Paul Anderson Bio, Gallery and More
Paul Anderson Bio, Gallery and More
Paul Edward Anderson (October 17, 1932 - August 15, 1994) was a weightlifter, strongman, and professional powerlifter.
Anderson was born in Toccoa, Georgia, United States of America.
As a teenager, Anderson began his early weight training on his own within his family's backyard at Toccoa, Georgia in order to increase his size and strength so that he would be able to play on the Toccoa High School football team, where Anderson earned a position as first-team blocking back.
Anderson later attended Furman University for one year on a football scholarship, before moving to Elizabethton, Tennessee with his parents and it was there in Elizabethton where Anderson first met weightlifter Bob Peoples, who would greatly influence Anderson in squat training and introduce Anderson around weightlifting circles.
In 1955, at the height of the Cold War, Anderson, as winner of the USA National Amateur Athletic Union Weightlifting Championship, traveled to the Soviet Union, where weightlifting was a popular sport, for an international weightlifting competition. In a newsreel of the event shown in the United States the narrator, Bud Palmer, commented as follows: "Then, up to the bar stepped a great ball of a man, Paul Anderson." And paraphrasing Palmer "The Russians snickered as Anderson gripped the bar which was set at 402.5 pounds, an unheard of lift. But their snickers quickly changed to awe and all out cheers as up went the bar and Anderson lifted the heaviest weight overhead of any human in history." Prior to Anderson's lift, the Russian champion, Medvedev, had matched the Olympic record of the time with a 330.5 pound press. Anderson then did a 402.5 pound press. During the 1955 World Championships in Munich, Germany that October, Anderson also broke two other world records (for the press - 407.7 pounds - and total weight cleared - 1129.5 pounds) as he easily won the competition in his weight class to become world champion. Upon his return to the USA, he was received by then vice-president Richard Nixon, who thanked him for being such a wonderful goodwill ambassador.
In 1956 he won a gold medal in a long, tough duel in the Melbourne, Australia Olympic Games as a weightlifter in the super-heavyweight class (while suffering from a 104 degree fever). Paul was tied with Argentine Humberto Selvetti in the amount of weight lifted, but because Anderson weighing 137.9 kilograms, was lighter than Selvetti, who weighed 143.5 kilograms, Anderson was awarded the medal.
Anderson turned professional after the 1956 Summer Olympics at a fairly early age and many of his feats of strength, while generally credible, were not done under rigorous enough conditions to be 'official'. Nevertheless, he was at one time listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for a backlift of 6270 pounds.
Anderson could not compete in the 1960 Olympics because he had been ruled a professional for accepting money for some of his weight lifting and strength exhibitions. In the 1960 Olympics the Russian heavyweight Yury Vlasov beat Paul Anderson's records set at the 1956 Olympics. A short time later, not to be outdone by the Russian and to verify his position as World's Strongest Man, Anderson lifted the same weight as the Russian three times in quick succession demonstrating unbelievable strength.
In 1959, Paul Anderson married Glenda Garland. The couple, devout Christians, founded the Paul Anderson Youth Home, a home for troubled youth in Vidalia, Georgia in 1961, which was supported by Paul's speaking engagements and strength exhibitions. They had one child, Paula, born in 1966.
In the late 1970's, Anderson became a hero to a small boy going to school in the Evansville, Indiana area, by breaking a brick as well as stopping bank robbers.
As a child, Anderson suffered from Bright's Disease, a kidney disorder, and eventually died from kidney disease. He weighed between 350-375 lb and was only 5 feet 11 inches (1.80 m) tall (some sources say 5' 10" or even 5' 8").
Paul Anderson's true life testimony can be heard as a dramatization through "Unshackled!" radio ministries on program number 2521 "Unshackled!" has produced a comic booklet telling the story of Paul Anderson in addition to his radio dramatization.
* Clean and press: 185.5 kg in 1955-10-16, on Munchen;
* Snatch: 145.0 kg in 1955, on Munchen;
* Clean and jerk: 196.5 kg in 1955-04-26, on Cleveland;
* Total: 512.5 kg (clean and press + snatch + clean and jerk), in 1955-10-16, on Munchen.
* Standard clean and press: 402.5 lb (182.6 kg);
* One arm overhead press: 300 lb (140 kg);
* Parallel squat: 1,202 lb (545 kg), two reps;
* Backlift: 6270 lbs (2844 kg), (weight raised slightly off tressles);
* Bench press (Raw): 627 lb (284 kg).
* Anderson, Paul (with Jerry B. Jenkins). The World's Strongest Man Victor Books, Wheaton, IL. 1975 ISBN 0-88207-651-5
* Strossen, Randal J. Paul Anderson: The Mightiest Minister Ironmind Enterprises, Inc., Nevada City, CA 1999 ISBN 0-926888-08-0
A Paul Anderson Training Routine
Having zoomed from obscurity to the very topmost rung of fame in the strength world during just two years of weight lifting, Paul Anderson is probably the most amazing strength phenomenon ever to appear on the scene. Now just 21 years of age, Anderson's 1,065 total, made officially November 7, 1953, eclipsed the mark it took no less a strength great than John Davis to establish in a dozen years of world supremacy. The "Dixie Derrick's" amazing body power as measured by his squat record - now at 820 pounds! - surpassed that of the great Canadian champion, Doug Hepburn, who trained more than three times the number of years Anderson has been lifting to reach a record of 665 pounds.
While there are some authorities who still consider Hepburn a stronger man than Anderson, such competent judges of manpower as Bob Hoffman and Johnny Terpak are convinced that Anderson holds a decided edge. It is easy to see how a man thinking superficially would rank Hepburn first. A letter from a Doug Hepburn fan, suggesting a comparison of the two strength giants, illustrates this thinking by the feats mentioned. They are as follows:
1.) Clean without dip or split.
2.) Press from shoulders
3.) Jerk without split, from shoulders.
4.) Squat with pause at bottom.
5.) Dead lift.
6.) Dumbbell clean and press.
7.) Bench press with two-second pause.
8.) Crucifix with dumbbells.
9.) One arm military press.
10.) Hold out in front with barbell.
If such a contest could be arranged, of course, it would probably be wise to simplify the list in order to allow each man to make the best possible showing. The list should also be simplified to avoid duplication and this duplication is where the Hepburn supporters make their error in judgment. It cannot be denied that the more-experienced and older man, Hepburn, holds an edge in shoulder and arm strength, as evidenced by his pressing power. Pressing , however,and all the various forms of hold-outs, test comparatively small muscle groups whereas Anderson' superiority lies in the strength of the big muscles of the body and legs. Perhaps a better test of all-around strength, and certainly a much simpler one, would be:
1.) Clean and press.
2.) Clean or continental and jerk.
3.) Bench press.
5.) Dead lift.
6.) Dumbbell clean and press.
This second list would still include four press and jerk lifts as opposed to two sheer body power (and grip, in the case of the dead lift) events, so it should not be too great a hardship on the "world's strongest man" to shoulder the weights he lifts without assistance.
Anderson's early training was primarily on the squat, at which he was stronger than the average advanced lifter to begin with. During the past year, however, he has made the squat a secondary exercise to practice on the three lifts and allied pulling exercises. This has resulted in his establishing the highest total on the three lifts ever recorded.
During recent months, squatting has been an "off day" exercise, practiced Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays when his regular training days are Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. On these off days he has often done three sets of two repetition squats with 780 pounds! This is more than 100 pounds ahead of what anyone else has been able to get up with once. As an indication of the incredible strength and recuperative abilities Anderson possesses, this very heavy squatting does not seem to have any unfavorable effect on his regular heavy training.
