Training the Lock Out

We are in a new millennium, and the times are a-changing, as they say. Bench press shirts are a major part of powerlifting, so get with the program. No one cares what you bench press without a shirt. There are a lot of gym world champs, as long as they stay in their own gym.

I’ve always been a slightly above average bencher. I was eighth in 198—without a bench shirt and ninth in 1997 with a shirt. So if I can keep up with the times, so can you.

Here at Westside we have 12 men who bench more than 600 and four over 700 at the time I am writing this. Also four different men at Westside have held an all-time world record. Is this a coincidence? Hardly. We have a training plan that is designed to produce explosive power and incredible absolute strength.

I have discussed the dynamic method many times. Basically we use 45-50% of shirtless max with mostly close grips for 8 sets of 3 reps. This is followed by triceps, lats, and rear and side delt work. But what happens max effort day at Westside that has produced four 700 pound benchers, with more to come? We max out like the Bulgarians: Regardless of our level of preparedness, we do as much as possible on that day. While it may not be our all-time best, it is absolutely all we can do on that particular day.

Let’s start with J.M. Blakley, who has done 710. J. M. likes to do floor presses. He drapes 200-320 pounds of chain over the bar, doing triples. After loading the chains he adds weight; after 225 he jumps 20 pounds a set. This adds up to 12-18 total lifts.

Another exercise that is popular for J.M. (and myself) is the J.M. press. It is done with a close grip, lowering the bar in a straight line down toward the upper chest, stopping about 6 inches above the chest. The elbows are at a 45-degree angle from the body, thereby taking the delts out of the lift, leaving the triceps to do most of the work. I refer to these as J.M., who first demonstrated them for us. J.M. is very dedicated to powerlifting, having traveled all over the United States and overseas to compete. I am honored that he represents us with such passion and dignity.

Kenny Patterson was the youngest to bench 700 at 22 years old. He has held all-time world records in the 275, 242, and 220 weight classes, and no doubt will break more records. One of Kenny’s favorite exercises is overhead band press. Using a set of blue Jump-Stretch bands that reduce the load 155 pounds at chest level, he will work up to a max single. For most lifters, this combination will equal their contest best. This taught him to accelerate to the top. One learns that the weight adds on quickly as the bar reaches the top. This method truly is accommodating resistance. Kenny will also have a record with green or pink Jump-Stretch bands.

Kenny’s Favorite triceps extension is with dumbbells with palms facing each other. He has worked up to 125’s for sets of 8-10 reps. That takes strong triceps, and that’s what it takes to break world records.

Rob Fusner has benched an all-time record of 735 at 308. What makes Rob so incredible is that he has totaled 2358 in a full meet. One of Rob’s favorite exercises is the floor press with bands. The bands add roughly 170 pounds at the top. Rob will use a close to moderately close grip. After starting with the bands, he will add weight and work up to a max single.

Rob’s standard triceps extension exercise is steep incline dumbbell extensions with the elbows pointed out to the sides and the dumbbells touching the upper chest. They remain touching as Rob extends them to the top. This method really works the area around the elbows, and this area is responsible for locking out the arms. Rob will perform 8-12 reps for sets until the triceps are fatigued. We look for Rob to not only break more bench records but also break the total record some day.

George Halbert was stuck at a 475 bench for 2 years. After joining us, he made an official 628 after 1 year of training at 275. George had a lock-out problem, but obviously he solved it. He dropped down to 198 and made a 683. Then George jumped up to 215 and made 701, 716, and 733 at one meet. This is the greatest bench press according to coefficient to date. How does he do it? Well, I’ll tell you two ways and only ways for now.

George’s lock-out problem was addressed by board press with bands. George has done 365 on the bar plus 400 pounds of band tension off four boards, and Rob did 345 plus 400 pounds of bands. George said he could lock-out that much and so could Rob. He was right. George had the stamina to do three benches over 700 at 215, while Rob made 661, 694, 716, and 735. As long as you are explosive enough to blast the weight into the lock-out zone, you can lock-out almost anything.

The second exercise helps George blast the bar into that zone. On dynamic day George, being very strong and explosive, uses 170 pounds of band tension at the top. This also provides 80 pounds of tension at the bottom. George does his speed sets, jumping 5 pounds each set up to 245 for a total of 8 working sets.

Bands have many benefits. One is accommodating resistance. Second, they add kinetic energy in the eccentric phase, by out-accelerating gravity. Third, bands work much like muscle and connective tissue. Fourth, they build tremendous stability: just watch someone trying to bench with bands for the first time.

I have talked about four of the greatest benchers on the planet. They will lift anywhere and any time, out of respect for out competitors and for the sake of competing.

I have presented eight exercises, but there are many more to choose from. They all work for someone, and you may be that someone.

To close, I have some personal advice for all who read my articles: I keep a bottle of testosterone sitting on a triple-layer bench press shirt in the back of my gym, but I have yet to see it bench 5 pounds. To be great, it takes planning, work, dedication, courage, and aggression. If you lack one of these, you will fail, and you have on one to blame but yourself. Losers hate winners, so it’s better to be hated in powerlifting than to hate.

Training Strong Legs for World Records

It was around 1970, and I was reading Muscle Power Builder and articles by members of Westside Barbell in Culver City, CA. George Frenn was discussing how important strong legs were to breaking squat records. He recommended several exercises and methods that he and Bill "Peanuts" West had developed over the years. They pushed box squatting on different height boxes, good mornings, and even calf work to develop their immense back strength. They were responsible for the first 800 pound squat, by Pat Casey.

I realized they knew what they were doing. An old friend, Roger Estep, made the trip to Culver City and gained priceless knowledge. He brought back what he learned and shared it with a West Virginia group, later known as the Wild Bunch: Luke Iams, Jack Wilson, Chuckie Dunbar, and the rest of the guys in New Martinsville, WV. After talking to Roger, I was convinced.

About 30 years later, we at Westside in Columbus, OH, continue to improve on what Bill West's boys were doing by adding science and technology to the system. We know that the best way to squat is to box squat, but what about building brute leg strength?

Belt Squatting: This requires a special belt-squat belt. The weight hangs from the belt, allowing only the lower body to do the work. You may have seen our belt squat machine in our squat video. Belt squats can also be done on an incline; don't lock out your legs.

Incline Squats: do these with a MantaRay or on a flat surface.

Safety Squat Bar: do these on an incline or on a flat surface.

Front Squats – Free Squats: do these for high reps: 50-500 reps.

Hindu Squats: these are a variation of wrestling squats.

One-Legged Squat: do these with on leg supported behind you on a bench. This is also called a sprinter's squat. You can also hold on to a support for a little resistance. The hardest one-legged squat is done by balancing yourself unassisted.

When doing any type of squat, wear shoes with heels occasionally; this places the work more on the quads. Also squat as deep as possible. Depending on the amount of resistance, the reps are 5-12 per set. All of the above squats can be accomplished by holding a barbell or dumbbells.

One of these is Zercher squats. Their inventor, Ed Zercher, intended for the bar to be lifted off the floor in the crook of the elbows. At 181, I made 320 off the floor and an official deadlift of 670 in 1973. But at 198, I could no longer bend over far enough to hook the bar in my elbows. At that point, I placed the bar on the power rack pins and squatted from there.

Squatting can also be done to develop flexibility.

Lateral Roll Squat: Start by squatting down as deep as possible. Next, roll your bodyweight to the right leg in a lunge position, then shift to the left leg, and stand up. Squat down again and repeat in reverse.

Frog Squat: Squat down with you hands over your head. Then place your hands between your legs and touch the floor.

Side-Stepping Squat: With a jump, step out laterally with both feet while descending. Stand up and repeat.

Uneven Squat: While squatting, place one foot on a box about 6 inches high and do full squatting.

The variety of squats presented here are intended for flexibility and agility. Something that most lifters are lacking. Many of these squats are illustrated in Twisted Conditioning by Bud Jeffries. This book has training tips for powerlifting, strongman competitions, and no holds-barred fighting such as Vale Tudo, of which I am a big fan. Other leg developers are pushing cars forward or backward and walking with a heavy wheelbarrow. Jesse Kellum likes this type of training at certain times of the year and his legs are just about as strong as I have seen. At Westside we use sled pulling extensively.

Here are more exercises for the posterior chain:

  • Walking Lunges: these can be done with a barbell or dumbbells.
  • Glute/Ham Raises: we do hundreds of these at Westside.
  • Reverse Hyper Machine: this builds the hamstrings, glutes, lower back and spinal erectors, plus acts as traction.
  • Inverse Curl: this is a form of glute/ham raise. The glute/ham bench is elevated in the back by about 30 inches. Do a partial leg curl and a back extension at the same time. Hold at the top position (do not push with the toes). This exercise works the hamstrings at the hip and knee insertions simultaneously. A standard leg curl will not do the same.
  • Leg Curls with Bands: do these seated on a bench in front of a power rack. Secure a band to the bottom of the rack, hook the band with the back of you ankles, and pull your feet under the bench.
  • Pull-throughs: use a low-pulley machine with a single handle. Grab the handle with both hands facing away from the machine. Walk out until there is tension and squat down. Let your hands go through your legs. Remember to keep your arms straight, then stand up and repeat. This is a great hamstring and glute builder. If done with straight legs, it will build incredible lower back strength.
  • Dimel Deadlifts: use a shoulder-width stance and grab the bar with your hands outside your legs. First stand up with your back straight and arched. Maintain this position and drop the bar to just below knee level by squatting down. Quickly return to the top. Do 15-20 reps for 2 sets. These can be done up to 4 days a week, but only for 2 weeks at the most. These are named after my dear friend Matt Dimel. They pushed his 820 squat, which was stalled for over a year, to 1010 in 16 months. The same exercise raised Steve Wilson's deadlift to his all-time best of 865.
  • Deadlifts behind the Back: this will build great leg strength for deadlifting. If you have large hamstrings, this exercise may be difficult. Ano, the great Finn, is experimenting with these to get some leg drive back into his deadlift.
  • Wall Squats: Jesse Kellum suggested that I try these. This is static squat where you slide your back against a wall to an angle where you want to work you legs and hold from 15 to 60 seconds.
  • Plyometrics and Jumping: Paul Anderson was doing jumping exercises in the 1950's. He would jump onto boxes of different heights to build explosive leg power. Norm Schomanski, our great Olympic lifting champion, also did a lot of jumping. He was reputedly able to jump onto a 4-foot high bar top at a local tavern. The benefits of kinetic energy on the lowering phase is that it produces a phantom loading effect on the landing. I highly suggest you do a lot of research on plyometrics before using them in your training. They must be used correctly.

I hope some of the exercises mentioned here can raise your squat and deadlift. Some of the exercises are very old, and some are relatively new, but all are proven to work. It's up to you or your coach to place them where they can do the most good.

Training Equipment Never Looking Back

I made the Top 10 in the United States in 1972 in Powerlifting News. At that time, they kept track only of the Top 10 and this was with no equipment. In 1973 I made a 1655 total at 181, again with no gear: a 605 squat, a 380 bench, and a 670 deadlift. At the time, 1605 was Elite, but it was later adjusted to 1643. In 1980 at the YMCA Nationals, I made the Top 10 in the bench press with a 480. This was done with no bench shirt. Then with the introduction of power gear, from 4 inch belts to squat and deadlift suits, and of course the bench shirt, through the years, I totaled Elite in five weight classes, from the 181's to the 275's. In the 2002 rankings my bench press was sixth at 575 in the 220 weight class.

However, I experienced many setbacks before 2002. I broke my fifth lumbar vertebra in 1973 and again in 1983. I tore my right bicep in the USPF Senior Nationals in 1979. Six months later, I was lucky and won the YMCA Nationals and pulled a 705 deadlift, 33 pounds more than the weight with which I tore my bicep. But, as luck would have it, I tore two small holes in my lower abs and sustained a partial tear of a pelvic tendon (this still bothers me today). I finally made my first 2000 total in 1987 at the YMCA Nationals in Columbus.

My left knee had been bothering me for about a year. I had a heavy workload for the next five years. While training for the APF Seniors in Pittsburg, I suffered a complete patella tendon rupture of the left knee. I went in for a second minor surgery 14 weeks later and nearly died from a reaction to the anesthesia. A tracheotomy was performed and chest tubes were inserted after I stopped breathing for 4 minutes. The chest tubes severed nerves in my ribcage, to this day causing severe shoulder pain.

I was seriously thinking about giving up lifting. But I trained hard and made a 680 below-parallel box squat (there were no Monolifts at the time) with no knee wraps and without the straps up on the suit. Before this, my best squat was 821 at 242.

Meanwhile, Kenny Patterson benched 728 at 22 years old in 1995 at 275 and was ranked the best pound-for-pound bencher. But in 1997 he still had not broken that record. We were doing a bench workout and I said, "Damn, Kenny, I'll squat 700 again before you break that bench record." And he said "Old man, you will never have 700 on your back again." Well, I can thank Kenny Patterson because he brought me out of retirement at that moment.

I competed seven times in the next 11 in full meets and some push/pull meets. My best bench was 530 at 242 in 1992. I broke my bench record several times, ending up with 600 pounds (a dream come true for me). I also squatted over 800 in 1997. This was important for me because no one 50 years or older had made a 600 bench. I also squatted 900 and 920 at 52 years and had a 2100 total.

I was not pleased because, as usual, I could not put my best lifts together, which were at 235 a 920 squat, a 580 bench, and a 710 deadlift. After squatting 810, I recall telling Jesse Kellum that I could do 900. And he said, "Buddy, why don't you?" So I did. He was a big help, just being himself.

Chuck Vogelpohl also helped me greatly, always pushing me to the limit, along with all my Westside training partners, in addition to ambition, determination, and my powerlifting friends from around the world. But not of this could have happened if powerlifting gear had not evolved to the point where it is today.

I went from no knee wraps to Ace bandages, then to horse wraps, then the Canadian wraps such as the TP5000 wraps, to today's best: Frantz, Inzer, Titan, and Crain. They also have their brand of suits and bench shirts. You can choose from polyester, denim, or canvas. Each Federation has their own rules, so take your pick. This is the U. S. of A., and you have the right to lift in any Federation you choose, whether it is drug-tested or non-tested. At Westside we lift primarily in the APF, IPA, and WPO.

It's not the equipment that makes a champion, but rather your mind. There is really no reason for the controversy over power gear. When Fred Boldt came to Westside, he used a poly shirt. It took 3 months for him to master a double denim. In his first meet, he did 450, but within a year he made 540 in the same shirt. Where did the 90 pounds come from? Training. People come to Westside all the time to train and learn, and most walk out the door with an all-time PR.

Don't lie, dudes. You all would love to lift more. The simple fact is a lot of lifters can't master the gear. For bench shirts, Bill Crawford has the golden hand. For canvas squat suits, Ernie Frantz is the man.

At Westside we have the greatest collection of benchers. Four men have held the all-time biggest bench in six weight classes, and I believe another will be added soon. Our lifters have evolved right along with the sport. Chuck's squat of 1025 was done in a two-ply squat suit, in keeping with WPO rules. The bench records were done in two-ply shirts. Nothing has changed since powerlifting began. Everyone looks for an edge. That's simply sport. I remember 20 years ago some knee wraps had a rubber lining. Bill Kazmaier had a pair of shoes that were supposed to be worth $1000. In 1979 at the North American Championships in Canada, Fred Hatfield (Dr. Squat) showed up at the equipment check with a pair of knee wraps make of jock strap waist bands. The IPF ref looked at them and said he couldn't wear them. They were twice as thick as normal wraps. But Fred won the argument and proceeded to break Ron Collins world record squat. He also had the squat rack pulled out of his way instead of walking the weight out. Was he cheating or innovative?

Being a lifter, I thought he was innovative. Every lifter should take advantage of people like Dr. Squat who pave the way to bigger numbers.

Is the use of squat and deadlift bars cheating? No. That's progress. When people see a boxing match, they want their man to knock out the opponent. Someone told me, you have to have the right size fish. I think equipment is the same.

Dave "Zippy" Tate said he felt that the only regulation on power gear should be for novices, for example, up to a Master total. Then somewhat stronger suits could be used by those between Master and Elite. Only the strongest and the bravest would use unlimited gear. That's right, I said the bravest. I have seen a lot of lifters stop progressing because they were scared. That's right, they're scared and they won't admit to it, and they hate those who dare to break today's records.

Look at what's happening today. It's embarrassing what raw lifters are lifting compared to the lifts in the early 1970's. Remember my 181 total – 1655. Jack Barnes held the top spot at 1745. At this time, Larry Pacifico was doing 1900 at 198. I saw Larry do a 530 bench at 198 in Cincinnati, and 8 weeks later in Dayton he benched 590 at 228. These lifts were done in full meets with a 1 1/2 hour weigh-in. But don't think for one minute that today's raw lifter would bench over 600 or squat in the 800s just by putting on gear.

Powerlifting is years behind other sports as far as equipment is concerned, including swimming, track, football, and even bowling. The gear is getting better in every powerlifting federation including the IPF. As race cars go faster, the rules call for more safety equipment to keep the drivers safe. The racing association made recommendations for a better safety belt harness after Dale Earnhardt's death. But in powerlifting, when new innovations come about we're cheating? This doesn't make sense. I don't know a single strong man who complains about better gear.

It's not easy to learn how to use bench shirts and squat suits. Matt, a 275 from Ball State University, had just made a 479 bench P.R., but could not master his new bench shirt. During a visit to Westside, in 45 minutes he made a 530 bench with plenty to spare. His shirt is 1
00% legal; he just needed to learn how to use it.

I notice that the people that bad-mouth the top powerlifters are invisible at power meets. I have to attend the APF Nationals, IPF Nationals and the World Cup, and the WPO semifinals and finals at the Arnold Classic, not to mention the WPO Bash for Cash, and I never see these guys. But I know for a fact that the great lifters at these meets would never give them a second look. After all, what have they done?

Until the end of time people will seek out a way to win. That's human nature. Why not use what's available. Most use computers today, not an ink quill.

I read a lot and suggest to you a book: 2001, A Sport's Odyssey by Dr. Judd Biasiotto. It has been advertised in Powerlifting USA. As you know, Dr. Judd is opposed to modern lifting gear, and his opinion on drug use is the same. His goal was to total 1400 at 132. You can read how he used hypnosis, biofeedback, mind control, and just about everything a cybernetics lab can offer. He was a man of positive thinking. See how long his power career lasted. And, oh yes, how that quest for a 1400 total turned out. He eventually squatted 603 at an AD-FPA meet in 1989. If hypnosis works that well, give me two bottles of it. I invite Dr. Judd to Westside to see what modern lifting is like.

The Repetition Method

I have previously discussed the different methods of training that are utilized at Westside. The dynamic method replaces a maximal effort day and builds explosiveness and speed strength. The maximal effort method builds strength speed and absolute strength.

We know that training with weights about 90% for 3 weeks will cause a negative training effect. To remedy this, the conjugate method is employed. Each week on maximal effort day we use a different core exercise and max out with 100% or more. It can be a good morning, pull, or special morning, pull, or special squat for the squat and deadlift or a floor press or board press for the bench press, to name a few.

If you think about it, strongman events are really the conjugate method. It’s not uncommon for a top strongman to deadlift 800 or more.

Many don’t realize it, but we also use the repetition method to failure, never in the classical lifts, but rather with special exercises with dumbbells, belt squats, the Reverse Hyper, and so forth. I prefer to do repetitions for time, not bothering to count reps, in a slow tempo.

If this sounds new to you, it’s not. In the 1970s the great Olympic lifter Vasili Alexeyev used a variation of the repetition method for part of his training, sometimes doing power cleans non-stop for 2-3 minutes. He would do various hybrid exercises: front squat and push press, squats with the bar on his back and drop squats, etc. The bar weight was light but would work every muscle cell. He would do a warm up by throwing a 220 pound barbell over his head backward 100 times. Then after practicing the snatch for over 2 hours, he would spend an hour in the pool, lifting his legs hundreds of times to strengthen his abdomen. Then he would leap merely 1000 times. He would use many exercises to gain great strength and to raise his work capacity, and of course his total. This is precisely what Westside is after.

Here are some examples of how the repetition method is used at Westside:

  • – For the squat or deadlift, I will do belt squat for 3 or 4 sets of 3 minute sets, 2 or 3 sets of abs, or the Reverse Hyper, for 1-3 sets of 1-3 minutes each.
  • – Another workout consists of band good mornings, a single set sometimes lasting 6-8 minutes, depending on band tension. Follow this with light dumbbell presses for 2-4 minutes nonstop.
  • – Walk with a sled for up to 5 minutes with light resistance. Follow with ab work.
  • – Do light deadlifts for 1-3 minutes followed by ab work for at least 2 minutes.
  • – Pick up a barbell and throw it overhead behind you or the same exercises with medicine balls. This works the entire body. After throwing it, simply walk over to it and do another rep.
  • – Do band leg curls for 3-6 minutes followed immediately by band leg extensions.
  • – Do dumbbell power cleans for 1-3 minutes, either holding them at your waist or on your shoulders, or of course over you head.
  • – Do dumbbell pressing on a bench or, my preference, on a stability ball. I use three different weights depending on the day. After the dynamic workout, I use 100s for 3 minutes. On max effort day, I have done 75s for 5 minutes. Four or five times a week I use 40s for a set of 3-10 minutes.

Using weights of roughly 30% will serve as restoration, by not being heavy enough to stop adequate circulation via strong muscle contraction.

To validate some of the findings at Westside, in Science of Sports Training by Thomas Kurz, high reps with very light weight are stated as being beneficial in the rep range 100-200. Olympic long jumper Diane Guthrie had been doing 250 leg curls every day using 10 pound ankle weights. She noted that when she slacked off the work, she incurred leg injuries.

People make a mistake thinking that there is only one method of training. In fact, there are many, and they must coexist in a continuous chain of proven methods.

When doing the workouts I have outlined, remember to do them with a slow tempo. This means 6-10 reps per minute, resting between reps while still holding onto the bar or dumbbell. Regardless of where you hold the bar or dumbbell, it will work the muscles to their fullest extent.

A great benefit of the repetition method is an increase not only in all strength but also in endurance. This method is also commonly known as lactic acid tolerance training. It promotes a high degree of growth hormone production, which can aid in size and strength.

I suggest that at least two levels of intensity be used: one for strength and one for restoration, the latter using 30% of max or less. As your absolute strength increases, all your strength qualities increase. When I could do 100 pound dumbbells for 40 seconds, I could do 30s for 1 minute 30 seconds. Later when I did 100s for 3 minutes, I did 50’s for 8 minutes and 75s for 5 minutes. When your top strength goes up, so does your strength endurance with less than max weights.

Size, strength endurance, and restoration can all be gained using this method. It is a simple and effective way to raise work capacity and volume to increase your total as well as your fitness level. This method worked for the greatest Olympic lifter of all time—Vasili Alexeyev—and currently and greatest bencher by formula—George Halert.

The Regulation of Training

One must consider how many lifts to do in one particular workout and calculate what percent is best used for explosive and accelerating strength. It is also important to establish the number of lifts for the development of your absolute strength. This is a major factor if you want to reach your top potential.

Also keep in mind all components of training: physical, technical, and psychological. If training is regulated correctly, then all of the above can be accomplished while increasing hypertrophy and building GPP (general physical preparedness). This can be done at one time, without the use of periodization, where one breaks up the training into different phases every 3 or 4 weeks.

By closely following the rep/set recommendations of A. S. Prilepin, here at Westside, we have had 18 lifters bench 550 or better. This method is commonly known as the dynamic method.

We use 60% of a no-shirt best bench for 8-10 sets of 3 reps. This is how speed strength is best developed. Siff and Verkhoshansky used a force plate machine to determine the maximum effort a highly skilled weight lifter could display. This lifter generated 264 pounds of force on a 154 pound bar; 154 is 58% of 264. This demonstrates the optimal relationship between force and velocity, where speed strength is best developed. For the bench, we do roughly 120 lifts at 60% of a no-shirt max in a 1-month time period (10 sets of 3 reps equals 30 lifts per workout times 4 workouts) for the development of starting and accelerating strength. By using a weight that is 60% of a 1 rep max, a 600 pound bencher can train along with a 400 pound bencher without one overloading or one underloading.

How? The 600-pound bencher would use 360 for his sets, and the 400-pound bencher would use 240 for his sets. The workload is regulated to ones strength limits. If the 400-pound bencher uses more than 240, his bar speed is compromised, thus destroying the optimal relationship between force and velocity.

You may ask, how does a 400-pound bencher eventually bench 600? The answer lies in the improvement in and development of special exercises. When the 400-pound bencher has brought up his extensions, delt raises, and back and lat work to that of a 600-pound bencher, he has grown to be a 600-pound bencher as well.

The bench press itself is not used for muscle hypertrophy (growth). The special exercises serve two critical purposes: the development of strength in individual muscle groups and an increase in muscular size, which helps increase leverage in the bench and squat.

Prilepin’s recommendations for weights above 90% (done on the max effort day) are 4-10 lifts. Here we are referring to classical lifts or major bar exercises such as good mornings, box or rack pulls, and of course, a variety of squats.

Like Medvedyev and other sports scientists, we have discovered that too many weights above 90% will cause deterioration in coordination, causing deterioration in form. When training with weights that are over 90% of your current 1 rep max for 4-5 weeks, negative effects occur to the CNS (central nervous system) and your progress will decrease. Yet, one must train with very heavy weights to make gains in absolute strength. So what’s the answer? Train a bar exercise for only 2 weeks and switch. For example, do bent-over good mornings for 2 weeks, Safety Power Squat bar for 2 weeks, rack pulls for 2 weeks, and front squats for 2 weeks. These are just a few exercises to choose from. Always max out on this day for 1 rep in squatting exercises or pulls, such as rack pulls, high pulls, pulls off a box, snatch, or clean. Do a 3-rep max in good mornings. The max effort day occurs 3 days after the dynamic day.

We have adjusted the number of 90% and above lifts in one workout to 3-5 lifts. The reasoning behind this is that the special exercises for powerlifting are much heavier compared to the Olympic lifts that Prilepin’s data were based on.

To become very strong, a lot of lifts must be performed in limited-movement exercises, such as board press for bench pressing, rack pulls for the deadlift, and above-parallel box squatting for the squat. We have discovered it is best to do a single in most cases instead of a triple. Why? A 500-pound single equals 500 pounds of work; a 500 triple is 1500 pounds of work, which is much too demanding on the CNS. However, three reps will produce muscle tension. It is advised that the more massive lifters do 3’s instead of l’s to achieve adequate muscle tension: extra body mass can reduce the range of motion in many lifters.

We will usually do a 90% weight as a last warm-up and then hopefully a record over 100%, possibly two or three PR’s. We invariably go until we miss a weight. This is the best way to achieve a true max effort.

Let’s look at the ratio of the dynamic day to the max effort day. Dynamic day: 120 lifts per month. Max effort day: 12-20 lifts per month. This is how we are able to train heavy throughout the year: by rotating exercises on max effort day.

