Lean Mass Building Workouts

by Roger LaPointe

Adding Medicine Balls to your training program can help build lean muscle mass.

Summer is a time when you want to just pack on some great, quick lean mass. Try out this two workout combination. Take a day of rest between these workouts. There is a lot of lower body work here and you will feel it the next day. You will really feel it the day after Workout B. Give yourself two days of rest after Workout B, or just do some easy jogging or medicine ball work.

Workout A

Bodyweight Squats 3 sets of 10
Front Squat 3 sets of 10
Back Squat 5 sets of 5 up to 60%
Stiff Leg Deadlift 5 sets of 5 – see how high you can go using perfect form. You may hit 300 #, which would be great
Iron Boot Leg Ext. 2 sets of 20
Iron Boot Hanging Leg Curl 2 sets of 20
Hanging Frog Crunches 3 sets of 10

Workout B

Body weight squats
Stretch
5 sets of 6 depth jumps
Isometrics in the power rack: Squat, Standing Press, Deadlift, Bench – in that order
Stretch

Live strong, Roger LaPointe

Making Your Weight Training “All-Around”

by Jarrod Fobes

Dean Ross performing an Index Fingers Deadlift at the 2012 USAWA Grip Championships. This is one of the many variations of deadlifts within the USAWA that could be done as a "warm up" prior to a heavy deadlift training session.

Let me start off by saying that I am very new to the sport of weightlifting, and in that regard my opinions on how weight training should be done don’t count for squat. But I am a long time athlete and coach, and I do know a thing or two about creating an effective training program. So I thought I would share how I have been incorporating all-around lifting into my overall strength training, and see what the athletes of USAWA think.

Initially I tried training two days a week; one day of Olympic lifting and one day training whatever all-around lifts I was most interested in at the time. This didn’t work because if I had to miss a day of lifting, I either had to sacrifice my beloved all-around lifts, or miss out on some desperately needed Olympic practice. Also, my all-around sessions tended to focus on the lifts I was good at, rather than the lifts I needed to do. I needed to find a way to make sure I got a good full body workout on either day.

The general program I settled on is nothing revolutionary or even particularly intense: one or two full-body workouts a week, three or four lifts, each one for three or four sets of heavy singles, doubles, or triples. I pyramid up each set. I realize this is a pretty inexact scheme, but between teaching four martial arts classes a week and holding a physical job, I have to be able to vary the intensity based on how rested and ready I am. What is not inexact is my record-keeping. I think it’s important to diligently record the weight lifted each workout, regardless of whether it was a PR day or not.

With such a necessarily limited workout, it’s pretty hard to train the nearly 200 lifts included in the USAWA. So I’ve started “stealing” sets from the core lifts. For instance instead of doing four sets of Clean & Jerks, I might warm up with a set of Miller C&J. While this is a tough finger lift, it’s just a warm up for the back, leg, and shoulder muscles. Afterwards, I’ll struggle through a couple sets of Clean & Jerks, going up in weight if I feel my technique has improved enough. Then I’ll do one or two sets of an all-around lift that trains muscles or movement similar to the clean & jerk. If I’m sore and tired that day, I’ll pick something I’m not very good at (like One-Arm C&J, Judd C&J, etc) and focus on technique. If I’m feeling strong, I’ll pick one of my better lifts like the Turkish-Get Up and really try to push weight. Not only do the all-around lifts function as assistance exercises to the core lift, but the strength and technique gained from the core lift helps the all-around training too!

I bet there are a ton of creative ways to get some all-around practice in during your training, and I’d love to see some follow-up stories from veterans as well as other beginners.

MIM

by John McKean

“Oooh, Hon, how sweet – you remembered the nickname my family gave me when I was young!” purred my wife, Marilyn.

I noticed she was staring at a crumpled piece of paper I’d recently started scribbling on, that carried only the title “MIM.” So, thinking quickly, I replied “Yep, ya caught me. I was just penning you a little love note!” For certainly I would’ve lost this year’s batch of her famous Christmas cookies had I mentioned that the note was the nickname, and to be the recording  of my current training routine, which stood for “Monkey In the Middle”!!