A sample training schedule is as follows:
Monday, Wednesday and Friday
Press - 320 pounds - sets of two repetitions.
Dumbbell Press - pair of 135s - sets of three repetitions.
Press Behind Neck.
Snatch - singles, working up from 225 to 300 or 310.
Clean - singles, working up to 400 pounds.
Dead lift - 690 pounds - two sets of three reps.
High pulls (to waist) - 500 pounds - four sets of three.
The presses are usually done just two sets, but occasionally Anderson extends himself further. While training in the York Barbell Club gym prior to setting his record total, he had his first opportunity to work with a good pair of heavy dumbbells. Pleased with the new "toy" - a pair of 135s - he pressed them seven sets of three. He alternated the dumbbell lifts with sets of two rep presses using an extra wide grip and ultra strict style with 305 pounds on a barbell. He uses a pair of hooks to aid his grip when practicing heavy repetition pulls to the waist and dead lifts. He also uses a bounce for the repetitions. During this workout with tremendously heavy poundages, as might be expected, he rests from 10 to 15 minutes between sets and as much as an hour between exercises.
Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday
Squat - 780 pounds - one to three sets of two reps.
Other exercises Anderson uses occasionally for variety are quarter squats and bench presses. For quarter squats he uses a ponderous 1800-pound barbell, tying on all kinds of "junk" in addition to huge home-made plates. His poorest lift, and one in which he seems unable to find the same groove twice, is the bench press. In this exercise he has "only" done three sets of two repetitions with 410 pounds.
By Osmo Kiiha
Paul Anderson -- Lifting's Living Legend -- came on the scene in the very early fifties. He completely stunned the world with his colossal lifting ability.
Paul Anderson was born on October 17, 1932, in Toccoa, Georgia. As a boy, Paul was always much stronger than the other boys in his age group. He loved rough and tumble sports. In high school he put the shot and threw the discus, in addition to playing football one season for Furman University in South Carolina. Despite the excellent showing he made on the gridiron, he quit school because the school did not feed him enough. Actually, Paul got his first taste of weight training in high school but had been admonished by his football coach to leave them alone.
January 1952 marked a turning point in the career of Paul Anderson. He was fortunate enough to be presented with a barbell set that had been used by his brother-in-law, Julius Johnson, a former lifter.
Paul's first training session saw him making three reps in the squat with 315 pounds. By the end of January, Paul was using 400 pounds in the squat. Training all day, every other day, he worked in sets of two repetitions. Other days he worked on the bench press and a few other arm exercises. His best bench press during this time period was 325 pounds. His bedroom served as his training quarters.
Paul met Bob Peoples for the first time during the summer of 1952. Bob was the finest deadlifter of his time, with an official effort of 725 pounds at 189 bodyweight. The first workout Anderson took in Bob's cellar gym, he squatted 550 pounds for two reps. Bob and Paul then discussed training ideas and devised a routine of heavy supporting work. After about a month of this program, Paul accomplished a perfect squat with over 600 pounds. This was the beginning of a firm friendship between the 42-year-old Peoples and 19-year-old Anderson. By the end of the summer, Paul was able to squat with 635 pounds.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Quote from a letter written by Paul Anderson, April 16, 1992:
"John, one thing I would like to make clear, and I do not mean to hurt anyone's feelings in saying this, is that I NEVER had a coach in weightlifting. On occasions I have talked to Bob Peoples when I lived in his area. Our conversations usually had to do with innovations, which we worked out together. This is the nearest thing to coaching or fellowship I ever had in lifting, which was really a blessing. If I had someone instructing me, I would have never decided that the top priority for a weightlifter was to be strong. This is why I first took up the power lifts and then drifted into the three Olympic lifts."
Learning of the State Olympic Lifting Championships to be held in December of 1952 at Fry Institute in Chattanooga, Paul decided to do a little overhead work. With less than a month of practice on the Olympic lifts, Paul easily broke all the state lifting records in the heavyweight class. And also for good measure he broke Doug Hepburn's squat record by 30-1/2 pounds with an excellent effort of 660-1/2 pounds.
Bob Peoples stated that Anderson's style in the squat was very good and that he went clear down to the bottom -- quite unlike some of the other big men, who went down only part of the way.
After the contest, Paul again changed his routine. He now worked out three times a week, but the workouts lasted all day. He concentrated on basic power lifts such as deadlifts, squats, push presses from the rack, and bench presses. By March of 1953, Paul's deadlift was closely approaching 600 pounds. He had push pressed from the shoulders and held for the count 360 pounds. With no specialization on the bench press he made 370 pounds in good style.
Point of Interest
During the Korean war, Paul received his call to the Armed Forces but was rejected. On what grounds? They couldn't find a shirt large enough to fit his 22-1/2 inch neck.
By April 1953, his routine was again revised to include more emphasis on the Olympic lifts. By October 1953, it looked like this:
Monday, Wednesday, Friday:
Press - 320 pounds - many sets of two repetitions.
Dumbbell press - Pair of 135s up to seven sets of three reps.
Press behind neck - To pump up the shoulder area.
Snatch - Singles, working up from 225 to 300 pounds.
Squat clean - Singles up to 400 pounds.
Deadlift - 690 pounds, 2x3.
High pulls (to waist) - 500 pounds, 4x3.
Paul used straps or hooks on his heavy poundages. He rested 10 to 15 minutes between sets, and as much as an hour between exercises.
Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday:
Full squats up to 780 pounds for 3x2.
Other exercises Anderson sometimes used for variety were quarter squats (on leg days) and bench presses (on regular training days). For quarter squats he used up to 1800 pounds.
His poorest lift at this point, and one in which he seemed unable to find the same groove twice, was the bench press. In this exercise, he did three sets of two reps with 410 pounds. With just two years of weight training, Paul had zoomed from obscurity to the very topmost rung of fame in the strength world.
November 7, 1953: Paul officially makes a three-lift Olympic total of 1065, exceeding the 1063 total John Davis made at the 1951 Pan American Games in 1951. Up to this point, Anderson's best lifts were press 355, snatch 319-1/2, and clean & jerk 411. He also made a 700-pound deadlift using a reverse grip.
Anderson totally destroyed the squat record on January 2, 1954, with 820 pounds. It seems like Paul was on top of the world when tragedy struck. In January 1954, he broke his left wrist at a contest. For the next three months, Paul spent a lot of time doing squats and built a special hook for his left hand in order to keep his pulls up. By May 1954, his wrist had healed well enough for him to win the Junior Nationals.
Just before the 1954 World Championships, he was in an automobile accident in which his hip was badly bruised and several ribs were cracked, preventing him from trying out for the International Team. By December 1954, Paul was back on a roll. He won the All Dixie Championships with a 1070 total and pressed a new American record with 364 pounds.
As we coast into 1955, Paul was still using his converted bedroom gym at 912 East Tugalo Street in Toccoa, Georgia. In addition, once a week he made a trip to Karo Whitfield's gym in Atlanta. By then, his workout routines had changed somewhat. Paul believes and always did believe in heavy exercises with few repetitions. He didn't believe in trying his limit in the Olympic lifts too often but spent his training time and energy in heavy exercise such as squats, deadlifts, bench presses, rack presses, and heavy supporting lifts. He is convinced that the constant use of extremely heavy resistance in training is the key to success in competition in the Olympic lifts, in which relatively light weights are used.
In 1955 Paul was training six days a weak, using the light and heavy system.
A typical Anderson workout usually required three to four hours to complete.
Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday
Full squat - 600 - 2x10
825 - 2 reps
845 - 2 reps
900 - 2 reps
Half squats - 1200 - 2 reps
Quarter squats - 1800 - 2 reps
Deadlift - 650 - 4x6-8 reps
Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Press off rack, 300 - 6 reps
400 - 2 reps
390 - 2 reps
370 - 2 reps
Press outs, 500 pounds, several sets of 4 reps from about the sticking point in the press to overhead.
Press from shoulders to top of head - 500, 4 reps.
Push press off rack - 450, 3 reps.
Bench press - 400 to 450, sets of 6-8 reps.
Handstand presses against wall.
About a week before any important contest, Paul usually tested himself on the three Olympic lifts. This was done mainly to see what weights should be called for in the meet. A fact that will surprise many lifters is that Paul always used less weight in a meet than he knew he could do in order to perform each lift in good style. Some of Paul's best training lifts in 1955 were clean and press, 440; snatch, 340; clean, 470; push press off rack, 480.
Paul was unusually fortunate to have a family that was cooperative and sympathetic with his superhuman aspirations. The unbelievable rapid progress that Paul has made since 1952 would have been impossible apart from his relative freedom from the work and worry that beset most mortals.
Paul turned professional in 1957 and went on to a career as a professional strong man. It is important to note that Paul Anderson left the amateur ranks well before he achieved his maximum potential in lifting weights in any way, shape, or form. It is impossible to predict the lifts he would have made, given this day and age of specialization, had he continued to excel in the three Olympic lifts.
At this point I would like to clean up many inaccurate stories that have been published about my lifting greater or smaller weights than I have. I try to constantly tell others that I claim no powerlifting records. Everyone knows that I have lifted tremendous weights in all of the lifts, but they are not recorded in the Amateur Athletic Union record book, so I do not consider them official. I do not want any of my past lifting to overshadow the ambitions of young athletes, but if they can be used as an inspiration, that would be wonderful.
I have also thought about just putting out a booklet (it would probably turn into a book) on my personal training and what I lifted from one time to another. I often hesitate about answering questions concerning my lifting or writing them down in a way that I am describing here. The reason for this hesitation is that I do not ever want anyone to think that I was a "gym lifter." It is true that I did my greatest lifting before small crowds and in my training sessions. This was not my planning but came about due to several circumstances. One was that Bob Hoffman asked me not to do any lifts that would raise the records so high that I could not break them. At that time he was planning on doing more worldwide trips, and he convinced me that if I broke the record by only two to three pounds each time, our publicity would grow with the traveling and record- breaking performances. I am not saying this in a derogatory manner, because he was exactly right. Unfortunately, a situation arose where I had to make a quick decision, and in making it I lost my amateur standing. By doing this, I eliminated the future traveling and world record- breaking that Bob had in mind.
Another reason why I did not demonstrate my strength more publicly was my commitment to the state of Georgia. You would not believe the restrictions that were placed on amateur athletes in my day and time. It was quite difficult to justify one's expenses to a meet, and the amateur athlete union very carefully watched over these arrangements. There was no way that I could go from one place to another with the compensation set by the system at that point in time. I also had a difficult time supporting myself and having time to train. To overcome this difficulty, I took a job as education director at the Georgia Game and Fish Department. This called for a great deal of traveling and speaking throughout the state. Many times I would have to drive all night to get home to train the next day. Because of this obligation I did not attend many weight lifting meets in the United States during my amateur career.
I have personally cleaned and jerked over 500 pounds after I had been declared a professional. One must realize at this time that I lost my amateur standing at the age of twenty-three, and I believe I reached my peak at about thirty-two. Once again, I cannot claim this as an official record. To set the record straight, I have Olympic pressed around 565 from the rack.
The only witness to this was Doug Hepburn, who had come down to California to visit me. I was training there while I was making a movie. As I have said earlier, some of my lifts could be exaggerated, and on the other hand I have read about some of my deadlifting and bench pressing that were under the poundages that I hoisted in my prime.
The 627-pound bench press is a little slight of what I've actually done. I could only pinpoint this particular lift when asked about it. If I am not mistaken, I did this either on Muscle Beach or with a group from the beach that gathered at my residence in Los Angeles. One time I had a bench press fixed so that the racks were about like we use today, but the basic weight was made up of two large wheels. Probably you have seen the same type larger wheels that I used on my squat bar. These did not represent a tremendous amount of poundage, but they were for safety's sake. As in the squat, when I would let the bench press all the way down, it would be only an inch or so from the floor. If I could not raise the poundage back up, I just allowed it to roll up my chest a very short distance until it was resting on the floor and I could safely move from under it. When I had this safety device rigged, I did some tremendous poundages in the bench press and would be a little afraid to quote any exact poundages now, because this was in about 1958.
My best squat was a little over 1200 pounds. The 1160 pounds that I lifted were silver dollars, and the cases they were in were accurately weighed. This seemed to be a little easier than a regular barbell, since the weights were suspended down and there was nothing on top of the bar. Possibly this gave me a little more leverage, and I had no trouble doing the act three times a day.
The best push press that I have done is in the neighborhood of 600 pounds. I cannot remember exactly what it was because we had some automobile flywheels on the bar along with regulation weights. I am sorry that I cannot remember exactly what these weighed.
Please do not misinterpret my lack of boldness in giving you figures that I cannot swear to. I am not being evasive but just attempting to be as honest as possible.
One last thought is twofold. First, I somehow feel that I become a little melancholy when I do not see the split style in lifting any more. Second, I recognize Louis Cyr as a tremendously strong man in the history of our sport; but, without being boastful, I believe that I was more athletic. People were always amazed that I could run a hundred yards in just a little over eleven seconds and leap flatfooted from the floor onto a three-foot high table. I'm not saying that Cyr was incapable of doing these things, but I never heard about him demonstrating them in his act.
Paul Anderson Video
Diet and Nutrition by Paul Anderson
Diet and Nutrition
by Paul Anderson
I have experimented with high protein foods throughout the years, and developed several varieties that I use along with others that are documented here. I have received some fine results from various protein foods mixed with citrus acid and other ingredients, which seem to work quite well.
When I left the hospital at the age of five and a half, my doctors instructed my parents concerning my diet. This was a very rigid schedule on which I was to convalesce. Since the disease that put me under the doctors’ care had to do with a kidney ailment, this diet was quite strict but lacked a great deal of protein. Because my disease had been almost unto death – and I firmly believe only prayers saved my life – my parents were very zealous to see that I followed the doctors’ instructions.
Weeks and even months went by without any real improvements in my weakened condition. Fruit juices, starches, and other foods greatly lacking in high quality proteins, although they have a place in our diet, were just not getting the job done.
Very few mothers can long endure their children’s plea for food, especially when no progress is being made with the near starvation diet in which I was participating. Soon she gave in to my pleas and started preparing me foods rich in protein such as poultry, eggs, fish, and some high protein grain cereals. Almost immediately I could feel these foods taking hold of my weakened body, and filling it with much-needed strength. Unlike the predictions of the doctors concerning such a diet, my body started getting stronger and stronger and my vital organs also began to pick up the endurance and strength that they needed to carry on my body function.
Throughout my elementary school years and even in junior high, I was a little behind some of the other boys in size and strength, due to my near-fatal illness. All of this time I was gaining on basically high protein foods. I ate many raw eggs, which gave me much strength, and I personally feel that eggs are quite good for this, in spite of the cholesterol jag we seem to be on.