Remember, do one type of training per workout day: speed bench, Sunday; speed squat, Friday; max effort for bench, Wednesday; max effort for squat and deadlift, Monday (the exercises for the squat and deadlift are the same). You cannot and should never do two types of strength training in one workout. Your brain will not know what to do when asked to do two completely different tasks in one training session.

This can be best illustrated by watching a pro-boxing match. In the early rounds, up to six, is when most knockouts occur. This is where explosive strength is demonstrated. Endurance plays little role in the early rounds. But after six rounds, the explosive strength diminishes, strength endurance is dominant, and fewer knockouts occur. Not only is it best to do only one type of special strength training per session but while doing the dynamic method using only one weight (after a warm-up), your CNS can accommodate the task it is asked to perform.

J.M. Blakley had never done speed work. J.M. did a PR of 675 in 1995, but stalled for 3 years. He is very strong, but his bar speed and reversal time were slow. By doing speed work with 315 for a short time, he made 683 on October 11, 1998 , plus hit 683 again at the WPC Worlds. Then in late November he made an all-time best of 690 in a meet in New York. Remember, it is one thing to be strong and quite another to display it.

Speaking of benching, George Halbert did a 657 world record at 220 in March of 1998 at the Arnold Classic, and at 235 bodyweight he made a world record 688 on October 11, 1998. In Kieran Kidder’s “Blast on the Beach”, George never put a bench shirt on in between meets. For the 688, he used 340 for 4 triples and 380 for 4 triples. George is perhaps the most explosive bencher I have ever seen, and the strength coaches from the Packers and the Patriots agree. George’s problem was the lockout. So he utilized the floor press with 200 pounds of chain looped over the bar plus weight. So far, his best is 445 plus 200 pounds of chain, which is 645 at the top. Using four boards with bands, George’s best is 475 for 3 sets of 3 reps with 150 pounds of tension from the bands, which is 625 at the top. He also did 3 sets of 3 reps with 355 on the bar plus 300 pounds of tension with bands, which Is 655 at the top. Please remember, George is a pressing machine, which allows him to do 9 reps with weights of over 90%. However, most of our lifters follow the recommended 3-5 lifts over 90%.

The same holds true in the squat. This breaks down to 8-10 sets of 2 reps on speed day, which equals 64-80 lifts per month. Note that this is with bands or chains on the bar. Squat day for speed is Friday. On max effort day for the squat and deadlift (Monday), again 3-5 lifts above 90% are advised. That is, take a weight that is 90% of your 1 rep max in that lift and do 2-4 more attempts to break your PR.

To summarize, change the core exercise on max effort day every 2 weeks. Use 3-5
special exercises to complement your core exercise. Train speed bench press at 60% of your max bench without a shirt. Train speed squat in waves of 50-60%, jumping 2.5% each week, then start over with 50%. By using this system, we have had 18 men bench over 550 and 22 squat 800 or more. Lifters across the United States and all over the world are making progress with this system. I would like to thank everyone for their feedback and loyalty to Westside and to powerlifting itself.

The Importance of Volume

How important is controlling volume? What about the range of intensity. These are issues seldom addressed by today’s lifters. I found out the hard way that the volume at a particular intensity range must be closely adhered to; not only the total number of lifts, but also the number of lifts per set should be calculated. This was brought to my attention by A. S. Prilepin’s research in 1974.

His recommendations were as follows.

Percent # of Reps # Lifts Per Workout Optimal # Per Workout
70% 3-5 12-24 18
80% 2-4 10-20 15
90% 1-2 4-10 7

If the number of lifts deviates significantly from optimal, a decrease in training effect occurs. This information is found in Managing the Training of Weightlifters by Laputin and Oleshko.

Let’s look at a simple example. The number of lifts are to be performed on one of two training days. The light percentage numbers are for the development of explosive, or speed, strength. A few years ago we were using between 50% and 60% of a contest max in the squat. Three lifters used 400 for 12 sets of 2 reps. That equals 9600 pounds of work at 50% of an 800 squat. At 60% the lifts were reduced to 20. It was broken down to 10 sets of 2 reps at 60%. That represents 480 pounds for 10 sets of 2 reps, or 9600 pounds. All three lifters squatted 804.

A 700 pound squatter would use 350 (50%) for 12 sets of 2 reps, which is 8400 pounds of volume. At 60%, 10 sets of 2 reps are done or 420 pounds for 20 lifts, which equals 8400. A 500 pound squatter would use 250 for 12 sets of 2 reps, which equals 6000 pounds of work. At 60% 10 sets of 2 reps are performed or 300 pounds for 20 lifts, which equals 6000 pounds of volume. I hope you can understand how important controlling the number of lifts at a certain intensity can be. The squats were done off a parallel box with 40 pounds of chain at the top.

On max effort day, three days later, we use the conjugate method, where core exercises that are similar to the classical lifts are performed. Good mornings of many types, special squat bars, and other apparatus are employed, but we never do a regular squat.

Start increasing the bar weight after a good warm-up. Do a lift of about 90%, then try a personal record, and maybe one more, and then do your assistance work. If you look at both days, it looks like this: 80 lifts for explosive and speed strength and 12 lifts for strength speed and absolute strength per month. Remember, this represents training only the classic lifts. But it is easy to see a direct correlation between a contest max and volume trained at the correct intensity zones.

A very important factor is special exercises. The coach, who is many times the lifter himself, must find any weaknesses, i.e., a lagging muscle group. For squatting or deadlifting, the posterior chain must be developed: hamstrings, glutes, all back muscles, hips. At Westside this means the total work is distributed like this: 40% Special exercises for Strength, 40% Barbell Lifts, and 20% Restoration and Flexibility. This will sometimes amount to 14 workouts per week. Close to contest time we do fewer barbell lifts and raise special work where needed.

If your squat is stalled, more squatting won’t help. You may need more back work or more ham/glute work. In the real world, a squat does not distribute the work evenly. If it did, injury would seldom occur. When reaching your highest potential, doing more classical lifts will only disturb good form.

The same holds true for deadlifting, with even less deadlifting being performed. Training with a barbell held in the hands taxes the CNS heavily. This could lead to a negative training result. This is why we complement the deadlift with many variations of squatting and good mornings. Deadlifting is done with no more than 70% and only for singles. The intensity is raised by using short rest periods between sets, about 30 seconds when doing 6-10 total lifts.

Learn the difference between training and testing the deadlift or squat. Obtain a box squat PR with added bands that represents your contest squat. A low box squat with the Safety Squat bar is a real indicator of absolute strength for squatting and deadlifting. This is done on our max effort day.

Remember, if you squat 300 pounds, use 150-180 pounds on a box starting at 50% in a 3-week wave and ending at 60%. On weeks 1 and 2, do 12 sets of 2 reps, while on the third reduce the sets to 10. The bar volume is always the same, 3600, but the total volume increases during the 3 weeks by adjusting to new special exercises. With a little math, regardless what you squat, the volume is customized for your top lift. At the same time, you are perfecting your form, raising your work capacity, and bringing up your lagging muscle groups.

In 1995, Zatsiorsky stated three methods of inducing maximal muscle tension.

  • Overcoming maximal resistance that causes maximal or near maximal muscle tension (maximal effort method).
  • Using considerably less than maximal resistance until fatigue causes one to fail (repetition method).
  • Using sub maximal weights accompanied by maximal speed (dynamic method).

All three must be monitored at all times during the year. This explanation may seem simple to some, or possibly too complicated for others. The keys to success are as follows:

  • Match volume with correct intensity. Refer to Prilepin’s intensity chart.
  • Use a max effort day and, 72 hours later, a dynamic method day.
  • Raise work capacity.

I have often been asked why is a high work capacity so important. If you are in shape, the heavy weights and the high-volume training will have little negative effect on the lifter. If you are physically fragile, the training will affect you mentally as well as physically. To calculate volume on max effort workouts, there are two methods to consider. The first is when the objective is to increase muscle mass in order to move into a higher weight class: 6-8 lifts in the 90% range. The second method is 3 or 4 sets of 2 reps, the second at 90% and then the next one or two a PR. We prefer the second method, from a psychological point of view. Regardless of how close it is to a meet, or right after, try a record. A record is a process of time under tension. That is most important here. How long it takes to complete a max lift must be duplicated with special core exercises such as good mornings or deadlifts.

For ball players or Olympic lifters the percent for squatting is 65-80% for dynamic day. The same procedure for max effort is used as explained earlier, because we don’t wear supportive gear on this day.

For benching on dynamic day the percent of a meet max with a shirt is roughly 40%, plus chains. If no chains or bands are added, use 50% of a shirtless max. If your max is 300, do 8 sets of 3 reps using 150 pounds. That’s 450 per set, for a total of 3600 pounds of volume. With a 500 max, do 8 sets of 3 reps with 250. That’s 750 per set, times 8 sets equals 6000 pounds of barbell volume. Remember, this is a no-shirt bench. As you can see, regardless of your bench max, the percent and the number of lifts stay the same, but the volume is constantly increasing.

We don’t record special exercises volume, but it must be constantly increasing in sets and top weight. Train special exercises in the correct sequence. For the dead-lift and squat, work low back, ham/glutes, abs, in that order. Don’t move on to the next exercise until muscles are thoroughly worked. For the bench, do triceps, lats, upper back, rear and side delts. The most essential muscle group must be the strongest or injuries will occur.

For bench max effort work, the same principles apply as for the squat and deadlift. On max effort day, the conjugate method mu
st be used, i.e., using exercises that are mechanically similar to the classical lifts. Rotate to a different exercise each week. This allows you to lift 100% plus each week.

None of the above can happen when using the progressive gradual overload system. Please give it up. It just doesn’t add up.

The Dynamic Duo

It’s not often, if ever, that a club loses a world record by one of their lifters to another club member. Well that has happened more than once at Westside. George Halbert owned the 242 world record bench at 688 pounds, which he did on March 6, 1999 , until Kenny Patterson reduced his bodyweight to 240 and made 690 on August 8, 1999. How do these two men train? What percent do they use, which special exercises do they do, and what do they do on max effort day?

Lets start with speed, or the dynamic method. This is done on Sunday, and Kenny and George train together. Far from meet time, they perform 10 sets of triples with short rest periods, about 45 seconds. Most of the grips are close, the index finger touching the smooth for half the sets and not wider than the little finger touching the power ring. The percentage used on speed day is never more than 60% of a shirtless bench P.R. It is roughly 50-55% of their contest best.

After the bench sets they do triceps. The triceps are the most important muscles for bench pressing. Kenny and George do a lot of two-arm dumbbell extensions. They both have done 125’s for 10 reps. J.M. presses are also heavily used, sometimes working up to over 500 for 3-5 reps. As a guide, J. M. Blakley did 3 reps with 530 in a workout at Westside just prior to doing a 690 bench. To do a J.M. press, lower the bar in a straight line above the throat. Stop 3-5 inches above the body, hold, and press straight up. The delts are taken out of the lift, leaving only the triceps to do the work.

When the old reliable exercises stopped working, George came up with a great triceps exercise: a 5-board press with 150 pounds of band tension. The bar is pushed forward to keep all the stress on the triceps and to minimize delt activity. Understand that George and Kenny do many other exercises for the triceps, but these are three very good ones. George and Kenny agree that lats are the next important muscle group. They both do a variety of lat work: one- and two-arm dumbbell rows, chest-supported rows, barbell rows with different grips, and pull-downs with a variety of attachments. Sled pulling also supplements the lat work.

For the delts, heavy front raises are occasionally done, but most delt conditioning is done with high reps of front, side, and bent-over raises. Sometimes all three raises are done consecutively, 20 reps in each direction without a rest, for a total of 60 reps. Dave Williams of Liberty University shared this exercise with Westside. After hearing that Bill Gillespie had done 60 reps with a pair of 45 pound plates, George and Kenny also performed a 60 rep set with 45’s.

Some forearm work is done on this day and then they’re done, in less than 60 minutes. It is a great advantage that they are able to train together and root each other on to be even greater.

On the second day, max effort day, Kenny and George do not train together. Let’s look at George’s special core exercises. Although he does countless pressing movements, here are some of his favorites. George does board presses off 2, 3, or 4 boards, working to a max single or triple, sometimes with bands. He also does the 5-board press with bands for the triceps and floor presses with chains, sometimes up to 200 pounds, again working up to a max single or triple. (If George is trying to gain weight, he does triples. It he is maintaining his weight, he will do singles to a new max.) Steep inclines with a close grip help build the triceps and the anterior delts.

George changes the resistance by adding weight, chains, or bands. This has made him one of the few to hold two all-time world records.

Kenny’s work on max effort day is somewhat different from George’s. During the last 6 weeks before a meet, he will include 2-and 3-board presses. He does these for a single, always for a max. He also does floor press with only bar weight but sometimes with chains if the meet is more than 6 weeks away. Two weeks before a meet he benches in the lightened method using Flex bands connected to the top of the power rack. The bar is suspended from the bands, which reduces the bar weight by 155 pounds. This method works much like a bench shirt. The last workout is 4 days before the meet. Kenny does a rack lockout with a bar position that allows him to lockout his best bench press fairly easily.

Both Kenny and George use countless exercises for the bench. On each max effort day, they do one core lift and 3 or 4 special exercises for the bench. Both the speed day and the max effort day take no more than 1 hour. They also do special exercises for the bench on two other days a week.

George and Kenny have both held two world records at one time or another and now are trading the 242 record back and forth. It doesn’t hurt that 21 lifters at Westside have done a 550 or more bench, so the pressure is always on. We believe these two will both bench 700+ at 242.

If you would like to bench like George and Kenny, do what they do: before a meet work on bar speed and push up the special exercises.

The Conjugate Method

When lifters repeatedly use the same simple method of training to raise their strength level, they will eventually stall. Like the scholar who must utilize many sources of information to achieve a higher level of knowledge, the lifter must incorporate new and more difficult exercises to raise their standards. Many have the theory that to squat, bench, or deadlift more, you simply have to do the three lifts. If it were that simple no one would need special exercises, machines, or systems of training.

But we know this is not true.

Because lifters have different body types, they may excel at one lift but struggle with another. The great Lamar Gant was the only lifter I have known who held the world record deadlift and bench at the same time. There are men who hold three world records in the deadlift, yet can’t make the top 10 bench list. Their muscles in the upper body are, I’m sure, as strong as anyone’s, but they are limited by body structure, e.g., short torso, long arms. Many of us are affected by this. But is there an answer?

In the early 1970s, the Dynamo Club in the former Soviet Union had 70 highly skilled Olympic lifters. They were introduced to a system of 20-45 special exercises that were grouped into 2-4 exercises per work-out and were rotated as often as necessary to make continuous progress They soon found out that as the squat, good morning, back raise, glute/ham raise, or special pulls got stronger, so did their Olympic lifts. When asked about the system, only one lifter was satisfied with the number of special lifts; the rest wanted more to choose from. And so the conjugate system was originated.

When you have a body type that lacks say, the muscles that squat and yet you squat on a regular basis, then a coupling of special exercises for the glutes, hamstrings, hips, and lower back are needed to fortify those areas. These special exercises will enable you to raise your squat once more.

Think about it: if you read only one book, no matter how many times you read it, you will only learn so much. If you only squat, you will get only so strong because no new stimulus is introduced. This may not happen in the early stages of training, but as you become more advanced, you will need a more strenuous method of training. This training will indeed help your motor potential and help you to perfect your technical skill. Before I present some examples of conjugate training, think about this. How much could you bench press the first time you tried? 200? 300 perhaps? Now how did you achieve that level of strength without ever having benched before? You did it through simplified training such as pushups and pull-ups. Those of you who could bench 300 the first time will never double that amount without doing specialized work to raise your strength, right?

Here are some examples of the conjugate method. Glen Chabot bench presses only twice a month. Both times he uses a close-grip style. He can do 405 for reps in the low teens. His best single close grip is 635 without a shirt. In between each workout, he rotates heavy dumbbell work on a flat or incline bench or very heavy bodybuilding exercises for lats, delts, pecs, and triceps.

This linking of special exercises has given Glen a 705 bench press at 275. Glen does not arch when he benches and has fairly long arms. He realized that he needed a special program to fortify his pressing muscles. This is a simple but very effective training program.

A more complex system is Kenny Patterson’s. He will do floor press, chain press, board press, incline press, and overhead press, just to name a few, rotating to a different exercise each max effort day. On the dynamic day, Kenny uses three different grips on the bench press and uses 60% of his no-shirt max for 8 sets of 3 reps. He adds a lot of triceps extensions with dumbbells or the barbell, rows (one-arm, two-arm, chest-supported), pull downs, delt raises, and forearm work. This is a more complex system than Glen’s, but it suits Kenny’s needs. Kenny is a legitimate 700 bencher, having done it several times across the country.

Mike Ruggiera and myself just made 900 squats. It was a 50-pound increase for him and a 40-pound increase for me, yet we did not do a single regular squat in between meets. We do box squats on speed days with a large amount of bands and weight. We also use the Reverse hyper machine and do glute/ham raises, pull-throughs, and abs. I pull a weighted sled before my squat workouts.

On max effort day, we do good mornings (five varieties), belt squats, speed deadlifts (60% for 6-8 singles), and Safety Power Squat Bar squats to different box heights. Mike also pulled his first 800 deadlift, without having done any conventional squats and no big deadlifts. After squatting he does deadlifts for singles with 60% for speed, and three days later he maxes out on special work: this is the conjugate method.

To push up a squat, heavy good mornings or squatting with different bars is done on max effort day. The different bars make squatting very awkward and extremely hard to do, much harder than a regular squat. (The same is true of box squats; they are harder than competition squats.) On max effort day we may do a type of squat on week 1, a good morning on week 2, and a front squat on week 3, each exercise contributing to the next week’s exercise, which in turn will build a bigger squat by strengthening the weaker muscle group and perfecting form.

Pre Meet Training

When is the most stressful two weeks of your life? Two weeks before graduation and you’re flunking out? Two weeks before your wedding and you know your whole life will be ruined forever? Or how about the last two weeks before a power meet? This is the most important time in training. It is “make or break” for many of us. How much or how little should you do? When is the last workout? What about taking openers? Should you use meet equipment?

Let’s start with the squat. As you know, we use a wave mini-cycle for the squat. We also train with a box at or below parallel. I will use Rob Fusner as an example. His best squat is 875 at 275.

  • Week 1 – 425×8 sets of 2 reps
  • Week 2 – 455×8 sets of 2 reps
  • Week 3 – 475×8 sets of 2 reps
  • Week 4 – 495×6 sets of 2 reps
  • Week 5 – 425×8 sets of 2 reps
  • Week 6 – 455×8 sets of 2 reps
  • Week 7 – 475×8 sets of 2 reps
  • Week 8 – 425×8 sets of 2 reps

In addition to the normal bar weight, we use chains, about 120 pounds, or bands, about 150 pounds of tension. These sets are done on Friday, the dynamic method day combined with the contrast method through the use of bands or chains. The objective is to move the weights on Week 5 faster than on Week 1, and Week 7 should be faster than Week 3. This will show the development of force. That is the purpose of the dynamic method: to build acceleration and reversal strength. Short rests between sets are important for increasing intensity; 45 seconds is recommended.

We have found that the 50-60% weights work best for the squat. It is very important to push up the special exercises such as the Reverse Hyper, abs, sled work, and belt squats. Use only 3 or 4 exercises after squatting, and don’t forget to rotate when necessary. Remember that the goal is to become faster with the same weight on each new wave.

This can be accomplished by the use of Flex bands or chains or by increasing the special exercises that build strength in the glutes, hips, ham-strings, and abs. This will also build form by increasing the strength in the vital squat muscles. Do not do regular squats after a box squat workout. The squats will completely wear the vital squat muscles and make a regular squat seem very hard and sluggish. We do a contest style squat only at the contest, never in the gym. Also, if you do a max box squat, don’t do it the week before the meet. Two weeks out is OK, but 4 weeks out is best. Don’t get psyched up. Get motivated, but don’t burn adrenaline. We never use knee wraps or pull up the straps on the suit. Don't do an opener. Needing to do this is just a lack of confidence. Think about it; if you are worried about your opener, you are in trouble. Rather, think PR.

Here are two examples of a comparison of box squat max to a contest best. Amy Weisberger's best parallel box squat is (82%). Her best contest squat 445, at 123. Todd Brock had a parallel box squat of 710 (86%) and a contest squat of 820 at 270. This shows a 15-20% carry over to a contest squat from a squat PR. Most can use this reference.

We seldom do any regular deadlifting at Westside. Jerry Obradovic does rack pulls the plates 2 or 4 inches off the floor. This is done only one time per month. The result is the highest deadlift/bench combine in the 275 class of all time: 804 deadlift, 644 bench. It is a rare combination to be such a good bench presser and deadlifter. It requires two different body structures. We use the same day, Monday, to do max effort work for squatting and deadlifting. About 6 out of 10 workouts are good mornings. They work most major muscle groups that squat and deadlift: the glutes, hamstrings, spinal erectors, and hips. About 3 of 10 workouts are special squats using a variety of bars.

Each time you change bars, it will change the length between sacrum and the center of the bar. This is possible by using a Manta Ray; it raises the bar approximately 1 to 2 inches above top of the delts. A Safety Squat bar, with its cambered design, also changes this length.

On max effort day, you must push the muscles to their fullest extent. Try records in all types of good mornings, squats, and pulls. On both the dynamic effort and max effort days, you must push not only the major core exercises but also the special work, such as Reverse Hyper extensions, pull-throughs, back raises, glute/ham raises, and lat and ab work.

One does not have to squat or deadlift to become a good squatter or deadlifter. If it takes 3 seconds to do a max squat or deadlift and you place the right muscles into play with a good morning or special squat, you have accomplished the same thing. The more exercises you become accomplished in, the easier it is to master any exercise, including squatting and deadlifting. Even football players play football only 20% of the training time. The other 80% is for special drills and to raise GPP. Pick the exercises that work best for you and use them closest to a meet. Rotate every 2 weeks and always max out: do singles in squatting and pulling and triples in the good mornings.

This is the conjugate method: using special exercises to raise absolute strength, as well as perfecting form. This method will allow you to max out week after week, year after year, and my friends, this is the only way to do so. If you chose to max out in one particular exercise for 3 or 4 weeks, you will stop making progress, for neurological reasons. Check your training log if you don’t believe me.

If you do pulls, don’t do them for more than 2 weeks and never the last 2 weeks before a meet. If your form is good and your strength is up, then there is no reason not to break your squat or deadlift record, assuming you’re not a head-case.

The box squats on dynamic day are done with a pair of groove briefs or a suit with the straps down. Never wear knee wraps, but wear a belt.

As you can see, speed work is done on one day and max effort work is done on another, 72 hours apart. Friday is our speed day, and Monday is our max effort day. Speed day is designed for explosive strength and acceleration for the development of force. Max effort day develops absolute strength. Chuck Vogelpohl, who has won everything from the Y Nationals to the Worlds, simply says it is most important to push up the special work and concentrate on bar speed for squatting and deadlifting. Just remember to push the special core exercises that work best for you closest to the meet.

For the bench press, two workouts are done per week: one for speed and acceleration and one for the development of reversal strength. Yes, reversal strength can be stored for the pause rule. Sunday is the dynamic method day.

Always train at 60% of a no-shirt max (240 for a 400 pound bench, 270 for a 450 bench, 300 for a 500 bench, and so on). We don’t wave the weights in the bench; we always train at 60%, 8-10 sets of 3 reps. Use close and moderately close grips, with your little finger inside the narrow rings on the bar. Lower the bar as quickly as possible. Reverse it as quickly as possible and accelerate to lock-out. Always use chains or light Flex bands on these sets. After the 8-10 sets, train the triceps very hard. Attempt new records in a bar or dumbbell extension, J.M. presses, or any other triceps exercise.

Triceps are most important. Lats are next, followed by delt raises, upper back, and forearms. All this should be done in less than an hour.

Three days later, Wednesday, is max effort day. On max effort day you must max out (but not in a regular squat, bench, or deadlift). Do a one- or three-rep max in exercises such as board press, floor press, incline, decline, or seated press, or rack lock-outs. You can have records with added chains or bands. Make as many combinations as possible. This is known as the conjugate method. When one trains a particular exercise maximally for even 3 weeks in a row, growth hormone production is greatly reduced. That is why you must use special core exercises and
rotate them every 2 weeks. Sometimes we even modify a special core exercise slightly each week.

Remember to pursue greater bar speed in all lifts. Push up special exercises and rotate as often as necessary to maintain progress. Stay with short rest periods on dynamic day: for squats, 45 seconds; for bench, 1 minute. Any faster and the CNS may be negatively affected. The short rest between sets causes lactic acid to accumulate. By working through the lactic acid, growth hormone production greatly increases. So don’t be a wimp. This pain pays. Don’t take openers. If you are worried about your opener, what are you going to do with your second and third attempts? Pick the exercises that work best for you closest to meet time.

I hope this helps you as much as it does us at Westside.

Percent Training What is it Really

In the squat, what is too heavy to train with and too light to train with? In Russia, much research revealed that 65-82.5% of a 1 rep max is best to build strength in the squat. They suggest 2-6 reps per set.

At Westside Barbell we do sets of 2 for 2 important reasons. One, more than 2 reps tends to ause bicipital tendonitis and shoulder discomfort. This pain is commonly felt while benching but, in fact, comes from squatting. The bar shifts to some degree, causing damage. Having your hands spaced too close on the bar may also be the culprit. Two, in a power meet, we don't do reps so if we do 12 sets of 2 reps we are getting 12 first reps per workout. If you do 4 sets of six reps, then you get only 4 first reps.

The velocity-force curve shows that weights can actually move too fast (weights below 65%) or too slow (weights above 82.5) . By staying within this percent range, we are continuously working with poundages that provide both adequate velocity and force to produce record-breaking squats. The multiset system with submaximal weights is referred to as the dynamic method. It produces maximum explosive force as well as maximum velocity. It is one thing to be quite strong and quite another thing to display it. This is important to sports teams if the weight room is to be compatible with the sport.

Let me clarify one important aspect of our training. On our squat/deadlift special exercise day we train with a revolving system of exercises that are switched ever 2-4 weeks. We will work up to a top single (100%+) in a particular lift, for example, the box squat 3 inches above parallel with the Safety Squat Bar. After breaking a record or two, we switch to rack pulls. Again breaking records for a 2-4 week minicycle, we then switch again. By continually revolving special exercises and training at 100%+, we apply max force throughout the cycle. So as you can see, we have a velocity day and a max force day in the same week. This max force day is referred to as the maximum effort day. This enables us to maintain both maximum force and maximum velocity at the same time. We are able to train heavier longer than with any other system. The volume of weights by percent will make you stronger throughout the year.

