of guys going through a chest workout. It was all I could do to keep from offering advice. You could see they were really trying to get somewhere, but the train wasn't leaving the station, if you get my drift. Since I learned long ago to keep my mouth shut in those situations - they have the potential for turning molehills into major mountains - that's what I did. Most people in the gym think they know everything there is to know about weight training, when, in fact, they don't realize that weightlifting is a very complex, technical activity. These guys were breaking all the cardinal rules of the iron kingdom.

They started their chest workout with cable crossovers, went on to pec deck and then bench pressed, helping each other with forced reps, adding weight to each set and going to failure on each. After they they pushed on to decline bench presses, which they did with the same forced reps progression described, and then back to flat benches again. Then they did it all over again. I was tired just watching them.

The fact is, we ll need direction. People who invest their hard earned money and precious time in a gym membership - whether their goals are toning, bodybuilding, fitness competition or competitive bodybuilding - should educate themselves on the finer points of training. That means the basics - the meat and potatoes of lifting. Forget about the crossovers, leg extensions, decline presses and pec deck pumping. You need to concentrate mainly on the 'old fashioned' basic compound, multi-joint exercises and the basic conditioning factors that turn a body into physique - whatever kind of physique you're looking for.

Basic exercises used in any routine will bring you an abundance of growth and strength. The basics work the large muscle groups of the body - such as the chest, back, and thighs - in conjunction with smaller muscle groups, like shoulders, biceps, and triceps. If you're looking to build muscle, the basics are your ticket to success. Since you can use heavier weights while performing basic exercises and you work a large muscle group as well as a number of smaller ones, you'll be able to put on some serious muscle. If you're looking for tone and/or conditioning, they're your best bet for that too.

Training with the basics means following these simple guidelines:

1) Always warm up properly.
2) Don't go to failure every day.
3) Never do a lighter set for reps.
4) Don't waste time in the gym.
5) Stick with the basic exercises.

Warm Up Properly

Everybody's idea of a warmup is different. Use this one before your weight training sessions, and it will help increase your training longevity and gains. Start with specific stretches for the bodyparts you plan to work (date of article: 1991). Then do an extremely light, 20-rep set of the first compound exercise in your routine and move on to your work sets (note that in the routine to follow the initial work sets are never less than 10 reps).

Don't Go to Failure Every Day

You won't make progress by beating up your body. Consider the typical workout done in gyms today. For example, on the bench press you might start with 225 as a warmup, go to failure with it and add weight to each set, going to failure on each as your spotter helps you more and more on every rep. Then he next time you bench, you do the same routine again. I know the bench press is a basic compound exercise, but there's no point to benching yourself into an overworked state - or a possible injury. That's no way to get stronger. Concentrate on good form and save your forced-reps-to-failure sets for less frequent intensity blasts, so you'll get more out of them.

Never Do a Lighter Set for Reps

Many trainees include light, high-rep sets in their routines because they believe that's what you have to do to get a pump, a.k.a. a burn, to 'finish' the exercise. I believe that dropping the weight on a basic movement to get a burn flies in the face of the basic concepts of progressive resistance training. Have you ever heard the saying that muscle has memory? Baby, it does. So I'm here to tell you to stop with your last work set. Do not do a pumping set with a lighter weight on your basic exercises. Your muscles will remember the last weight used - and that lighter set is not what you want them to remember.

Don't Waste Time in the Gym

Get in the gym, get it done and get out, and do your socializing after the workout. What else is there to say? The result will be a little more intensity in your workouts, and you'll see some great gains down the road. By the same token, you have to respect the rights of others to train without being interrupted. Most people who join a gym don't realize that some of us are trying to get a job done and that the weights we're hoisting aren't that light. Even if we aren't lifting superheavy, the workouts are heavy and intense for us. Don't talk to others or allow them to talk to you when you're getting ready to do a set or, especially, when you're in the middle of a rep. Heavy weights can be dangerous.

Stick to the Basics

Here's a list of basic exercises for each muscle group:

Thighs (quadriceps):
Back squats, leg presses, hack squats.

Thighs (hamstrings):
Stiff-legged deadlifts, glute/ham raises.

Barbell and dumbbell bench presses, incline presses.

Deadlifts, bentover rows with barbell or dumbbell, pullups.

Front presses, behind the neck presses, dumbbell presses.

Dips, close grip bench presses.

Barbell curls, dumbbell curls.

Full-Body Exercises:
Explosive high pulls, cleans, push presses.

Its easy to use compound and full-body exercises in your training program. You just pick one or two of the above, depending on the muscle group you're working, and then begin with that exercise or exercises. Start by pyramiding your weights, from lighter weights with higher reps to heavier weights with lower reps on each successive set. I don't recommend dropping your reps below six, however, unless you're mainly powerlifting.

Here's an example of a basic rep scheme that will help your body adapt to the weight more quickly and ease your climb to new heights in weight training.

Bench Press (use more weight on each progressive set) -
Warmup: 1 x 20 x bar only
Work Sets: 6 x 12, 10, 8, 6, 6, 6

Weighted Dips -
3 x 10.

That's it. Seems pretty simple, doesn't it? The key is to keep your isolation movements to a minimum. I know you probably think it's not enough work, but believe me, that old saying is true: More is not always better. Add more weight, not more sets or exercises. Basic compound movements are the cornerstone of physique development, and they work all by themselves.

By properly balancing your training with basic exercises you can watch your strength and body development soar. Do them intelligently and progressively, and in a short time you'll see a brand new you.

Keep sticking with the basics, and give me one more rep!


 The following routine is a version of a program that emphasizes the basics from IRONMAN'S Mass Training Tactics. The book includes 19 other complete, basic programs. 

Power Pyramid Program


Quadriceps - 
Squat, 3 x 10, 8, 6
Sissy Squat or Leg Extension, 1 x 8-12

Hamstrings - 
Stiff-legged Deadlift, 3 x 15, 12, 9
Leg Curl, 1 x 8-12

Calves - 
Donkey Calf Raise, 2 x 12-20
One-Leg Calf Raise, 1 x 12-20

Chest - 
Bench Press, 3 x 10, 8, 6
Incline Flye, 1 x 8-12

Triceps - 
Lying Triceps Extension, 3 x 10, 8, 6.