John McKean training a backdown set, or as he calls it, a monkey set, with added band tension.

The MIM style workout refers to the middle-weight sets or “monkey,” and is my latest version of the “backdown set.” I learned about backdowns during the 1960s from famous Pittsburgh powerlifter Bob Weaver. Big Bob was one of our first National superheavyweight champions, using his 365 pound bulk to establish the U.S. record total and a national squat record of 807 – long before supersuits or other supportive gear, and when judging was STRICT. Bob typically would start his training squats with a set of 5 with 135 pounds on the bar, and add a pair of 45s for every set thereafter, until it stopped him. Then he’d reduce to a couple of hundred pounds lighter and bang out a few FAST sets – this was, of course, the backdown work. By the way, an amusing incident of his progressive training – Bob most often didn’t pay attention to the total amount of weight continually stacked on and once found, after the fact,  his final set to be 855; yes, he got stuck with no spotters around. But, the experienced squatter had a trick he used for such emergencies – he’d quickly frog-hop forward and shove the bar backwards (he taught this to me – it really worked and was actually more reliable and safer than half awake spotters!). Trouble was, ole Bob had his back to a big window on the second floor of the Oakland (uptown Pittsburgh) YMHA – it went right through the glass and a massively loaded, plate clanging Olympic set tumbled to the sidewalk below! Fortunately, the horrific crash was on a small, little used side street at night, so no one was nearby! Not that any of their cars were parked down there either, but the Y’s directors weren’t exactly laughing!

Anyway, MY “backdown” is what I consider the MAIN building set(done as “rest-pause” singles), as this is where I place bands over the barbell for “speed singles.” Usually used for training our various all-round deadlift type lifts, I begin a session with a non banded double using a medium weight, go to a heavy single (not a limit but enough to cause a bit of a strain!), then backdown to a weight right in the middle of those two sets for band work. I start these “monkey sets” with a normal initial pull, but then try to accelerate through the finish. These sets actually feel springy and easy, since they follow the heavy single for the day, yet are actually more resistant due to the extra band stress. Since they begin easier off the floor, I am able to “trick” the body into a harder, faster  lift!  Each subsequent middle weight single seem to become more vigorous and speedier! An important footnote – if I’d not use a heavy free weight single beforehand, the monkey speed singles couldn’t be performed as efficiently with quite as much weight.

Pavel's new book EASY STRENGTH

However, don’t go crazy with band speed singles.  I find 2 to, at most, 5 banded-bar singles will do the job. In fact, in the brand new book EASY STRENGTH by Pavel and Dan John (Dragon Door Publications), Pavel mentions a similar banded deadlift routine that I’d once  given him. He wrote that the speed singles seemed just too easy and merely 5 of them were probably only good for old men (like me!!). But after his first workout he learned the hard way that this is a MINIMUM quantity, high quality routine (he stuck to 5 or 6 thereafter and claimed he was so strong with such little work that it seemed like “cheating”!). For that matter, throughout the entire EASY STRENGTH text the authors continually stress the extreme value of employing minimum reps and sets for optimum strength gains. It’s one of the few teaching tools  that elaborate on TRUE strength strategies for athletes, as the old time lifters employed – our all-round forefathers!          

“By the way, Hubby,” cooed Marilyn. “What were you gonna tell me in your love note?”

“OH,” said I. “Just those three little words you always like to hear!”

“Really?” she gushed.

“Yep,” I whispered, ” Bake them cookies!”

I never learn.

Hot Stove Workout

by Thom Van Vleck

A Hot Stove is where work gets done, and managing what's important means putting it up front or in back....managing your workout is the idea of this article.

I just wanted to share a workout plan I have for this winter.  As most of you know, I do a lot of throwing in the Scottish Highland Games.   Winter time for me is “off season”.  It is a time where I am trying to build strength again.  I also want to increase my conditioning and flexibility.  In season, I do a lot of throwing, and in the process I get pretty burned out on it by the end of the year and it’s good to get back in the gym for some old school training.