What's wrong with the progressive overload system, commonly used in the United States? Recall what I said about the force-velocity curve. In the early stages of the progressive overload system, the weights are too light, too light even for velocity work. This can be illustrated by throwing a whiffle ball. No matter how hard you throw it, it just doesn't go very far, as compared to, say, a baseball. The weight of the baseball is more compatible with applying velocity and force. It is true that muscle hypertrophy is accomplished during this phase, but we are trying to achieve muscle strength, not size.

As the weeks continue in the progressive overload system, the weights reach the 65-82.5% range. For a while you are achieving maximum velocity, providing that you are trying to do so. But as the weights grow heavier, the force factor comes into play. Slowly but surely, you lose that all-important factor: velocity.

So as you can see, with the progressive overload system, it is impossible to maintain max force and velocity simultaneously. An additional negative effect occurs with progressive overload; you have lowered your volume to the point that it can no longer support the work needed to produce positive results at meet time. You may be at your strongest 2-3 weeks before the meet and fall on your face more times than not when it counts.

One must train at 90% and above for maximum muscle recruitment, but this can only be done for a 6-week period before training efficiency decreases dramatically. However, by training the squat with submaximal weights, with maximal velocity, and by rotating exercises that closely resemble the squat on a second day, you can stay within the boundaries of the force-velocity curve.

When you rotate special exercises, such as good mornings, rack pulls, or Manta Ray squats, anxiety and high blood pressure, which accompany the competition and are present when trying heavy training weights in the squat are eliminated. For most, training with heavy weights in the squat can be so stressful that ones adrenaline level drops drastically.

Another negative aspect of progressive overload is that you must always drop assistance work at the end of the cycle, even though these are the exercises that made you strong in the first place. When you stop doing special exercises, their effect is lost in a few weeks, sometimes a few days. So, for the most part, they must be maintained as close to the contest time as possible. Large muscle groups recover in roughly 72 hours; small muscles, in 24 hours. We do our heavy squat and deadlift work on Monday. It never has a negative effect on our Friday squat workout. Therefore, there is no reason to reduce the work done on Monday when the contest is, in fact, a day or two later than our regular squat day.

As far as deadlifting goes, we seldom do it. But when we do, we do multiple singles with very short rest periods (30 seconds). We start with 60% for 15 singles. During the minicycle the number of lifts decreases as the percentage increases. Use only one weight per workout. The top percent is roughly 85% and the lifts are reduced to 6-8 singles. If you do this type of training, jump about 5% a week. I recommend that only lifters built to deadlift do this cycle. You must be very explosive on each lift.

For example, if you pull a max 700 pounds and you are using 70%, or 490, you must exert 700 pounds or more of force when pulling the weight. Yes, with submaximal weight you can exert more force than is actually on the bar. This is not possible when you do a max triple of 670 when your max is 700. If there was a force meter on the bar with 670, it may surprise you that not one rep would equal 700 pounds. This also explains why a particular lifter can perform 2 reps with 800, yet can do only 800 at a contest. His body can maintain 800 pounds of force for a period that allows two reps. But because of the slow bar movement, there is a lack of adequate velocity to lift the additional 30-40 pounds on the bar at the meet.

Box squatting on squat day works as the velocity day for the deadlift. On deadlift day, we do a combination of max singles and max reps on a variety of exercises, such as four types of good mornings, five types of squats, five methods of pulls, and an array of exercises for the low back and abs. We may also do static work and isokinetic work. Special exercises with special devices allow maximum speed at the beginning of the lift and maximum overload at the top portion.

Let us review. When using percent training, one can control volume, keeping it constant throughout the yearly cycle. Speed work and maximum weight can be incorporated into the workout, unlike the progressive overload method, where one is sacrificed for the other. A very important aspect is that special exercises can be maintained throughout the yearly cycle, as well as during the time leading up to the contest. Percent training is far less demanding psychologically, reducing anxiety and stress and keeping blood pressure from rising too high. By constantly breaking gym records in special exercises, confidence is built and a sense of wellbeing is maintained leading up to the contest. A book entitled Science and Practice of Strength Training by Vladimir Zatsiorsky may help clarify many of the points discussed here.

We qualified 10 lifters for the WPC Worlds by training with these guidelines. We welcome potential world champions to move to the Columbus area and train with us. Interested and qualified lifters should send their resumes to Westside Barbell.

Overcoming Plateaus

Your squat is going nowhere. No matter what you do it won’t increase. What can you do? Well first, let’s find the real problem. It can be several things: form, exercise selection, volume, and the development of special strength, i.e., starting, accelerating, eccentric, concentric, reversal, static, and of course absolute.

First, let’s talk about form. Box squatting is a must. Use a box that is slightly below parallel. Sit fully on the box, keeping all muscles tight, most importantly the abs and the obliques. By releasing only the hip muscles you are going from a relaxed state to a dynamic phase. This is one of the best methods of developing absolute strength as well as explosive strength. Lowering the bar produces a great amount of kinetic energy, which is stored in the body, resulting in reversal strength.

For box squatting, the form is the same as regular squatting. Before descending, the glutes must be pushed out to the rear. Because you are going to squat to the rear and not down, this sets up the body for a stretch reflex. Next, push the knees out to the sides. This accomplishes two things: it places much of the stress, or work, on the hips, and it will greatly increase your leverage in the bottom of the squat. By pushing the knees out, you are at least attempting to keep the knee joint in line with the hip joint. In theory, if you can stand up with 1000 pounds while your shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle joints are in line, you could squat to parallel with the same weight if the above joints are kept in line. That is why it is so important to super-arch the back, by keeping the chest up, while in the bottom of a squat.

If you correctly push the glutes out first on the descent, then the head will move last. On the ascending phase, the reverse is true. The head must come up first by pushing the head into the traps. It is then natural for the hips and glutes to follow. Also, never push down with the feet when squatting. You must push out to the sides on the eccentric and concentric phases. That’s why we recommend Chuck Taylor shoes. The feet can be pushed out to the sides without the feet rolling over. When sitting on the box, it is possible, and desirable, for the shins to be past perpendicular. This places all the work on the vital squat muscles. This is impossible with regular squatting.

Train on a box with 50-60% of your best contest squat. A 500-pound squatter would start at 250 and jump 10 pounds a week for 6 weeks. Now the weight is 300 pounds. On week 7 drop back to 250(50%) and a new wave. This is done for 10 sets of 2 reps for 4 weeks. Then drop to 8 sets. This will keep the bar volume relatively the same. The volume will change dramatically when you start the wave again, adding 3 or 4 special exercises that have not been used for a period of time. The combination of changing special exercises and using short rest periods (about 40 seconds between sets) has proven to be most effective for producing growth hormone.

The short rest will cause lactic acid to build up. When you fight through this discomfort, you will produce the most growth hormone. Also, when you use maximal weights in the same exercise for more than 3 weeks, growth hormone production stops! Wusef Omar, a colleague of the renowned Tudor Bompa, with the help of top exercise physiologists, validated this at York University in Toronto.

On the dynamic day, after box squatting, select 2-4 special exercises to improve. Because all the muscles that squat are located in the back of the body, except the abs, select exercises for the spinal erectors, glutes, and hamstrings, such as back raises, reverse hyper extensions, pull-throughs, sled dragging, and calf/ham/glute raises.

The abs are very important for squatting, and we look at ab training very seriously. Because when you squat or deadlift, you are standing up, we do the majority of our ab work standing up. This is done on the lat machine. Face away from the machine, and pull a triceps rope down to the base of your neck. Hold the ends of the rope against your chest. Now bend over by forcing the abs to flex downward into the hips. This is exactly how the abs are designed to work. The obliques are the most important ab muscles. When you flex a weight off the floor or start out of a heavy squat, it is the lower obliques that initiate the entire upward motion.

What I have been discussing is correct exercise selection. I hope you noticed that I have not included leg extensions and leg press. Leg extensions are a waste. It’s true that they isolate the quads, but the amount of weight is insignificant. Leg press machines are very dangerous in general. They place a tremendous amount of strain on the lower back. A leg curl machine is designed for bodybuilding. While it does build the hamstrings between the knee and hip, bodybuilders use it because it does not build size at the knee or the glute tie-in. It starts with knee extension and ends with hip extension but in a biomechanically unsound fashion. A glute/ ham machine works both the knee and hip extenders simultaneously. As in running and jumping, the quads do very little in squatting. So don’t waste too much of your time on quads.

For accommodating resistance, use chains or bands. Weight releasers are useful for building reversal strength.

I have discussed the speed day, Friday for squats. For the development of absolute strength, we have a max effort day, 3 days later. On this day, we never do regular squats. About 7 weeks out of 10 we do some kind of good mornings for a 3-rep max. We use special bars: Safety Squat bar, Buffalo bar, bent bars, and a special cambered bar that has a 14 inch camber, which takes the upper back out and makes the mid to lower back work over-time. Two out of 10 workouts are some type of squatting on a variety of boxes, from 8 to 17 inches high and with a variety of bars or with the Manta Ray or front squat harness. Do a 1-3 rep max in these special squats. Switch the core exercises every 2 weeks, again to maintain production of growth hormone. One out of 10 workouts should be some kind of pull for a 1-rep max. After the core lift, use 2-4 special exercises (glute/ham raise, hypers, extensions, pull-throughs). Raise special work for 3 or 4 weeks. This is the correct method to raise volume, with special work, not the classical exercises.

Note: Close to a meet, work on speed and raise special exercises for the abs, low back, hamstrings, glutes, and hips.

This method has produced 22 lifters who have squatted 800 or more, all from a small, private gym. We have had 500 pound squatters progress to 800 in less than 3 years. I’m sure this method will help you too if you think out your training.

Overcoming Plateaus Part 3: The Deadlift

Squat and bench press records are continually being set in recent years. It’s easy to see why. Most federations have a 24-hour weigh-in rule, which is a positive thing for the health of the lifter. It is easy to rehydrate in 24 hours, which results in fewer cramps and muscle pulls and tears. In the old days, it was common for lifters to pass out while squatting or to drop the squat bar because they were dizzy. And, of course, the more you weigh; the more you can squat or bench. In addition, the introduction of power suits, groove briefs, and bench shirts has enabled the lifter to make bigger and bigger lifts. But, what about the deadlift? Does equipment help in this lift? Shawn Coleman said that using a larger deadlift suit helped him get into a better starting position to pull a PR 835 deadlift. So while supportive gear can help the squat and bench, and prolong one’s lifting career, more times than not it can be a hindrance for deadlifting.

So, if equipment is of little benefit, what’s the answer when it comes to the deadlift? Training.

Most lifters deadlift too often and too heavy. This has an ill effect on the central nervous system. A better method is to use a variety of exercises that mimic the deadlift or special exercises that develop the individual muscles that are used while deadlifting (the conjugate method). One must build the muscles that start and finish the lift. Also, there must be methods used to develop speed and acceleration; the quicker the bar is locked out, the less chance for the grip to give out.

Vince Anello, an 821 deadlifter at 198, once told me that anything he did would make his deadlift go up. Bill Starr said that if you want to deadlift more, don't deadlift. Bill was an excellent Olympic lifter who pulled a 666 national record in 1970, having concentrated on powerlifting for only a short time. Whether they knew it or not, both men were utilizing the conjugate method. This method was devised to develop the muscles and special strengths (starting, accelerating, absolute).

The good morning is a valuable exercise in the conjugate method. For deadlifting, the bent over version is the best. Bend at the upper back first and round over while lowering the bar. The legs can be slightly bent to prevent hyperextension of the knee. While doing good mornings, always think about duplicating the motion of a deadlift. Only you, the person doing the good morning, can gauge its effectiveness, (1) by the stress on the spinal erectors, hamstrings or glutes, and hips, and, of course, (2) if your deadlift goes up.

Shawn Coleman did 600 for 5 reps in the good morning prior to his 835 deadlift. If you are doing 600 for 5 reps and your deadlift is 700 pounds, you are just kidding yourself, and you must change your training.

Use a variety of bars in the good morning: straight, cambered, Safety Power Squat bar. Use a high bar placement and a low bar placement, close and a wide stance, and sometimes do them seated. Bands and chains as well as weight releasers can be used. One to six reps works best. Stockier men should do at least 3 reps to increase muscle tension. Because a max deadlift can take several seconds to complete, the duration of a set of reps in this lift must also be several seconds.

Various types of squatting should also be done to increase the deadlift. Michael Brugger of Germany related to me that the Olympic-style squat was his favorite exercise to increase his deadlift of 887. Eddie Coppin of Belgium made an 826 deadlift at a bodyweight of 186. The front squat was a major part of his training. In the early 1970s, George Clark pulled 700 at 181 and just missed 735, the world record held by Vince Anello. George’s main exercise was the hack squat deadlift, with the bar held behind his back. These are three examples of great lifters using a form of the squat to raise their deadlift.

Squatting with a bar held in various ways will place the stress on the erectors, hips, and glutes; the primary muscles that deadlift. We advise using a group of specialty bars: Buffalo bar, Safety Power Squat bar, Manta Ray, etc. This will teach you to maintain a more upright position, which is conducive to a good deadlift.

If you do all deadlifting, it is a matter of time before your deadlift will stall, or even worse, injury will stop all progress. Why? No ones body will equally distribute the work evenly between the lower, mid, and upper back. If the lower back takes the major role in deadlifting, which is most often the case, eventually an injury will occur. But by doing a variety of special exercises for the upper back, the muscles of the entire back are more likely to receive equal work. These exercises include shrugs, lat work, spinal erector work, good mornings, back raises, reverse hyper, extensions, glute/ham raises, sled work, and pull-throughs.

What about starting and accelerating strength? The best way to develop these strengths is by using Flex bands. By attaching the bands over the bar, the resistance is applied to the bar evenly. The higher the bar is raised, the more resistance applied to the bar. If you are weak at the top, with the bands you will learn to pull faster at the start, so momentum and then acceleration can help carry the bar to lock-out. It you are weak at the start, the bands will teach you to start off the floor faster, because without the fast start, you will not be able to lock out a heavy deadlift. For those who have said this will not build acceleration: one does not use maximum weight with the bands, but rather 60%. More resistance is added to the bar by the bands as you lift the bar. This is called accommodating resistance.

Overcoming Plateaus Part 2: The Bench Press

Everyone likes to bench press, but no one likes to get stuck. Not making progress is no fun and sometimes grounds for retirement. Only the strong at heart will continue. But should anyone ever stall out? The answer is no. The problem is if you do the same training, you will get the same results.

There are basically four reasons for falling or succeeding: physiological, psychological, technical, and exercise selection.

Let’s talk about psychological. Don’t have deadbeats hanging around you. Stay in a positive mental state. If your training partner can’t hang, no matter what their age, give them the hook. You must be competitive, even while training. But you also must want your training partner to succeed, so you will be pushed even more.

On maximum effort day go until only the top man is left. On dynamic day try to hurt your training partner with short rest periods. To win, you have to put yourself through hell. Have training partners that want to kick your ass all the time (during the workout). Trash talk is always present at Westside. A new lifter at the gym wanted to load my plates for me during one of his first workouts. I asked him if he respected me. He said he did. I said, “If you respect me while we train, I’ll boot you out of here.” He got the idea. When I was young, I didn’t want to lose to an old man. Now that I’m an old man, I don’t like to lose to young men. I cop an attitude, and that attitude kept only five men on the TOP 100 list kicking my ass (and I know where they live).

I will sum up the psychological aspect of training with the words of Dr. Mel Siff and Dr. Yuri Verkhoshansky, authors of Supertraining. A high degree of performance depends on motivation, to gain certain goals, aggression, concentration, focus, the ability to tolerate pain and cope with anxiety or stress, developing a winning attitude, and raising the ability to manage distractions and to relax.

What about the physiological aspects? This encompasses several aspects of training, such as the development of starting, accelerating, absolute, and special strength. These are primarily developed with barbell training. The correct loading on the dynamic day as well as the maximum effort day is essential.

The physiological aspects also include the development of muscle hypertrophy. This can be accomplished with dumbbells, sled work, and the proper use of special exercises such as chins, rows, triceps extensions, and delt raises. Exercises that raise work capacity or general physical preparedness (GPP) are also essential, especially for drug-free lifters. Men such as Bill Gillespie and Sean Culnan are perfect examples.

To address the technical aspects of benching, we must determine what is proper bench press form. It has always been thought that you should push the bar back over the face. However, it makes little sense to do so. When a bar moves toward the face, many bad things occur. The delts are placed under great stress, especially the rotators, and no one wants that. Also, the lats are no longer involved in the lift when the bar moves toward the face. The bar should be lowered with the lats, not the arms. Without strong lat involvement, there is little chance that the bar will be placed on the chest correctly. It may land too high or too low. If it is too low, the delts are involved too much. If the bar lands too high, the triceps are involved too much. Strong lats will ensure the bar is placed in the correct position, that is, with the forearms vertical. In this position, an equal amount of delt, pec, and triceps are used in pressing. If you don’t place the bar in the correct position, delt and pec injuries are more likely to occur.

The path of the bar in the concentric phase (raising) should be a straight line. This requires the correct use of muscles. When the Clemson University coaching staff wanted to know which are the most important muscle groups for benching, George Halbert told them triceps are first, lats second, upper back third, and delts last. George holds the world record in the 220’s at 657, a world record of 688 in the 242s and a 683 at 227, the heaviest triple bodyweight bench of all time (457 pounds over bodyweight!).

The delts are almost always overworked, and the triceps are underworked. You see a lot of delt and pec injuries but not a lot of triceps injuries. This tells me that most lifters don’t train their triceps to the max. When the triceps, upper back, and lats are the strongest muscle groups, the bar will travel in a straight line, making the distance to lockout much shorter. Also, it does not require the arms to rotate outward, which causes injuries to the pecs and rotators.

Exercise selection is crucial. On dynamic day, after doing your 8-10 sets of 3 reps at 60% of a shirtless max, train the triceps first. It is quite common for our guys to do 14-18 sets of triceps extensions. They are done mostly with a straight bar. One frequently used exercise is J.M. presses, for 3-5 reps, working up as heavy as possible. Always try for a new PR. The same applies to straight bar extensions to the chin, forehead, or throat. Heavy dumbbell extensions are also used, 6-10 reps for 6-10 sets. Use short rests between sets, 30 seconds or less. For the bar work 90 seconds is advised.

For advanced lifters, such as Phil Guarino, superset light pushdowns or light dumbbells in between bar extensions or J.M. presses. This will greatly increase your GPP and thus your bench press. Phil used this method for 1 year and pushed up his bench from 525 to 633 at 242 and recently made a 661 at 253 bodyweight.

Also for the triceps try using Flex bands while benching off five 2 x 6’s. This takes the delts and chest almost completely out of the movement, leaving only the triceps to do the work.

Lats are next. Rows of all kinds are done as well as lat pulldowns with a wide variety of bars. We don’t do many chins, but they are a good way to work the lats also. We do a lot of upper body sled work. This is my personal favorite. We also do a lot of static lat work with the Flex bands by hooking one band around one of the uprights of the power rack and holding the ends of the band so the lats are contracted for a long period of time, about 2-4 minutes. When you become fatigued at one position, change the position by slightly bending or straightening the arms and continue to hold the tension. Remember, when bench pressing, the lats are held statically. The delts rotate and the arms bend, but the lats stay contracted.

The sled and bands work perfectly for the upper back as well. Inverted flies, dumbbell power cleans, and lat pulls to the face can also be done. Choke a set of Flex bands to the top of the power rack, one on each side. Place a bar in the loops. Lie down as if to bench and pull the bar to the chest or belly using various grips. This simulates the action of the lats while benching. Tuck the elbows in tight.

It is also important to have strong forearms. I have never seen a strong bencher who doesn’t have large, powerful forearms. The tighter your grip, the easier it is to activate the triceps.

To use the biceps fully when benching, imagine you are stretching the bar apart. The first muscle to flex while pushing a bar concentrically will be the biceps. This technique of pushing the bar apart is very important and requires that one do external rotator work. This can be done with rubber bands. Older lifters may remember the chest expanders that Bob Hoffman sold. When these were popular, there seemed to be many fewer shoulder Injuries. Could it be that all of that external rotating prevented rotator injuries, which we see so many of today?

Let’s look back. If your bench press is not progressing, it could be poor form, which could be a result of a lagging muscle group or not knowing how to bench correctly. Don’t merely take someone else’s advice on how to bench, but think for a minute and review what was discussed here.

On s
peed day, speed is what we are after: starting and accelerating as well as reversal strength. Train with 60% of a no-shirt max. This will utilize power production maximally. Do 8-10 sets of 3 reps.

On the maximum effort day you must max out on one core exercise, and don’t be afraid to miss. Do a final warm-up with 90%, then try a PR or two. This workout should occur 3 days after speed day.

On both days push up your special exercises such as triceps extensions, delt raises, lat work, and forearm work. After the core lift pick three or four exercises, and never work out longer than 60 minutes. Do your triceps first and forearms last.

If possible, do a second workout later in the day. This workout should be 20-30 minutes long and should consist of extensions, raises, lat work, and curls. No bar pressing should be done.

Does this work? At Westside we hold 3 out of the 12 all-time world records in the bench: 657 at 220 (George), 688 at 242 (George), and 728 at 275 (Kenny Patterson), the last having the greatest bench co-efficient of all time. Eighteen of our lifters bench more than 550 pounds, and two of these are over 40 years old and are 198’s (Jeff Adams and Jerry Schwenker). Seven men bench more than 600 at Westside. Bill Gillespie, strength coach for the Washington Huskies, has gone from 480 to 628 in about 5 years and has passed every drug test he was given. This should be proof that this system works for anyone, not just those at Westside.

Organization of Training: Part 2

When planning training, one must not plan for the next meet, but rather the next year or even longer. The following are some issues to consider:

  • Weight gain or loss
  • Improving form on competitive lifts or special exercises
  • Raising work capacity and improving general fitness
  • Gaining general training knowledge
  • Testing character and courage
  • Learning how to use legal equipment

The effectiveness of your training is based on all of these considerations.

In this part I will discuss testing character and courage, learning how to use legal equipment, and gaining general training knowledge.

Testing character and courage. I am a huge fan of most sports, but when I watch basketball, I frequently hear the announcer say the player passed up an open shot to another player because he did not have the confidence to shoot the ball himself, or during a football game, the announcer will say that a certain player is a natural leader. So what are the other 10 players? Natural-born followers? I hope not, but who knows? Why can’t the other 10 teammates step up and take over? Angelo Bernardinelli said it best: “They are two types of people, the prey and the predator.” Which are you? And don’t stroke your ego. I watched Angelo try to break the world middleweight squat record for years. He was always close, but was never able to. The record kept going up, from 766 to 771 to 773. Finally at the WPO in York, PA, in June 2002 he made 777. Now Angelo has that world record, and he dares anyone to take it away from him. The top middleweights this year are all predators.

When I hear someone tell me what place he got in a meet rather than what his numbers were or if he got a personal record, I know his ego will hold him back. The real contest is with yourself. A trophy proves only what you have done, but has no bearing on what will happen next. You must always do better and better. That’s the real world. You can be the greatest powerlifter in the world, but the day you retire, you’re forgotten. If you quit one time, you’re a quitter. You may go for a year or two without progress before coming out of a slump. Training knowledge as well as technology will make it possible to make progress for a very long time if you want to. Powerlifting is a tough sport. No one said it wasn’t.

As far as training partners go, if you run with the lame, you will develop a limp. So only train with those who have the same goals as your own. Everyone cannot be a world champ, but we all can be better. At Westside we have many in-house contests, mostly on max effort day. They can happen without notice, and most often, that’s the case. I recall pulling a heavy sled on a Monday a few years ago. I was minding my own business when Chuck Vogelpoh yells out the door, “Get your old ass in here. We’re going to have a deadlift contest off pin 1 in the power rack.” Well, I’m dead tired from pulling the sled, but someone was running their mouth as usual and now I’m being pulled into a contest on something I had not broken a PR in 15 years. But I’m obligated to take part, and somehow I break my record. How? I guess I was so pissed off at those nitwits that the only way I could get even was to get a PR. When I lose, I use my age (54) as an excuse, but if I win, I rub it in.

It’s been said, show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser. Thank goodness we have some very bad losers at Westside. If someone refuses to engage in a spontaneous contest, we will throw challenges at him when he least expects it. If someone regularly backs out, we boot him out of the club. We know by experience that if a lifter will not take a challenge in friendly surroundings, he will fall apart in a real meet.

Our training in general is designed to build confidence year round by doing so many different exercises. WE are always breaking records. Remember, you must raise your mental and emotional limits as well, or you won’t raise your weights. It may take years to learn to focus on training, let alone meets. Some of us are late bloomers, while others start fast but fade just as fast. Many times the brighter star burns out the fastest. Westside loves to see successful teams like Donny Thompson’s Maximus team rising fast. The LA Lifting Club is moving up fast as well, thanks to Joe’s pushing and pulling with the help of his wife Nance. And there’s my Finnish friend Sakari Selkainaho, who lifts and coaches his teammates Jarmao, Ano, Miko, and the rest. I love to see teams or individuals gaining momentum to see how the guys at Westside react to it.

Just remember, if you’re a betting man and two lifters are coming out to squat and one’s psyching up to DMX and the other one is listening to Patsy Cline’s “I Fall to Pieces”, which one are you going to put your money on?

Why do some lifters put limitations on themselves? What I’m talking about is all the “world champs” and “world record holders” I talk to every day. Now wait a minute. There’s only one world record in each lifting category and one world champ per weight class. That person holds the biggest total of the present year or of all time in his weight class. Yes, I’m talking to you master and teen lifters.

You may think I’m an asshole for saying this, but you are selling yourself short my man. If you get in a fight and you’re a master, do you get to throw the first three punches? Hell no. When there’s a hottie in the lounge, us old guys are always hitting on the young babes. Right? So why limit yourself by age? Just do the best you can, and you are a champ.

Using equipment. This is 2002 and it’s time we all think that way. For example, why don’t all federations use monolifts? Or a bar for each event? Not only is it stupid not to do so, it is dangerous.

Don’t be stuck in the past. If NASCAR kept the same pace as Powerlifting, the cars would be much slower because of tire restrictions and other safety factors. How many times does it take walking out those before disaster strikes someone? Some federations are held together by one or two great lifters. Please don’t get them hurt because your backward thinking has you on the verge of extinction. Just look at your membership totals slipping lower and lower.

If there’s only one top 100 list, then make all things equal: suits, shirts, weigh-ins, etc. It’s not the gear, drugs, or equipment that makes the list. But as Vince McMahon says, “It’s the size of your grapefruits.” You are paying card members, so speak up. Take control of your own destiny.

Gaining general training knowledge. I hate to say this, but at Westside we have lifters who don’t even read Powerlifting USA, let alone some of the books I frequently mention, such as those I am about to describe.