Back - 
Front Chin or Pulldown, 3 x 10, 8, 6
Barbell Pullover, 1 x 8-12
Bentover Barbell Row, 3 x 10, 8, 6
Bent-arm Bentover Lateral, 1 x 8-12

Deltoids - 
Front Press, 3 x 10, 8, 6
Lateral Raise, 1 x 8-12

Biceps - 
Barbell Curl, 3 x 10, 8, 6

Forearms - 
Reverse Curl, 2 x 8-12

Abdominals -
Crunches, 2 x 12-20
Hanging Knee-ups, 1 x max.

Power Pyramid Tips

The workout above doesn't include warmup sets. Do one or two warmup sets with 50% of your first work set on each exercise you pyramid. Remember, a warm muscle contracts more efficiently than a cold muscle.

Any exercise for three sets of decreasing reps is a power pyramid, so add weight on each successive set. The weights in all the work sets should take you close to failure, so whenever you can get 12 reps on the first work set of a power pyramid, up the weight on all three sets at your next workout.

Feel free to incorporate intensity techniques like 1-1/4 reps, but don't abuse them.


Nick Nilsson's Powerful Training Secrets:

If you start feeling overtrained, cut back on your use of them. Intensity techniques will probably work best on the isolation exercises.

Take in extra calories, but don't let yourself get fat.

Strive for strength and power, and size will follow.   



Thursday, December 7, 2017

Functional Isometric Contraction System, Part One - Bob Hoffman (1962)


Here's a link to Peary Rader's Isometronic Power and Muscle Development Course:

With all the various successful York Courses published to date, you may wonder why there should be another course of training. What can another course offer that we have not already supplied? What can we furnish to those who want the limit in weight lifting ability, in strength and physical perfection that has not already been offered in the courses which have served so well, in the 19 books Bob Hoffman has written, in the thousands of articles that Bob Hoffman has written. 

The new isometric training system will have an important place in the realm of weight training. It will not replace the good courses which have proven their worth, but it will prove to be a time saver and super strength builder. It will bring superior results faster, with less effort, in far less time. It will be a body-saver, because its scientific methods build the maximum of strength and development, with a minimum strain upon the muscles, tendons and ligaments. When combined with the training principles, the exercises, the weight lifting training, and other long successful, superior weight lifting training, and other long successful, superior Bob Hoffman methods, it will build strong men, superbly developed men, weight lifters and athletes, with an ability which has never been seen before. It applies force where force is needed. Dr. Drury and Al Roy prophesy that all world records will be broken within two years. Most of them will be broken and re-broken by means of training with this new and scientific Functional Isometric Contraction method.

The readers of this course will never realize the time, the study, the hard and continuous work, the research, the experimentation, the utilization of little known scientific principles, which has led up to this system of training. I was almost a lone pioneer in formulating and proving the training systems included in the courses enumerated. I was almost a lone pioneer in weight training for athletes (going ahead slowly for many years) until finally, like an avalanche, like a huge snowfall, it became great - the principle of weight training was accepted. The point is now reached where nearly all athletes are training with weights to improve their athletic ability, and those who don't train with weights will simply be pushed around and defeated by those who are training with weights.

I wrote 19 books without assistance, and although I am writing this course, I have help, very worthy help. The material in this book contains and includes the thinking, the knowledge, the training, the research, the demonstrations, the persistent work of a number of men. It has been my work to coordinate, to assemble this jigsaw puzzle of scientific facts which make this new training system so great. I am fortunate indeed to be associated for years in this work with a medical doctor, a Ph.D., a professor of Physical Education, a famous trainer, and particularly, two great athletes who proved the truth, the superiority of these training principles we are offering, with experiments on their bodies. They risked their reputations as weightlifters. They took a big chance that if the little known principles they were to follow did not prove as successful as other methods, they would not win the national championships, or a coveted place on the world's championship team. Nevertheless, they put their wholehearted efforts into the new training system and were successful pioneers in this great training system which means so much to the future of our country.

Each of these men, with whom I am so closely associated, played a very important part in proving this system, in preparing it so that it is now offered as the greatest training system the world has ever seen. I am actually awestruck at the miracles it has already wrought, at the speed with which it develops great strength and improved functional condition, and all around physical ability.  Muscles with all their health giving and health maintaining qualities, with their potential athletic ability, grow before my eyes, almost like a mushroom grows when the conditions are favorable. Had you seen the miracles I have seen as a result of this new system of training, you too would be as thrilled, as excited, as happy as I am. After a lifetime spent in the search for strength and better strength building methods, we can now offer this faster, better method of building superior physical ability - through Functional Isometric Contraction Training.

The Development of the Theory and the Application of Functional Isometric Contraction

The theory and application of Functional Isometric Contraction is the result of the combined efforts, the experience and the thinking of five men who were brought together by their mutual interest in the process of developing muscular strength. These men are John Ziegler, M.D., a physician from Olney, Md.; Bob Hoffman, the Father of weight lifting in the U.S.A. and Olympic Weightlifting Coach since 1932; Dr. Francis A. Drury, a professor of Physical Education at Louisiana State University; Alvin Roy, a former Olympic Weightlifting Trainer; and Louis Riecke a 34 year old competitive weightlifter with 15 years of weight training experience.

Dr. Ziegler who has done considerable muscular rehabilitation work, and cell growth research, became interested in applying some of the practices used in rehabilitation to the training of athletes. Bob Hoffman and Dr. Ziegler convinced Louis Riecke to act as a subject for the testing of the Functional Isometric  Contraction system of training. Dr. Drury, who had know Louis Riecke from his college days when Riecke was a member of the L.S.U. team, had also talked to Louie about the research on Isometric Contraction done at L.S.U. Alvin Roy, a close friend of Riecke, made the trip from Louisiana to California for the national weight lifting meet with Louie. Bob Hoffman followed this experiment by phone, by letter, by personal visit and encouraged Riecke to put his maximum effort back of the experiment. Louis Riecke's experiment was climaxed by his selection as a member of the five man team which went to compete against the Russians in Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev, Tbilisi, and later in London, England.

As a result of this lengthy and result producing experiment, all five of these men, the Medical doctor, the Olympic coach, the Professor, the Olympic trainer and the lifter agree that Functional Isometric Contraction is a truly superior method for developing strength.

What is Functional Isometric Contraction?

Functional Isometric Contraction is a method of developing functional strength through static contraction of the muscles in the position the muscle is to be used. This system is especially applicable to many athletic sports, notably weight lifting. It is a new method and has proven to be a superior method of building functional and all around physical strength.