The first thing I need to tell you is that there is NOTHING I enjoy more than the adrenaline rush that comes with heavy lifting.  I get a high that will last for days.  Any hardcore lifter will know what I mean, that moment when the weight starts piling on and the goosebumps pop up on your arms and a chill runs down your spin and it’s “GO TIME”!  I love it.  But, as I get older I have to deal with a couple of factors:  Recuperation and Injuries.

Because of the increased recuperation time that comes with age and the injuries my body has endured, I can’t hit the max attempts like I did 20 or 30 years ago. I have to be smart!  Part of the problem is that I want to work my entire body at once and be cycling into heavy lifts that involve  my entire body.  So this year I came up with my “Hot Stove Workout”.

The “Hot Stove Workout” has my hitting the big numbers on a particular lift during my “Big Saturday” workout.  This is when I’m hitting that adrenaline rush and feeling good about moving some heavy iron (heavy for me!).  This is what I call my “Front Burner” exercise.   I am also using that time to work on my Erector Spinae and hamstrings using the Reverse Hyper, swiss ball (leg curls), and leg curling on the Reverse Hyper (a little exercise I stole from Al Myers).

Then Sunday is my conditioning day.  Right now I’m doing football agility drills with my son, who’s playing football in school, medicine ball drills, and tossing the pigskin around along with hitting the volleyball back and forth with my wife who’s on a volleyball league.

Monday is a day when I work on Grip, Neck, and Abdominal exercises, really going crazy on them.  Then my “Big Tuesday Workout” I hit two exercised that are my “Back Burner” exercises.  They are on their way to being “Front Burner” exercises and when one gets moved up, then another takes it’s place…destined to eventually make it to the “Front Burner”.  I always have three exercises and I make sure I have one that’s a leg movement, one a pressing movement, and another that’s a pulling or back movement.  It is also this day that I do any assistance work.

I then finish off with a set of 100 on the leg press.  These are very explosive, I drive up on the toes, and I usually have to crawl out of the gym after that.  By then I’ve worked out for 4 days and then I have three days to rest and get ready for the next Saturday.  I enjoy this workout very much and for now, that’s all I need to keep me lifting.  It doesn’t matter how great the workout is, if you don’t enjoy it or it doesn’t motivate you, then it’s the same as worthless.

By keeping a couple exercised on the back burner, using less weight, I’m able to be ready to switch them to the front burner.  That way I’m always hitting something heavy on Saturday and not having to build up over time for a big lift.  By lifting only once a week with over 90% poundages, I am able to recuperate and stay fresh.  I hope my workout has given you some ideas for your own training.  Everything I know about training I learned from someone else!!!!

OLD ADAGES, NEW ADAGES

BY DAVE GLASGOW

Dave Glasgow now knows when to "take a break" from heavy training and enjoy a little relaxation in his rocking chair (photo contributed by the webmaster, which was taken a few weeks ago when Dave very successfully promoted a big Highland Games in Wichita, Kansas).

THERE IS AN ADAGE STATING, ‘IF ONE’S GOOD, TWO’S BETTER AND THREE’S JUST ENOUGH!” HOWEVER, IN TRAINING, THIS SAYING COULD NOT BE FARTHER FROM THE TRUTH!! LET ME EXPLAIN.

FOLKS WHO TRAIN WITH WEIGHTS ARE, FOR THE MOST PART, SELF-DRIVEN, HIGHLY MOTIVATED INDIVIDUALS. THEY SEE A MEANS TO THE GOAL THEY HAVE SET AND THEY “GET AFTER IT.” HOWEVER, IN MANY, MANY CASES, THIS ENTHUSIASM IS MISDIRECTED.

I WILL USE MY OWN EXPERIENCE AS AN EXAMPLE. WHEN I WAS JUST OUT OF COLLEGE, I BEGAN TRAINING ON MY OWN. ALL I KNEW WAS THE SPARSE, AND OFTEN MISLEADING, INFORMATION GLEANED FROM THE BODYBUILDING MAGAZINES OF THE TIME. I TOTALLY IGNORED, AS A WHOLE, THE INFO GIVEN BY PEARY RADAR IN THE NOW DEFUNCT, BUT NONE THE LESS VERY EXCELLENT ‘IRONMAN’.