Michael Yessis published The Soviet Sports Review. There was some valuable information in those articles translated from mostly Russian sports scientists in a quarterly magazine. It covered many sports, but was invaluable to me at the time. The first book that made me a believer was The Managing of the Weight Lifter by Laputin and Oleshko. In this book was shown a table that explained how to regulate volume by intensity zones. The writing of Verkhoshansky such as Fundamentals of Special Strength Training in Sports and many more including Supertraining by Mel Siff are valuable books. A highly respected author is A. S. Medvedyev, who wrote A Program of Multi-year Training in Weightlifting. Of course, there are several other highly accomplished authors including P. V. Komi, Thomas Kurz, Tamas Ajan, and Tudor Bompa. Lazar Baroga’s book Weightlifting Fitness for all sports is a must-read. Zatsiorsky is particularly valuable to anyone who participates in sports or weightlifting. Try Science and Practice of Strength Training for one. I also enjoy
Starzynski and Sozanski for information on explosive power training and Pavel Tsatsouline for stretching and ab work. Without these men, who have dedicated their lives to the promotion of sports science used in a practical environment, I would have ended my lifting career in 1983. The results worldwide speak for themselves. I wish I could thank each of these men personally. Thank goodness I have the opportunity to speak with Dr. Siff and participate in a few seminars with him so I can play a small role in the development of others.

Organization of Training: Part 1

When planning training, one must not plan for the next meet, but rather the next year or even longer. The following are some issues to consider:

  • Weight gain or loss
  • Improving form on competitive lifts or special exercises
  • Raising work capacity and improving general fitness
  • Gaining general training knowledge
  • Testing character and courage
  • Learning how to use legal equipment

The effectiveness of your training is based on all of these considerations.

Weight Gain or Loss. First, you must be in the correct weight class. If you are 6 feet tall and weigh 180 lbs, you need to gain weight. A lifter like this should increase his protein and calorie intake, or he cannot compete with the top 181s of the world.

To solve the problem, on max effort day do max 3’s up to max 6’s. This will build extra muscle mass while also building absolute strength. At Westside we recommend doing only a total of four exercises per workout. To gain weight, add two exercises to add muscle mass. When you gain up to the proper weight class, drop back to the original four exercises, not counting abs. As far as food intake, skip the chocolate milk and cookies and learn about proper nutrition. Buy a book or two and read and learn.

You have gained too much if your deadlift goes backward. Your waistline will get too big and your hands will get too fat. I know. It happened to me. You must be disciplined. It might take 5 years of hard training to build yourself to the right weight class.

Improving Form. Improving form is a necessity, but it is sometimes difficult. At Westside we have people who are very good in all lifts. To teach a new lifter, we place them in one of our groups. By interacting with that group, they are taught good form through watching and listening. We never criticize, but rather analyze. We always tell the truth to each other and especially to visitors, because many of them don’t have the luxury of great training partners to watch over them.

Special exercises will play a large role in perfecting top form in all three lifts by doing exercises for whatever muscle group is lagging. This in itself will help perfect your form. It only stands to reason if you have a weakness in a muscle group, it can destroy your form. A word of caution: If you are starting out, start out right.

Matt Dimel always had a triceps problem, but year after year he would gain little by little and his poorest lift, the bench press, would increase. After rupturing both patella tendons, he eventually won the APF Seniors again. His improved bench press helped. A champion will become a champion by becoming better at his worst lift.

Raising Work Capacity and General Fitness. Why is this so important? First, we all need to work on our weaknesses. Sometimes it is the ability to train at a fast pace. During a workout, your energy level can drop quickly. Some experts say at 45 minutes. Therefore, one must train at a fast pace to ensure the most important work is completed in 45 minutes. This involves lactic acid tolerance training. That is, while training, a pump in the hips and lower back will occur while squatting and doing back work. To think that one must fully rest between sets is old thinking, to say the least. If you do a work task and fully recover and then repeat the same work, you will use the very some muscle fiber. You gain nothing by training this way. But, by enlisting shorter and shorter rest intervals between work sets, i.e., the interval method, the work will be far more intense, involving more muscle fiber. You will find that the last half of your speed sets will be more explosive of all. When lactic acid is produced, so is growth hormone.

If you have a high work capacity, a high-volume, high-intensity workout is not as tiring for you as it would be for someone out of shape. This enables you to train a little heavier and longer and a little faster than your enemies. This requires one to do small, roughly 20-minute, workouts during the week. The workouts are directed toward any particular weakness you have. It could be a muscle group, flexibility, conditioning, and even concentration, through meditation, or restoration, through massage, saunas, ice baths, back adjustments, or even watching films.

To raise general fitness to a high degree may take years. A lifter’s goal should be to raise his classification ranking from class 4 to USPF standard Elite. At Westside we have developed 56 Elite lifters, starting out with nothing. Some who have achieved all-time record performances are Chuck Vogelpohl, Kenny Patterson, and Rob Fusner, to mention a few. They continually raised their work capacity. As they became stronger, their ability to recuperate, perfect form, concentrate, and raise volume increased.

Chuck and I do about 14 workouts a week. We will do a couple sets of dumbbell presses to failure or timed sets with some lat and ab work before squatting. We may do sled work and glute/ham raises before a bench workout. You can even do sled work or the Reverse Hyper machine before a squat or deadlift workout with no adverse effects when you are in top condition.

By doing a lot of sled work of all types, your work capacity will greatly improve. On max effort day the heaviest sled work is performed. It may involve pulling up to six 45-pound plates on a flat steel sled. The sled is pulled in two ways: with the strap hooked to the back of your belt or holding the strap in your hands between your legs with an upright posture and with your arms straight. The amount of weight is reduced throughout the week until possibly a weight of roughly 60 pounds is used. The weight is lowered, but the length of pulling is greater: 600 feet for the heaviest work and up to 2000 feet for light work. For upper body work, I have dragged for 2 miles nonstop.

I sometimes do a lot of box jumps as a replacement for some of the sled pulling. Light fireman’s carry can also be done. We also throw a medicine ball for a set time, usually 3-15 minutes with a ball weighing 10-40 pounds. Light powercleans are also very beneficial for conditioning. Do them in one of two ways: First, drop to a hang clean and do powercleans with the interval method. A set can be done every 60, 45, or 30 seconds, depending on your level of fitness. A second variety is to add a push jerk or push press with each set. The sets should last 5-20 minutes. This is a tough one. Dumbbells can be done in a very slow fashion, for up to 8 minutes. Use the shortest time, 2 minutes, with the heaviest bells. For example, use 50-pound dumbbells continuously for 5 minutes, keeping track of the reps.

Walking lunges can also be done. But whatever exercise you do, it should slowly increase in intensity and volume as years pass.

Ease into the work, but always aim to increase the amount of work. The better condition you’re in, the faster your new records will come.

There is much to learn if you are to succeed, and it takes time. You must gain mentally, technically, and physically. So be patient; it will come.

Part 2 will cover gaining training knowledge, testing character and courage and learning how to use equipment.

More Big Benches

I was proud to write the article ‘Three of a Kind”, which reported that Westside had three 600-pound benchers. Only a few years later we have eight 600-pound benchers, six of which bench 650 or more, with four others ready to join the club.

How did three become eight? Its evolution of training methods. We are constantly searching for better ways. In the early 1990s, we had seven men who could bench 500, including Matt Dimel’s 575. Jesse KeIlum suggested that we do floor presses, board presses, and rack lock-outs. This enabled three of our lifters, all Juniors, to increase to 600.

Let’s look at the training of Jimmy Ritchie, who recently benched 650. Years ago, Jimmy had benched 500, after about 2 years of training. But, with the lure of fast bikes and women, he left the gym for 6 years. When he left we were training our bench on speed day at 72%. 1 had just made 530 while training with 365 for 8 sets of 3 reps. When Jimmy returned, we had him use 50% of a contest bench or 60% of a shirtless bench max. Within a year, Jimmy benched 600, and that was in a full meet, where he became our 46th Elite lifter. He recently benched 650, as did Rob Fusner. How did they do it?

Let’s start with the dynamic (speed) day. The weight at chest level is 300 pounds (46%), consisting of 255 pounds on the bar and 45 pounds of tension from Flex bands. The bands contribute an extra 110 pounds at the top to equal 365 (56%). This weight is used for several weeks leading up to a contest. Seven weeks outside a meet, Jimmy adds a second band to the bar. It supplies extra tension only for the last 8 inches at the top. The total weight at the chest must remain 50% of a shirt-asslsted bench press.

Jimmy will lower the bar very fast, almost dropping it, and he catches it 1-3 inches off his chest. This is ballistic bench pressing. He will press it up as fast as possible, keeping the motionless period as short as possible. The time to complete 3 reps is roughly 3 seconds, the same amount of time as max of 650 pounds.

The second band is used for 5 weeks. Then a 2-week downloading period must occur: this develops more bar speed. Here, 295 pounds is on the bar with 40 pounds of chains, instead of bands.

He will add a small amount of weight to the bar for some of the sets, 20-30 pounds at the most. This addition of weight is done for 10% of all sets throughout the cycle. This is to check bar speed. If a small jump causes you to slow down, use less weight.

After benching, Jimmy hits the triceps. Some of his favorite exercises are the following. Two-arm dumbbell extensions can be done on the floor or on a decline, incline, or flat bench. When done on the floor, the muscle tension can be released by resting the dumbbell on the floor; this really helps starting strength. Do 8-12 reps. J.M presses are done for a max triple. Straight bar extensions can be done for a 5-rep max. Five-board presses can be done for a 3- or 5-rep max, with 150 pounds of tension added to the bar. Jimmy also does a lot of lat work and finally delt raises and hammer curls.

Let’s look back at the dynamic day. The ballistic benching is a supermaximal method and is not plyometric. Do not pause. The stretch reflex will last up to 2 seconds. The triceps are the most important muscle; do extensions. The lats are next in importance. They are responsible for placing the bar correctly on the chest. Over developed pecs take over the role of stabilizing the bar, thus resulting in more muscle tears. There is a need for some pec strength, but the lats and triceps must be the strongest. If your elbows turn out when you bench, placing most of the stress on the pecs, your lats are being removed from the lift and a minimax, or sticking point, occurs. This is where you miss the lift or a pec injury occurs. Also work the delts, with raises to the front, side, and rear, and do hammer curls for the forearms.

On speed day, use chains for the most part. When the bar is on the chest, all the chain should be on the floor. At lockout, half the chain is off the floor. Do 8-10 triples with your hands inside the power rings on all sets, including touching the smooth part of the bar. Do 20 lifts out of 200 with slightly heavier weight to test the bar speed. Occasionally use bands instead of the chains; bands cannot be used year-round because they are so hard on your body.

Three days later is the max effort day. Max effort means maxing out (but not in the regular bench press) with 1-3 reps in various exercises. One of Jimmy’s favorite exercises is the floor press with 200 pounds of chain over the bar. He also does regular benches with a set weight of 335 or 365; he will do singles with one chain, then two, and so forth, until he misses. Jimmy will board press with two, three, or four boards with regular weight or with different amounts of band resistance, ranging from 100 to 300 pounds. Dumbbell presses on the stability ball are also done, for 3 sets to failure with heavy weights, 125-175 pounds. Incline, decline, and seated press are other core exercises Jimmy rotates. Each week he rotates to a new exercise that suits his purposes. Everyone in the gym may use a different core lift as meet time approaches.

After the core lift, it’s straight to triceps, lats, delis, and hammer curls. The amount of triceps work (volume and intensity) that you will be able to do on this day is always less because of the nature of maxing out: it’s very hard on the triceps.

We now have 25 men benching 550 or more who have used this method. Think about this: Jimmy made a 500 bench 7 years ago doing 8 sets of 3 reps with 365. He now benches 650 using 300 pounds for 8 sets of 3 reps. The two keys are this: be explosive on dynamic day and max out on max effort day, which should be three days later. The ones who fail train too heavy or slow on speed day and not heavy enough on max effort day.

Jimmy goes straight to the meet off of this training. He does not work heavier as the meet approaches. This would he a mistake. You will be maxing out each week on this program. There is a process known as time under tension, which means that if you push or pull or squat concentrically and eccentrically in the same amount of time it takes to do the classical lift, you have accomplished the same thing as the actual lifts, but by using a core exercise such as floor press, rack press, and benching with bands or chains.

I must congratulate Bob Hicky and Dave Barns, members of the same club, for both making a 700 pound bench press. It was my dream for Westside to do it first, but a dream is sometimes just a dream.

How to Bench 500… Easy

Everyone strives for a goal, one of which may be a 500 bench. The problem is how do you achieve it? For me it was a mystery until I discovered a method of training known as the conjugate method. This is done along with the dynamic method with submaximal weights on a second day, 72 hours later. Today we have 29 people who have done at least 500, four who have done over 600, and the youngest person ever to bench 700. Here's how.

On Sunday we use the dynamic method. The weight is 55% of a contest max with a shirt. If for some reason you compete without a shirt, 60% is used. We do 8-10 sets of 3 reps. It's best to use three or more grips in a workout. Most of the sets are done with a grip inside the power rings on the bar, that is, with the little finger inside the ring. Using grips inside the rings will aid greatly in triceps and anterior delt development.

The reps must be very explosive. Lower the bar quickly, but under control. Lowering contributes to raising, or concentric, strength. Lowering a bar slowly will build muscle mass but not strength. Please, I beg you, stop reading bodybuilding magazines. They have contributed greatly to ruining strength training in the United States . After all, plyometrics is the energy gained by the body dropping and then responding to that dropping with reversal, or explosive, strength.

The bar should be pushed back up in a straight line, not back over the face. This requires strong triceps. This path is a shorter distance and requires no shoulder rotation, which is also much safer. The barbell will always seek the strongest muscle group; that's why most push the bar over the face. Their delts are stronger than their triceps. But it should be the reverse. One sees a lot of shoulder and pec injuries, but seldom do you see a triceps injury. Why? The triceps have never been pushed to their maximum, potential.

We do approximately 20 reps out of 200 above our training weight. We may add only 30-50 pounds to the bar, mainly to check that bar speed remains high. If your bar speed, or reversal strength slows, you have a problem. After all, this would still be a very submaximal weight if you bench press 500 and train with 275, or 55%. You could also do a few singles, but not with more than 90% and not very often. We found this interferes with the max effort day three days later.

After bench pressing, go first to triceps work. Basically 60 total reps are done with dumbbells, broken down into 5 sets of 10 reps or possibly 7 sets of 8 reps. The palms should be facing inward, toward the body, when dumbbells are used for extensions. When a barbell is used, 40 reps should be done, bringing the bar to the forehead, chin or throat.

Paul Dicks presses with a regular bar, or a Safety Squat Bar can be done.

We do a lot of J.M. presses, named after J. M. Blakely: with a close grip, lower the bar to 4-5 inches off the chest above the nipples, hold for a split second, and press back up. This is a very effective exercise.

After triceps, do front raises with a bar, plate, or dumbbells. Heavy weights used. Also do side delts with dumbbells or a cable, rear delts, 4 or 5 sets of lats, a few hammer curls. Do delt and lat work by feel, but continuously do more and heavier weight. This workout is done on Sunday and should last no longer than 1 hour and 10 minutes.

On Wednesday, the workout is called the maximum effort method day. When using a barbell, do singles. Naturally, work up slowly, but always try a new max.

On Wednesday, the workout is called the maximum effort method day. When using a barbell, do singles. Naturally, work up slowly, but always try a new max.

We do many exercises on this day that resemble the bench press but are not regular bench presses. This is known as conjugate training. After doing an exercise with weights over 90% for 5 or 6 weeks, your strength will regress. We train at 100%+ all year long by changing a barbell exercise every 2 or 3 weeks.

The major barbell exercises that we perform are as follows.

Floor Presses: Lower the bar until the triceps are completely on the floor and relaxed before pressing the bar up. By relaxing the arms you break up the eccentric/concentric chain. This will build explosive strength as well as the bottom part of the bench press.

Board Press: Board presses will build the middle part of the bench press. Lay two or three 2 x 6’s on your chest, bring the bar down to the boards, and press back up. This is much different from a rack press because the weight is transferred into the chest, shoulders, and arms. When using three boards, use a close grip, with the index finger just touching the smooth part of the bar. With two boards, place your little fingers on the power rings.

Rack Lock-Outs: We use six pin positions, all at the top. The bar will move 4-5 inches on the top pin and 10-12 inches on the lowest pin. Always use a close grip. Never lower the weight. Instead, press the bar off pins concentrically.

General Physical Preparedness

General physical preparedness (GPP) is a term that refers to a degree of fitness, which is an extension of absolute strength. Many don't believe in it at all. Here, I am referring to the people who say if you want to be good at the powerlifts, just practice the powerlifts. Of course, this leads others to say that powerlifters are out of shape, and the above-mentioned group is.

Many times the ones that advocate only the classical lifts are the very ones that complain that powerlifters are out of shape. We all squat, yet we are not built identically. Some develop large quads, some develop big glutes and hips, and others may have very powerful hamstrings.

It's obvious to me that if one muscle group is developed to a greater degree than another, then the smaller muscle groups are holding back your lifts.

What's the answer? You must do special exercises for the lagging muscle groups. But before you can pursue an increase in volume by way of special exercises, you must be in excellent shape. General physical preparedness raises your ability to do more work by special means.

There are several ways of raising work capacity. One method that we use at Westside is using the pulling sled for the hips and glutes. We pull the sled with the strap attached to the back of our power belts. We walk with long, powerful strides, maintaining an upright body position, pulling through with the foot, which stresses the hamstrings and glutes. This is common practice for throwers overseas.

I learned about pulling from Eskil Thomasson, who is Swedish. Before he moved to Columbus, he visited Finland to see why so many Finns deadlift so well. Many of these strong deadlifters were lumberjacks. They routinely had to pull paper wood down to the main trail, where the tractors could pick it up.

Another style of pulling is with a double handle held behind your back and below your knees. The torso is bent over, and the strides are long. This is great for building the hamstrings.

To work the front of the hips and lower abs, attach a strap to each ankle and walk, pulling the sled by your feet. Vasily Alexiev used to walk in knee-deep water for roughly 1000 steps after a work out. This is similar to what we are doing but with the advantage of being able to add or reduce weight, which varies the resistance.

For building the outside of the hips and the inside of the legs, position the straps around the ankles and walk sideways, first one way, then the other, left then right, forward and backward.

For the quads and front of the hips, walk backward with the strap around the front of your belt.

To start this type of work, I recommend doing six trips of 200 feet each. Use only one style of dragging until you feel confident of your ability to include more work. We do this low body work on the squat day, Friday, and on the max effort day, Monday, plus on the days after (Saturday and Tuesday), using 60% of what was done on the previous day. This contributes greatly to restoration.

For legs and upper back, as well as building your grip, try pushing and pulling a weighted wheelbarrow. This has had a great effect on my knee that suffered a patella tendon rupture. I thank Jesse Kellum for this exercise. He used his for knee rehab for pro-football players. Pushing the wheelbarrow up a mild grade really increases the work on the lower thigh muscles. Again, start with six trips of 200 feet. Only when you have adjusted to the additional work should you increase the number of trips.

Now back to the sled, but this time for the upper body. When George Halbert sees an increase in upper body mass, the process must be working, and that process is pulling a sled with the upper body. There are many methods of doing this. One duplicates the motion of a pec machine. Start with the arms behind your back. Slowly pull your arms to the front. Walk forward slowly and let the tension in the strap pull your arms to the rear, and again pull forward.

One can also do a front-raise motion with the palms facing down. For the lats, start with the arms behind your back, raise your arms, palms up, like a double upper-cut, by first flexing your lower lats. The farther forward hands go, the more the upper lats are worked. By walking backward you can do rear delt work, upright rowing, and external shoulder work.

A good reactive method for the bench press is to hold the straps out in front of you, and as you walk forward and the slack is removed, drive the sled forward in a shock fashion. This is very taxing but is great for reversal strength.

Do the upper body sled work for time, not distance. Mix the different styles together. Start with 5 minutes of pulling and work up to at least 20 minutes. I do 30-40 minutes. Walk slowly and don't jerk the sled. Only the reactive bench press method should be jerked.

Use the rule of 60%: Start heavy on day 1 and reduce the weight each day for 3 consecutive days. Then go back to a heavy weight the fourth day, e.g., 90 pounds, 70 pounds, 50 pounds, each weight representing one day. The same applies to pulling the sled for lower body power and to the wheelbarrow.

This work will greatly increase your physical ability to train as well as work as restoration. This style is resistance work for those seeking greater overall strength, power- and weightlifters, football players, or anyone that needs to raise work capacity to reach a higher level of excellence, which is anyone who took the time to read this article. But are there different routes to this type of work? Yes.

GPP work is very common in track and field overseas, but is still very much overlooked in the United States.

An experiment was conducted at The University of Pittsburgh. Head strength coach Buddy Morrison brought in a sprint expert, John Davies, who is very well versed in GPP work for running. John works with many pro players and has consistently lowered their 40 times. While his GPP work consists of weightless drills, such as jumping jacks, line hops, mountain climbers, and shuffle splits, it perfects running and jumping skills in addition to lateral speed. As John simply puts it, "I have never met a North American Athlete, from the major team sports, that the inclusion of this work will not cause a remarkable change in their optimum performance. Simply, without this solid base, substantial gains are limited and success is restricted to those more genetically gifted. The median improvement in 40 yard dash times over eight weeks was .25. This work is not for the weak of heart as the overall work volumes are enormous."

John Davies' training, as mine, is regulated up and down in a wave fashion to ensure restoration and to raise workloads.

If you are not after the highest possible level of power and speed, don't waste your time.

But if you want to call out "Who's next?", like the immortal Goldberg, give this a try.

Extra Workouts

I recall reading about a great Chinese fighter named Chen Fake (Fay-kee). When he was a child, he was very small and weak and lagged behind the other students. He asked the Master how he would ever be able to catch the better students when they were progressing at the same rate. The Master thought for a while and said, "While the others take their afternoon nap, you train. And at night while they sleep, you train." After taking the master's advice and doing extra workouts for some years, Chen Fake surpassed the top students and eventually became Grand Master of the Chen style Tai It Juan.

This is a true story, and what I am about to describe is also true.

Like Chen Fake, if you are to become better, you must do more work. But how? We know that a workout should last 45 minutes, 60 minutes at the most. Your energy and testosterone levels will fall off greatly after that. So common sense tells us that longer workouts are not the answer. But we must spend more time in the gym. This can be done by adding more workouts.

At Westside, we hold 3 of the 12 all-time bench press records. How? We do a dynamic method workout using 60% of a 1-rep max for the development of force. It also is intended to build starting and reversing strength and, with the help of bands, to almost eliminate the deceleration phase of the bench press. After the bench press, triceps, lats, and delts are trained maximally for the development of absolute strength in each of the individual muscle groups. This is done on Sunday.

On Wednesday we do max effort exercises with a barbell. Many core exercises are done, but only one per workout, e.g., floor press, steep incline, chain press. Remember, just one per workout. This is followed by pushing the triceps, lats, and delts to the max. All workouts should last no more than an hour.

As of October 1999, we have 8 men with a 600 or more bench, the biggest triple body weight bench (683 at 227), a 657 world record at 220, a 701 world record at 238, and a 728 world record at 275. How do we do this? By adding special workouts. These workouts last 20-30 minutes. They are intended to raise work capacity; this is called general physical preparedness (GPP).

For example, George and Kenny do two special workouts per week. They are done on Monday and Friday. Each workout will begin with the triceps. They use several exercises such as barbell or dumbbell extensions, cable pushdowns for high reps or heavy weight (always changing the bar attachments or the angle of the exercise), pushups, or super-high-rep medicine ball throws. The same approach is used for the delts and lats. Upper back exercises are rotated in the same way. These workouts are done for restoration, as well as raising work capacity. Why is this so important?

The more special workouts George and Kenny do, the harder the two main workouts can be without them experiencing ill effects. If you want to do more, your workout must be continually harder. This means higher intensity and greater volume.

One must also be able to recover from the workouts. There are three main methods of restoration.

Anabolic. This is, of course, out of the question for the truly drug-free lifter. Therapeutic: massage, sauna, whirlpool, ice, electric stimulation, and so forth. Small workouts that last 20-30 minutes, 24 hours after major workouts. These workouts have the advantage that work can be done on a particular muscle group, one that needs attention for either strength building or restoration.

Let's say at first glance a lifter appears to have very large arms, but on closer inspection his delts and lats look underdeveloped. Although he may have a good bench, can you imagine if his delts and lats matched the development of his arms? His bench would certainly be much greater. That is what special workouts are for. If this lifter continues to neglect his lagging muscle groups, his bench will never increase. Also, he may be risking injury by not attending to his weaknesses. Even anabolics or massage and such cannot cure a weak muscle group.

In the old Soviet system, 10-16 workouts per week were prescribed. In football, 3-a-days are quite common; that's 15 a week, but no one seems to think that's unreasonable.

Here is an example of our major and extra workouts. The squat and deadlift use the same muscle groups, so we use a speed day for squatting with 50-60% of a 1 rep max for multiple sets and perhaps do 4-8 singles in the deadlift with 50-70% (using only one percentage per workout). Both the squat and deadlift must be emphasized for speed. After the percent training, we move to special exercises for the glutes, hams, torso, and hips. We pick exercises that work at least two muscle groups concurrently: for example, glute/ham raise, reverse hype, pull-throughs, sled work. This will save time and is very productive. Train the abs standing up.

On max effort day, we max out on good mornings, super-low box squats with different bars, heavy sled pulling, bent-over rows, rack pulls, etc. In addition to regular weights, add chains and bands and adjust the resistance. Do the special exercises after maxing out on the core exercises. On max effort day, use only one core lift, followed by two to four special exercises.

The extra workouts may consist of sled pulling. Here's are some typical workouts: Pull the sled for 10 mm, glute/ham raises for 5 mm, abs for 5 mm (20-min workout). reverse hyper, for 10 mm, lats for 10 min, abs for 5 min (25-min workout). Pull-throughs for 10 min, abs for 10 mm, dumbbell shrugs for 5 mm (25 min workout). Any combination will work.

Johnny Parker, the long-time strength coach of the Patriots, told us a story about an old Soviet coach. Johnny asked him what to do on Monday after a game on Sunday. The coach said to work the player's legs. "What about Tuesday?" Johnny asked. The coach replied, "Work their legs." Johnny asked, "What about Wednesday?" The coach said, "Work their legs.' Johnny said, "Wait a minute." The coach laughed and explained that you can work the legs everyday, as long as you switch exercises. That is what we do. We constantly change exercises so the body won't adapt to the stimulus.

One can mix and match two or three special exercises in a short, intense workout lasting no more than 30 minutes. The lower or upper body can be trained like this. Start with two additional workouts a week, and slowly increase to three or four. The more advanced you become, the more special work is required. Powerlifting is like any other sport; to become better, you must do more work.

Remember; use exercises that build the muscles. The muscles can be trained very hard and often, large muscle groups every 72 hours and smaller muscle groups every 24 hours or less. If baseball pitching coaches understood this, perhaps they would use a 3-day rotation, working half the staff every 3 days for a month, then the other half for a month, while the resting half would go through a series of restorations. It is almost impossible to win 30 games with a 5-day rotation. Yet there used to be 30-game winners. It's all about GPP (general physical preparedness) and SPP (special physical preparedness).