The Functional Isometric Contraction method of developing strength is the result of research done in several of our major universities in the United States and Europe. Psychology and Physiology of Exercise and Kinesiology are the sciences that contributed the basic scientific facts which are used as a foundation for this new system of weight training. Dr. Ziegler, Dr. Drury, Al Roy and Bob Hoffman are among the first in the world to apply this proven strength building principle to heavy exercise, heavy athletics, strength and muscle building.

The Functional Isometric Contraction method of training brings together all the known scientific facts of strength development and body mechanics. The resulting course offers the most up to date and most result producing concepts of strength development.

Functional Isometric Contraction is a scientifically proven, very rapid way to develop super strength. Functional Isometric Contraction will develop functional strength more quickly than any other method known to man.

Functional Isometric Contraction Produces Maximum Muscle Tension

A muscle can produce energy in the form of heat and work. The heat and work produced by a muscle will work in reciprocal relation to each other. the amount of work may vary from zero to about 40% of the total energy produced. If resistance to he muscle is so strong that the muscle can not move the weight or object the muscle stiffens and does not shorten. This is pure Functional Isometric Contraction (meaning that the muscle continues to measure the same length.) All the muscle energy is used in tension and none in movement when performing Functional Isometric Contraction. Consequently, it develops the maximum amount of muscle tension. This is one reason why Functional Isometric Contraction is a quick method of developing strength. More muscle tension can be exerted by Functional Isometric Contraction than by contraction, where by short means of movement the muscle is allowed to shorten and work. there is more cell action as a result of functional isometric contraction

Functional Isometric Contraction Develops Maximum Coordinated Effort

Another basic principle of the Functional Isometric Contraction System of training is that it develops the nervous system to give a maximum coordinated effort in the position of the needed force. The world record jumping of Valeri Brumel is a case of this form of coordinated effort, the ability to put forth a greater explosive effort which records a higher jump. Brumel has this ability. The old method of developing strength did not develop maximum functional strength in the position the strength was to be used. Functional Isometric Contraction trains the muscles and the nervous system to respond to their maximum in a functional position. This training for maximum coordinated effort is one of the new concepts of training. It trains the muscles to exert an explosive strength in the desired direction. This concept of training, as incorporated in the Functional Isometric Contraction System, results in greater strength and new records.

Functional Isometric Contraction: The Training System of the Future World Record Holders

All weight lifting records will be broken in the next two years. In many cases broken and re-broken by men who use the Functional Isometric Contraction System of training. The phenomenal rise of Louis Riecke is the result of Functional Isometric Contraction combined with a weight training program. Louis Riecke trained the best way he know how, for 14 years using the old method of training and never became even one of the nation's best lifters until he included the Functional Isometric Contraction System of training. Now he is known over all the world, and is on the verge of breaking world records.

By using the Functional Isometric Contraction System, in six months Riecke developed into of the the world's greatest lifters. This sensational improvement made by Louis Riecke can be made by all other lifters who follow this new system of training, the Isometric Contraction System, combined with weight lifting training.

Every lifter can not become a world champion, but every lifter can greatly improve his lifting records of the past by following this new, all-around system of training. In the next two years there will be tremendous gains made in all the lifts - the press, the snatch, and the clean and jerk. These gains will be made by men who use this most modern system of training. If you want to keep up with the best lifters, if you want to build your strength and muscles to their maximum, you must start now to use the Functional Isometric Contraction System. All good lifters will be using this system in the near future, certainly in the next two years.

Functional Strength: The Secret of Better Lifting

One of the important factors in Louis Riecke's sensational improvement was his rapid development of functional strength. Functional strength is having the strength in the body position where the strength is needed and used. The Functional Isometric Contraction system develops functional strength by causing the lifter to execute all exercises in the position of movement used in competitive lifting. All lifters have seen men who looked strong but were not strong. Their muscles were developed by isolated exercises and movement, rather than by heavy weight lifting. These men do not have functional strength - they have isolated strength. They appear to be strong, but they will never be great lifters. Great lifters have functional strength. The quickest and surest way to develop functional strength is through the Functional Isometric Contraction (F.I.C.) system of training.

A Superior Method of Strength and Muscle Building

The Functional Isometric Contraction system combined with isometric training with weights is a superior system of strength and muscle building which is the culmination of many years of effort, many years of scientific study, years of experimentation and practice. It is a superior method of building great strength and unusual muscular development.

The Functional Isometric Contraction system combined with isometric training with weights works on the principle that only through progressive training, with very heavy weight resistance can super strength and the maximum of muscular development be built. There must be a constant effort to work against more and more weight resistance. It is nature's way to meet demands made upon the muscles, so that they will become stronger and more enduring. Only with progressive weight training can physical progress be measured accurately almost with micrometer-like precision.

With the combined Isometric-Isotonic Training with weights you can continue to train with very heavy weights and heavy weight resistance. In fact, progressively heavier weights and weight resistance can be used day after day. With the usual training system you practice many exercises and perform many of them in sets. This old method is time consuming, tiring and requires a considerable period of recuperation between training sessions. In the past many men failed with these training systems because they trained on their nerve too often and did not give the muscles time to recuperate and rebuild after the day of vigorous training. As only a few supermen have the needed and exceptional endurance and recuperative powers to progress with this type of training, more men fail than succeed. Only a comparatively few men make the gains you read about in the strength books and magazines. On the other hand, many men fail because they do not extend themselves enough, they do not progress beyond many repetitions with with light weights and do not make satisfactory gains.

This Functional Isometric Contraction system of training operates on a different system than any other. This system was developed from the newest discoveries concerning cell growth, tissue and muscle building, yet it contains training principles which have actually been secret methods used by some of the world's greatest strong men and the world's greatest specimens.

The Functional Isometric Contraction system of Super Power Training is founded on the proven, but little known principle, that a muscle can only grow so fast regardless of how many exercises you practice or how much effort you deliver. To obtain best results it is far better to subject the muscle or muscle group to a single maximum contraction and all around strength will more quickly be attained. Strength will appear in the tendons, the ligaments, the muscles, and even greater strength in the bones.

Only maximum contractions, only the application of great force will develop the strongest muscles. With this system of weight training, wherein the absolute limit of force is applied, only a single contraction is made in each exercise. The Hoffman Isometric-Isotonic Super Power Rack is a combination machine which permits the practice of a great number of exercises and permits a variety of methods of training. But when it is used for pure isometric contraction or isometric contraction with weights, contraction is practiced in each exercise.