BEING THAT ABOVE MENTIONED ‘ENTHUSIASTIC’ LIFTER, I WORKED THE SAME LIFTS TWICE A WEEK. BENCH, SQUAT, DEADLIFT. FIVE SETS OF FIVE. THOSE WERE MY ‘WORKING’ SETS!! SAME WEIGHT FOR EACH SET. SET AFTER SET, REP AFTER REP. I WORKED HARD BUT COULD NOT UNDERSTAND WHY I WAS MAKING VERY LITTLE PROGRESS! “IF ONE IS GOOD THEN TWO IS BETTER AND THREE JUST ENOUGH. WELL, THEN, BY GOD, FOUR TIMES A WEEK IS PERFECT!”. I THOUGHT!! WHEN WAS I TO RECOVER WITH THAT REGIME?? THE ANSWER? NEVER!! I HAD NO REAL RECOVERY TIME, AT ALL.

THERE ARE SO MANY FACTORS INVOLVED IN RECOVERY. AGE; WHAT ONE DOES FOR A LIVING; NUTRITION…. IT GOES ON AND ON. I FOUND THAT A GOOD NIGHTS SLEEP AND A COUPLE OF BEERS DID NOT CONSTITUTE RECOVERY.

WHEN WE WERE LIFTING IN COLLEGE, WE WOULD GO BALLS OUT FOR SIX WEEKS OR SO, THEN HAVE TO LAY OUT FOR A WEEK OR 10 DAYS FOR WHATEVER REASON. THEN WE WOULD COME BACK AND OUR LIFTS HAD ACTUALLY IMPROVED!! WHAT THE …???? SIMPLE. THE BODY HAD HAD TIME TO REBUILD AND ADAPT. WE WERE JUST TOO NAÏVE, AT THAT TIME, TO UNDERSTAND THE PHYSIOLOGY INVOLVED.

NOW, BEING MUCH OLDER AND WISER (!!??), I HAVE COME TO REALIZE THAT MOST TIMES A NEW ADAGE THAT HAS SPRUNG UP RECENTLY IS THE COURSE ONE SHOULD TAKE. LESS IS MORE!! WHEN YOU HAVE TO DRAG YOUR BUTT INTO A WORKOUT, CHANCES ARE YOU ARE JUST DEFEATING YOUR OBJECTIVE FROM THE GET GO. IN MY OPINION, YOU MIGHT BE BETTER OFF USING THAT HOUR OR SO THAT YOU WORKOUT TO TAKE A NAP. THAT, MY FRIENDS, MAY, INDEED, BE TIME WELL SPENT.

TRUTH IS, WHAT IS GOOD FOR LIFTER ‘A’, MAY NOT NECESSARILY, BE GOOD FOR LIFTER ‘B’. WE EACH HAVE TO FIND WHAT IS BEST FOR US AS INDIVIDUALS AND SEEK OUT OUR OWN LEVEL. THIS CAN ONLY BE ACCOMPLISHED BY A CONSTANT ‘TWEAKING’ OF OUR TRAINING, ESPECIALLY AS WE GET OLDER, TO GET MAXIMUM RESULTS FROM OUR EFFORTS. THIS TAKES TIME AND EFFORT; HOWEVER, I FEEL IT IS TIME WELL SPENT. NEVER FORGET!! TIME TAKES TIME!!

TRAIN HARD, SMART AND RECOVER. YOUR BODY WILL LOVE YOU FOR IT!!