If I may go where I don't belong again, let's look at the home run race. Ken Griffey Jr. started out like fire in the home run race, doing quite well until the All-Star break. Then a meltdown occurred. His physique shows that he does little GPP work. As a result, he fades badly near the end of the season, mostly from small injuries. On the other hand, it is obvious that Sosa and Mac do extra workouts outside of baseball. Doing so enables them to hit home runs right into October.

Let's review. Extra workouts work for great fighters and baseball players, and – of course – they will work for you. They may help you make that third attempt in the squat, bench, or deadlift. Remember, for benching only; add two workou
ts per week. They must consist of special exercises for the pressing muscles: triceps, delts, lats, upper back, abs. Do only two or three per workout, which should last less than 30 minutes. Rotate the exercises as often as necessary. The extra workouts for the squat and deadlift should be no longer than 30 minutes, paying special attention to the abs, entire back, hams, and glutes, again doing two or three exercises per workout. Always work the abs in each workout, plus one or two other exercises.

The main purpose is restoration and raising the weakest muscle groups up to or surpassing the stronger ones. We must learn to train scientifically. The man whose mind won't change will also have a total that won't change.

Extra Workouts 2

I write to all powerlifters, but I am always amazed to hear a drug-free lifter say that he can't train the Westside way. Although these lifters are going nowhere fast, they choose to use the progressive gradual overload method, going heavier and heavier each week. In most cases they stop making records and are stuck for years. Yet, they still choose not to use a more sophisticated method of training such as that used at Westside and presently used worldwide.

These drug-free lifters train so heavy that they can't do the special work that is required to excel at powerlifting. They do most of their training at over 90% of their max, whereas we do most of our training at 60%. Doesn't this make more sense? A drug-free lifter trains only three, sometimes two times a week. No wonder they get sore. This style of training is similar to a weekend warrior playing basketball.

A great many major college and NFL football teams train in the same manner as Westside, and guess what? They are drug-free. During spring training, 3-a-day practices are common. That is 15 workouts a week. So why do you think you should train only two or three times a week?

We are on the same side folks, so let's look at a systematic program that will start you making progress again.

First of all, you must be fast and very strong to excel at powerlifting. This requires a training program that is 50% to the development of absolute strength. The workouts must be separated by 72 hours! So, what can you do in between? You can do small workouts, 15-30 minutes per workout.

Lets look at bench pressing first.

Workout #1

Lat pull-downs, dumbbell extensions, and side delt raises, and always do ab work.

Workout #2

Barbell rows, 4 sets of dumbbell presses to failure. Use a weight where 15-20 reps can be done. Rotate from flat, incline, decline, and seated press. Also do abs.

Workout #3

Three sets of seated dumbbell power cleans. Use a weight where 20 reps can be done, but with much effort. Also do one-arm dumbbell rows, 2-4 sets, and 2 sets of pushups to failure and abs.

Workout #4

Two sets of benching for 25 reps. Use a different grip, wide, close, thumb or thumb less, or even reverse. Also do chin-ups, inverted flies, and abs.

Workout #5

One of our 198s, Sonny Kerschner, had a 410 bench and was stuck. He began doing tricep pushdowns with a pink flex band looped over a door at his house. Using strict form and a moderate tempo, he did 100 total reps 3 times a week. Six months later his bench press was an official 470.

All of the above workouts must be brisk, almost nonstop. Not only will this build substantial muscle mass in the precise area you need it, but it will also raise your work capacity.

As you can see, there are countless combinations to choose from. Remember to switch often, and always think "what do I need to raise my bench press?". Then do only that, for 15-30 minutes tops. Start by adding one small workout a week and add a second and so forth when you feel capable. For the squat and deadlift, the same exercises will work for both.

It is important to do ab work in every workout. Sometimes abs can be the only muscle group worked.

Workout #1

Pull-throughs, leg raises, and dumbbell rows.

Workout #2

Reverse hypers, stability ball, and ab work.

Workout #3

Pulling a sled from a belt, rows, and standing abs.

Workout #4

Pulling a sled from the ankles and lat pull-downs.

Workout #5

Glute/ham raises, weighted leg raises, and dumbbell powercleans.

Workout #6

Walking lunges, side bends, and sit-ups.

Workout #7

Flex band good mornings and chest supported rows.

Workout #8

Box squat with a band looped through your belt and stand through both ends. Don't remove the band between sets. Then hook a band to the top of a rack and then over your head to do standing abs.

Workout #9

Choke a band around the base of a rack and do seated leg curls. Then do lying leg raises with chains draped over your ankles.

Workout #10

Good mornings with a band looped through your belt, standing in the loops, plus a second band over the neck and under the feet. Note: When using bands, contract the muscles forcefully, and beware – band work is very taxing.

I have outlined many workouts here. Use 1-3 exercises per workout. Limit the workout time to 30 minutes, including ab work. This time can also be used for flexibility work, which is important but often overlooked.

These special workouts are intended to raise the lagging muscle groups we all possess. While working almost nonstop, you will also raise your general physical preparedness (GPP), something else that is often overlooked. For sports other than powerlifting many drills can be used as well. Agility, flexibility, and dexterity can also be improved. There are many lifters who deadlift or squat over 800 and also total 2000 drug-free. So I know it is possible for you to make great progress if you approach training in a more scientific light.

One must realize that large muscle groups recuperate in 72 hours and small ones in 24 hours or less. So it is quite possible to train many times a week. Powerlifting, even with the advances in equipment, still is light years behind all other sports. Tracks have been made for sprinting and better poles and pits have been made for pole vaulting. New advances in football equipment – helmets, pads, turf – have evolved.

But powerlifters train with the I.Q. of a caveman.

The I.P.F. refuses to use a monolift, and lifters are actually lifting in what is called raw or no equipment meets. What gives? We are going backward, not forward. Take advantage of technology and a scientific approach to training and you just might succeed.

Explosive Power and Strength

It is essential that explosive strength play a large role in training, as it is not only a means of developing absolute strength but also a method of raising physical fitness that is directed toward solving a specific sports task.

Of course, many sports combine jumping as part of the sport itself, such as ball games and gymnastics. Here jumping, or Plyometrics, aids greatly in raising GPP. In sports like powerlifting, explosive strength can be developed with the reactive or contrast method, which includes the use of weight releasers, bands, or chains or by special means such as jumping onto a box of a designated height or standard Plyometrics, which refers to depth jumps, altitude jumps, or bounding drill on one foot or both. The reason for including these exercises is the development of powerful legs and hips.

It is important to direct a series of work to closely duplicate your sport, in our case, the squat, deadlift, and bench. Two types of training methods are used to develop explosive strength. The first is the use of a barbell with special attachments, such as bands, chains, weight releasers, or a combination of all three. The second method involves jumping exercises.

Jumping exercises and/or plyometrics cause the fastest rate of explosive strength because as resistance is lessened, the motion time becomes shorter. This is caused by a sudden eccentric stretch of the muscles and connective tissue preceding a voluntary effort. Of course, the faster the eccentric phase, the faster the concentric phase through an increase in kinetic energy. How can this be accomplished with a barbell?

Explosive strength can be developed by using moderate resistance with maximum speed. This is the dynamic method. Two simple training methods to accompany the dynamic method are the box squat fro squatting and pulling strength and the floor press with dumbbells or a barbell. For both exercises, after the eccentric phase, many of the muscles are in a relaxed state. This is followed by any explosive concentric motion. This will increase the rate of force development (RFD). We also find that maximum concentric work also increases RFD. With the use of extremely heavy weights, bar velocity may be slow, but nevertheless, overcoming a large load dynamically causes a fast RFD.

At Westside we do quite a lot of concentric squats, benches, and good mornings, that is, without an eccentric phase. I believe this would help weight lifters greatly in the United States. They lift their weights fast enough, but can’t move world class poundage.

Let’s look at the contrast methods. We will load a barbell with 80% of a 1RM and place 20% on weight releasers. For example, 400 on the bar at the top equals 320 pounds of bar weight and 80 pounds on weight-releasers or, preferable, chains. After the eccentric phase the 20% is released from the bar, making the load lighter on the concentric phase and building explosive strength. A more advanced method would be using Jump-Stretch bands on the bar, using a moderate amount of bands to increase the lowering phase. This added acceleration downward will increase kinetic energy. A light amount of bands plus a light weight (40-60% of a 1RM) causes an overspeed eccentric phase and accommodates resistance in both the yielding and the overcoming phases.

A third method is box squatting. Always use a box when doing your dynamic day squats. Learn to box squat properly, i.e., the Westside way. Box squatting allows you to overcome a load concentrically after a static phase where some muscle groups are relaxed. This produces a higher RFD than all other types of squatting.

Note to track and field trainers: At top sprint speed, 5-6 times bodyweight is being imposed on the runner, many times causing stress fractures. At no time have I seen stress fractures from box squatting, nor is it possible to use 5-6 times body weight.

A fourth method is to attach two sets of bands to the bar. After performing the first rep, re-track the bar. Have your training partners remove a set of bands and immediately do a second rep.

I will give one more method: the lightened method. Hook strong bands in a power rack or Monolift at the top. Next, place a loaded bar in the bands. It should be lightened by 20% of max in the bottom. For example, a 750 pound squatter would first load the bar to 150. Then add weight. Train with 50-60% of your 1RM, representing the weight at completion, for explosive strength. A 750 squatter would use 375-450 for 10 sets of 2 reps with short rest intervals, no more than 60 seconds.

The lightened method works well for floor press as well as regular benching, power cleans, high pulls, and push press or jerk in front or behind the neck with a barbell or dumbbells.

It is advantageous to use bands for the overspeed eccentric phase. For upper body explosive strength, use Jump-Stretch bands to enhance the eccentric phase during ballistic benching. Lower the bar as fast as possible and catch it before it touches the chest. Reverse to the concentric phase as fast as possible.

How can explosive strength be trained in the deadlift? Use the lightened method. Attach bands at the top of the rack to reduce 135 pounds to zero at the start. Next, stand on a platform that does not permit the plates to hit the floor.

Take the bar off a set of pins and lower until the bar is 9 inches off the floor. Reverse and pull explosively to completion. This works much like a hang clean and will serve the same purpose. By using the lightened method, one can get an explosive start. It works great for both explosive and absolute strength.

This brings me to a question that I was asked recently at a seminar: Why is the box squat superior to the power clean? It’s simple. The box squat has an eccentric phase, a power clean does not. The eccentric phase utilizes the property of kinetic energy adding to the stretch reflex. Most lifters can hang clean more than an actual power clean for the same reason. But, remember, the squat weight can easily exceed clean weights and is more beneficial when done with the same speed.

Absolute explosive power causes a much greater increase in power with respect to time by nature of a lighter load, most often bodyweight, i.e., jumping. In the United States, when power development is discussed, the Olympic lifts come to mind. But in Europe, where they are much more sophisticated, jumping and plyometrics are used. The greatest amount of power is developed with lighter loads. I recommend that everyone, except for the lightest lifters (165 pounds and below), do only jumping on boxes for explosive power.

First if you are to jump, you must avoid detraining by doing: small loads of jumping, first to condition yourself for more directed work toward improving your sport. You must choose the right amount of jumps per week and per month, leading into a yearly plan. Most importantly, you must choose a jumping exercise that is specific for your training. Start by doing basic jumps. Drop down and flex quickly to start a stretch reflex. Jump on boxes of different heights.

We like to have two jumping days per week: moderate jumps on Wednesday, no less than 12 and no more than 24 jumps at about 70% of the height of the box used on Sunday, or maximum jump day. For example, if your max jumps are on a 30 inch box, then use a 21 inch box on the light jump day. For those who use a 40 inch box, the light day would call for a 28 inch box.

From only a background of box squatting, John Stafford’s top day was 44 inch box at a bodyweight of 285. A friend 5 sets of 5 jumps on and former Olympian, Jud Logan, U.S. record holder in the hammer, normally worked on a 44 or 48 inch box. His best is 5 jumps on a 54 inch box at 285 pounds bodyweight. His greatest increase in the throws came with an increase in his box height. This is because the greater speed with which you leave the ground, the higher you jump. First, muscular force becomes equal to you body weight. When it exceeds it, you jump upward and accelerate until ma
ximum height is reached and speed returns to zero.

If you are extremely slow to start a load, here is a drill that works well. Kneel down on a gym mat with your hips relaxed. Then jump to your feet. When you have mastered this, kneel again but this time with a bar on your back and do the same. Next, kneel down with the bar held across you lap and jump into a power clean. For the last stage, kneel down and jump into a power snatch. This will greatly increase your reactive time.

For specializing in pulling or squatting my favorite method of jumping is done like this: Squat down onto a low box, about 10 inches. Relax and then jump onto a box about 20 inches high. After a warm-up, hold weight or use a weight vest. I have never had strong front legs, but have seen amazing results with this exercise, even at 55 years old. Eighteen jumps are adequate for a great workout. Jud Logan advised me to do the heavy jumping on Sunday, the day before max effort day for the squat and deadlift, to eliminate delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS). This has paid off for me. After all, Jud gained his knowledge from the former East Germans.

Remember these points for jumping:

  1. Get in shape to jump
  2. Specialize
  3. Plan you jump loads
  4. Land on the middle of the box
  5. Keep all reps at maximal velocity

Deadlift Training

Deadlift records have made little progress in recent years. I believe it is easy to add pounds to a squat or bench press due to more progressive equipment. The supportive gear, in Westside's opinion, pushes one to gain bodyweight to increase the squat and bench press, but anyone, including myself, can tell you, if you're too heavy, your pull is destroyed.

With all that said, how do you train the deadlift for a meet? You don't. One must train the deadlift in a multiyear plan. An 8 or 12 week cycle won't work. For example, it may take 6 months to raise your hamstrings up to acceptable levels. If not, you will never reach your potential.

Let's look at Matt Smith's progress during a 30 month period. Matt had a 633 deadlift meet PR. Two and a half year later it is 825. This deadlift completed a 9 for 9 day and gave Matt a 2445 total at SHW.

Matt used the conjugate method. This system links special exercises that will increase awareness and coordination. Its purpose is to raise the classical lifts. First used for the Olympic lifting team at the Dynamo Club in the old USSR, this method was tested on 70 top lifters. It consisted of 25 to 40 special exercises. At the end of the first study, only one lifter was satisfied with the number of exercises. The rest wanted more.

Westside Barbell also began using this system in the early 1970s. If I put $1 million under a rock in the parking lot and told you to find it, chances are the first rock you pick up will have nothing under it. I bet that million that you would keep looking until you struck it rich. It's the same with exercise. If you look long enough, you will find methods and exercises that work best for you, while realizing that many are worthless in comparison.

Now let's look at a constantly revolving system of exercises that are used on max effort day, always trying a PR. For the advanced lifter, do 3 lifts, all singles: one at roughly 90% and then a PR, and if it is truly a max, stop, if not, try one more. It is much better to break new ground as often as possible. Lifting weights of 90% or more for more than 3 weeks will stop progress, but by rotating the core special exercises each week, one can max out all year long. This system is the supermaximal method.

Here are several workouts for the deadlift that can be coupled any way you want.

Workout 1

  • Safety squat bar squats on a 12-inch box. Work up to max
  • Glute/ham raises
  • The Reverse Hyper, and abs.

Workout 2

  • Bent-over good mornings to a max single or a 3-rep max
  • Sled pulling for 8 trips of 200 feet with moderate weight
  • Reverse Hyper
  • Lat rows on a chest-supported machine
  • Abs

Workout 3

  • Deadlift using the lightened method by placing the Jump-Stretch bands at 5 feet 6 inches off the floor to lighten the load by 65, 110 or 150 pounds. Work up to a max
  • Pull-throughs
  • Dumbbell rows
  • The Reverse Hyper machine
  • Leg raises

Workout 4

  • Front squat on a parallel box. Try a new max, a single or a 3-rep max
  • Glute/ham raises
  • Sled pulling with ankle straps
  • The Reverse Hyper machine
  • Standing ab work

Workout 5

  • Rock pulls with the plates 2 inches off the floor for a max single
  • Pull-throughs
  • Incline sit-ups
  • Barbell rows
  • The Reverse Hyper machine

Workout 6

  • Heavy sled pulls with a belt around the waist for six pulls at 200 feet a pull
  • Glute/ham raises
  • Dumbbell rows
  • Janda sit-ups
  • The Reverse Hyper machine

(Janda sit-ups, named for Prof. Vladimir Janda, are done by hooking a band underneath the bench with the feet not anchored to eliminate hip flexor involvement. Hold on to the band, press your heels downward, push out on the abs, and pull up on the band.)

Workout 7

  • Cambered bar good mornings. First bend over close to parallel; now squat as low as comfortable; then raise up. Work up to a single or a 3-rep max
  • Pull-throughs
  • Snatch grip rows
  • Standing abs
  • Side rows for obliques
  • The Reverse Hyper machine

Workout 8

  • Arched-back good mornings. (Remember when doing a good morning, the bar must be in front of the knees. If not, it is a quarter squat. Work up to a max single or a triple.)
  • Pull a sled backward for 6 trips of 200 feet each
  • Barbell rows with a close grip
  • Janda situps
  • The Reverse Hyper machine

Workout 9

  • Concentric safety squat bar good mornings
  • Crawl under a bar that is suspended 3 feet off the floor and do good mornings. Do max single
  • Glute/ham raises
  • Chest-supported rows
  • Standing abs
  • The Reverse Hyper machine

Workout 10-14

  • Band deadlifts on platform. Here, you can use one or two mini-bands, or purple, green or blue bands. This is workout 10-14 if you use a different strength back each of these weeks. Work up to a max single
  • Chest-supported rows
  • Glute/ham raises
  • Standing abs
  • The Reverse Hyper machine

Workout 15-17

  • Suspend the Buffalo bar or 14-inch cambered bar or do Zercher squats with a suspended bar
  • Pull a sled with a power belt for 4 trips for 200 feet backward
  • Dumbbell rows
  • Janda sit-ups
  • The Reverse Hyper machine

Workout 18

  • Box deadlifts off a 4-inch box for conventional deadlifts

Workout 19

  • Sumo deadlifts off a 2-inch box
  • Hanging leg raises
  • Pull-throughs
  • The Reverse Hyper machine

Workout 20

  • Belt squats off a low box

Workout 21

  • Workout 21 is off a parallel box

Workout 22-25

  • Workout 22 is off a high box. For these workouts use a very wide stance. If you use the same boxes but with a very close stance, you now have workouts 23-25. Follow with glute/ham raises, incline situps, and the Reverse Hyper machine.

Workout 26

  • One-legged squats with a straddle stance. Support the back foot on a box while the front foot is far out in front. This will build the entire leg while increasing flexibility in the hip and groin
  • Janda sit-ups, backward sled pulling for 6 trips of 200 feet each
  • Slide bends
  • The Reverse Hyper machine

Here you have 26 workouts, which is not even close to the amount we do. There are many methods combined in our workout (concentric, eccentric, accommodation resistance, flexibility, awareness, and coordination) by doing a new task each week and maxing out continuously with exercises that build strength speed.

Matt does the dynamic method on Friday. The maximal effort workouts discussed above are roughly 72 hours later, on Monday. The more exercises you master, the better you are at any related exercise.

Does this really work? Westside has had two female lifters do 470 and 484 deadlifts at 132 body weight and two female 165's do 534 and 556. As for the men, we have a 165 who has done 640, two 181's with 670 and 677, at 198 three over 700 and one at 750, two 220's with 722 and 795, a 242 with a 793, a 275 with an 804, a 308 with an 800, and three SHW's with 810, 821, and Matt's 825.

I know the greatest deadlifters are built to deadlift. At Westside we have never had the luxury of such a specimen. We had to develop the deadlift, just like Matt's increase from 633 to 825 in 30 months.

Circa Maximal Phase

Success in powerlifting requires a process known as Periodization. This simply is a yearly plan divided into several phases. The final phase is, of course, the competitive phase. Many coaches fail to plan the training of their lifters correctly, resulting in premature peaking and a less than top performance at contest time.

The next time you're at a major contest, listen to all the gym lifts that were done just prior to the contest that somehow are reduced 50-100 pounds at the contest.

While we at Westside use the three methods of strength training (the dynamic, the maximal, and the repetition method), they are applied in a yearly plan consisting of many microcycles.

The circa-maximal method involves training with loads that are close to one's 1-rep max. The reps may be performed without a prolonged rest period.

The circa-maximal phase is not to be confused with the supramaximal phase, which can involve forced repetitions. We never do these. They are designed to build muscle, which is already a byproduct of our training. Cheating is also a supramaximal method. Although this overloads the body in some areas, it neglects other areas. Ballistics is the third supramaximal method. This we do while speed benching with great success. It consists of lowering the bar very quickly with about 60% of a 1-rep max, catching it 2-4 inches off the chest, and reversing it as quickly as possible to the top.

Here I introduce a 5-week phase called the circa-maximal phase. In the literature the weights used during this phase are in the 90-97.5% range of a 1-rep max. The reps aren't forced, nor are they assisted by the lightened method, and they aren't performed in a limited range of motion. Rather, full range movements are done.

Four lifters experimented with this training phase: Todd Brock Dave Tate, Rob Fusner, and myself. They had official squats of 810, 820, 875, and 900. After completion of this phase the average gain in the contest squats was 36 pounds (30-50 pound range). The training was done in a wave cycle, moving up for 3 weeks and then starting over the fourth week. Bands were attached to the squat bar. For 6 weeks, the weight on the bar was 365 (weeks 1 and 4) for 8 sets of 2 reps, 385 (weeks 2 and 5) for 8 sets of 2 reps, and 405 (weeks 3 and 6) for 8 sets of 2 reps. This represents two waves. The band tension on the box was 70 pounds at the bottom and 115 pounds at the top.

Tension is calculated by standing a 2 x 4 vertically on a scale under the bar with the bands attached to the Monolift. Read the scale with the bar at shoulder height and then at the height that it would be while sitting on the box. Subtract the bar weight and this will give you the tension of the bands in pounds at the top and bottom of the squat. The first 6 weeks look like this:

  Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6
Top 480 500 520 480 500 520
Bar Weight 365 385 405 365 385 405
Bottom 435 455 475 435 455 475

Now weight plates are added.

  Week 7 Week 8 Week 9
Top 540 570 590
Bar Weight 425 455 475
Bottom 495 525 545

The tension on the bar is 115 at the top and 70 at the bottom.

  Week 10 Week 11 Week 12
Top 645 675 695
Bar Weight 425 455 475
Bottom 555 585 605

Now we enter the circa-maximal phase. It is 5 weeks. More bands are loaded on.

  Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17
Top 685 715 735 685 715
Bar Weight 425 455 475 425 455
Bottom 585 615 635 585 615

During weeks 18 and 19 a deloading process is implemented. For week 18 the bar weight is at its heaviest, 475, and is reduced to 425 for week 19. The band tension is reduced from 260 at the top to 115 and reduced from 160 to70 pounds at the bottom. This period is to restore quickness and acceleration.

The following week, the average increase in the squat for the four participants was 36 pounds, and remember the weakest squatter had an 810 squat. This is a very respectable jump for the high caliber squatters that were tested.

Don't let the amount of band tension plus bar weight fool you: the average box squat record among those tested is 750 pounds. Also remember that this training is always done off a just-below-parallel box.

During the circa-maximal phase, the literature recommends the percentages to be in the 90-97.5% range.

During our circa-maximal phase, our percents at the bottom are about 77.5% (585 pounds) and at the top 97.5% (735 pounds), as advised in Supertraining by Siff and Verkhoshansky.

Why does this system work?

In summary, this is a 5-week circa-maximal phase that is introduced only after a 12 week preparatory phase, followed by a 2 week deloading phase, which acts as a restoration process as well as testing the ability to accelerate and reverse a load.

The special exercises that we used on the speed day were reverse hyper-extensions, pull-throughs, glute/ham raises, sledwork, top half of deadlift for high reps, and ab work.

The speed day/circa-maximal phase day was Friday. Max effort day was Monday. The test subjects switched a max core exercise every week, followed by 2-4 special exercises.

  • Training with near-max weights will undoubtedly make one very strong.
  • It doesn't tax the CNS because a wave form of periodization is used, going up for 3 weeks and starting over with week 1 weights, roughly 77.5%. We know that if weights of 90% and more are used for 3 weeks or longer, the CNS will surrender to the stress. That is why it is necessary to reduce the percentage for one or more weeks.
  • By using a large percentage of resistance with the bands we have achieved a method of forcibly stretching the muscles during an active contraction, which produces a greater force than would be developed with just bar weight. The bands magnify the role of the reflexes through yielding to overcoming the load.
  • The final 2 weeks area deloading phase, which carries with it a delayed training effect.

Chain Reaction: Accommodating Leverages

Because the human body is stronger at some positions than at others, we are limited as to the amount of weight we can use in a certain movement. For instance, you may be able to do a quarter squat with 600 lbs, but you may be able to only full squat 400 pounds. We all know through practical experience that while doing a simple curl, at the start of the movement, is very hard, whereas at the finish it is somewhat easier because of changing leverage.

This problem was first addressed around 1900 by Max Herz. His solution was the oblong cam, which he patented. Years later, the Nautilus line of exercise equipment tried to solve this age-old problem—in my opinion unsuccessfully.

One lifter’s strength will certainly be different from another lifter’s at the same joint angle. Let’s go back to the 1960s and power rack training. A power rack will, in one way, address this problem. For example, let's say a lifter can deadlift 600 pounds off the floor. Utilizing a power rack, with the weight 2 inches off the floor he can pull, let's say 625, and 4 inches off the floor, 650. By sitting the weight as high as 8 inches off the floor, he may be able to pull 750. In this manner, we have solved, at least partially, the problem of overloading, or providing adequate resistance as joint angles change.

However, it’s difficult for some to display this newfound strength to flow from pin height to pin height. This can be explained by the fact that it is very seldom that one’s body position is the same while pulling off the floor as it is while pulling off the rack. Isokinetics may be a partial solution, by maintaining a constant bar speed. But as with most machines, you must follow the path of the machine, which is different from the path of a free weight. The path of a barbell is somewhat unpredictable at times. Another drawback is that prior to the start, as well as the finish, there is no load bearing on the lifter with this type of apparatus.

Is there answer to the problem of how to overload or adequately load the body to match the body's increase in leverage? Yes, there is. While many people call me for advice, others give me advice that I pass along. A gentleman, whose name I don't remember, related to me some training he had done with chains. This was a few years ago, but we finally got around to using chains in an experiment with Amy Weisberger, a current World Champion, whose best total in 12 weeks went from 975 to 1025 as a 123; Vanessa Schwenker, a current national champion. whose total went from 1030 to 1100 in 12 weeks; Tracy Tate, a novice lifter, increased her bench from 180 to 210; Dave Tate, her husband, a 308 with a previous total of 2028, who went from 782 to 830 in the squat, 540 to 585 in the bench, and 705 to 720 in the deadlift, for a total of 2135. After being stuck at 710 on a low box squat for 2 years, he made 765 after 6 workouts.