With this method of Functional Isometric Contraction and Isometric Contraction with Weights, the muscles do not tire although subjected to the limit of force. Rather, there is a feeling of exhilaration, of well-being at the end of the training period. Your muscles start immediately to grow in strength and are ready and able to perform even harder work the next day, and the next and greater work as the days pass. With the usual training system much time is lost waiting for the muscles to become rested. A muscle will not increase in size and strength after demands have been upon it by the ordinary training system until it is thoroughly rested. This may take 24-36 hours of rest between training periods. With the Functional Isometric Contraction and System of Power Training, advanced men (those who have gone through the preliminary training) can work their muscles to the limit of their strength - and beyond - yet the muscles do not become fatigued. New growth in cells and in muscle tissues takes place at one. With this Isometric Super System, you can train twice as often, six times a week if you wish, without tiring. You can make strength and muscle gains two to four times as fast as the usual training system which has been followed in the past.

We recommend that all muscular contraction exercises be performed over the full range of movement for a reasonable or satisfactory period, a period which is to be determined by your starting condition, before you follow the advanced routine of maximum force for single contraction (known as Isometric Contraction). Although the Hoffman Isometric-Isotonic Super Power Rack is primarily designed to build great strength, the maximum of strength, development and athletic ability. It offers advantages to those who are satisfied with only a little physical benefit, for they can make pleasing gains with only a little time and a little effort. Although a weakling, an invalid or a cripple can obtain good results with the Hoffman Isometric-Isotonic Super Power Rack, we repeat, it is primarily designed for those who want the limit in strength and development. The training system we are offering is the best, the superior way to build great strength and development. The training system we are offering is the best, the superior way to build great strength, shapely, strong muscles and unusual physical ability. You get out of isotonic exercise what you put into your training. To obtain the maximum benefits in strength and development you must constantly endeavor to overcome more and more resistance. This can be done with maximum Functional Isometric Contraction and Isometric Contraction With Weights. Only with weights can you accurately measure the effort you are putting forth. Only with weight can you measure the gains that you have made with Functional Isometric Contraction. Any exercise is better than no exercise, even pushing one hand against another is better than nothing, but if you want the maximum of physical strength, development and physical ability, you must follow he best methods. Experience counts! The combined experience of Olympic coach Bob Hoffman, John Ziegler, M.D., Francis Drury, Ph.D., and Olympic Trainer, Al Roy (a man who has a lifetime of athletic and training experience), will guarantee your success. For greater success follow their methods to the exclusion of all others.

The Functional Isometric-Isotonic System of Super Power Training requires little energy. It is not tiring, yet it builds super strength and development, strength and size in the muscles, as well as strength in the tendons and ligaments. Although Functional Isometric Contraction, Isometric Contraction With Weights and Muscular Contraction With Movement, Super Power Rack Training are worth ways to strength, super health and development in themselves, they succeed more rapidly and much more fully when they are combined with a complete weight training program. Functional Isometric Contraction is a time saver. On some days as few as five exercises, 12 seconds each, are performed. Most weight lifters and body builders train three times a week, rest days between. As Functional Isometric Contraction and Isometric Contraction with weights, Super Power Rack Training make such moderate demands upon the body, yet bring such sensational results, they can be practiced on what would normally be rest days. With this method of training, you train twice as many times, although the Functional Isometric Contraction and Isometric Training with weights are easy training days. It would be reasonable to believe if you train twice as much you train twice as fast. With this new system, many actually gain not only two times as fast, but three or four times as fast. 5% a week is the average gain for beginners, twice as much strength in 20 weeks. Naturally an advanced man can not double his strength in 20 weeks, but he can and will show sensational gains.

With ordinary training methods there are two good reasons why some succeed and others fail. Those who succeed have the right combination of the right system of training, they follow the rules of healthful living. Those who fail most often do not have the right system of training. They usually exercise some of the muscle groups too much, neglect others. They may train too little, use too little weight resistance, or they miss training periods for every possible excuse. "It is too late, it is too hot, I am tired, I will train tomorrow, I want to go out tonight." These are only a few of the common excuses. Actually laziness is at the root of all the excuses.

Then there are some who are so ambitious that they train too hard and too often. Perhaps their bodies do not have enough natural recuperative power. they extend themselves to their limit too often. They work too much on their nerves and of course, there are those who have poor living habits, such as irregular sleep, and the failure to maintain a tranquil mind. So many people do not supply their bodies with the proper food. Not enough food for energy, not enough protein to build the body. The body is built only when there is a surplus of the right kind of protein. Protein will be used first for maintenance and repair, even for energy, if there is not enough of the energy producing materials. No muscular growth is possible unless there is an ample supply of complete protein. Some people smoke too much, drink too much of alcoholic beverages, some drink too much of tea, coffee and soft drinks which are loaded with white sugar. They eat too much of foodless foods such as white flour and white sugar products. Good, natural foods are best for building strength and muscular development.

Isometric and Isotonic Power Rack training can not overcome these poor living habits, these omissions and  commissions. It will help you in spite of bad habits, but you will succeed much faster and succeed better if you follow the rules of healthful living as closely as possible. One of our rules of successful training, and body building is, never miss an exercise period. It is so easy to miss again when you have missed once. It becomes a habit of missing, and failure is sure to result. With the Functional Isometric Contraction and Isometric Training With Weights System of Super Power Training you need not miss your training. You can train at any time, even at odd moments. With the Isometric System, you have no excuse not to train. Your Super Power Rack is right in your home. You can train at any time you wish with little expenditure of energy. Being tired, or being late, or having little time is no excuse, it takes so little time.

This system of training will be a boon to the average family. The Super Power Rack can be used by the children, by Father and Mother, by the old folks, by the neighbors. It is excellent for people of all types. It is a big step forward in building a stronger and healthier America, because here we have a simple, easy-to-follow, result producing system which brings sensational results with a minimum of effort. There is no valid excuse in the future to be out of shape, to be fat, to be pepless, to be sick, when it is so easy to keep superlatively fit, strong and super healthy.

There should be an Isometric-Isotonic Super Power Rack in every home, to be used by every member of the family as well as relatives and friends.

True Facts About Functional Isometric Contraction Training

The limit of maximum effort is set by many inhibits or restraints within the body. This is nature's way of preventing injury to the body. Many lifters have the muscular strength to lift much more than they have ever lifted but they have inhibitions within themselves that prevent them from making a maximum effort . . .






Sunday, December 3, 2017

Powerlifting Over 50 - Richard Schuller (2016)

Get a Copy Here:

I'm always interested in books and articles written about strength training for the matured lifter. Seasoned, sure, but not ready to fall off the vine yet, No Way! 