As my high school days rolled around, I became very interested in athletics, and by that time I was actually larger than most my age, and quite a bit stronger. I was certainly destined to be a good athlete, and I feel this was because of my high protein diet, which saved me from being the proverbial ninety-seven pound weakling.
On many occasions I can remember, instead of taking my extra spending money and buying sweets, I would buy various types of canned fish that my body seemed to constantly crave. Most of my attention in high school turned toward eating meat (beef and lamb) that was cooked quite rare. Heretofore I had always preferred meat that was well done, even to the point of almost being charred. This is actually the way my family had always prepared meat dishes, and my taste naturally developed in this way. I found that not only did the meat taste better rare, but it seemed to digest faster and give me more strength.
In college, I first started lifting weights and I even put more emphasis on my diet after I began to do this weight training. As weeks passed I took my weight training more seriously, and certainly my diet. It seems that even though the college dining table offered a variety of good foods, these foods were a little dead as far as nutrition was concerned. Certainly the meat and vegetables were cooked too thoroughly for the body to break down the digestible protein and vitamin content. I felt if I was going to really be a competitive weightlifter I must choose my own diet and have a proper gym to train in, so I gave up weightlifting for a career in weight training.
On returning to my home with the reluctant consent of my parents to allow me to postpone my college career for a while, I was able to study nutrition and develop my eating habits along even more productive lines. I knew basically that I needed a great quantity of protein to build and repair the muscle tissue I was tearing down with the heavy lifting. It made sense to me that the more protein my body could assimilate, the greater progress I could make in my quest for weightlifting championships.
Although throughout my high school and college years I was a very large and active athlete, I never had a tremendous appetite. This was somewhat of a handicap, since I needed to eat more digestible protein to enable my heavy training program to be successful. As I examined the situation, I came to the conclusion that even though I could not eat a great deal of solid foods, I always consumed large quantities of liquids. Much of my diet had been made up of milk, from which I received much good digestible protein. Throughout my junior high and high school years, I had sometimes consumed three to four quarts of milk per day. Now part of the task before me was to figure out a way to put protein in drinkable form.
My first pursuit of a higher protein diet, in a liquid form, was to go back on the raw eggs and sweet milk. By beating them up in a blender, I could drink about a dozen eggs at a time, which would give me much extra protein along with the milk. I found that this once again enhanced my ability to gain weight and to build strong healthy muscle tissue, after it had been torn down earlier in my workouts.
It doesn’t take very long for anyone to get a little fed up on just one diet. Naturally the same routine day after day of raw eggs, even though it was taken along with an otherwise well-balanced diet, made me grow to the point where I grossly disliked milk with raw eggs.
Now I had gone as far as my heretofore education of diet had allowed me, so I had to learn other protein foods that I could mix in liquid form. At this time the various soybean supplements had not been presented on most markets, and even those who were quite experienced in nutrition and so-called proper diets were just now beginning to realize that the strength athlete needed something more than just a diet made up of regular high protein foods. I read somewhere that soybean powder was very good for protein deficiency, and it was being shipped overseas for starving people in various parts of the world. I thought surely if this was good for someone with a gross lack of protein, it would be extra nourishing for a person that needed more protein because of his strenuous exercise. Finally I was able to buy some soybean meal. This product was quite course in comparison with the finely crushed powder we know in protein supplements today. Although it was in this crude form, I was able to grind it a bit finer by beating it in a milk solution for along period of time with the aid of a blender. I could immediately tell the difference in my diet and thought actually that two protein supplements I had tried thus far, both being good, should be combined in some way, which would give me the better quantities of both. I started varying my diet, making ice cream and milk shakes with the soybean meal, raw eggs, milk, and varying the type of flavor used. Even better results were obtained from this particular procedure.
My search went on for more protein foods that could be used in a concentrated form and taken in liquids. One day I was reading the label on a plain gelatin product, and saw that they advertised it to be very high in protein. I thought this would be something to try, so I started putting it into orange juice, stirring it up briskly and drinking it. I used this along with the diet of milk, raw eggs, and soybeans. Now there was a greater vitality in my life, and certainly a marked difference in my training. I varied the gelatin products, many being on the market, and started buying it in a bulk form. Now I started to learn that both animal and vegetable proteins were better when they were used together.
The value of using animal and vegetable protein in a blend proved itself more as time went by. I kept up my search for new types of protein supplement, and one day, being in a small Georgia town, went by a peanut mill. I asked them what they did with the byproduct of the peanut oil for which they were famous. They said it was turned into cattle feed and was much sought after because of its high protein quality. I’d always been a lover of peanuts prepared in various ways, and was sure that if I could find some of this byproduct in an edible form it would be profitable in my training. This was accomplished and with the help of my Dad, we set up a tiny electrical mill to pulverize the caked dry mass that was left after the peanut oil was extracted. I mixed this with my soybean meal, and used it as a permanent part of my diet.
There is no doubt in my mind that the secret to success in any sport is diet along with rest and exercise, and of course the proper mental attitude. As I grew in size and my lifting progressed to world record breaking performances, I knew that one secret to my success was the ability to train more than anyone else. I could actually train on the same lift every day by furnishing the body with enough digestible protein to allow the muscle tissue to rebuild quite rapidly. The more I learned of nutrition the faster my strength increased, and the more I was able to train. I also learned that my body needed all types of protein, but it could develop better on the animal variety. Not that I had any desire to omit the valuable protein coming from vegetables, but I felt that I should pursue other forms of animal protein.
I remember that during the time I started really making progress in my convalescence, from the illness as a small boy, my mother not only gave me meat, milk, fish and eggs prepared in various ways, but she also prepared various strength-building soups for me. This soup was usually made of some canned variety in which she added a liquid that she squeezed with a hand press from ground beef. She would put the beef on the stove in a large pan and add some water. As this started to get hot she would allow it to simmer for about a minute, actually just long enough for it to get hot, and then pour it through a lemon-squeezing press, that would extract all of the fluid. She would pour this fluid into the soup and serve it to me in that manner. Thinking of this, I decided I would add this type of strength-builder to my then fortified protein diet, and every morning for breakfast this is what I would have to start my strenuous day. With these great quantities of protein, I found that my body was growing a little stale, and even though I ate many green vegetables and salads, and tried to have what I would call a well-balanced diet of various vegetables both cooked and raw. Occasionally I would drink soft drinks during my training and noticed when I did this I could perform much better, and my digestive cycle would work much faster. This proved to me that I needed a great deal more sugar. It seemed that the more protein I took, the more sugar I needed to help digest the protein, and also give me quick energy. I turned to the greatest sugar supply I could find, which was honey. I soon found that much of the honey that could be bought in grocery stores did not do me as much good as honey direct from the beehive, bought from a farmer. It was my personal belief that much of the honey that was on the market had been heated in a pasteurizing process and had lost some of its quick digesting qualities.
Some days I would consume even a half pint of honey, when I was working out strenuously and carrying on my tremendous traveling schedule.
Now having learned of my body’s need for extra sugar, to go along with the great amounts of protein I was taking in, I even did better with my training and actual performances.
Naturally, my performances of breaking world records, winning championships, and even the Olympic games proved that my ideas on protein food are successful along with my training, rest, and mental attitudes.
I think, basically, the main thing that an athlete needs to become great is the will. Naturally, everyone has different potentials, but the person who will endure almost any discomfort to achieve his ultimate potential is the one who is going to achieve championship caliber. I know this previous statement is an obvious one that will be sanctioned by all those who read it. But I especially want to speak at this time of diet. Many of the foods I eventually included in my diet, foods that have proven their valuable qualities, are quite distasteful to the average person. I’ve had people look at some of the things that I was eating, especially after I told them the contents, who would turn up their noses and say, “I would not eat anything like that!” My answer has always been, “It depends on how much you want to progress!”