###(AS A SIDE NOTE, I WOULD ENCOURAGE EVERY LIFTER TO READ WENDLER’S “5/3/1” PROGRAM. I FEEL HE MAKES SOME VERY VALID POINTS AND I HAVE HAD GOOD LUCK WITH THIS SCHEDULE. IT ALSO FITS IN PERFECTLY WITH MY THROWING AGENDA.)###

Concepts on General Weight Training

(Over the years, my Uncle Phil Jackson has been my coach, but also much more than that.  He has been my guru, my father figure, and a best friend.  Phil has coached numerous state champs, bodybuilding champs, and he ran a couple of gyms.  He met all the greats of yesteryear including Bill Pearl, Paul Anderson, John Grimek, and many more.  He also has a degree in Physical Education and has maintained his teaching certificate.   He shared thoughts and ideas with these men and has a wealth of knowledge that  today’s lifter might view as old fashioned, but I think USAWA members realize that the old timers knew what they were doing. He sent me this routine some time ago typed upon his manual typewriter back in 1969. – Thom Van Vleck)

Concepts on General Weight Training

by Phil Jackson

Weight training is possibly the greatest supplement an athlete can add to his training schedule.  Yet it can also be the worst mistake he could ever make.

Weight training applied properly can add strength, endurance, speed, and a certain degree of flexibility.  If it is not applied properly you may find yourself somewhat stronger than you were before but your athletic performance has not increased and in some cases even decreased primarily due to a lack of flexibility.  For example, you could give a baseball pitcher a weight training schedule that was too heavy, lacking full range movement that would ruin his pitching arm.  Yet you carefully design a schedule using weights to strengthen his throwing muscles, and it will improve his pitching.

Perhaps it would be a good idea to make a distinction between the terms weight lifting and weight training.  Weightlifting is the process of lifting weight primarily for the purpose of increasing muscle size and strength, with no regard to athletic performance, where as weight training is the process of training with weights for the purpose of increasing strength for the purpose of athletic performance.

Most of us as coaches will be using weight training for the purpose of increasing strength for athletic performance, yet at the same time one should strive for as much flexibility as possible in the weight schedule.  This is usually provided by emphasizing the stretch with the movement. I would like to demonstrate just a few of these exercises and the whole purpose here is the stretch technique use whenever possible: Bench Press to Neck, Deadlift off bench, Lunges to floor, One arm tricep extension, Wrist Curls, Straight Arm Pullovers, Seated Twist (always first), and Calf Raises.

Two biggest mistakes you can make, Compare yourself to others and directly applying others technique to you…you find what works for you.

As a coach, when you’re making up weight training schedules for your athletes there are 7 concepts which will help.

1. Cardiovascular: Increasing and maintaining heart rate

2.  Respiratory: How you control your breathing in an athletic event, holding breath, releasing it, and breathing control.

3. Stamina: Ability to go day after day

4. Endurance: Ability to go as near 100% in a one day event, continuous ability to perform at a high level

5. Muscle Twitch: stretching just beyond the normal range.  Very determined by the specific sport.  Increasing the ability to Explode (Phil calls it muscle snap).

6.  Flexibility: All kinds of stretching for active recovery, teaching the muscle to relax for performance improvements, getting in touch with the muscle.  Increased the range of motion and muscle twitch.

7.  Complete training: building the minor muscles and foundation muscles for the specific sport event.

Strength Through Variety (Part 4)

(The following is part of an interesting article written by All-Rounder John McKean several years ago. John has won many All-Round National and World Championships in his weight class, and has written articles for Muscular Development, Hardgainer, Strength and Health, Ironman, Powerlifting USA, and MILO – webmaster)

by John McKean

John McKean performing a 2-Bar Deadlift.

Can I entice you to try a short, intense, very stimulating all-round training schedule which capitalizes on these dynamic singular efforts? My training partner, Art Montini, has devised a unique circuit-like routine that is as exciting as it is challenging. Art schedules four or five exercises per session, each done for but 4 singles. Ordering the various lifts from lightest to heaviest, he does a first round of one exercise after the other with all of them at approximately 77% (based on their heaviest poundage for that day, not all-time bests – we still cycle the intensity to an upcoming contest). Art then does a second round with 85% for each lift, then a round with 92½ %, and a final rotation with 100% efforts. Montini claims a special mental “freshness” while powerfully bouncing from lift to lift and says the recuperation between rounds yields superior readiness for maximum attempts.