Over 350 pages, written by a guy who's been there and done that . . . and is still doing it, all the while introducing people to the sport, the skill, and the fun of powerlifting, no matter their age. 

"What may be interesting to those of you who are over 50 is that I began my powerlifting career at age 47 and started competing nationally at age 50. You see, it is never too late to . . . 

Table of Contents


Part I - The Big Picture: Powerlifting  and Fitness

Chapter 1 - Powerlifting Training Over Age 50
Chapter 2 - Developing Powerlifting's Unique Athletic Skills
Chapter 3 - Sport-Specific Conditioning: An Overlooked Factor
Chapter 4 - Training for Power: Building Training Plans

Part II - Training Programs

Chapter 5 - The Squat: King of Power Exercises - Proper Technique 
Chapter 6 - Training Cycles for the Squat
                    Cycle 1: Foundation Cycle   
                    Cycle 2: Partial Squats and Deep Pauses
                    Cycle 3: Elastic Band Training
                    Cycle 4: Box Squats and Front Squats
                    Cycle 5: Peaking Program
Chapter 7 - Bench Press: THE Most Popular Lift - Proper Technique
Chapter 8 - Bench Press Training Cycles
                   Cycle 1: Foundation Cycle
                   Cycle 2: Explosive Strength I
                   Cycle 3: Power Cage Training
                   Cycle 4: Explosive Strength II
                   Cycle 5: Peaking Program
Chapter 9 - Deadlift: Pulling Monster Iron - Technique and Core Assistance
Chapter 10 - Deadlift Training Cycles
                      Cycle 1: Foundation Cycle
                      Cycle 2: Strength Builder Cycle 
                      Cycle 3: Elastic Band Training  
                      Cycle 4: Power Max Cycle 
                      Cycle 5: Peaking Cycle 
Chapter 11 - Isometrics: A Forgotten Training Method That Promotes Big Gains

Part III - Getting the Most From Your Training 

Chapter 12 - Pathway to Success: Small Steps to Big Improvement
Chapter 13 - Nutrition for Power
Chapter 14 - Overtraining and Injuries
Chapter 15 - Supplements and Performance Enhancing Drugs: A Cautionary Tale
Chapter 16 - Entering a Powerlifting Meet: A Step by Step Guide


Here's a small excerpt from the book.

What Do You Do Better Than Younger Lifters

The main thing in this category is the ability to use your mind, and your life experience to know your body better, train smarter and learn new skills.

As I will say over and over again, Strength is a Skill. It can be very hard for younger lifters to have the patience to master a difficult skill. Being a superior lifter is about mastering skills. My observations led me to believe that a lot of young athletes want instant gratification.

Older lifters will take the time and have the patience to really nail the skill aspects of powerlifting.

Better skill yields better performance. Better skill means you can get much closer to your biological limit than someone who is trying to lift on emotion and adrenaline.  

Experienced athletes are usually able to compete more effectively, because the "pressure" of competition does not get to them the way it does to less experienced lifters. This can take the form of anything from reacting to missing a lift, to training or competing in unfamiliar places, to dealing with any difficult circumstance. Much more on this later.

Finally, if you have been training steadily for a long time, you will have built up an unbelievable amount of basic body strength. Body strength declines very slowly as we age, and if you have been training for a long time, your base-load body strength will stay with you for what seems like forever.

Younger lifters don't have the accumulated body strength that comes from years of training. Thus they are somewhat less resilient when it comes to recovering from heavy training. Younger lifters may also not have toughened tendons and ligaments that come from long years moving big iron.

The biggest advantage older lifters have is that they can have the sense to "train smart" rather than simply blast away and train as hard as they can. The old lions may not put in all the gym reps the cub does, but the older folks will get more out of what they do.

Areas Where Attention and Care are Important

One of the biggest problems older lifters face is recovering from heavy training.

In general, older lifters recover more slowly than they did in their younger years. By training smart you will take this into account, and not over train. Your progress in lifting will be limited by your recovery . . . so pay as much attention to recovering as you would to any other critical factor in your training. 

If you have been lifting weights already for years, I want to explain that lifting heavy weights is NOT the same activity as lifting lighter weights. Lifting heavy requires a unique type of muscular conditioning and endurance that is different from that needed for training with light weights.You will have a head start on someone who has not been lifting before, certainly, but be aware that you need to work into heavy lifting gradually.

If you have NOT been training for some time, even a few months, it is critical that you get back into heavy lifting slowly. If you try to do too much weight or too much of a workload before your body is ready for it, you are at risk for a significant injury. This will set you back months, or even longer.

If you have been in training and/or sports for many years, you will probably have some cumulative wear and tear on your joints and connective tissue. If you are still in the game, probably you have learned how to keep these injuries at bay so you can keep playing hard.

Remember, the sports doctors and the physical therapists are your pals. They can be huge in helping you have a great lifting career. Don't hesitate to learn about the good ones who practice close to where you live.

Bottom line: older people recover from heavy training more slowly than younger ones. But, if you manage your recovery and condition yourself to lift heavy, you can get great results. 

Then there is the metabolism factor. It declines slowly as you age, so you will probably need to eat less than you did when you were 30, or even 40. Extra chow tends to quickly become "table muscle' (a.k.a. fat), and you don' want extra portions of that stuff hanging around you.

Each person has unique dietary needs. You will probably need to spend some time figuring out what pattern of eating is best for you. For example, I tend to eat one main meal a day, have some small snacks, and have a 14 to 16 hour period when I eat nothing. This works great for me. However, my wife found that this pattern made her feel awful. She now has a completely different pattern from me.

You may find that you need more sleep than you did in your 30's. Extra sleep is one of the few "silver bullets" for better strength and health. You will see a lot of references to the huge power of sleep throughout this book. 

Finally, like it or not, it may take longer to recover from injury than it did when you were younger. Obviously, do all you can to avoid getting injured. If you do get hurt, be diligent about your recovery, and you will be back training again. This will never happen as fast as you want it to, but you can shorten the time by training smart.   

Becoming a Better Powerlifter

It really helps if you understand the big picture of what you are trying to do. A good place to start is breaking down how you think about your task of becoming a better lifter.

If you ask the average lifter if they would like to make significant improvements on their strength, everyone will quickly say "Yes!" It is easy to "want" to be stronger, but doing what is necessary to get there is far more challenging. 