I guess the first distasteful food I started to use was the extract from raw beef. I have always been very careful about the beef I chose for such a dish, since I was eating it without any type of cooking. The procedure here is to take good ground beef, of the lean variety and put it in one of the better centrifugal force extractors. This will extract most of the liquid, which looks mostly like blood. I usually add a little salt to this liquid, and drink it. Considering all the liquid supplements I have used, this is one of the greatest. This meat extract can be disguised by drinking it in tomato juice, or adding some type of meat sauce to it to change the flavor. I expanded this through the years, and not only used beef but all types raw seafood. With a diet of all the protein supplements that I have mentioned, and also using the raw beef extracts and raw seafood, whether liquefied of used in a solid form, I found that I could put in some eighteen hours a day in my traveling and speaking engagements, plus carry on a workout routine.
I have experimented with many other typed of extra protein foods. Some I can half-heartedly recommend. Some I condemn completely. I tried one time to drink pure beef blood. This food that many of the old-time strongmen used is quite hard to secure, but I found one meatpacking house that would furnish it for me. Especially in this procedure, one has to have a person that he can trust to secure the blood, and of course to secure it in a sanitary manner, and then be quite discreet in what type animal the blood is taken from. To keep the blood from coagulating I found that a little citric acid mixed with water, previously placed in the container would do the trick.
Concerning this diet of beef blood, I never found it as rewarding, in a strength-building sense, as the beef extracts. I believe that from the extracts not only blood is obtained, but also other fluids and meat tissue that are also valuable.
Along with all of these foods that I recommend, I have always used a vitamin-mineral supplement, and on most occasions taken large quantities of cold-pressed wheat germ oil.
Naturally each individual has to feel out his own personal needs, which are basically the same in all of us. All of the protein supplements that I have spoken about here should not be taken all at one time, but should be alternated, first using one and then the other. Some of them may not wholly agree with all people, but as I have said, we are all basically the same and have the same needs. I cannot say exactly that all I have done to gain my strength, through diet, will be good for everyone, but I am telling you what has been the key to my personal success.
Many of the foods that I nave named will come as no revelation to many, but I believe that most will agree my pioneering in the world of diet has suggested many thoughts and ideas concerning body-building foods.
I have purposely not dealt in technical terms in presenting these foods to you. I feel my readers will be of many different origins and various educational backgrounds, so I have written these things in plain layman’s language.
Diet cannot do it alone. There are many qualities that make up the champion, or just the person who wants to live a full and vibrant life and get the most use out of what God has given him. Certainly all will agree, the type of fuel we put into the wonderful machines we call bodies is what determines the efficiency of their operation.
Squat Training by Paul Anderson
First, we must be as comfortable in all lifts and especially the deep knee bend. There are so many different sizes and shapes of people with so many different makeups that it is hard to say what is just right for everyone. Basically, we are going to have to do a deep knee bend in a manner that puts the weight squarely on the thigh muscles, which means keeping a straight back. Any time that we lean forward on the recovery of a deep knee bend more than just to keep our balance, we are distorting the lifting and in turn not doing it properly. To add to this we are cheating ourselves out of much strength that could be placed in the legs by putting it off on other muscle groups. Considering all of this let’s try to do a deep knee bend with a straight back and go down into the low position, rising again in the same way.
To accomplish having a straight back squat, some lifters must of course raise their heels so that they will not be in a strain in this position. The bar placed across the shoulders and back of the neck is never going to be the most comfortable thing going, so in practicing, a pad should be used and only the “limit tries’ should be done with a bare bar. I feel that sometime in the future the bar for a contest will have to be larger than our regular 1 1/6 inch bars, because these are going to be quite dangerous with 900 plus pounds.
Try to squat naturally. By this, I mean to try to make it a natural movement. Judge your foot spacing and heel height to what feels good to you. Don’t try to get in an unnatural position just to handle more weight. In the long run this is going to work down on your poundage instead of build it up as you may temporarily think.
The rules say that the top of the thigh must be parallel to the floor to make for a full squat. Many have cheated themselves by just shooting for this parallel position and stopping before they go all the way down. I make this statement because I think much power can be built in a real low position to help drive all the way up through the sticking point. The only reason I would tell a lifter not to go all the way to the bottom in a full squat is if it gave him tremendous back pains and soreness. I am not talking about just temporary soreness, but a chronic ailment in this area. If a temporary soreness occurs just from stretching the body into the deep knee bend position, and then goes away after a few other workouts I will stick to my original recommendation. Go all the way down.
The first routine I am going to recommend will be scoffed at by some and overlooked by others as they seek a more intricate exercise session, but I urge you to include this in your workout whether you are a beginner or veteran lifter. I think that through the years I have overcome more stale periods by doing 3 sets of 10’s than any other remedy for overwork with heavier weights and various assistance exercises. Considering this I will ask you to do a routine of 3 sets of 10 reps after a warmup. As always, judge your own resting period between sets. If you are not in condition to do 3 sets of 10, you may start off with one set and work up to three. I say this because not only is this a good routine to overcome a feeling of staleness but it is good for coming back after a layoff, as well as for the beginner. It gets you into the “groove” as well as builds size and strength.
This second routine is going to sound elementary because I am going to ask you to go from the 3 sets of 10 to 3 sets of 3’s. A greater warmup will be necessary because I want you to do 3 sets of 3 with the weight you feel is appropriate and will work you properly. The 3 sets of 3’s will take some of the size and expansion that has been put into the muscle from your 3 sets of 10’s and will add some real strength to your squatting power. You will have to be very careful on your sets of 3’s that you do not go stale, for so many times you will find this happening after gaining strength from the movements when doing them for several workouts. I am writing from experience and not theory. These squatting routines can be used at any time, but I am bringing you straight through them at least once, because I want you to approach the last one in good condition. Like all the other routines, you may later use them at your pleasure but at first; follow them in the order offered.
There comes a time in any squatting routine when progress slows down unless a quarter squatting system is brought in. I realize that many of you have done all variations of the squat, but after doing the 3 sets of 3’s, I recommend bringing the quarter squat into you routine in this manner. Warm up, do a set of 10’s in the full squat, and then a set of 5 reps in the quarter squat. These two movements will constitute a set and at this point in your workouts as I have recommended, you should be able to do at least three sets consisting of these two movements.
One of the key words in quarter squatting is safety. Handling a weight that you can only raise about four to six inches can be quite dangerous if safety precautions are not taken. This can be handled in many ways and here are a few that I have used.
The first is the use of a power rack as we have grown to know it in the past few years. This consists of two upright supports on each side with the bar travelling in between. At graduated intervals, a pin is put through the uprights on which to rest the weight. This is a safe way of performing the movement. That is, raising the weight off of the pin from the quarter squat position up into an upright stance. Another I have used, which is also foolproof as far as falling with the weight of pushing the weight off of the stands, is to actually weld legs onto a bar. Two widely spaced legs on each side secured permanently to the bar, allowing the weights to be put on either end is one of the most desired methods. Of course, it has to be made just for the height of the one person using it. Picture it as being something like a modified version of a carpenter’s sawhorse. I have found that using a quarter squat bar and racks is most ideal. It consists of two heavy squat racks with a permanent loop ever each end so that the bar cannot get out. The racks are equipped with automobile bumper jacks so that they can be raised and lowered to the desired position. I realize that others are using these, but I believe that I had them in operation several years before I saw anyone else employing the idea.