Following is a sample strength rotation schedule based on my current training for upcoming all-round competitions. I begin with a highly specialized, “heavy hands” total-body aerobic warmup (15-20 minutes) which thoroughly prepares my body to hit big poundages immediately. Note that the movements are ordered from lightest to heaviest.

John McKean perfoming an One Arm Deadlift.

Round 1: one lift/rep with 77½ % of that day’s maximum.

Round 2: 85%

Round 3: 92½ %

Round 4: 100%

Tuesday – Push Press, Steinborn, Neck Lift, Straddle Lift

Thursday – One-Arm Swing, Pullover & Push, Dumbell Squat, Zercher, Hand & Thigh

Saturday – Power Snatch, Dumbell Press, Pullover & Press, One-Arm Deadlift, Hip Lift

Each day’s session works every inch of the body, but any particular lift is only done once per week. One can freely substitute any power, Olympic or major bodybuilding movement, as long as attention is devoted toward involving the total musculature. Of course, workouts can be reduced if desired to two per week and with fewer exercises.

Strength Through Variety (Part 3)

(Webmaster comment: The following is part of an interesting article written by All-Rounder John McKean several years ago. John has won many All-Round National and World Championships in his weight class, and has written articles for Muscular Development, Hardgainer, Strength and Health, Ironman, Powerlifting USA, and MILO)

by John McKean

John McKean squatting 530 pounds for a Pennsylvania State Record in 1980. This was done at the Great Lakes Championships in Erie, Pennsylvania in the 148# weight class. John's best competition squat was 555 pounds - before the age of super squat suits!!

“All you need in life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure!” stated beloved storyteller Mark Twain. In his famous tongue-in-cheek manner, Twain may have unwittingly provided one of the biggest truths in strength training. For if, as lifters, we envision great success with a highly personalized, unique training pattern, and let our enthusiasm run rampant in its employment, we usually achieve stellar results. Yet, often such a self-styled program is never attempted if those ever-present “experts” are consulted.

Looking back, I suppose my own powerlifting career, which peaked about twenty years ago, could definitely be described as “ignorant yet confident”. Due to a particular fondness for squatting, I naively assumed that some serious specialization on this lift, sustained drive to excel, and very concentrated effort in the gym would allow me to outdo most competitors. Emphasizing mostly brutal, ever-heavier single attempts in training, I actually did manage to establish many local and state records, topping out at 530- and 550-pound bests in the lightweight and middleweight divisions. Heck, it was no real surprise to discover from magazine polls back then that my lifts were even listed among the top ten in the nation for several years. Only later did the shocking truth reveal itself – with my light bone structure (6” wrists), overly long thigh bones, use of neither drugs or supportive gear, and unsophisticated training methods, there was “no possibility” of becoming even mediocre in this event. Man, was I fortunate that nobody told me until it was too late.

My history has provided firsthand education of the absolute value of using a limited program of extremely heavy singles in order to approach one’s maximum power potential. When constantly knocking heads with tiptop poundages, many physical disadvantages can be placed on the back burner. Yet in modern strength literature, noted “authorities” constantly belittle the value of “ones”. Where, I’ve often wondered, did these hardheads come up with the ridiculous “testing strength vs. training for strength” theory which is used so frequently to knock the use of near-limit singles? In actual application, I’ve never seen just such a short, intelligent program fail anybody.

Perhaps many of us master competitors lucked out by starting our training in an age when strength was king – all major bodybuilding and weightlifting moves were keyed toward low-rep, heavy poundages. In the “good old days” we maxed out on everything all the time – and loved it. Our Iron Game heroes, now legends in the sport, regularly utilized short, basic programs which always culminated in several heavy singles. Interestingly, when the renowned Bulgarian national weightlifting team was asked how they developed their “revolutionary” training concept of singling out on all lifts every session, they replied, “from studying the old system of the Americans which we read about in the magazines of the fifties and sixties.”