In this book I'll give you a guide on how to improve your lifting. The approach may be different from what you are used to seeing. I break down the process of making improvements into the following areas: 

 - Improving the sport-specific skills needed to improve. 
 -  Doing the sport-specific conditioning need to train hard. 
 - Understanding the pathway to success: desire, persistence and planning.
 - Doing the work, and monitoring your progress.

All of these elements systematically fit together to help you to become the best lifter you can be.
Let's look at each one . . .      

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Excerpt From "The Saga of the Tijuana Barbell Club" - Josh Bryant/Adam benShea (2017)

Get Your Copy Here:

Some Articles by Josh Bryant:

Here's an Article by co-author Adam benShea
on Deadlifting for MMA:

And here's a great 2017 documentary film on the Roots of MMA! 
Outstanding film footage and interviews, a real sweet one:

Table of Contents


The Original Members of the Tijuana Barbell Club


Chapter I: The Origins of Charuto and Cluster Sets
Cluster Set Arm Workouts
Cluster Set Shoulder Workout
Cluster Set Leg Workout
Cluster Set Back Workout
Cluster Set Chest Workout

Chapter II: Body Types and Individualism
Ectomorph Traits
Ectomorph Challenges
Ectomorph Training Tips
Ectomorph Training Frequency Guideline
Mesomorph Traits
Mesomorph Challenges
Mesomorph Training Tips
Mesomorph Training Frequency Guidlines

Chapter III: Gas Station Ready Interval Training

Chapter IV: Pause to Build Strength
Rest-Pause Training Explained
How to Use Rest-Pause Training
Kirk Peters' Plateau-Busting Chest Routine
Charuto's Bulging Back, Arms and Biceps Routine
Big Wheel's Rolling Leg Routine
Charuto's Strong Back equals Strong Man Routine
Oso's Male Stripper Shoulder Routine
Tijuana Barbel Club Rest-Pause Limit Strength Program 
The Program

Chapter V: Watching Waves and Building Sets
Wave Loading Overview
Why It Works
The Program
Accessory Exercises
Further Guidelines
Wave Loading Squat Program
Accessory Exercises
Further Guidelines
Wave Loading Deadlift Program
Accessory Exercises
Further Guidelines

Chapter VI: The Shock Method Challenge
Shock Training Workout Programs
Shock Training for the Chest
Shock Training for Shoulders
Shock Training for Biceps
Shock Training Triceps
Shock Training for Forearms
Shock Training for Calves
Shock Training for Quadriceps
Shock Training for Hamstrings 


Here's that small excerpt, from Chapter VI: 

Shock Training for Quadriceps

When Sugar Murray coerced Charuto into joining a strongman show, Charuto did not expect that the experience would morph into a traveling vaudevillian spectacle. Murray, the consummate hustler, thought that they could get a following if they traveled to Nogales, Juarez, and Monterrey. 

For the most part, Charuto could read people well. It was a trait cultivated by his time working the door, where he would be required to make a quick judgement about someone's violent intentions. However, he would always believe in Murray's scatterbrained plans and it was no different when Murray suggested this itinerant idea.

To prepare for this next stage in the strongman show, Charuto needed to develop his leg training beyond the rest-pause routine. So he created the shock training workout for quadriceps, like the one included below.

Day 1

Front Squats, 5 x 5
Fronts are more knee-dominant than back squats. In other words, the quads are more active. Start light. The second set should increase in weight. The third set should be your top weight; maintain that weight for the remaining two sets. Rest three to four minutes between sets. 

Day 2 

Tyson Squat Workout (see description to follow)

Bodyweight squats force you to sit deeper, use your back less, and torch your quads in the process. Furthermore, reps with just your bodyweight will facilitate active recovery.

Start with 10 playing cards, and line them up two to four feet apart. Squat and pick up the first card, then move to the next card and place the first card on top of the second card . . . after which you squat twice more to pick up each card individually before moving to the third card. Walk to the third card and squat twice to stack each card, then squat three times to pick up each card before carrying the cards to the fourth card, and proceed with the pattern. You will continue this pattern of individually stacking and picking up the cards until you move through all 10 cards in the line. At that point, you will have completed 100 squats. You can add cards as your strength and endurance increase.

Day 3  

Toes Pointed in Leg Extensions 5 x 10 reps.

Squatting variations are functional and do a great job of inner quad or "tear drop" development, but they don't cut the mustard in developing "the sweep" or vastus lateralis. 

No human movements isolate the quads from the hamstrings, but a large sweep is the ideal in bodybuilding circles. So to acquire the sweep, you have to step outside of the functional training paradigm and hit the leg extensions. This unnatural movement unnaturally overloads the sweep to fully develop the quads and vastus lateralis.    

To further accentuate the vastus lateralis, we will point the toes while performing leg extensions. Per A. Tesch used MRI scans in the 1990s, showing that pointing the toes in better isolates the vastus lateralis and more recent EMG studies confirm this. 

Use a tempo of three seconds on the eccentric, two seconds on the concentric, and hold at the top contracted position for one second. [3/0/2/1 tempo]

 Day 4

Olympic Pause Squats, 3 x 8 reps

Olympic lifters have some of the best teardrops in the game. Let's emulate their success and squat like an Oly lifter. Pause at the bottom so the muscles are forced to do the work, rather than using the stretch-shorting cycle to assist us out of the hole. Furthermore, the pause will prolong time under tension. As we know, no muscle will fully develop without heavy, eccentric work.

Squat as low as possible. Think "ass to grass," not just breaking parallel. Pause each rep at the bottom for one second. Go as heavy as possible. Rest three to four minutes between sets.

2 (legs) Up, 1 (leg) Down Leg Press, 3 x 5 reps.

Use full range of motion. Start with a weight that you can do 20 reps with in a two-legged leg press. Lower with one leg for a steady tempo of five seconds. From the bottom position, forcefully push up to the starting position and repeat. Rest three minutes between sets.

Day 5

Repeat Day 2.  

Day 6

Sissy Squats, 3 x 15 reps

Get a good stretch at the bottom to reap the benefits of this movement. Use your bodyweight. Do not add additional resistance. Rest one to two minutes between sets.

Toes Pointed In Leg Extensions

Use a tempo of three seconds on the eccentric, two seconds on the concentric, and hold at the top contracted position for one second. Go heavy, but do not sacrifice technique or tempo for additional weight. Rest 90 seconds between sets. 