Now with these examples in mind, here's how we use chains in our training:

The chains are 5 feet long, 5/8 link size and 20 lbs each. They can be found at most industrial tool supply companies. For bench pressing, we will attach the chains to the bar so that when the arms are fully extended, half the chain is resting on the floor. After lowering the bar to the chest, all the chain is on the floor. By doing this, the original bar weight is maintained. Let's go over this again. If you have 300 pounds on the bar plus 80 pounds of chains attached (2 sets of chains), with half the chain already on the floor, that adds up to 340 at the lockout position, but when the bar is lowered, all the chain is on the floor and the total weight on the bar is reduced to the original 300 at chest level. As you press, the weight gradually increases to 340.

Training with chains in this manner accomplishes three things.

  1. We have maintained our original weight in order to use the correct percentage for explosive training.
  2. We have overloaded the top portion of the lift, which normally does not receive sufficient work because of increased body leverage at this position.
  3. A neurological response to build explosive strength is developed. This training will train you to drive to the top because you cannot slack off at the top phase as you used to.

Those who bench press 400 pounds or less should use 40 pounds of chain; those who bench over 500 should use 80 pounds of chain. Those in between should experiment with both amounts and aim for adequate bar speed. Remember, half the chain should rest on the floor when the bar is racked.

Lifters who have a sticking point at or slightly above the knees in the deadlift will also find great benefit from using chains. Attach the chains to the bar with a lightweight chain to adjust where the heavy chain will leave the floor and contribute to the weight on the bar.

Tom Waddle uses 405-455 of regular bar weight on the deadlift bar. To that he will add up to 200 pounds of chain. As he lifts the 405 it gradually turns into 605 as the chains leave the floor.

The chains compensate for added leverage near the lockout. If you are weak at the top, this will solve your problem. Also it will develop starting strength. Because the chains make it more difficult to press as the bar ascends, you will instinctively try to accelerate the bar from start to finish.

The effects of special training normally occur in 2-4 weeks, but to my surprise, the training effect with chains is immediate.

As an experiment, we loaded the squat bar to 415 and did 2 reps. Next, a set of chains was added. They were attached so that all the chain weight was on the bar at the top, of 455, and half was unloaded at the bottom, or 435. Four additional sets were done, for a total of five with 415 or more. On set 6, two sets of chains were placed on the bar; top weight 495, bottom weight 455. On set 7, three sets of chains were used; top weight 535, bottom weight 475. Set 8, four sets of chains were used; top weight 575, bottom weight 495. Set 9, five sets of chains were used; top weight 615, bottom weight 515. These sets were done with 50 second rest periods. Next, we removed all the chains so the bar was reduced to the original 415. The box, which was already an inch below parallel, was lowered another inch. Four more sets were done. To our surprise, they were more explosive than our first sets with 415.

After 13 sets with 50 second rest periods, we were actually more explosive because of the chains. This immediate benefit is unheard of with conventional training.

I don't sell chains, but I hope you buy this idea. It is one of the most effective ways to train that I have encountered. The chains will build starting strength and overload the body at the top of all three lifts, where due to added leverage, the muscles receive little work compared to the bottom portion of the lift. At the bottom, the chains work as a lightening device, by enabling one to handle the most weight at any one position of the lift.

I am passing this Westside Secret on to you in the hopes of helping you reach your goals, no matter what they may be.

Fred: A Boldt of Lightning

Fred Boldt moved from Buffalo, NY, in October 2001 to Columbus to train at Westside Barbell. His bench press was 400 in the 165-pound class and had been stuck there for a year. After training at Westside for 10 months, Fred pushed his official bench up to 495.

Fred trains intelligently. We found his weakest areas and corrected them. First, his form needed work. He would push the bar over his face and miss the lock-out. This was due to a weakness in the triceps and lats. We also noticed that his upper back was weak. Fred had always trained using the progressive overload method. He was fairly strong, but somewhat slow, lacking explosive power. We switched him from a light/heave system to a much more effective system of a dynamic method day followed by a max effort day 72 hours later. This brought his speed up very fast, which is extremely important. Remember that force equals mass times velocity divided by time.

Before Fred trained at Westside he was doing triples with 315, then working up to a heavy single. Now his training weight is 185 with two sets of chains, which add 40 pounds at lock-out. This reduces bar deceleration. After 3 weeks, he switches to mini jump-stretch bands, which add 85 pounds at the top and 40 pounds at the bottom. The bands also add to the eccentric phase, resulting in a greater stretch reflex. This is accomplished through a gathering of energy in the muscle and connective tissue. This is an extreme workout indeed. Fred performs 9 sets of 3 reps with a maximal eccentric overspeed phase and quick recovery phase with maximum acceleration to completion.

Instead of doing a so-called heavy day, Fred does a maximal effort day using the conjugate method. Fred used to max out each week, going heavier and heavier until he failed, not aware that training with weights above 90% of a 1-rp max for 3 weeks in a row will result in a lack of progress. Now, Fred will switch a core exercise each week and max out with 100+%. This can be done by switching to a new exercise each week. These exercises may include floor press with bands or chains, board press, and overhead band press. Both dynamic and max effort workouts are concluded with first triceps, then lats, upper back and side and rear delts.

Fred used certain key exercises on max effort day. First he used board presses with bands. This exercise raised his bench to 450 (in a meet). Then it stalled out. At the time, Fred could out-board-press me. I knew this shouldn't be because I made a 575 at the same meet. We had him do straight bar extensions to the throat. A 45-pound bar for 5 reps was hard for him. This was the first key to progress. When he could do 95 pounds for 5 reps, his bench was 480. Now what else could help?

Next was push-ups. That's right, simple push ups. I would place a bar in the bottom of a power rack and elevate his feet on a 13-inch box. Raising the foot simulates an incline press and forces blood into the upper body. When the feet are on the floor, push-ups work like a decline. More weight or reps can be performed with the feet on the floor. Fred will try for a rep record with bodyweight only, or with a 45 or 100-pound plate on his upper back, with one edge of the plate at the base of his neck. He also has personal records with a 150-pound person and a 200-pound person sitting on his back.

Fred's new system of training raised his bench press to an official 459, thus making Westside's record board, which is not that easy.

When push-ups stopped producing results, Fred moved on to dumbbell extensions, two different types. The first is done with the palms facing each other, and the arms are held straight at the beginning of the movement. Then by bending at the elbow, the dumbbells are lowered until one end of the dumbbell touches the delt. Then it is rolled backward until a full stretch is felt in the triceps near the elbows. To start back up the elbows are pulled slightly forward and extended to completion.

The second method is to lay the two dumbbells vertically on the chest with the elbows out to the sides as far as possible. This removes the lats from the movement and places most of the work on the part of the triceps that attaches to the elbow. This builds the extension of the elbow and, of course, this is a lot of your lock-out.

At Westside, we frequently hear how good Bill Crawford and his guys are at using their bench shirts. After all, he didn't just break Kenny Patterson's 275 record, he destroyed it with his latest 760 pounds. One of his tricks is to do board presses while wearing his contest shirt. First Andre Henry tried it, on max effort day, and made a 635 off two boards and then made a 620 regular bench. I was told that Tony Hutson made a 635 on two boards in the gym and then benched 660 at a meet, a 55 pound PR. So Fred tried it. After working up to 495 on two boards, he blasted up 520 with a lot to spare.

There is a lot of information out there. Don't be a fool and look the other way. Guys like Bill Crawford are willing to give back to their fellow lifters, and after all, he is a world record holder. If you are a nobody or a has-been, don't complain about the modern equipment, but rather learn to use it correctly. Hell, if your psychologist tells you using a bench shirt is cheating, save that $200 an hour and I will buy you a bench shirt, you know, one of those items that is allowed according to the rules.

Fred is just learning to find what will raise his bench and what will not. No time is wasted. What's next for Fred? Time will tell. It is important that he stay injury-free and prepare himself for stardom in the middle weights. At Westside we start a lifter in a direction to sooner or later reach the top. And we think Fred will Boldt to the top.

Back and Ab Training

When squatting or deadlifting, a successful lift is dependent on keeping your back in good position. This takes a strong back as well as strong abs.

At Westside, we do max effort work for squatting and deadlifting on the same day, Monday. The same muscles work in these two lifts. It saves energy to lump together the special exercises that contribute to both lifts.

Let's first talk about the spinal erectors and how to develop them. Good mornings are done 40% of the time. This means 4 out of 10 Mondays. Any variation can be done. Work up to a 3 rep max.

The following variations of good mornings can be used:

  • Bent over with legs bent: Place the bar on your back in a squat position or slightly lower and bend over, rounding the upper and lower back. It is up to you how far to bend over. A lifter with a small waist will find it easier to bend over farther. This will build the erectors, hamstrings, and glutes by extending the legs and back simultaneously.
  • Bent over with legs straight: These build the erectors and flexibility in the hamstrings.
  • Arched back with legs straight: This style will build static strength in the erectors, which contributes to keeping the back arched while squatting or sumo deadlifting. Lower the bar as far as possible without losing the arch.
  • Power arched good mornings: Use a very wide stance, a low bar position, and lean, don't bend, forward until the bar is in front of the knees. Heavy weights can be employed. This is not a quarter-squat. Remember, the bar must be in front of the knees after leaning forward.
  • Combo squat/good morning: This one is very important for learning to extend all the squat and deadlift muscles. With a moderate stance and the bar held low on the back, bend forward until the back is close to the parallel to the floor. Then roll the lower back over and descend into a full squat. To stand up, straighten out the legs. This is very effective for building tremendous extension strength, as well as tremendous tightness. You feel like your eyes will pop out when you're in the bottom.
  • Seated good mornings on a box: Sit on a parallel or above-parallel box and bend over. This takes the legs out of the exercise, which is helpful if you are injured or have a large stomach.
  • Seated good mornings on a bench: Sit straddling a bench and bend over until your face touches the bench. This is for the lifter with a small waist and good flexibility.

We have reviewed seven types of good mornings, but you can also change the strength curve by using the Weight Release device, Flex bands, or chains. You can vary the work by using a lot of weight and little chain or light bar weight and lots of chains or heavy or light eccentric loading with the Weight Release. These combinations are known as the contrast method. Caution: Use of the Flex bands can make one very sore due to the tremendous eccentric overloading from the tension of the bands, causing delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS). This phenomenon occurs with any type of eccentric stress, but especially with the Flex bands.

Now let's isolate:

  • Back raises or hyperextensions: These are done on a special bench where the feet are anchored and the torso is supported while lying face down. Lower the upper body until your head is close to the floor. Then raise up to parallel, but no higher, to avoid hyperextending the back. The reps are 3-8. Work up to a new max set whenever possible. The 1968 Olympic weight lifting champ Waldemar Bazanowski was able to do 225 for 4 reps, so get to work.
  • Pull-throughs with straight legs: Pull a low pulley cable through your legs while facing away from the machine. Done with the legs straight, this exercise will hit the lower back. Use high reps, sometimes to failure. Done with legs bent, this will work the glutes.
  • Reverse Hyper extensions: For the mid to the very lowest part of the back, the Reverse Hyper and machine is far superior to any back exercise. Not only does it completely work the low back but it will rotate the sacrum. Also, on every rep when the plates are under your face, it opens the disks and allows spinal fluid to enter, thus providing restoration in addition to strength building.


In my opinion the side bend is the most important exercise for the abs. The obliques not only work as stabilizers but are responsible for hip extension when lifting of the floor or out of the bottom of the squat. You must learn to push the abs out, expanding them against your power belt. Side bends with a dumbbell at a time; bend to the side and return to a standing position.

  • Side deadlifts: Side deadlifts also work the abs/obliques. Stand next to the bar, facing the plates on the right or left end. Lift the barbell and try not to bend to the side. This exercise will build the obliques and stability in the glutes.

We prefer to do our side bends with the help of an overhead cable machine. Stand with the lat machine to your side. Using a triceps strap held against the neck, bend away from the machine and do a side bend. There appears to be little stress on the spine using this method.


  • Standing situps with lat machine: Hold a tricep strap around the back of the neck with the two ends held against the chest while facing away from the machine. Now bend over as far as possible while pushing out the abs. Most lifters are very weak when first attempting this exercise, but be patient. The weight will go up and so will your squat and deadlift.

Leg Lifts

Leg Lifts of any kind are good. Start with lying leg lifts with your legs bent. Progress to straight leg lifts. If your shoulders are good, do hanging leg raises. Do them with bent legs until you are strong enough to keep your legs straight. Use weight if possible. The hardest type of leg raise involves lifting your feet up to the bar you are hanging from. Please don't be confused by bodybuilding magazines. Your hip flexers/extensors and abs must work together. A bent leg sit-up is worthless unless you have a very weak back and stomach.

There are many back and ab exercises to choose from. These are just a few. Some will work for certain individuals better than others. That is precisely why you need lots to choose from.

The information in our series of articles is the result of experimentation by 43 elite powerlifters we have developed over the years. We have a system that will teach you to teach yourself.

Paul Dillet Has Bigger Arms Than You. Get Used to it.

Paul Dillet has bigger arms than you.

That’s okay though. In his prime Paul Dillet had bigger arms than anyone. Just how big? Well, we’ll let the legendary Canadian bodybuilder give his nonchalant answer. “The biggest my arms got were 24 inches,” Dillet said. “It was a legitimate 24 inches, too, not a made-up 24.” Yes, that’s bigger than your arms, so put away the tape measure. Luckily, Dillet is in a giving mood and he’s more than willing to share his secrets and the workouts that helped give him some of the biggest and freakiest arms in bodybuilding history.

Not surprisingly, Dillet focused on basic movements early in his career. He started off doing triceps on one day and then would fit in biceps another day. It worked, but Dillet’s preferred method – and the one he switched to later and got optimum results – was dedicating one day to arms and doing biceps and triceps on the same day. Dillet had his reasons and wasn’t afraid to admit that a couple might have been purely cosmetic. “It was an ego thing,” Dillet said, laughing. “You just want to see your arms pumped to the max. To do that, you work them on the same day.”

Behind the mind-blowing pump Dillet would get in his swelling arms, a mind-blowing boost of confidence would come his way when he finished his workout and saw his massive arms engorged with blood in the mirror. “Seeing that pump was a good rush for the head. It was really effective,” Dillet said.

There’s no doubting that. Its effectiveness allowed for Dillet to garner a pair of the most balanced arms in professional bodybuilding. His arms always stood out, but his triceps didn’t outshine his biceps. Both were proportionate, both were balanced and both were strong points. Dillet chalked it all up to working both on the same day.

That’s your first piece of advice from the man affectionately know as “Freakenstein,” and, really, who wants to ignore advice on arms from someone with a nickname like that.

The next piece has to do with exercise selection. One thing is certain – Dillet didn’t get his massive arms by sticking to “toning” movements. No, he relied on the tried and true mass builders to become a mass monster, regularly using upwards of 225 pounds for 12 reps on barbell curls. “I loved barbell curls and I loved skullcrushers for triceps,” Dillet said. “I just found those, along with exercises like one-arm dumbbell curls were the bread and butter for putting size on my arms.” It’s not fancy and it’s not earth shattering, but if it works for Dillet, then you best realize it’s going to work for your arms. “For arms, nothing beats basic movements, and that’s coming from the guy with some of the biggest arms,” Dillet said.

So, there’s tip number two: stick to big, compound movements for the arms if you want them to grow. That was the backbone of Dillet’s workout and it should be with yours as well. Of course, the rest of the workout featured key accessory movements like preacher curls and rope pressdowns, but don’t expect the big guns without the big movements.

That brings us to Dillet’s final point – weight selection. Dillet wasn’t sloppy with his form, using a moderate weight for 4-5 sets of 10-12 reps. It allowed him to stay strict during his movements and the workload allowed for the best results. Of course, Dillet’s moderate weight might be twice yours, but the premise and idea behind it are what is key. “I was always a high-rep guy using moderate weight. It was nothing less than 10 reps,” Dillet said.

Here’s the hard truth – your arms won’t ever be as big as Dillet’s. But follow this plan and you’ll be a whole lot closer than you were before.

Paul Dillet’s Recommended Arm Workout:

Rhyme and Reason Dillet suggests starting with a tricep movement and then hitting a bicep movement next, alternating back and forth until workout is complete.

All exercises are 4-5 sets (after a proper warm-up) and 10-12 repetitions

  • Triceps
  • Cable Tricep Extension
  • The Rhyme: This exercise warms up the joints for the mass-builders that follow
  • Biceps
  • Barbell Curl
  • The Reason: The king of bicep movements according to Dillet
  • Triceps
  • Skullcrushers
  • The Rhyme: Dillet’s bread and butter for triceps
  • Biceps
  • Preacher Curl
  • The Reason: A great exercise to pump up the biceps
  • Triceps
  • Pressdowns
  • The Rhyme: A great finisher with a lot of different options. Dillet advises using everything from a straight bar to a V-bar to a rope.
  • Biceps
  • Concentration Curl
  • The Reason: A great bicep finisher. To get the most out of it, use the reverse side of a preacher curl. It keeps your arm locked and makes the movement even stricter.

Dillet’s final piece of advice is to keep the weight moderate. Now, this isn’t an excuse to go to light and breeze your way through the workout, but Dillet has his reasons for the suggestion. He has two massive slabs of muscle that say he might be onto something. “I used moderate weight, but that word is relative to your strength level,” Dillet said. “Some guys go in there to annihilate their body. I want to grow but I didn’t want to annihilate it. Nobody was bigger than I was and there’s still nobody bigger, so I must have been doing something right.”

To Get Lean, Chow Down Right

To get lean, chow down right.

The top five fat loss foods that are beneficial to helping you get lean and attain your fitness goals are:

  • Oatmeal. Oatmeal is a great fat burner and easy to cook. But do pay attention to different brands and read the labels for sugar content.
  • Plain old-fashioned chicken breast. Always make sure the chicken you pick is very lean with minimal fat. Breast meat is typically the leanest, so look for that first when you’re at the store.
  • Egg white. Egg whites have always been great for dieting and losing weight.
  • Good old brown rice. As a slow starchy, carbohydrate, be sure to eat brown rice no later than the afternoon time. This prevents your body from consuming carbs during the evening, which can lead to fat gain. If looking to cut fat, avoid late night consumption.
  • Fish oils. The best fish oils for fat loss are Omega 3 and Omega 6. These ramp up the fat burning effectiveness of your day-to-day activities.
  • Lastly, a great fat burning food is asparagus. This is used quite a bit as a natural diuretic to get rid of the last water deposits before photo-shoots or competitions. Asparagus contains the chemical asparagines, which is an alkaloid that directly alters cells and breaks down fat. It also contains a chemical that removes waste from the body. This ultimately helps reduce fat levels.

Training Madness

What is the benefit of a training madness column?

It’s called “Training Madness” because sometimes it’s best to just get into the gym and say, ‘You know what? Today I’m going to totally freak my body out. Screw doing something normal, let’s get crazy.’ Then you come up with some shit and just try to keep from puking before you’re done.

Wow, that’s sounds intriguing and a little nuts. So what would be a crazy lat program that would fall under the training madness umbrella?

Here’s a fun one with a bit of a backstory. I own and train out of a great hardcore gym that has all sorts of fun stuff to freak your body out. So, one day I grabbed every possible attachment I had in a pile by the lat machine and blasted every angle I could. In the end, I found nine possible attachments or angles that fried my back. After four sets of 12-20 reps on each one, all I could say was ‘Ow!’ and ‘Wow!’

How did the workout break down?

It was definitely a lot of volume, but try this on for size. And remember to stay intense throughout this awesome workout.

  • Regular Wide-Grip Lat Pulldowns: 4 sets of 20 reps
  • Reverse Close-Grip Straight Bar Pulldowns – 4 sets of 20 reps
  • Seated Row Bar Pulldowns – 4 sets of 15 reps
  • Overhand Close-Grip Pulldowns – 4 sets of 15 reps
  • Rope Attachment Pull Around the Body – 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Strong Band Through the Hook (This gives a crazy rebound) – 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Reverse Seated Medium Grip Behind the Neck Pulldowns (pull only to earlobes) – 4 sets of 15 reps
  • Overhand Medium Grip Pulldowns – 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Ultra-Wide Overhand Pulldowns – 4 sets of 10 reps

After that, you’ll have trouble lifting your arms up.

That is a ton of exercises and sets. So why would something like this be beneficial?

For one, a workout like this allows the muscle tissue to get stimulated in ways it definitely isn’t used to. That itself sparks some true growth, not to mention the pump you’ll get from this freaky workout. Believe me, the pump will be insane. Obviously, this is not something you use every workout or even once a month. My recommendation is to do something like this about every 12 weeks or when you need a jumpstart. Think freaky and results will come.

Is there any other madness or tips that would be important to know?

It’s nothing too out of the ordinary, but remember it is crucial to keep your training different. That makes it interesting and it certainly keeps your body guessing.


Cory, what do your bench press numbers look like?

My best raw bench press off the chest is 375 pounds and my best in a shirt is 475. I also have done a 410 raw press off of 1-board and I’m certain I could have done a 400-pound bench raw at that time. But my diet phase started the next day and I never got to try it. Also, I’ve benched 225 29 times and 315 9 times.

That is some pretty impressive strength. So how did you get there? What is the best advice you could give to a guy trying get his bench up?

For a lot of people, their chest can grow but their bench doesn’t seem to follow. If that’s the case, your problem could be your triceps and lats. That means you’re probably weak out of the bottom, which has a lot to do with back thickness and stability. If you’re lacking in the triceps department, you’ll lack tricep power, which is crucial for locking out the weight. To bench big weight, you have to be stable and able to lock out the weight at the top. To remedy this, I recommend doing lats and triceps as much as 3 times a week to get them up to speed. Keep it simple, too: just throw in some extra undergrip pullups and add some tricep pushdowns to your workout, and that might make a big difference.

Powerlifters talk a lot about training the nervous system for getting used to handling big weights. What exactly does that mean and how do you do that?

Board presses are one of the best ways for your body to get used to handling big weights. If you’re not sure what a board press is, here’s a simple explanation: You get a series of 2-by-4's that are stacked on top of each other and that helps you train different levels of your press and overload your triceps. One method is alternating between a 1-board, 2-board, 3-board and a 4-board. My best 4-board raw bench is 475, my best 3-board raw bench is 455, my best 2-board press is 425 and my best 1-board bench is 410. Once your tricep strength improves, they will be thicker and able to lock out about anything.

So, what is the best exercise – other than the actual bench press, of course – for getting your bench numbers to shoot up?

A close-grip incline barbell press is a great exercise. If your close-grip incline is up, your bench press will be strong as well. This exercise gives your triceps a full range of motion, while also building up power in your shoulders and upper chest. A good recommendation is three to four sets of five to eight reps as your second exercise after the bench press. My best close-grip incline is 315 for 1 and 285 for 3, which I just did a few weeks ago. A lot of people neglect the incline for some reason, but don’t do that. Make your incline freaky strong and your bench press is sure to skyrocket.

What goals do you have for the bench press in the future?

I’m in powerlifting mode right now and that 475 in a shirt came at 235 pounds. But I’ve got some big goals. I want to bench 500 at 205 pounds over the next year, and I know I have it in me. I got the opportunity to train at the famed Westside Barbell one day and I hit 550 off a 3-board and 525 off a 2-board. That was an awesome experience and it just motivated me to do bigger and better things in the future. My goal now is to bench 400 raw (at around 205) and bench at least 500 in a shirt.

8 Tips To Speed Up Metabolism and Weight Loss

8 Tips To Speed Up Your Metabolism & Lose Weight

1. Eat 5 to 6 small meals a day– Eating 5 to 6 small meals a day helps to speed up your metabolism and allows you to burn more calories throughout the day.  Eating like this allows your body to work harder more often which will help you to burn more calories throughout the day.

2. Drink Green Tea– Green tea is a great catalyst in speeding up your metabolism and helps to aid digestion. It also helps to fight many diseases and does a great job in controlling your blood sugar.

3.  Drink Water Daily– You should drink 6 to 8 glasses of water per day which helps to make your body more full and satisfied when dieting. It also does a great job in preventing food binges. If your body does not have enough water then it will have difficulty speeding up your metabolism to help you lose weight

4. Get Quality Sleep! You should be sleeping at least 7 to 8 hours a night if you can. Your body builds and repairs muscle when it is resting not when it is training. If you want your body to work with you it needs proper rest and strength to do its proper job of losing weight.

5. Be Physically Active–  You need to be incorporating some physical activity to help you speed up your metabolism. It could be walking, jogging, running or even riding your bike. Being physically active really allows your body to continuously burn calories throughout the day. The best time to eat is right after your physical exercise because your body can absorb the nutrients and handle the fat, sugars and carbs.

6. Don’t Eat Too Late–  When you eat breakfast you give yourself the proper carbs to give you energy throughout the day well when you eat right before you go to bed you leave your body at a very precarious stage to shut down and take in all those calories without having an opportunity to burn it. Make sure that you don’t eat past 8pm and if you do then make sure you go to sleep at least 3 hours after you have had your last meal.  This will allow giving your food the proper time to burn and digest properly.

7. Build Muscle– Always incorporate weight-training in your routine which really helps to speed up your metabolism and burn calories throughout the day. You can weight-train with machines or even free weight.  You can also build muscle with resistance bands training which is great for toning your overall body. Remember weight-training will burn more calories throughout the day then cardiovascular training. Building muscle always translates to speeding up your metabolism.

8. Never Skip Breakfast– Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and it really is integral in jump-starting your metabolism throughout the day as soon as you wake up. It gives you the proper energy to function throughout the day and this is also when you should consume the most carbs. Your breakfast should be a combination of high fiber, protein and low sugars.

If you can follow these tips you will definitely be on your way to having a fast metabolism which will help you lose weight and stay lean.

Carb Rotation Dieting

I’ve heard a lot about carb-rotation diets and how beneficial they can be. Can you describe how they work? 

A carb rotation diet is simply monitoring and varying your carb intake based on the days of the week. A popular approach is relying on mostly green vegetables as your carb source for 3.5 days, then for the last meal on the fourth day, enjoy some low glycemic carbs like spaghetti, low fat yogurt and whole grains. For the next 2.5 days, go back to eating green vegetables for your carbs, before adding another low-glycemic carb to your dinner on that third day. As an example, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday are low carbs and then you add in a carb load on Wednesday. Thursday and Friday are low carbs, then the last meal on Saturday is your other carb meal.

This diet can work wonders, but see if it suits you and your body first. While some get ripped to shreds, others have trouble reaching their desired level of tightness.