By no means try to do the quarter squat under conditions where the bar is free, for it will surely invite accidents, sometimes very serious ones.
In this routine we will keep the quarter squat and arrange it in a position that I feel is most advantageous in an advanced program. First do 10 reps in the full squat after a proper warmup. Then 3 quarter squats with a weight that is adequate for that amount of reps. Next, do three full squats with a weight that works you quite well, and then round out the set with one-legged squats.
One legged squats can be performed in many ways with many degrees of results. I personally have found the best way to accomplish these is to do them by standing with the leg to be worked on a bench or low table that will allow the athlete to go down into a full knee bend position on the one leg and rise again without the other leg touching the floor. To better explain, the leg not in use is to hang off the end of the bench or table as the exercise is being performed. Do as many of these as possible, working up to about 20 reps. If balance is a problem, there is no harm in placing a hand or finger against the wall or a near object to keep balance, just as long as it is not used to help the lift itself.
Again, three sets of this routine are preferred. A set consists of 10 squats, 3 quarter squats, 3 full squats, and as many one-legged squats as possible, working up to about 20.
At this time I would like for you to consider an exercise that I have found to be quite productive along with my squatting routines, and I have read that some of the European lifters have discovered that jumping movements have also been good for them. This is exactly what I am talking about: jumping. When our weightlifting team was traveling for the State Department in 1955, I remember I would get some real strange looks and sometimes many questions when I would go leaping around the warmup room or stadium grounds in what we would call jump-squat movements. In performing this, I would go all the way down into a full squat position and leap forward and as high as possible. By exerting as much leaping power as possible, much strain is put on the muscles, and in turn, the groups being exercised are stimulated and strengthened just as though a slower movement was being done with weights.
As years have gone by I have found that the best way to perform this type movement is to leap up on a table. Just like different poundages are handled by different lifters, a different height table is required for those with various abilities to leap flat-footed with a single leap landing flat-footed on the table. Make sure that the object that you are leaping up on is fixed so that it cannot slide when it is receiving your total weight. Do these leaping movements in sets of 10’s. Leap onto the table, descend to the floor, and leap again until ten have been accomplished. I believe that you will find this a new and strange sensation in your regular work at this point, making for a different stimulation to the muscles and continuing them on their way to personal records in the squat for you. To incorporate the jumps into a set, do 10 going down about halfway into a squatting position for your leaps, 5 in the regular deep knee bend, and 5 in the quarter squat. These three movements will constitute a set. Work up to 3 sets.
If, as time goes by, your leaping power increases, surely it is wise to make your table a little higher to compensate for your new explosive power.
This sixth routine I will give you is a real killer. I have waited until last because you must be in tremendous condition to do this particular routine. It has to do with the theory of lowering a heavy weight with as much resistance as possible. I will first describe how I like to do the exercise, and then talk about the “whys.”
A set is as follows: warm up and do one set of 10’s with a weight that works you, then with two strong spotters and the bar loaded to a heavier weight than your natural squat, or more than you can do in one rep in the natural deep knee bend, have the spotters help you lift the bar from the rack and assist you as you step back into the squatting position. Variations of this can be worked out on a power rack by removing the pins when the bar is brought up and then the spotters help to force the weight down. Or other safety devices can be used such as parallel bars at the squat position, weights large enough to hit the floor when the athlete can’t get back up, etc. The latter is the reason that I have used the large wheels for my deep knee bends in training for years. Many people have been impresses with these tremendous wheels that weight about 400 pounds apiece. But the real purpose of them has been to just touch the floor if I have added more weight than I can get up with. This helps as a safety factor such as the others I have named, and allows me to use a heavy weight, heavier than I can return to upright with, in safety.
Practice with lighter weights before going to something that will actually do the work.
To continue with our instructions on actually performing the lift: as the spotters back up with the lifter, they should help him get in position and then, when ready, the lifter should start down himself naturally in the lift. Many lifters would have ten times strength enough to hold all the poundage the spotters could place on the bar, if the knees were not voluntary broken. After the knees are slightly bent and the bar is being brought down, the spotters are in control of how much downward pressure, or weight, they are putting on the bar as they have their hands in a position where they can either lift up or push down. If this weight is adequate to work the higher position in the squat, which is not as necessary as the sticking point in low position, the spotters will have to be quite careful that they allow the bar to slow down as the sticking point and lower positions are reached. Of course, working the high side of the squat is not as important since we are doing so many quarter squats. The main thing we want to consider is the sticking point and low position as the lifter fights the weight, when the spotters are pressing it down. When the bottom is reached, the lifter should try to drive up from the low position 3 times. Coming up as high into the sticking point as he possibly can, and fighting it, and going down to the bottom and attempting it two more times. After this, the spotters can pull the weight back up to standing position, and they will probably have to handle most of this weight, because the lifter is going to be pretty well exhausted after his 3 attempts on the bottom. Pushing him down two more times with each bottom position being a foundation for the three upper tries again, these spotters should then help the lifter up for the last time and carefully place the bar back on the racks.
As I have said, power racks are very good for this movement to be performed in, since the lifter doesn’t have to take a step backward or forward from the racks before doing his lifts. In performing a set of this particular routine, which consists of 10 repetitions in the deep knee bend, and the 3 downward movements with each containing 3 attempts to rise before the spotters help the lifter up, the athlete to decide exactly how to modify the routine for his particular use. If, at the start, one force down knee bend with the lifter fighting as hard as possible against the spotters and then doing the three upward attempts at the bottom before being lifted up again exhaust him, he should call it a day without doing the other two repetitions. Anyway, how many repetitions you choose to do in the down position is up to you, but I would recommend working up to 3 even though you cannot do but one set consisting of the 10 deep knee bends and the 3 force down movements. 3 sets should be the limit.
Although I am not claiming that this routine is new with me, I feel that I have done more experimenting with it than anyone else, and in turn have written more about it than any other instructor. My personal name for it is Progressive Movement Training. This is the only time I am going to ask you to deviate from my rule of thumb of always doing the actual movement, because I feel with all the reps you have been doing in the deep knee bend you are pretty well in the groove and will not get out of the groove in the time that you spend on the Progressive Movement squatting routine.
The real trick to it is repetition variation as well as lengthening the movement. The idea of doing this in the squat is to start off with a quarter squat lift in a power rack, or a squat rack with some type of guards running up each side to keep the weight from falling out in case of a loss of balance.
By starting off in a quarter squat, you should use a weight about 100 pounds more than your best full squat. I realize this is a very light weight in comparison to what you can quarter squat with, but this is part of the plan. I recommend doing about 20 to 25 repetitions in the quarter squatting movement with the particular weight that fits your ability, performing 2 sets. The 20 to 25 repetitions will constitute a set. I want you to do this every day. After doing the two sets you are going to feel, especially in the beginning, that you are not accomplishing very much and you will not get very tired. Every three days, lower the bar or raise the body, which will come out to the same results, about three inches. When lowering the bar three inches, knock off 3 reps. Continue the 2 sets of 17 to 22 reps, according to what you started with, for three days, ten raise the body or lower the stands again some three inches, knocking off 3 repetitions per set. Continue doing this until you have worked just as far down as you possibly can into a full squatting position. Always start the lift in the bottom position. After you have worked down just as far as possible, cutting your repetitions all the way down to 2, rest about two or three days and then try your limit in the squat. I believe that you will find that you have gained quite a bit of strength during this drawn out Progressive Movement routine. You can do your upper body and back exercises as usual, if you feel you can perform all of them.