Day 7

Pistol Squats, 5 x 8 reps

If you are unable to complete pistol squats, do them on a bench or holding onto the squat rack. Once that becomes too easy, do them holding a towel. Rest one to two minutes between sets. 

There's all kinds of great stuff in this book. Check it out!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Ed Coan Interview from "Tribe of Mentors" - Tim Ferriss (2017)

Get Your Copy Here: 

Ed Coan is widely recognized as the greatest powerlifter of all time. He has set more than 71 world records in powerlifting. Ed's best single-ply lifts are a squat of 1,019 pounds, bench press of 584, and deadlift of 901, for a total of 2,504 pounds. His 901 deadlift was at a bodyweight of 220. Ed became the lightest person in history to cross the 2,400 pound total barrier. 

Note from Tim Ferriss: This profile is a bit different from the rest. Ed is a childhood hero of mine and one of the best lifters the world has ever seen. I couldn't resist asking a bunch of training-specific questions, in addition to this book's tried-and-true set of questions toward the end. 

Tim Ferriss (TF): Were you always good in sports? 

Ed Coan (EC): When I was a little kid, I had no hand-eye  coordination. I had to to go Illinois Institute of Technology at night and wear something like horse blinders because I couldn't even bounce a ball. I was really little. My freshman year in high school, I was 4'11" and 98 pounds, so I never went out for baseball and never went out for foot. I was scared. Eventually, I wrestled, because there was a 98-pound class. That's when I found lifting.

I could dive into lifting by myself. It was only me and the weights. I'd sit in the basement at midnight on these ad hoc machines with little weights, going nuts for hours because no one was watching me. It was just me. 

TF: Were there any counterintuitive or particularly surprising findings that you found when looking at your notes from 28 years of training? 

EC: At the time I wrote the notes down, no. But when I look back at them, yes. The biggest surprise was that I took my time and made a little, tiny bit of progress four or five times a year. When you make a little progress four times a year over 28 years, you're going to be pretty good at what you do. I never thought, "Oh, I have to lift X amount of weight or accomplish Y." I just thought, "I'm going to get better, and this is what I have to do to get better. "These are my weaknesses; let me correct my weaknesses."

TF: What are some of the most common novice mistakes you see in lifting? 

EC: They don't take their time. They don't look at the long term goals, the big picture. I'll ask kids an old question that every old guy asks: "Where do you want to be in five years? Where do you see yourself?" If I apply that question to lifting, a lot of people don't get it. They're only thinking, "What am I going to do within six months?" They don't realize that if you make the whole body strong in every aspect that you possibly can over a period of just three years, you've created an impenetrable machine that won't get hurt, that won't break down, that you can have for the rest of your life because you followed what you're supposed to at the beginning.

They don't take the time to to dot their i's and cross their t's. By analogy, they can write the best paper in the world and turn it in to the teacher, but based on grammar, they're going to get a D. They don't take the time to do the little things: the assistance work, extra technique work, proper diet, prehab (injury prevention) exercises, etc.

I was fortunate because I was introverted - I realized what all of my weaknesses were. I only did two contests a year because I like to get better and have all that time to work on my weaknesses. So, for instance, my strength is my back and my hips. During my long off-season (roughly December to mid-June), I would do a high-bar Olympic close stance squat. Instead of regular deadlifts, I would do deadlifts with no belt and off of a deficit (an elevated platform) or use stiff-legs off of a deficit.

For the bench press, I would ask myself, "How can I make this harder so it will help with my lockout?" I'd then bench with my feet up and do more close-grip and incline benches, things like that.

What do I know will help me not only get (generally) strong but also transfer over to the main lifts? It doesn't matter if you have a pretty peak on your biceps if it doesn't do anything.

TF: When is it okay to max out with a lift? 

EC: Twice a year at meets. 

Usually, when people max out in a gym, they're pretty insecure and not confident about what their end results are going to be. Years ago, I went to Russia with Fred Hatfield and a few other people. This is before perestroika, and the USSR was incredibly powerful. I was in one of their old gyms, something you might see in a Rocky movie. I talked with the guys about training and they said, "You only have so many max attempts in your body over your lifetime. Why waste them in the gym?" I tend to agree with that.

TF: Are there any particular exercises that you think are neglected or that more people should incorporate? 

EC: Usually it's the hard ones like sets of pause squats. Guys can't use as much weight, it's harder, and a lot of the time they don't do them. The only way to get out of the bottom once you stop is for your whole body to push and sync at the right time. You can't have bad technique or you fall forward right away. I don't pause to a box . . . I taught myself how to stay tight with the barbell. 

TF: What are the most common mistakes you see in a squat? 

EC: People don't focus on the body as a whole when they squat. Everyone thinks you just use your legs. They think, "You don't want to hurt your back, so don't use your back." But you need an equal amount of push going down through the floor, which is your legs, and push going up, which is your back driving against the bar. This dual action is what allows your hips to activate and move forward like a hinge on a door. If one of those is not working, you fall forward. So I concentrate on hitting the hole, driving with my legs and driving straight up with my back into the bar. That makes the hips react. It's the same principle in the deadlift.

TF: Are there any particular prehab exercises that you like or dislike? 

EC: Layne Norton has suffered hip and back injuries over the last four years, and he came back. He has a tutorial of hip exercises on his Instagram account (@biolayne) that really helped him. I tried them, and they work phenomenally well.  

I also do some Kelly Starrett stretching with bands to open things up, and I use a lacrosse ball to work on the pecs, rhomboids, etc.

For the pecs, for instance, you stand at the side of a door frame, place the lacrosse ball directly on the pec tendon, then lean against the wall. If you're working on your right pec, you'd stand in front of the left side of a door frame, and your right arm would be straight out in front of you, inside the door frame, the right pec pressing the ball into the wall. The key is that you don't move the ball. Instead, you move your straight arm up and down while pushing against the ball, and you'll feel that sucker roll over the tendon. You're causing your own pain, which is more tolerable. 

TF: During your competitive career, did you find anything unusual to help with recovery? 

EC: Four times a week I received chiropractic care from a friend of Dr. Bob Goldman. Every time I went to see him, he worked on me from my feet up. Now you see a lot of people like Chris Duffin and Kelly Starrett rolling out the bottoms of their feet and doing ankle prep. At the time, we used something that looked like an abacus. Right after using it, I'd walk around and, all of a sudden, my knees didn't hurt and my back was tight. These days, I use a lacrosse ball. 

TF: I've heard you never missed lifts in training, which is rare. Where did you learn that approach? 