Sounds interesting. How does this break down each day and how are carbs added?
First thing: eat within an hour of waking, then eat every three hours, for a total of 5 to 6 meals a day. Here’s an example of a daily meal schedule:

  • 6 a.m.: 4-5 eggs with only one yolk and 1/2 grapefruit
  • 9 a.m.: 2 scoops of MusclePharm Combat in water
  • 12 p.m. 8 oz. lean meat and unlimited green vegetables
  • 3 p.m.: 2 scoops of MusclePharm Combat in water
  • 6 p.m.: 8 oz. lean meat and unlimited green vegetables
  • 9 p.m.: Another 2 scoops of MusclePharm Combat if needed

Do this for 3.5 days (i.e., Sunday through Wednesday lunch) and for that final meal on day four (Wednesday dinner), add one cup of brown rice and a sweet potato, along with a banana, to your protein and greens. Then repeat the above diet for 2.5 days (Thursday through Saturday lunch), carb loading at the end of the third day (Saturday dinner).

Choose the days that are best for you, but follow these diet guidelines.

Please explain the science behind carb rotation dieting.
This diet works by depleting your muscles for 3 ½ days, then delivering just enough carbs to pump them back up. This triggers a strong hormone response. By depleting the body again and adding another carb load at the end of the week, your body should burn fat on low carb days. The increase in calories should spike your metabolism and bring you in tighter. A lot of guys have used this diet to get ripped. Big time.

What would a training program look like with this type of diet?
Not many hard and fast rules exist, but you should work your legs the day after a carb load. You’ll feel fuller and stronger under the bar. On the other carb load day, pick a lagging body part to hit really hard, or target your back or chest. Your body and your goals have the ultimate say, but definitely work your legs the morning after one of the carb loads. This is a must for almost everyone on this diet.

When it comes to supplements, what are your staples during this type of diet?
Intensity and recovery are key if you are dieting and training. In this case, our specialists recommend taking Shred Matrix™ before meal #1 and #3. Post workout, include a half-scoop of Recon®. Before bed, add another half-scoop of Recon® along with a half-scoop of Bullet Proof™. On training days, take a full scoop of Assault™ before your workout.

Any other pointers or tips for tackling this diet?
This diet plan has worked for lots of people. It is a great beginner diet that isn’t too extreme and will help gauge your body’s reaction to dieting. Always keep in mind that nobody ever got real lean without sacrificing. Getting and staying ripped isn’t easy. A disciplined diet and diligent, consistent training take commitment. But once you start, you can improve and fine tune your diet in later phases.

The Rise and Fall of Androstenedione

Androstenedione: What is it?

Androstenedione is a naturally occurring, 19-carbon, steroid hormone produced in the adrenal glands, the gonads of mammals and the pollen of many plants. Androstenedione derives from either 17-a-hydroxyprogesterone or dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and its production along the biological pathway to naturally become testosterone.

Androstenedione is a direct precursor molecule to testosterone. Only one enzyme is needed to convert androstenedione to testosterone. And while androstenedione is primarily utilized for testosterone production, some androstenedione also secretes into the plasma. In the plasma, it converts in peripheral tissues to testosterone or is metabolized by the liver and removed from the body.

What is it supposed to do?

The supplemental form of androstenedione, called ‘andro’ for short, was marketed to mimic the actions of naturally occurring androstenedione. Its alleged effects included increased muscle mass and strength, decreased recovery time, added bone density and bone strength, stimulation of linear growth and bone maturation. Andro’s most appealing aspect, however, was the claim that androstenedione eradicates estrogen, resulting in zero estrogenic side effects.

How does it work?

The theory was that if additional androstenedione were introduced, the body would treat it like it occurs naturally. This leads to abnormally high testosterone levels because the ingested andro serves as a manufactured, inactive precursor to testosterone. Males produce testosterone—an anabolic sex hormone—in large quantities. The resulting spike in testosterone upon its direct conversion from andro should enhance the adaptations of resistance and strength training athletes.

Review of current research:

Research conducted on andro ultimately led to its ban as a supplement. Upon investigating claims made by andro manufacturers that the supplement was completely safe, researchers found these statements to be inaccurate, even hazardous. Institutions like the Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School and The Food and Drug Administration have all conduct research on Andro. There have been countless confirmations that andro both has limited effects on testosterone levels (300mg increases levels by about 35%), and significantly increases estrogen levels.

While androstenedione is the precursor for testosterone, it is also the precursor for the primary female sex hormone, estrogen. The human body strives to internally maintain a specific ratio of testosterone to estrogen. If one of these hormones’ count increases in the body, the body works to increase the opposite hormone’s count to maintain the proper proportion. In other words, while some andro supplemented into the diet becomes testosterone, a proportional amount also converts to estrogen.


Supplement manufacturers claimed that a dosage of 60mg to 300mg, depending on the supplement, would be necessary to elicit a testosterone increase of 100% or greater.


After extensive data collection and analysis by numerous parties, andro supplementation could result in the development of numerous estrogenic side effects. These side effects include gynecomastia (male breast development), pancreatic, kidney or liver cancer/damage, premature baldness, enlarged prostate, severe acne, reduced sperm count, infertility, testicular atrophy, HDL (good) cholesterol reduction, glucose intolerance, blood clots and increases the risk of heart attack. After a review of these tests and the supplement’s risks, a ban on andro began on January 21, 2005.


Upon review of the supplement’s effects and side effects, it is concluded with confidence that the use of androstenedione supplementation should not be considered for any purpose. Even though andro does increase testosterone levels, as commonly advertised, the resulting estrogen increase and estrogenic side effects greatly outweigh any potential benefits from the use of andro.



Muscle Growth

I talked about recently in fitness tip that muscle growth doesn’t happen while weight-training and tearing your muscles it happens when your body is resting. It is important to listen to your body when training especially if you are feeling really sore in certain body-parts. For a long period I over-trained where I was working out 6 to 7 days a week and I was in the gym 3 hours a day because I thought that the only to way build muscle was going all out 24/7.

Training this way was very counterproductive to me and my gains were limited because I wasn’t giving my body enough rest throughout the week. I used to tell myself why I am always so sore every day and I realized it was because my body was never given enough time to recuperate from my workouts. I came from the athletic background of no pain no gain so I thought that being sore was an indicator I had a great workout but it was an indicator that my body needed to rest. The more I educated myself on training the more I realized I was over-training.

You can get a quality and more efficient workout in only 4 days of training and resting your body 2 to 3 days and coming back to the gym. I’ve made greater gains training this way and spending less time in the gym. I went from training 6 to 7 days a week, 3 hours a day to 4 days a week 90 minutes a day and I truly feel it is more efficient muscle growth wise. If you over-train you are going to plateau it is that simple. Your gains will be limited if you over-train. Remember to always listen to your body and how it is feeling.

Don’t look at yourself as weak if you take a day off or two to recuperate because you are very sore. When your body is giving you those signals then listen to it as it will do that from time to time when you are training. If you don’t listen to those signals and continue to train you could cause injury to yourself. Remember that resting appropriately throughout the week is key in helping you attaining your fitness goals.

MP Sponsors Machida at UFC 123

Event Expected to Draw 10 Million Viewers

DENVER, Nov. 19, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — MusclePharm(R) Corporation (OTCBB:MSLP – News), one of the fastest growing nutritional supplement companies in the United States, today announced former UFC light heavyweight champion, Lyoto Machida, will be wearing MusclePharm apparel at the main fight which takes place on Saturday, November 20, 2010 in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

UFC newcomer Maiquel Jose Falcao Goncalves will also sport MusclePharm's apparel on the UFC 123 Fight Card that includes his fight shorts, t-shirt, hat, and a banner with the MSLP Ticker Symbol. UFC 123 Event will draw an estimated 850,000 pay per view buys and is watched by an estimated 10 million viewers.

"We are very excited to have one of our UFC athletes compete in the main event fight. UFC continues to be a tremendous partner for MusclePharm as we increase our consumer demographic exposure during Saturday night's fight," commented Cory Gregory, MusclePharm's President. "We will continue to focus on opportunities with UFC to further increase MusclePharm's brand awareness and expand MusclePharm's supplement and apparel market penetration." Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida (fighting out of Belem, Brazil / 16-1) is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Machida Karate. The former UFC light heavyweight champion won his first 16 professional fights. Winning five of his first six fights in the UFC, the 32-year-old has finished three bouts, including a submission win over Rameau Sokoudjou and knock out victories against Thiago Silva and Rashad Evans.

Maiquel Jose Falcao Goncalves is a Brazilian mixed martial artist. He was signed to make a debut at UFC 123 against Gerald Harris. Prior to his UFC appearance, Maiquel collected a 25-3 record with only one win coming by way of decision and 23 of the wins coming by knockout or TKO.

MusclePharm Sponsors WEC 53

DENVER, Dec. 16, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — MusclePharm(R) Corporation (OTCBB:MSLP – News), one of the fastest growing nutritional supplement companies in the United States, announced that the Company will be a title sponsor at tonight's WEC 53 Event in Arizona where the MusclePharm logo will be featured in two places on the mat.

MusclePharm is one of five WEC title sponsors including, Bud Light, Harley Davidson, Pepsi and TapouT. The fight, with a regular viewing audience of more than one million people, will be televised live on Versus Network at 9 p.m. Eastern Time. MusclePharm will also run two 30-second in venue commercials.

"The fight will serve as another incredible showcase for the MusclePharm brand," commented Cory Gregory, MusclePharm's President. "MusclePharm is extremely pleased to have the opportunity to work with the WEC and their athletes who garner such strong interest and viewership."

Tonight the WEC Organization will stage its last card with Champion Benson Henderson taking on Anthony Pettis for the chance to fight the winner of the Frankie Edgar/Gray Maynard fight early in 2011.

About MusclePharm(R)

Headquartered in Denver, Colorado, MusclePharm is a rapidly expanding healthy life-style company that develops and manufactures a full line of NSF and scientifically approved, nutritional supplements that are 100% free of any banned substances. Based on years of research, MusclePharm products are created through an advanced six-stage research protocol involving the expertise of top nutritional scientists and field tested by more than 100 elite professional athletes from various sports including the NFL, MMA, and MLB. The Company's propriety and award winning products address all categories of an active lifestyle including muscle building, weight loss, and maintaining general fitness through a daily nutritional supplement regimen. MusclePharm is sold in over 120 countries and available in over 5,000 U.S. retail outlets that include GNC, and Vitamin Shoppe, as well as over 100 online stores, including, Amazon and For more information, please visit

Forward-looking Statements

MusclePharm Corporation believes the information set forth in this Press Release may include "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Act of 1934. Certain factors that could cause results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements are set forth in "Risk Factors" in Item 2.02 of the Company's Form 8-K dated February 18, 2010, which has been filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

MusclePharm Signs Multi-Year Sponsorship Deal

DENVER, Nov. 17, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — MusclePharm(R) Corporation (OTCBB:MSLP – News), one of the fastest growing nutritional supplement companies in the United States, is pleased to announced a multi-year partnership with the World Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation (WBFF) that will place the company as the title sponsor of the World Famous WBFF through 2014.

The partnership begins in 2011 and MusclePharm® will work closely with the WBFF and its President and CEO, Paul Dillett, who is widely considered one of the greatest bodybuilders in the sport's history. Dillett, recognized as Canada's greatest bodybuilder, won numerous bodybuilding titles throughout his illustrious career, and is often regarded as having one of the sport's most recognizable physiques.

Paul Dillet, President and CEO of WBFF, said, "We believe this partnership will greatly increase the reach of both brands and continue to fuel the record growth both companies have enjoyed over the past few years."

In four short years, the WBFF has grown to become a popular destination for aspiring professional bodybuilders and fitness competitors. In 2010 alone, participants from more than 25 different countries competed in the WBFF World Championships, which featured many of the world's top fitness athletes. MusclePharm's President, Cory Gregory, commented, "We are very excited to partner with the WBFF. We believe this relationship will expand our brand by introducing our nutritional supplements, which are 100% free of any banned substances, to a new market."

"With the recently announced fulfillment agreement, our enhanced operating platform will enable us to improve margins and enable management to focus on partnering opportunities such as WBFF. We believe we are well positioned to achieve very strong growth in 2011 and look forward to leveraging our brand and superior product offerings into new channels and improving our operating margins."

Supplement Company of the Month

DENVER, Oct. 5, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — MusclePharm(R) Corporation (OTCBB:MSLP – News), one of the fastest growing nutritional supplement companies in the United States with a proprietary formulation used in eight performance products, today announced selected the Company as the Supplement Company of the Month for October. recognizes leading supplement companies with products and services that are making a positive impact on the industry and their consumers each month.

"MusclePharm's ads are in all the magazines with some of the biggest names not only in bodybuilding, but the entire sports world. You see their logo on every MMA event and their products are amongst the most popular in the industry today," commented Jeremy Deluca,'s President. " is recognizing MusclePharm for their accomplishments and their loyal customer base by featuring them as the Supplement Company of the Month."

MusclePharm is currently ranked #14 on's best selling Company list out of 563 companies. MusclePharm continues to increase its dominate brand presence in the sports nutrition world with over 1,000 customer product reviews and an average rating of 9.2 out 10.0 on "We are extremely pleased is recognizing MusclePharm for our accomplishments and growing, loyal customer base by featuring us as the Supplement Company of the Month," commented Brad Pyatt, MusclePharm's Chief Executive Officer. "MusclePharm's brand awareness and market penetration has increased substantially in a very short period of time due to our products scientific development and the backing of some of the most influential people in the fitness and sports nutrition world."

For further information or to access the full article on MusclePharm's Supplement of the Month award please access

MusclePharm Raises $1.4 Million

MusclePharm Raises $1.4 Million Through Convertible Promissory Note & Registration Rights Agreement

DENVER, Dec. 10, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — MusclePharm(R) Corporation (OTCBB:MSLP – News), one of the fastest growing nutritional supplement companies in the United States, today announced it has reached an agreement to raise $1.4 million through a convertible promissory note and registration agreement with an accredited investor.

"We are very pleased with the successful completion of the agreement with the investor and believe this capital will support our capital requirements for growth," commented Brad Pyatt, MusclePharm's Chief Executive Officer. "We appreciate our investor's confidence in MusclePharm as we continue to execute our long-term growth strategy."

This capital raise, combined with the previously released fulfillment agreement with IVitals, further enhances the Company's overall financial strength for future long-term profitable growth. Management will continue to focus on the development, sales & marketing of MusclePharm's growing portfolio of nutritional supplement products.

Learn More About Glutamine

What is Glutamine?
Glutamine has been known to be the most abundant amino acid in the bloodstream. It is considered a "conditionally essential amino acid" because it can be manufactured in the body, but under extreme physical stress the demand for glutamine exceeds the body's ability to synthesize it. Most glutamine in the body is stored in muscles followed by the lungs, where much of the glutamine is manufactured. Glutamine is also important for removing excess ammonia, a waste product, from the body. Many types of immune cells rely on glutamine and without this, the immune system would be impaired. Adequate amounts of Glutamine can be obtained from diet alone because the body is also able to make glutamine on its own. Medical conditions such as, injuries, surgery, infections, and stress can deplete the body of glutamine. In these cases, glutamine supplementation may be necessary.

What are the uses of glutamine?
Glutamine comes into play when the body is in need of repairing. When the body is stressed, cortisol is released into the bloodstream and elevated cortical levels can deplete glutamine stores. Since glutamine plays a key role in the immune system, a deficiency in this nutrient can significantly slow the healing process. Studies have shown that glutamine supplements enhance the immune system and reduce infections (particularly infections associated with surgery). Glutamine supplements may also aid in the recovery of severe burns.

What are its benefits?
Some benefits of glutamine are:

  • It keeps your muscles from being catabolized for use of the other cells in the body
  • It helps maintain cell volume and hydration and speeds up the wound healing process
  • Glutamine can help produce growth hormones
  • Glutamine and may serve to boost the immune system, for body builders this is important because heavy workouts tend to deplete glutamine levels in the body.
  • It helps with the transportation of potassium across the blood brain barrier, although glutamine itself does not cross the barrier easily.

Research on the ingredient?
Research that has been done on glutamine by the University of Maryland Medical Center, found that it aids with treatment of diseases such as:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)-supplementation during treatment of IBD is recommended because it promotes healing of the cells in the intestines and improves diarrhea associated with IBD
  • HIV/AIDS-Glutamine supplementation can help with weight loss in HIV/AIDS patients
  • Cancer-Glutamine is often given to malnourished cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatments and sometimes used in patients undergoing bone marrow transplants.
  • Glutamine is used to protect the lining of the small and large intestines from damage caused by chemotherapy or radiation.

A review from the Department of Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston whose goal was to review the potential benefits of glutamine nutrition in patients with cancer stated that supplementation of glutamine for cancer patients can be vital to their recovery process.

Dosage Recommendations?
Glutamine, usually in the form of L-glutamine, it is available as an individual supplement or as part of a protein supplement. It comes in powder, capsule, tablet, or liquid form. Standard preparations are typically available in 500 mg tablets or capsules. Glutamine should be taken with cold or room temperature foods or liquids. It should not be added to hot beverages because heat destroys glutamine.

Because of the potential for side effects and interactions with medications, dietary supplements should be taken only under the supervision of a knowledgeable healthcare provider.

Glutamine powder should not be added to hot beverages because heat destroys this amino acid. Glutamine supplements should also be kept in a dry location. Moisture leads to breakdown of this substance.

Adequate amounts of glutamine should be taken in through diet or supplementation. Glutamine is important for the body’s recovery process and depletion can cause impairment in the body’s system.


  • 1. University of Mary Medical Center, Glutamine (2004), accessed March 21, 2007.
  • 2. Bodybuilding for you, L-glutamine side effects and benefits.
  • 3.
  • 4.
  • 5.
  • 6.

Synephrine: What Is It?

What is Synephrine?

Synephrine is a stimulant that is chemically similar to ephedrine. Today, a popular claim associated with this supplement is that it promotes weight loss. Many dietary supplement companies have begun to replace the banned ephedrine with synephrine.

Where does it come from?

Synephrine is derived from a fruit tree known as Citrus aurantium. The Citrus aurantium tree is native to Vietnam, but is cultivated all over the world. Synephrine is made from the unripe fruit of the tree. Unlike the sweet tasting fruit that comes from most citrus plants, the fruit from this plant is described as bitter. It is more commonly known as bitter orange, Seville orange, sour orange, and zhi shi. In traditional Chinese medicine, zhi shi was used to treat abdominal pains and gastrointestinal problems.

The extract from this fruit contains five alkaloids: synephrine, N-methyl-tyramine, hordnine, octopamine, and tyramine. The most abundant of these is synephrine. There are six different isomers of synephrine. However, is it unclear exactly which one is in the Citrus aurantium. Most research indicates that it is either para-synephrine or meta-synephrine.

How does it work?

Synephrine stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, which is activated during excitement or stress. This branch of the nervous system increases heart rate as opposed to the parasympathetic nervous system which decreases heart rate.

At the cellular level, synephrine acts on different receptors through the release of norepinephrine and epinephrine. There are five different classes of receptors: alpha 1, alpha 2, beta 1, beta 2, and beta 3. Although there is ongoing research to confirm exactly which of the receptors synephrine acts upon, most data indicates effects on beta 3 and limited effects on beta 2 and alpha 2.

The beta 3 receptor increases the rate of fat release from body stores, which is known as lipolysis, and increases the resting metabolic rate, which is known as thermogenesis. Research also shows synephrine has limited affects on beta 2 and alpha 2 receptors. The beta 2 receptor is located in heart muscle. It influences heart function and causes dilation of blood vessels in the heart. The alpha 2 receptor is located in adipose tissue and can inhibit lipolysis.

Synephrine is thought to be a safer supplement than ephedrine because of its actions on the receptors. Limited effects on the beta 2 receptors indicates that synephrine should not cause as many heart problems as ephedrine and the limited effect on alpha 2 indicates that the effects of beta 3 will not be inhibited.

Synephrine vs. Ephedrine

After the ban of ephedrine, dietary supplement companies needed a new stimulant to use as an ingredient. Synephrine and ephedrine were found to be chemically similar with similar effects as well. Many companies found synephrine to have the same stimulant properties without some of the harmful side effects ephedrine was argued to have, such as the cause of cardiovascular problems, respiratory problems, and nervous system problems. Continuing research shows that synephrine may be more thermogenic and less stimulatory than ephedrine due to the differences in effects on the beta and alpha receptors. However, there is still a debate as to how safe and effective synephrine really is.


There have been many claims made about synephrine, such as it increases metabolic rate, increases caloric expenditure, burns fat, promotes weight loss, and increases energy levels. However, many of these claims made are not based on scientific research, but only thoughts as to what may be an effect. Most of the research has been performed on animals and not on humans, which makes the claims less valid.

One research study recorded synephrine and octopamine increasing the metabolic rate and decreasing the amount of brown adipose tissue in dogs. However, adult humans do not have brown adipose tissue, so this research has no significance for humans.

Another study used mice as subjects. The mice were given different doses of synephrine to test the effects of the supplement on the sympathetic nervous system. The mice that were given the highest doses had a reduction of water and food intake and experienced weight loss. However, there was also a 50% death rate. In doses given to the mice similar to that recommended for humans, there was a slight weight loss found, but there was also a 10% death rate.


Synephrine has been showed to be somewhat effective when it is combined with another stimulant, such as caffeine. Other research shows that with a healthy diet and regular exercise, a dietary supplement containing synephrine can aid in weight loss. However, the weight loss is minimal.

Synephrine is thought to have some of the same side effects as ephedrine, but to a lesser degree. It could cause cardiac problems and high blood pressure, but there have been no major complaints with consumers.

What is it used in?

Synephrine has been used in nasal spray for decades. It is found in over-the-counter medications for such aliments as colds, the flu, and allergies. It is also used in ophthalmic solutions to dilate the eye prior to an exam or surgery. Today, with new claims coming out about its weight loss potential, it is commonly found in several dietary supplements.


Even though synephrine is becoming a widely used supplement, there is still not enough research to support the weight loss claims. Different research studies show contradictory results on the effectiveness and different studies support different claims. Overall, synephrine appears to be safer than ephedrine and perhaps somewhat effective, but until more research is done, these claims cannot be confirmed.


What is L-Norvaline?

What is it?

L-Norvaline is an analog of the branched chain amino acid, valine. It can be found in foods such as dairy, meat, grains, soy and peanuts. Since valine is an essential amino acid, L-Norvaline has to be obtained through the diet, as the body cannot produce it.

What does it do?

L-Norvaline is involved in the indirect increase of nitric oxide levels in the blood. Nitric oxide has been shown to cause relaxation in the blood vessels. This vasodilatation may help to treat heart problems and lower blood pressure. When nitric oxide production is not properly produced, an individual may have health problems such as hypertension, obesity, diabetes, heart failure, and arteriosclerosis.

How does it work?

L-Norvaline is an inhibitor of the enzyme, arginase. Arginase is an enzyme that is used to break down and remove arginine into urea. Arginine has been shown to be a precursor to nitric oxide. Thus, the inhibiting of arginase will increase the concentration of arginine and more will be converted into nitric oxide. The nitric oxide has the effect on the body.


Very little research has been done specifically testing the effects of L-Norvaline due to its complex and indirect pathway to producing nitric oxide.

One study done at Texas A&M University by Chang Chiung, James Liao, and Lih Kuo tested the effects of L-Norvaline on nitric oxide in mouse macrophages. The study lasted 22 hours and used L-Norvaline and arginine to see if a threshold would occur when the two components were mixed. The macrophages were given varying doses arginine between 0.01mM and 0.8mM and 10 mM of L-Norvaline. The results showed that increasing arginine levels by .5 mM increased nitric oxide levels by 28% while adding 10 mM of L-Norvaline increased levels by 55%. The 10mM of L-Norvaline did increase urea production by 50% though. The final result showed that raising arginine levels by more than .5mM abolished all effects of L-Norvaline.

Dosage Recommendation:

There are no recommendations at this time for L-Norvaline. The toxicity at this time is also unknown.


It would be assumed that L-Norvaline consumption is adequate in a well balanced diet. Since it is an analog of valine, proper protein intake is necessary for correct L-Norvaline consumption.


More research needs to be done on the effects of L-Norvaline. The mechanism for the molecule seems to make sense, but it has not been identified to help athletic performance in any way.


What is Hoodia Gordonii?

What is it?

Hoodia Gordonii is an herbal plant found in Southern Africa. It is being investigated for use as an appetite suppressant. The active ingredient identified is a steroidal glycoside labeled “p57”, which is found in Hoodia Gordonii.

What does it do?

As mentioned, Hoodia Gordonii is thought to have an effect in terms of controlling and suppressing appetite. One study published in the September 2004 issue of Brain Research, found that injections of p57 into the appetite center of rat brains resulted in altered levels of ATP, an energy molecule that may affect hunger. The animals receiving the P57 injections also ate less than rats that received placebo injections. Researchers from Brown Medical School in Providence, Rhode Island described elegant animal experiments that show the effects of components of Hoodia on the central nervous system. The rat studies, performed by these researchers, led to their conclusion that an important mechanism of the regulation of food intake by the hypothalamus of the brain is the alteration of the contents of energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in the nerve cells of the hypothalamus. Energy content (i.e., ATP) in these nerve cells increased by a factor of 50-150% with Hoodia administration. Moreover, the manufacturer Phytopharm cites a clinical trial involving 18 human volunteers. Individuals who received the P57 Hoodia extract (Phytopharm PLC, UK) reduced their calorie intake in their diets, of their own free will, by about 1000 calories per day.

What side-effects does it have?

Jasjit S. Bindra, PhD, former researcher for Hoodia at Pfizer, stated in a letter to The New York Times that although Hoodia did appear to suppress appetite, there were indications of unwanted effects on the liver caused by components other than the active ingredient p57 that could not easily be removed during processing. Bindra added, “Clearly, Hoodia has a long way to go before it can earn approval from the Food and Drug Administration. Until safer formulations are developed, dieters should be wary of using it.” Other weight loss experts remain skeptical and do not recommend Hoodia to obese patients, including Adrienne Youdim, MD, medical director of the Comprehensive Weight Loss Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and Michael Steelman, MD, chairman of the board of trustees for the American Society of Bariatric Physicians. Youdim says, “There is no [published scientific] data to support its use.”

How should I use it?

Under the standard for a new dietary ingredient premarket Notification, dosage for Hoodia, as a dietary supplement, is recommended to be at the amount of 600mg per day, 300mg per serving, 2 servings per day and prepared in capsule form as a dietary supplement.


1. The Anti-Fat Pill and the Bushman, reported by Tom Mangold, Transcript of British Broadcasting Company documentary, June 1, 2003, pp. 23-25.

2. Tulp, Orien Lee, et al., Effect of Hoodia Plant on Food Intake and Body Weight in Lean and Obese LA/Ntul//cp-rats, FASEB Journal, Vol. 15, No.4, p. A404 (2001)

3. Tulp, Orien Lee, et al., Effect of Hoodia Plant on Food Intake and Body Weight in Lean and Obese LA/Ntul//cp-rats, FASEB Journal, Vol. 15, No.4, p. A654 (2002)

4. Tulp, Orien Lee, et al.,Mineral Content of Edible Hoodia Plant Species, FASEB Journal, Vol. 15, No.5, p. A971 (2001)(Mineral Content)

5. Stumner, Robin, The Pill-Free Fat-Busting Machine, The Independent (London), September 7, 2003

6. Mangold, Tom. Magic Moledule…and the Millionaire Bushmen, The Age, June 23, 2003.

What is Cissus Quadrangularis?