Much of your recovery ability and your strength progression is up to you as an individual. I am giving you routines that I feel are the ultimate in power building, and many of them quite unique. Much thought and experimentation have gone into these, but one thing I have learned through experimenting with other athletes and on myself is that each and every one is an individual. You must learn to judge your repetitions, and especially your sets according to your personal ability and responsiveness to the exercises themselves.
Another tip on doing this routine is to use one-inch sheets of plywood for the height graduation. If you will cut these one-inch sheets of plywood just square enough for your stance in the squat allowing safe foot room on each side, you can stack them up as you lengthen the movement. I have given some ideas on squat racks for this including the power rack’s use, but you may even go so far as I have in the movement, if finances will allow. I use the heavy quarter squat racks with bumper jacks built in and I can just raise and lower them at will. If you cannot afford to build such equipment, or if at this time you do not wish to, either power racks or squat racks with extra guards built up on each side will work out more than adequately for the exercise.
I have suggested in the squatting routine that you build on the program of using the routines in sequence, but if you happen to be a very advanced lifter and would like to choose them at random, that is also up to you.
Training for the Deadlift by Paul Anderson
I have spent much time and thought on the deadlift, and the main reason is that I am the world’s poorest deadlifter. I believe at the date of this publication I have actually raised more poundage in the lift than anyone else, but in comparison to some of my other lifts I am rather ashamed of what I have done. Ashamed possibly is not the word to use, because I have a tremendously bad leverage for the lift, as most large-bodied people do. The ideal deadlifter is as person with long limbs and a short body, but no matter how we look at it, we are usually favored or discriminated against in one of the three powerlifts, no matter how we are built. This usually evens it all out and makes it relatively fair for everyone. The point I am making is that if you are rather poor in a lift, you do more thinking on it, and consequently come up with better ideas and training methods.
I must also give credit for some of my knowledge in the deadlift to Bob Peoples. Bob lifted back in the day when powerlifting was not a recognized sport, and was quite alone. At 181 pounds or actually less, he raised 725 pounds. Considering everything I know about Bob Peoples and his training conditions, I must say that he is surely the greatest deadlifter that I have ever known.
To dwell just a moment on philosophy and my friend Bob Peoples, let me say that he has always been one of the greatest thinkers in the weightlifting world. Because of this, I was able to learn various things about the deadlift that would seldom come to most athletes because of my close association with Bob.
From the instructions and philosophy so far, you can see that I am always very sensitive and aware of a lifter’s position and procedure in carrying out a lift. I have called the correct manner in each athlete performing the desired movement the “groove,” and that is exactly what we are discussing: the particular manner in which each individual finds it easiest to make the lift, always considering, of course, performing in a legal manner.
I have observed lifters who looked like they made all their attempts in one motion. To better explain this, personally I have found that whether I am pressing, bench pressing, squatting, etc., I seem to have to change gears as the bar travels through its particular cycles. On the other hand, I have seen fellows who rammed a press to arm’s length or stood straight up with a deadlift in almost a sudden gesture, without any evidence of this changing of gears, which could very well mean the changing of the direction of the bar as it traveled to arm’s length, upright position, or as you would stand to finish position in the squat. These thoughts may seem trivial, but every individual must learn himself and know how he is performing the lift. Working out in front of a mirror, or better still, seeing a film or videotape of one’s performances can be of great help in finding out just how the bar is traveling, and deciding whether or not this is the proper manner in which you should perform.
These suggestions concerning the groove are important, and this is one of the reasons I have recommended repetitions in some of the lifts as we went through other routines. Doing the higher repetitions not only helps pump a great deal of blood into the muscles, which is part of strengthening them, but also gets you accustomed to allowing the bar along strongest route. Also this is why I say that a lift should be practiced along with assistance exercises to strengthen the particular lift. Coordinate the strength that you are building, while keeping the lift in the groove.
Before going into our first routine for the deadlift, let’s consider the fact that we are going to be doing some variations of the deadlift, and in doing so, we well be performing repetitions. Doing repetitions with a bar loaded heavy enough to work the lower back and other muscle groups used in performing the deadlift makes for one big problem. This difficulty is the tenderness of the human hands, resulting in blisters, calluses, torn skin, etc. The hand is naturally going to get tough as it is called on to do any particular work that puts a strain on the surface, but the soreness that results from each workout, as the lifter holds onto a bar for repetitions usually cannot be overcome by the next workout. This means that the entire muscle groups worked by the deadlift and its variations are going to be at the mercy of the condition of the lifter’s hands.
There is an answer to this and it is not original with me, although I have worked out some variations as the years have gone by. The first answer I saw to this problem was developed by Bob Peoples and as I have said, I will be mentioning him a great deal in this article. He had made two hooks to perform repetition deadlifts with and fastened them on his wrist by wrapping the upper ends with cloth tapes about 2 ½ inches wide. In this same manner, many have used straps to help secure the bar while performing repetitions, but I really believe that the hooks are the best idea. When straps are used, the hands still take a pretty good beating, while they can be far more relaxed when hooks are applied.
Also before going into the routines let’s think about the manner in which the bar is to be gripped. Many reading these instructions will already have their minds made up and through personal experience know exactly how they would like to grip the bar whether it be concerning the width of hand spacing or manner of holding the bar in the hands. The vast majority of deadlifters I seen use the reverse grip, securing the bar by hooking the thumbs. The main thing I would like to point out here is that if you use a reverse grip on your heavy singles when attempting a record lift, please also use that same reverse grip when using hooks of straps to do the repetitions. I think much has been lost in the past by lifters who have chosen to go to a straight overhand grip when using these aids in holding the bar, and found that even if they did not recognize it at the time, they were a little handicapped with their reverse grip on the heavy single. I say handicapped referring only to the fact that they were not using the power that they had developed 100% from repetitions. The simple reason is that the bar was not in the groove, because of a change of grip.
To once again put the burden on the individual, allow me to instruct you to lift without the aid of hooks or straps enough so that the hands will be tough and strong when doing heavy singles. This must be left up to you and your own judgment. The aids in gripping are just to allow the back and other muscle groups to be properly worked to gain your ultimate in deadlifting strength.
After warming up, the first routine is very simple. Do 8 repetitions in the regular deadlift, lowering the bar all the way to the floor and stopping each time for a new start. Follow with 8 repetitions in the stiff-legged deadlift, with the bar just touching the floor and no hesitation each time. 8 reps will be the most I will give in deadlifts because breathing is a little difficult while performing the movement. With the bar hanging at arm’s length and all the weight extending from the shoulders, the rib cage is cramped. A set of 8 reps in the regular deadlift and 8 in the stiff-legged.
It is almost imperative to have three bars loaded for this particular routine, or at least have helpers to make some fast changes if enough weights and bars are not available.
The routine consists of three different lifts and each set should be done in a relatively short period of time. First, after a warmup, do 5 repetitions in the regular deadlift. As soon as recovered do 5 repetitions in the “top side” of the deadlift, by raising a bar some four to five inches off parallel racks, boxes, or any other apparatus that you would like to use in raising the bar to a position so that there is only about four or five inches left when lifting the bar to a finish position. The weight used on this should be something that works the body well for the 5 reps, and your starting stance should be in the same position that it would have been if the bar had not been brought from the floor to this point. In other words, I do not want you to get in a real advantage position to handle more weight in this top side lift, other than the position you world ordinarily have been in had you lifted the bar from the floor. The weight you can handle in this “finish out” should be quite a bit more than in your regular deadlift.