So, with the advent of modern all-round competition, many of us enthusiastic older trainees already had a tried and true system which easily enabled as many as twenty lifts per week to be worked. Yep, those blessed singles allowed us to spread our energy around while still training with super intensity. Only now, with all-round’s vast array of maneuvers (over 150 lifts which can be contested), we find ourselves using fewer singles per move but making better gains in total body power than ever before, despite our ages being in the forties, fifties and sixties.

A real mental key to deploying a “singles” training schedule is simply to eliminate that word in favor of “a lift”. A near-max lift is certainly about as intense as effort as can be done, yet that low, low number still bothers some. Too many strength trainees today have been constantly brainwashed to the “more is better” concept, even within the context of a set. But, after all, what is a set of, say, eight reps? Simply seven warmups finalized by one tough rep (though with a sub-par poundage compared to a truly heavy single). Why not conserve time and energy by doing a lift with perhaps 40% more weight in the first place?

Strength Through Variety (Part 2)

(Webmaster comment: The following is part of an interesting article written by All-Rounder John McKean several years ago. John has won many All-Round National and World Championships in his weight class, and has written articles for Muscular Development, Hardgainer, Strength and Health, Ironman, Powerlifting USA, and MILO)

by John McKean

John McKean demonstrating the Jefferson Lift, which is also known as the Straddle Deadlift.

A brief look at weightlifting’s history will quickly show that many of the above-mentioned lifts were the basis of meets during the 1900-1930 era. Rare was it when an early contest didn’t feature a one-arm snatch, dumbell swing, or the amazing bent-press (yes, it’s once again being given its due – number 48 on our all-round list). Extensive record lists on about 50 events were kept in the US and Great Britain prior to 1940, with other informal local listings recorded in both countries during the sixties and seventies.

When serious interest once again picked up, officials from the two lands met in 1987 to write a constitution and promote the new-to-many concept of all-round competition. When these modern day founding fathers established the up to date rules and regulations, they insisted on pure body dynamics to do the lifting – no super suits or supportive gear, no wraps, and absolutely no drugs.

About now, I’m certain many will question the feasibility of training limit poundages on 10-20 big lifts at a time. Doesn’t this go against the grain of current advice to avoid long routines? No. In fact, the real beauty of our all-round sessions is that we’re actually forced to restrict quality training time on each individual lift to an absolute minimum. The necessity of these ultra-abbreviated strength routines has taught us how to reach maximum intensity for handling true top weights more often than ever before.

Although there’s a wide range of effective schedules used by our present crop of all-rounders, and highly specialized methods for handling some of our more unique lifts, here’s a sample training procedure used by 12 of us at the Ambridge VFW Barbell Club, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Essentially, we’ve achieved phenomenal progress over the past five years by doing single repetitions on each of about 6 exercises per workout. We switch lifts every day of our three weekly sessions so that a total of 18 moves are given a short, high-intensity burst once a week. After a special non-weight warmup (more on this later) we do just 3 singles per exercise, best characterized as heavy, heavier, and heaviest. The last attempt is usually fairly close to a limit. And, because this quick, brutal style of training seems to fuel our mental competitive aggression, we always feel motivated to try to up that poundage each week.

Sure, this is heavy stuff. Yet in all our collective time with all-round training, none of us has ever felt even slightly burned out, suffered serious injury, or even felt overly tired from a workout (contests are something else, however). It seems when gains keep coming as rapidly as they have, lifts are always being rotated, and workouts are over before we have a chance of even getting mentally fatigued, our sport always stays fresh, exciting, and ever challenging. After all, how hard can it be to perform a workout of only 18 reps? (Better wait to answer till you actually experience this unique form of intensity and variety).

Most all-round movements are complex by nature and work the entire body at once. Each exercise serves as a supplement to the others, so there’s absolutely no need to waste extra time on assistance exercises. This is also a big reason why we get away with training any particular lift but once a week; all muscle groups are pushed totally each training day, no matter what combination of exercises is employed. After all, why should we bother with, say, the highly overrated and widely overused bench press – very one dimensional when compared to the whole-body functioning of all-round’s dynamic pullover and push.