EC: I'm pretty sure it was on my own. I used to read Powerlifting USA when I was younger, but my routine was a basic linear periodization with a lot of thought put into picking assistance exercises. So here's what I would do: If I had a 12-week training cycle, I would start from week 12 - sets, reps, weights - and work my way back(wards) all the way to week one. I would have every set, every rep, and ever weight for every single exercise predetermined. I didn't care if it was a leg curl or a pause squat or shoulder press or bent row; whatever it was, my weight, sets, and reps were all figured out for the entire training cycle.

Then I would stop and I would look at that routine, all written in pencil, of course. I would ask myself, "Okay, is every single thing here doable?" If you have to think about it, change it. Make it so that you know 100 percent everything is doable. When you start that routine, imagine how positive your mental outlook is. It's huge. 

I was never depressed. I was never stressed. I never worried about "Can I do this next week?" I always knew I could. 

TF: Looking back at your peak training, what did your weekly split look like during that period of time?

EC: Mondays would be squats and all other leg assistance. Tuesdays would be off. Wednesdays would be bench with chest assistance and a lot of triceps work. I would come in on Thursdays, after pre-fatiguing the triceps on Wednesday, and only hit shoulders (primary go-to exercise: seated behind neck press, working up to 400-plus pounds). I would deadlift on Friday (with light squats as a warmup), do all of my back work. Saturday would be a light bench day for recovery using wide-grip bench, flyes, etc., with occasional smaller exercises like light curls and grip work. Sundays were off. 

TF: If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it, what would it say and why? 


As angry and "focused" as I was as a younger man, I found that those two words made my life much easier. I used to have a scowl on my face if anything differed from what I believed in any way, shape, or form. I don't know if this was because it was hard for me - as such an introvert - to express things outwardly, or if I was just a jerk. I don't think I was a jerk because I never acted on much.

Then, one day, there was this idiot in the gym who really, really used to get under my skin.

I took a deep breath, let it go, walked up, and said, "Hey, how are you doing? You look great. Congratulations on finishing school." Suddenly, I thought, "Holy Crap! This is amazing!" It was like I'd set myself free. it was gone. So even now, I just try to relax (with something like) "Hey, how are you doing? Nice to see you." If I really don't like something, or if something doesn't agree with me, I just walk away or talk to someone more positive.

I see this a lot with powerlifters Mark Bell and Stan Efferding. They don't let anybody or anything get to them. It's like water off a duck's back. 

TF: When you feel overwhelmed of unfocused, what do you do?   

EC: When I travel and I'm on long plane rides, I'll go through my last two weeks: What I did, what I thought of, how I can improve it, and what I'm going to do so I don't make mistakes. Stan Efferding actually taught me how to do that by writing lists (and it might only take 30 minutes) . . . When I put it on paper, it takes the emotion out and makes it easier to follow.

For instance, it's usually my procrastination and fear that have stopped me from doing things. I tend to think of things as a big whole and get overwhelmed. If I break it down, put it down on paper, then look at it a half hour later, all of those smaller things don't seem like a big deal. When I write it down on paper, it looks so much easier, because the fear in my mind is externalized, I can look at it and realize that it's not so scary.

TF: In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life? 

EC: I have been doing Jeet Kune Do counter-violence training for some years since I stopped competing in powerlifting, and I love it. That would be on the short list. I had to teach myself how to move again, because I wanted to be an athlete and not a one-dimensional gorilla.   

TF: What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)?

EC: It's a picture of my parents that I had framed. I've never heard my mom or dad badmouth anybody. The picture makes me think about how I should treat everyone I love.

The picture was taken only a few years ago, and it's my mom and dad together, next to each other - an upper torso shot. I'd never really seen them showing that much affection. My whole life, I never really saw it because of the five kids. and now the grandkids. They hadn't really had a chance to show it. They're both around 87 years old now, and they've had their health problems, but they're still kicking. They love life, they love their kids and grandkids, and it keeps them going. 

I think what they instilled in my without me even knowing it was the ability to observe. Still today, I think that's one of the things I'm really good at: just sitting back and observing. I've never been one to try to be the life of the party or to be too loud. I usually just sit back and observe with a smirk on my face. I don't think you realize how much your parents have given you until you get older and can reflect on it. 

TF: What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?

EC: I love my routine and when nothing upsets my routine. My dad used to tell me, "I know never to die and have my wake or funeral on a lifting day, because I know you won't be there." 

I've also taken a nap every day since I was a kid. I still try not to miss it. Usually it's 45 minutes to an hour and ideally around 3:30 or 4 p.m.

TF: What is the best purchase you've made in recent memory? 

Not too long ago, right after a surgery, the pulmonary doctor and anesthesiologist came in my room, and it was like the TV show Intervention. I said, "What's up, guys? You're not smiling." They said, "We have to talk. Your surgery took a little longer than usual because of the density of your bone and the size of your muscles and tendons." 

Now, that's fine with me. I'm happy. Then they said, "The hardest part of your whole surgery was keeping you breathing." Subsequently, I went in for a sleep study. They figured out that when I fall asleep on my side, I stop breathing eight times a minute. When I fall asleep on my back, I stop breathing 24 times a minute.   

So I got a CPAP machine, and it changed my life. It's helped me improve my focus, overcome negative thoughts akin to depression, and more. Your blood pressure comes down, your blood work starts changing, everything starts to happen because of it, I guarantee I'd been dealing with sleep problems my entire life. I just didn't realize it.

TF: What are bad recommendation you hear in your profession or area of expertise? 

EC: "The newest training ideas are the best!" Wrong. Tried-and-true basics lay the foundation for everything we do in and out of the gym.

TF: I hope this doesn't sound offensive, but why do you spell your name "Eddy"? It's an unusual spelling.

EC: The reason I don't spell it E-D-D-I-E is because of the first guest lifting appearance I ever did. I did a deadlift exhibition when I was young in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was on St. Patrick's Day of all days, and I already look like a freaking leprechaun. I pulled a deadlift and, after, some lady came up to me with Bill Pearl's book Keys to the Inner Universe, which is a gigantic book, and she said, "Would you sign this for me? I think you're going to be famous some day in powerlifting." I said, "Sure," but my hand was still shaking from the adrenaline of having just lifted. I still had my belt on and chalk on my hands. So I went to sign it and out came E-D-D-Y. I thought to myself, "You know what? I have to sign my name E-D-D-Y for the rest of my life so I don't negate the signature that I did for this lady." 


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