Next, continuing to handle more weight than the regular deadlift, do 5 repetitions with a bar originating on the floor, and the body in the original starting position for the deadlift. The bar should be loaded to a point so that it can only be raised about four inches from the floor.
The two assistance exercises here are naturally to give a good “finish out” and “starting pull” for the dead lift. Many lifters will find that they are extremely strong in one or the other of these positions, but very few will find that they can handle a great deal more weight than their regular lift in both.
No matter what the poundage that can be handled for the five repetitions either in the top or bottom position of the deadlift, load the bar to what you can handle with a good exertion of strength. Work up to 3 sets in this routine with the regular, the top side and the starting position movement constituting one set. Five repetitions in each, then repeat the three movements. This is a routine that you may want to come back to occasionally, for it is a very good one. Other routines in the various lifts may work so well that they become favorites and you will want to repeat them every few weeks or months, but also remember that if a routine does not produce now, it very well could later. So try them again.
For an assistance exercise on this particular routine let’s use the good morning exercise. I realize that there are several things that will pop up as objections to the good morning lift, but let’s do it in a little different manner than usual.
The first time I tried good mornings as a strengthening lift for my lower back, I was very satisfied. I started out with a weight that I considered to be ridiculously light, for I wanted to do some high repetitions and also knew that sometimes discomfort resulted from a heavy bar resting in this position. I did this lift just as strictly as I thought was possible for quite a while and certainly did receive great results from it. The results I am speaking of came basically from my pulling power in the regular deadlift and also the clean and snatch.
Overly delighted with this particular assistance exercise, I continued doing it and even found I was getting much, much stronger in it, but then my progress in the lifts that I was actually performing this assistance exercise in order to increase stopped advancing. My first reaction was to consider what was wrong and give it some serious thought. I was not going stale because I was getting stronger in the good morning, so there must be something else wrong. On real close examination, I found that even though I was continuing to perform the lift with stiff knees, and bending the trunk of the body at least into a parallel position to the floor before rising again, there was indeed something different. I had, without knowing or planning it, learned to cheat on the movement. I was counterbalancing the lift by extending my hips backward, which accounted for lifting more weight with less of the desired results. Because of this experience, I developed a good way to do the good morning exercise, producing tremendous results.
Make a wide belt that can be pulled up just above the knee on each thigh. This belt can be made of leather or some type of webbing, and should be about five or six inches wide. On each belt there should be a ring sewn in, or attached in some way just about midway of the width. By attaching a rope, chain, etc. to each of the rings and joining it to a single rope about three feet from the rings, you will have yourself an apparatus that will help you perform good mornings in a strict manner. Attach a rope that the two original ropes or chains are fastened to on to something stable that is just a little higher than the position that the belts are in around the thighs. When taking the bar from the squat racks, have enough length on the ropes so that you may step forward into your stance for the movement and tighten the rope. (Photos – figures 29 and 30) Lean forward, do the exercise with tension being on the thigh belts. Keep a good footing so that you will not be apt to swing onto the belts and that way fall forward. To better explain, keep a great deal of weight on your feet and only use the belts as stabilizers to lean against and not swing all your weight on. This can best be done by using a very light weight for experimenting until you get it down pat.
There have been other such methods developed, such as leaning on a board and different variations on such, but to me this is the best method I have used.
Do about ten of these good mornings for part of the set in this routine. For the second portion of each set I want you to get a weight that is almost your limit in the deadlift, approaching it without hooks or straps, using your regular grip, and do one repetition. Put this weight down, stand erect, take several deep breaths, and once again do a single repetition. Continue doing this for 10 repetitions. Try to do the lift as rapidly as possible, although I do not want you to sacrifice poundage for speed in performance.
During the first few times you try these singles, work up just how many breaths it takes between each lift. This way you can gauge your performance. Also try not to leave the original stance, keeping chalk nearby so that you can just pick it up and re-chalk your grip when necessary. These lifts will not only build strength but will really put your heavy deadlift in the groove.
Summing up this routine, do ten modified good mornings, ten of the heavy singles and you will have accomplished a set. This is another one of the real killers, so be conservative on your sets, hoping to work up to three.
I would like to start this routine by saying that there is no one who cannot deadlift more flatfooted than with heels on their shoes. I say that I would like to start by making this statement, but there surely is an exception to every rule when it comes to lifting. This is because of the many body makeups and sizes of people. So, let us just say that, as a rule, there is no one who can’t lift more flatfooted than with heels. I think this can be emphasized by many of the lifters who have caught on to what some are calling “deadlifting downhill.” This expression describes those who would actually build up the front of their shoes, raising the ball of the foot higher that the heel so that when the lift is started the lifter is really pulling back and has a better leverage on the bar than if he was flatfooted or barefooted.
Now, operating under the assumption that being flatfooted is an advantage, let’s take a great disadvantage. After a proper warmup, I would like you to do a set of deadlifts with the first being in the regular form, the next four stiff-legged, and a final repetition going back down into your original regular deadlift stance and completing the lift. This is the only exercise in this routine I would like you to do, performing 4 sets.
Do not misinterpret this as elementary, for we are going to do it the hard way.
That is, with the heels elevated. I would like for you to elevate your heels just as high as possible and still be able to put weight on the entire foot. Maybe by wearing a shoe with a regular heel and putting on top of a 2 x 4, there will be enough elevation. If this does not seem enough for you, put even more under the heel so that you are really lifting uphill instead of downhill. This is going to put a unique strain on the entire deadlift movement, and should help overcome the sticking point that you personally have.
You’re going to have to use hooks or straps for this one. The “down movement” as discussed in training the squat. Prepare for the heavy down movement by doing the maximum reps in your deadlift, which we have said is eight. After the proper rest, your spotters are to give their help in bringing the heavier than you can manage weight to the finish position and, as you voluntarily start to lower it, they will push down so that in no way can you stop the bar even though you should try with all your might. Repeat this four times. A set in this routine will be 8 deadlifts, after warmup, and 4 repetitions in the down movement. If four repetitions are too much, cut them down, and even though you are working up to a hopeful 3 sets, judge this by your progress and endurance.
There are many lifting routines I can give you in every lift that is done in power lifting competition. A different combination of the routines I have instructed you in can be worked out by you as you advance and experiment on your own.
My tendency has always been to overtrain, and on occasions it has caught up with me just like it will with you. I point this out because some of the routines I have given you are quite strenuous and some of you possible cannot bear up under the full thrust of them. Even though I have said this many times throughout these instructions, play it cool, and work into them slowly.
Indeed, you will have to work hard to make progress in lifting – as in any other thing in life. You will get out of this work just about what you put in. From many of my comments you should have gathered that weightlifting takes not only hard work to be successful, but also much thinking. I challenge you to THINK! Some of your best ideas will come when things are not going well. This is why I have offered you the possibilities of rearranging the lifts that I have recommended in the routines, or even rearranging the routines themselves where I have put them in sequence. First, I would like for you to try them as I have given them to you.
Yes, there are many other exercises that I could give you, but most of them take special equipment and as a rule, they are not any better than the ones I have projected. One is the inverted stiff-legged deadlift. This takes a bench, something like an incline board but not quite as steep. The lift is done by the athlete hanging by his feet in an inverted position on this bench and pulling the bar from the starting to the finish position of the stiff-legged deadlift. The weights are attached by a cable hooked to the bar going up over the top end of the bench through a pulley. The weights themselves are, of course, suspended at the other end of the cable.
This is only an example of the many things that I have worked out through the years for special problems in lifting.
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