How well does all-round training serve the average person? Let me offer two rather extreme examples. On a novice level would be my 13-year old son Robbie. Beginning when he was 10, Robbie found immediate pleasure over his rapid strength gains. Thanks to the wide variety of moves and abbreviated training (yes, I put him on heavy singles immediately, despite dire warnings I’ve read by “experts”), he never experienced much muscle soreness nor ever any boredom with his quick workouts. In three years he has gained fifty pounds of muscle (puberty helped), tripled his strength, and has established fifty world records in the pre-teen division.

Recently, while on the way to winning his third consecutive title at 1992’s national championship in Boston, this 165-pound “little boy” performed a show-stopping hand and thigh (short range deadlift). I’ve never seen another youngster of this age who could match Rob’s grip strength to do a 250-pound one-arm deadlift, or the neck power to equal his 300-pound head harness lift. But early in his training, Robbie perceptively put me straight on what this sport is all about. Telling him to follow me downstairs to begin “exercising” one day, he firmly replied, “Dad, I don’t exercise, I lift.”

On the other end of the spectrum is longtime powerlifting and weightlifting competitor, 65-year old Art Montini. As is the case with all of us master lifters, Art discovered that no form of training or competition is as much fun as all-round lifting. Montini never misses one of these exciting workouts and seems to heft new personal bests each time he sets foot in a gym. Who says you stop gaining beyond 35? Art’s name is all over the current record book and he’s never failed to win the outstanding master award at any of our national meets. Seeing the agile oldster deftly upend a 300-pound barbell, twist and stoop to shoulder it then easily squat in the complicated Steinborn lift, or perform his mind-boggling 1,800-pound hip lift would convince anyone that Art drinks gallons daily from the fountain of youth.

Strength Through Variety (Part 1)

(Webmasters comment: The following is part of an interesting article written by All-Rounder John McKean several years ago. John has won many All-Round National and World Championships in his weight class, and has written articles for Muscular Development, Hardgainer, Strength and Health, Ironman, Powerlifting USA, and MILO)

by John McKean

John McKean demonstrating the Pullover and Push with a thick handle, old style barbell. The Pullover and Push was done by old time strongmen before the days of the Bench Press.

Competition can certainly bring out the beast in you. An almost fanatical drive to excel, improve, and outdo the other guy always yields an unmatched training intensity. Yet even the most diehard lifter occasionally finds himself bored stiff with the same old squat, bench press, snatch or jerk, workout after workout. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to find the incentive to add this competitive fire to shoot for maximum poundages on a lot of movements rather than just a few? How would you like the challenge offered by a huge variety of exercises which can instill tremendous total body power?

Well . . . welcome to the wonderful world of all-round weightlifting.

Simply put, all-round weightlifting consists of almost anything but the powerlifts or two Olympic lifts. In our IAWA (International All-Round Weightlifting Association) meets we perform many recognizable events such as dumbell and barbell presses, strict and cheat curls, hack lifts, leg presses, pullovers, weighted situps, etc. Also contested are forerunners of modern weightlifting which include one-arm snatches, one-arm clean and jerks, push presses, continental cleans and snatches, and jerks behind the neck. Early powerlifting forms are represented by the straddle lift, lying pullover and push, front squat, stiff-legged deadlift, and Steinborn maneuver. And a few ultra-heavy harness events, favored by old-time professional strongmen, are employed via the hip lift, hand and thigh, and back lift.

Lest any potential all-round trainee be intimidated by this awesome variety, let me be quick to explain that never are our listed 150-plus lifts all included in one contest. Generally, for a major contest, 8-10 of the more popular lifts are done over two days. For instance, the 1992 US National meet held in Boston, Massachusetts, featured the neck lift, Jefferson, continental snatch, press behind neck, pullover and push, Zercher, Steinborn, hip lift, hand and thigh, and one-hand deadlift. Local meets usually offer 3-5 movements or are “record days” where a competitor can select his own choice of lifts for record purposes. A few times, however, zealous promoters have posted lists of 15-20 lifts for grueling two-day affairs – believe me, a total body-numbing experience.