What is it?

Cissus quadrangularis, a medicinal plant indigenous to Asia and Africa, is used for many ailments such as burns, gastrointestinal complaints, backache, body and febrile pain, malaria, and especially treatment of hemorrhoids.

What does it do?

Cissus quadrangularis is well known for its treatment of gastric disorders in traditional medicine. This is due in part to its rich source of carotenoids, triterpenoids and vitamin C, and it has received considerable attention regarding its role in human nutrition. It is an indigenous plant commonly mentioned in Ayurveda for treatment of gastric ulcers. The ulcer-protective effect of a methanolic extract of C. quadrangularis (CQE) was comparable to that of the reference drug sucralfate. Ethanol extract of Cissus quadrangularis was also evaluated for its anti-osteoporotic activity and other extracts were tested for antioxidant activity. C. quadrangularis alleviates pain from burns, gastrointestinal complaints, backache, body and febrile pain, swellings and malaria. Recently, research has been performed on the capability of Cissus quadrangularis to help manage weight and metabolic syndrome.

How does it work?

Cissus Quadrangularis has shown to prevent oxidative damage of DNA by reducing DNA fragmentation, indicating its block on cell death. Ulcer protection in Cissus quadrangularis-treated rats was confirmed by histoarchitecture, which was comprised of reduced size of ulcer crater and restoration of mucosal epithelium. Thus, reduced neutrophil infiltration, anti-apoptotic and antioxidant action have a pivotal role in the gastroprotective effect of Cissus quadrangularis. Previous research findings suggest that the gastroprotective activity of Cissus quadrangularis could be mediated possibly through its antioxidant effect as well as by the attenuation of the oxidative mechanism and neutrophil infiltration. Cissus quadrangularis may protect the gastric mucosa against ulceration by preventing gastric secretions.

For weight loss, researchers suggest that a formulation of Cissus quadrangularis might interact in a manner similar to statins, fibrates, probucol, nicotinic acid or cholesterol absorption inhibitors. Inhibition of the oxidation of LDL and the antithrombotic activity both aid in lowering total cholesterol/LDL-cholesterol and increasing HDL-cholesterol levels. Also, the phytochemical constituents in Cissus quadrangularis may have activity similar to other plant sterols. The molecular structure of phytotosterols, for example, is practically identical to that of cholesterol.

Dosage Recommendations:

Jainu and Devi found that gastric juice and mucosal studies showed that Cissus quadrangularis at a dose of 500 mg/kg given for 10 days significantly increased the mucosal defensive factors like mucin secretion, mucosal cell proliferation, glycoproteins, and life span of cells. In the study for weight loss, Cissus formulation administered twice daily (514mg each) to obese and overweight persons with symptoms of metabolic syndrome results in both weight reduction and an improvement in the symptoms associated with metabolic syndrome.


The typical recommended daily dosage of Cissus extract is between 500 and 1000 mg, depending on the concentration of the extract. For the powder of the dried plant, the Ayurvedic texts recommend a dosage of 3 to 6 grams. Safety studies in rats showed no toxic effects at dosages as high as 2000 mg/kg of body weight.


Cissus quadrangularis was proven in many different studies to help gastric disorders, but using it to help an individual lose weight is still suspicious. The research supporting Cissus quadrangularis in the effectiveness in weight loss stated that it was not the sole ingredient given to the participants. The participants were give a “Cissus quadrangularis formulation” that needs to be broken down further. Other ingredients in the formulation may have aided in weight loss more than Cissus quadrangularis itself.

Also, the research was somewhat unsupervised by not being done in the United States. The research for weight loss was performed in a poor country where conspiracy comes at the right price. More research needs to be done in America before the product should be sold in America for weight loss. Long term effects have not been evaluated yet.

Know more about Methyl Sulfonyl Methane (MSM)

What is it?

Methylsulfonylmethane is commonly referred to as MSM. The proper chemical name is dimethyl sulfone, DSMO2. This is a naturally existing compound found in a majority of common food products. Some examples include seafood products, meats, fruits, vegetables and cow’s milk.

Sulfur’s Role

MSM contributes Sulfur to the diet. Sulfur strengthens collagen in the joints which helps stabilize the body and serves as a resistance to wear and tear on the joints. Sulfur also strengthens other various tissues in the joints and is critical to the formation of connective tissue. The sulfur from MSM is not to be confused with the type of sulfur that is used in inorganic medicinal sulfur compounds, which some individuals are allergic to.

Do we get enough MSM?

The average individual does not consume enough MSM. Unless the individual’s diet is comprised mainly of raw foods, sufficient levels of MSM will not be consumed in a majority of cases. The processing of foods is where most of the naturally occurring MSM is lost. To combat this, some researchers suggest that we take MSM supplementation because recent research has found that MSM taken in supplement form is just as effective as that which occurs naturally.

How can supplementation improve your health?

In addition to strengthening joints in the body, MSM also helps to detoxify the body, increases blood circulation, helps reduce inflammation caused by injury and enables muscles to heal faster and soreness to be reduced. One known side effect of MSM is that it may cause the fingernails and hair to grow faster and become stronger.

The most common reason for MSM supplementation is to reduce the pain caused by osteoarthritis (OA). OA is a seemingly inescapable condition associated with aging that affects more than 40 million Americans over the age of fifty. There is no known cure for OA, however, research has found that MSM can ease the symptoms associated with OA. Some attribute the effectiveness of MSM to the other ingredients MSM is combined with, rather than the MSM itself. Some researchers advise consuming glucosamine because of its longer proven track record. They believe MSM is most effective as a synergist to glucosamine, making glucosamine more effective.

Methods of MSM Intake

MSM can be introduced to the body in one of three ways. It can be taken orally in liquid or tablet form, applied topically (though some believe this ineffective), or through injections that should only be given by a health care professional.

Pilot Clinical Trial Study

This study was completed at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in March of 2006. This particular study evaluated the effectiveness of MSM in treating OA pain over a 12-week span. Subjects included in this study were males and females between the ages of 40 and 76. The study was randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled. Each subject was given either 3 grams of MSM or 3 grams of placebo twice daily over the 12 week period. The results of this study found a respectable decrease in pain associated with OA. Physical function impairment also decreased, thus ROM increased with decreased associated pain. A newfound ability to complete general day-to-day tasks that once were painful, if possible at all, was reported by those found to be taking the MSM. It is important to note that the safety and effectiveness of MSM in managing long-term use cannot be confirmed based on the findings of this particular study.

Recommended Intake Amounts

There are no recommended daily values set by the Food and Drug Administration. More research needs to be completed to effectively estimate the needs of MSM supplementation in specific populations. Dosages can run anywhere from 250 to 6,000mg. Because of the benefits believed to be associated with MSM to those over the age of fifty, larger dosages will be required for those susceptible to OA.

Precautions Concerning Supplementation

If produced correctly, synthetically produced MSM is not believed to be toxic. However, due to the relatively low amount of MSM-specific research that has been done, it is advised that children, women who are pregnant or nursing, or people with liver or kidney disease avoid medium to high levels of supplementation without first consulting their physician.


The Arthritis and Glucosamine Information Center. Retrieved online 6 April 2007 from

Evolution Health. Retrieved online 6 April 2007 from

Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine Website. Article retrieved online 6 April 2007 from

Learn more about MicroLactin

What is MicroLactin?

MicroLactin is essentially milk. It contains all the anti-inflammatory properties of milk, including enzymes, cytokines, EGF, antiproliferative agents, and antioxidants (Goldman et al. 1996). However, this milk is different than normal milk because it is taken from "hyper-immunized" cows (which are treated in New Zealand). These "hyper-immunized" cows have been injected with bacteria that trigger an immune response, leading to an increase in antibodies and anti-inflammatory agents. The "hyper-immune," anti-inflammatory agents are then passed into the milk, which is then collected and passed through a series of processes to remove fat, casein, and macronutrients that have a weight of greater than 1,000 daltons [Beck, 1997]. A very concentrated form of whey with high concentrations of anti-inflammatory agents is what is left of the milk. MicroLactin is concentrated milk protein and is non-steroidal.

What does it do? MicroLactin and its concentrated milk protein claims to decrease blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, lessen inflammation, accelerate muscle recovery after exercise, and improve overall joint health. It also claims to improve range of motion and mobility, while reducing stiffness in joints.

How does it work?

Though the mechanism of its anti-inflammatory activities is not fully known, researchers have shown that neutrophil and lymphocytes are affected. The secondary, neutrophil-mediated phase of carrageenan-induced inflammatory response is suppressed and neutrohphil emigration is inhibited. One study done by Ormrod, et al, showed that there was an increase in the amount of neutrophil and a decrease in the number of lymphocytes in circulation. The high concentration of anti-inflammatory agents found in MicroLactin may also block the mitogenic response of lymphocytes, as well as block the response of lymphocyte to foreign histocompatibility antigens. There are a number of patents with MicroLactin, including one, the Prevention and Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, and two, the Method of Treating Inflammation, both done by Dr. Beck and team.


One research project, called The Ohio Survey, was done by Beck and Stolle Immune Milk in Cincinnati, Ohio. During 1960 to 1996, they gave out hyper-immune milk powder to patients with osteoarthritis and between 1992 and 1996, they asked these same patients to record and rate their joint symptoms with a questionnaire. Overall, 83.7% of the people that took the milk concentrate reported an improvement in their joint pains. Another study was done by Zenk, et al, in 2002 which examined the Effects of Milk Protein Concentrate on the Symptoms of Osteoarthritis in Adults. This was a double-blind, placebo-controlled study that took 6 weeks. All participants in this study were physician-diagnosed with osteoarthritis. The participants were divided into three groups: group 1 was given 2g of milk protein concentrate, group 2 was given 500 mg of glucosamine sulfate, and group three was given a placebo. The WOMAC Osteoarthritis index score was used to assess their symptoms of osteoarthritis. The results showed that the average age was 59 yrs, and that there was a significant improvement in all 4 scores of the WOMAC index in the milk protein concentrate group, a significant improvement in one score of the glucosamine sulfate group, and no significant changes in any of the scores for the placebo group (Zenk, et al, 2002).

Dosage Recommendations and Safety.

It is recommended that 2 grams be taken twice daily for the first 7-10 days, and 1 gram daily in the days following, but the age level, health status, and tolerance to the supplement (i.e. lactose-intolerance) should also be of consideration. People who are allergic to cow's milk, for example, should not use MicroLactin. MicroLactin may also interfere with the activity of tetracycline-type antibiotics. MicroLactin does have a GRAS seal, which stands for Generally Regarded as Safe, and it is the highest level of safety review that a nutriceutical or dietary supplement can achieve (

All the research on milk protein concentrate concluded that this product reduced joint pains, decreased inflammation, and increased mobility. Though the majority of these studies are sponsored by the same people that endorse it, all showed similar results in inflammation and joint pains. While the mechanisms are not fully known, the risks are basically the same as drinking a large amount of milk (i.e. little risk), while the benefits are considerable.


Carlon M. Colker MDa, Melissa Swain CES MS a*, Leila Lynch RD MSa and Daniel A. Gingerich DVM, MSb. Effects of a milk-based bioactive micronutrient beverage on pain symptoms and activity of adults with osteoarthritis: a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical evaluation.

C. Woods DVM, MS and D. Gingerich, DVM, MS. Technical Brief: Pharmacology of Microlactin

Goldman AS, Goldblum RM, Hanson LA. Anti-Inflammatory Systems in Human Milk. PubMed. 1990; 262:69-76

Goldman A. S., Goldblum R. M., Schmalstieg F. C. Protective properties of human milk. Perinatal nutrition. Part III. Walker W. A. Watkins J. B. eds. Nutrition in Pediatrics. Basic Science and Clinical Applications 2nd ed. 1996:449-457 B. C. Decker Hamilton, ON, Canada.

Learn more about Leucine

What it is:
Leucine is one of three branched chained amino acids (BCAA) that are part of the essential amino acid group. The chemical formula of leucine is C6H13NO2. The chemical names for leucine are 2-amino-4-methylvaleric acid, alpha-aminoisocaproic acid, and (S)-2-amino-4-methylpentanoic acid. Though these names may make leucine sound complicated, its role as a supplement seems to be fairly straightforward.

Where it comes from:
Leucine is found in both plant and animal protein. Some of the major sources are eggs, pork, beef and soy. Leucine may also be found in leafy vegetables as well as vegetable juices. Fermented foods such as yogurt and miso also contain leucine.

Supplementation Uses:
Leucine is largely used to help prevent mental fatigue during prolonged periods of physical stress. It has been shown that mental fatigue adversely affects physical performance. This theory is known as the “Central Fatigue” Theory. Basically, when the body is put under prolonged physical stress the concentration of branched chained amino acids in the blood drops, which creates an increase in fatty acid levels for additional energy support. Fatty acids attach to Albumin for transport. A chemical known as tryptophan also uses Albumin for transport and is displaced by the abundant fatty acids that are present. This displacement causes more tryptophan to cross into the brain. Tryptophan is a well known precursor to serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain which depresses the Central Nervous System(CNS). This depression of the CNS causes sleepiness or fatigue, which may decrease athletic performance. Leucine is then supplemented to increase the concentration of BCAAs in the blood and compete with tryptophan for passage into the brain.

Leucine has also been found to support protein synthesis. A study done on rats showed that supplementation of leucine at very high levels increased protein synthesis and inhibited protein degradation. This may have been brought about by an increase in serum insulin levels due to an increase in leucine. It was theorized that the physiological role of leucine is to work with insulin to “activate a switch” which will stimulate protein synthesis.

Recommended Dosage:
The recommended dosage is usually given for total amounts of BCAAs because it would not be as beneficial to only supplement with leucine. Therefore, it is recommended that an athlete use 10-20 grams of total BCAAs per day. These dosages should be divided up and taken 3-5 times during the day while concentrating the higher dosages before, during, and after exercise. When taking BCAAs before and during exercise, it is best to supplement 1-7 grams per liter of a carbohydrate containing fluid. Post exercise should constitute 750-1500 mg of total BCAAs. The ratio of the BCAAs should be 3:1:1 Leucine, Valine, and Isoleucine respectively.

Side Effects:
There have been few reports of gastrointestinal distress with extremely high amounts of leucine, or total BCAAs consumed. Though in the studies with the protein synthesis in the rats, the scientists conducting the study implied that prolonged high dosages of leucine may lead to insulin resistance (Type II Diabetes Mellitus) which may lead to slowing of protein synthesis stimulation by food uptake. Though overall no significant side effects have been found for leucine at moderate to high levels.


Supplement Watch –

Garlick, Peter J. The Role of Leucine in the Regulation of Protein Metabolism 1,2.

Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) and Post-exercise Recovery

What are Branch Chain Amino Acids?
The Branch Chain Amino Acids consist of three separate amino acids: Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine. These amino acids are considered “essential” because the body cannot manufacture them and thus, they must be obtained from our diet. Leucine helps in the regulation of protein turnover and energy metabolism. It also helps inhibit the breakdown of muscle protein that occurs after high stress. Isoleucine’s main purpose is that of an antioxidant. Finally Valine improves energy metabolism and protein synthesis, and like Leucine, helps maintain muscle strength during times of high intensity physical stress. Branch chain amino acids are found in high concentrations primarily in the skeletal muscle tissue. These BCAAs account for 35-40% of the dietary essential amino acids in body protein and 14-18% of the total amino acids in muscle proteins.

What do they do?
As our muscles burn up the available stores of BCAA’s in the body during exercise, they begin to break down skeletal muscle tissue in order to provide the essential amino acids to fuel more exercise. This cell damage results in reduced ability to contract and relax during intense stress, resulting in muscle fatigue, lactic acidosis, loss of performance and delayed recovery as muscle tissue repairs itself. Generally, these branched chain amino acids are muscle synthesis, muscle growth, and muscle repair. More specifically these BCAA’s perform numerous functions, though they are not used as a primary energy source (as shown above), they are definitely an important fuel source for skeletal muscle during periods of extreme exertion. During these periods of stress, BCAAs help promote protein synthesis while helping to suppress its catabolism and serve as substrates for gluconeogenesis. The catabolism of the BCAAs in skeletal muscle plays a key role in the formation of glutamine which is one of the glucogenic amino acids. Other functions include; increased endurance resulting in delayed fatigue during exercise, improved mental performance, energy levels, immune system function, and finally, post exercise recovery. Post exercise recovery means less muscle soreness and fewer upper respiratory tract infections.

The Evidence:
In terms of skeletal muscle building and post exercise muscle recovery, many experiments have been done to the look at the effects of BCAAs. For example, one experiment gave branched chain amino acids or a placebo to 7 subjects during 1 hour of cycle ergometer exercise and during a two-hour recovery period. The intake of the BCAA did not influence the rate of exchange of the aromatic amino acids during exercise or increase their muscle concentration. However, during the recovery period, a faster decrease of the concentration of the aromatic amino acids was found within the BCAA group. The results suggest that BCAA have a protein-sparing effect during the recovery after exercise, either that protein synthesis has been stimulated and/or protein degradation has decreased.

A second test was given to 14 healthy male and 16 healthy female adults, between the ages of 21-24 years old, who do not participate in regular exercise. The test performed were squats to induce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and muscle fatigue. Subjects were given either a BCAA mixture or a placebo that was to be consumed 15 minutes prior to exercise. The results of this study indicate that the ingestion of the 5g of BCAAs previous to exercise can reduce DOMS and muscle fatigue for several days after exercise.

One study gave a group of trained triathletes 6g of BCAA per day for one month prior to competition, then 3g of BCAA from the day of competition to a week after. As compared with a placebo group timing the placebo for the same length of time, the BCAAs restored depleted glutamine stores and immune factors that occur in elite athletes. This study also suggested that may improve exercise induced declines of mental functioning.

Lastly, one study tested 13 subjects whom ingested either a BCAA mixture or a placebo prior to endurance exercise in the heat. On average, the BCAA group cycled 153.1 minutes while the placebo group only cycled for an average of 137.0 minutes.

Most diets contain an adequate amount of BCAA ingestion, which is between 25-65 mg per 2.2 lbs. of body weight. Many human studies a dose of >5 g of BCAA was used as a supplement, the minimum dose to produce a beneficial effect remains to be clarified, thus the effective ratio of the three BCAAs remains uncertain. Toxicity studies of BCAAs using animals showed that BCAAs are quite safe amino acids when the three are taken in a ratio of 2:1:1(leucine: isoleucine: valine). For use before and during exercise, effective doses for delaying central fatigue have been shown at a range of 10-20 grams/day in separate doses. For use post exercise to enhance muscle recovery, 750-1500 mg of BCAA or a 3:1:1 ratio (leucine: isoleucine: valine) has been shown to reduce muscle soreness and improve energy/fatigue levels. However, athletes involved in intense training often take 5g of leucine, 4g of valine, and 2g of isoleucine per day to prevent muscle loss and increase muscle gain (though most research does not support this type of use).

Thus far, no significant adverse side effects have been shown from BCAA supplementation. One study showed that a large amount of BCAA supplementation (60mg) caused changes in blood levels of tryptophan, phenylalanine, and tyrosine. Alterations in these blood levels could ultimately cause depression in susceptible individuals. As of now, intakes of BCAA’s up to 40g per day in tablet form and 1-7g per liter in liquid form with no side effects. However, some people experienced stomachaches or other minor gastrointestinal problems such as cramps or diarrhea at levels above a few grams/dose.

With so many studies suggesting that BCAA supplementation prior to exercise has a protein sparing effect, with either protein synthesis being stimulated and/or protein degradation being inhibited; it is hard to not recommend them. Also, because no serious adverse side effects have been shown, it seems like unless taken in toxic levels, fairly safe.


  1. Shimomura, Yoshiharu, et al. "Exercise Promotes BCAA Catabolism: Effects of BCAA Supplementation on Skeletal Muscle during Exercise." The Journal of Nutrition (2004): 1583S-1587S.
  2. Shimomura, Yoshiharu, et al. "Nutraceutical Effects of Branched- Chain Amino Acids on Skelelal Muscle." The Journal of Nurtrition (2006): 529S-532S.
  3. Blomstrand, Eva, et al. "Branched-Chain Amino Acids Activate Key Enzyme in Protein Synthesis After Physical Exercise. The Journal of Nutrition (2006): 269S-273S.
  4. Stout, Jeffrey, and Jose Antonio. Sports Supplements. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2001.
  5. April 5, 2007.
  6. April 5, 2007.
  7. April 5, 2007.
  8. April 6, 2007.
  9. April 6, 2007.
  10. April 6, 2007.
    . April 6, 2007.

–Reprinted with Permission

The Superman Syndrome: Cranking Up Gravity to Crank Up Gains!

Unleashing Your Superhero

Clark Kent, alias Superman, a.k.a the Man of Steel, Kal-El son of Jor-El, refugee from the planet Krypton, is able to leap tall buildings in a single bound; he can bend steel with his bare hands, he's stronger than a locomotive, and faster than a speeding bullet, right? At least here on Earth, this mighty superhero is the idealistic embodiment of strength and physical power.

But, Superman isn't from around here. He is the last survivor of a world where he was merely a normal, every day mortal just like everyone else just like you and just like me. When his parents put him into his little spaceship and gave him his one-way ticket to our good green home, the planet Earth, they never realized how the differences between Earth and their home planet, Krypton, would impact their orphaned son. Or did they?

Besides having a suitable atmosphere and temperature, our home has one key difference from Superman's home planet. The gravitational field on our planet is significantly less than that of Krypton. Did Superman's dad realize how this would affect his son? Did Super-Dad Jor-El realize that anyone from the planet Krypton, whose genetic make up predisposed them to living and functioning under the constant pull of that far-away planets stronger gravity would naturally be super-strong, be able to leap and bound great distances (as if able to fly) and be able run further and faster than any natural being on Earth? Did Jor-El realize this, or was this simply dumb luck? After all, Krypton was doomed and he surely was in a bit of a panic when he searched for an appropriate home for his son.

Whether or not he realized it, the truth of the matter is this – the difference between the stronger gravitational field of his home planet, Krypton, and weaker pull of the Earth is what gives Superman powers of incredible strength. His body was genetically built to function under the heavier pull of Krypton. So, naturally, being accustomed to much heavier loads than his daily life here on Earth, Superman was stronger than the mere mortals that surrounded him.

So, what does this have to do with us? Well, like Superman, we can take advantage of increased gravity to stimulate our own adaptive capabilities to maximize strength and muscular growth.

Think about it like this what if you could turn up gravity just slightly, so that everything you did physically was 10% heavier? Over just a short period of time, your body would adapt to the increased resistance, becoming stronger, more capable of handling heavier activities. Once the body adapted to the bump in gravitational resistance, you simply turn it up again, to, say, 15% above original baseline! Again, over time, the body adjusts, and becomes yet stronger.

Then, as you go about your daily business in the normal world of Earth's usual gravity, in the world of mere mortals you'll be stronger than a locomotive! Magic? No, of course not! It's the physiology of adaptation to resistance training.

So, Let's Turn Up Gravity!
Generally speaking, by utilizing any basic progressive resistance-training program, you are, in essence, turning up gravity on a specific muscle or group of muscles. By applying ever-increasing levels of resistance to specific muscles, while providing just enough time and nutrients for sufficient recovery, target muscles will adapt and grow. Because the body wants to do as little work as possible, adaptation muscle growth will provide the added muscle to handle the turned up gravity more easily. This adaptive capability is ongoing, and it's how we can progressively build more muscle mass and strength over time.

What follows is an aggressive, systemic total body blitzkrieg, designed to turn up the gravity on the entire muscular system. This program is designed to target the body as a unit, to increase systemic intensity and stimulate a higher degree of adaptation to what becomes, in truth, increased gravitational resistance applied to the entire body in other words, we turn up gravity! We call it the Superman program.

The Super Strength Program
Is an aggressive 3-week intensifying program designed to shock the body into new levels of growth, beyond standard and conventional resistance training techniques and into brave, new worlds of pain and growth! Are you ready to build your own man of steel (minus the flowing cape and skin-tight pajamas, of course!)?

The Super Strength Program was designed for trainers of at least 6 months to a year of training experience under their superhero utility belts*. The program is formulated to stimulate maximum strength and growth in minimum time.

*Remember, this program is an intensifying regimen, designed for a temporary bump in workload and volume over time. It is not made for those who are feint of heart or who lack the intestinal fortitude to become a superhero.

Simply, the body is divided into 2 units. The Super Strength Program is a 6-day regimen that incorporates 2 workouts, workout and workout.

  • Workout 1: Biceps, forearms, quads and hamstrings
  • Workout 2: Back, shoulders, chest, triceps

Workout Pattern:
Workout Body parts: Rep range # of sets per body part Rest period

  • MON A biceps, forearms, quads, hamstrings 13-15 4 75 sec
  • TUES A biceps, forearms, quads, hamstrings 6-8/10-12(legs) 5 60 sec
  • WED B back, chest, shoulders, triceps 10-12 4 90 sec
  • THU A biceps, forearms, quads, hamstrings 10-12 4 90 sec
  • FRI B back, chest, shoulders, triceps 13-15 4 75 sec
  • SAT B back, chest, shoulders, triceps 6-8 5 60 sec
  • SUN off rest

Utilize this intensifying program for a maximum of 3-continuous weeks.

Exercise Selection:
For each body part to be trained, choose 1 mass building, gross motor power exercise. Utilize only 1 exercise per body part each workout. For example, for chest training, you might choose flat bench press, incline dumbbell press or decline press. Utilize the same exercise for the entire 3-week program.

Rep-range and weight-selection:
For each exercise, select a weight that allows you to perform reps within the prescribed rep-range utilizing proper technique and form. Slight cheating is fine, as long as form is not sloppy. (no throwing or aggressive swinging). Do not pyramid weight, instead keep weight consistent until you are able to hit the top rep-range consistently. Then, increase weight 5-10%.

Rest Periods:
Time in between sets will be measured and timed. Rest only the prescribed amount of time in between each set. This will be just enough time for the body to recover but not enough time for the body to return to an untrained, level of non-fitness!

Warm Ups:
Do 5-10 minutes of light cardio prior to each training session, followed by a light stretch for each body part to be trained. Do not waste inordinate amounts of time and energy warming up.

Keep Pace Quick, and Stay Focused
Each program was structured to last less than 40 minutes, start to finish. This program is fast-paced and intense. Faster than a speeding bullet, even. But, it will make you stronger. The more effort and energy you apply to these short, intense workouts, the greater your results will be.

Track Your Progress by Utilizing a Training Journal
You'll be surprised at how quickly your strength will improve with this program. Challenge yourself each and every workout push hard, turn up gravity and watch as your own super strength improves with each passing week! You will be well on your way to building your own man of steel.