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BendtheBar 03-07-2010 11:12 AM

John Grimek Training Quotes
These quotes are taken from several sources, including:

John Grimek: Insightful Look & Interview with Bodybuilder John Grimek

One of the blogs was taken down. I reprinted the post from a Google cache.

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John Carroll Grimek (1910-1988) always enjoyed exercise. All exercise. He loved variety, always explaining he trained in "1001 ways" and recommended frequent changes in schedules, sets and reps and indeed exercise, just so long as one stuck to basics. Most of all John loved squats, an exercise many most certainly dislike, and many actually hate, or at least try to avoid, seeking easier variations of legwork.

Even when he did not feel like training he would squat. He squatted all his life, right from the early days of the old Milo Barbell Company, and Mark Berry and Physical Training Illustrated books in which Grimek was featured in fine exercise pictures. Through the years of Hoffman's Strength and Health, his own Muscular Development magazine into "retirement," still squatting heavy even in his late 70s (years of age).

Grimek is the only man ever to win the AAU Mr. America title more than once. His wins in 1940 and 1941 were so overwhelming that contest organizers from then on implemented the single-victory rule.

He represented the United States as a weightlifter at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, proving he had strength and well as muscle. In 1948, at 38 years of age, Grimek beat the young sensation Steve Reeves at the NABBA Mr. Universe in London.

A year later, in his last contest, the AAU Mr. USA, he beat Reeves again - as well as Clarence Ross, George Eiferman and Armand Tanny - and retired from bodybuilding competition undefeated.

Grimek performed a 400-pound deadlift cold with no warmups, 600 pounds after warming up. His max squat was 700 pounds, bent press 300 pounds, overhead press 364 pounds and bench press 480 pounds.

Grimek alternated routines regularly. Here is one of them:

Overhead Press
Bench Press
Bent Press
Leg Raises

Notes: Train consistently 2-3 days per week and add weight to the bar whenever possible and get lots of rest, eat good food and drink plenty of water.

Understand that to be successful in any weight training program - hard work is a must! Half-hearted effort does nothing for you. If you're new to weight training or grossly out of shape, consult a physician first. End of disclaimer.

I never stuck to a set system of exercises for months or years. No! I did everything that I could possibly think of that would be instrumental in causing some reaction in a muscular way. If I thought I needed more chest development, then I would concentrate or do a little more, put a little more effort in chest work. Particularly I would do a lot of squatting, so I'd be huffing and puffing, and then instead of sitting around until caught my breath, I would quickly lie down on a bench and do what you'd call pullovers, or lying lateral raises, trying to supplement that oxygen that was required and expand the rib cage. If I thought my arms needed some extra work, then I would finish off my regular workout by concentrating more on the exercises relative to the arms-using heavier weights and maybe not doing 10, 12, 15 repetitions with some of 'em but just three or four with maximum resistance. And that's why it was never the same thing every day. Even if I would do the same exercises sometimes, each day I would do them slightly different. Maybe I would be on an incline, then maybe on a decline-if I were doing the pullovers or the lying lateral raises for the rib cage and the shoulders and so forth. But that would expand my rib box to the point where it got so big, it was almost too large for my frame.

I remember I had some suits made in Chicago by this tailor who had been recommended to me. Then two years later I went back to him and he took my measurements again land told me my chest was four inches or something larger than it was the last time. I said, "What are you talking about? I haven't been doing anything different than what I normally do." And he said, "No, look!" So he took out my old chart from the time I'd visited him about two years earlier, and my chest then was about 46 1/2 to 47. Now it was around 50. And he said, "You don't look like you've gotten fatter or anything. So I don't know what it is." I said, "Well, I guess I must be expanding my rib cage." That's how I learned my training was working.

At the 1949 Mr. USA I was about 59 1/2" and weighed about 218. My waist was always small. It never went over 30 inches, and usually it was 28 1/2 to 29. Even when I was coming back from Berlin in 1936, where I had bulked up to about 237 because I was competing in the Heavyweight class, when I really should have been in the Light Heavyweight class, my waist was still only about 301/2. My arms were about 19 1/2, my thigh measurement was 29 1/2, and my calves at one time got up to 20 1/2, although they were usually 19 or 19 1/2. My neck was anywhere from 18 1/2 to 20, depending on my weight. I'm large boned; my ankle bones and my wrists are relatively heavy My wrists used to measure a little over 8 1/4 to 8 1/2. Now they're down to about eight, I guess. And my ankles measured about 14 or something-very big. But my knees were small, which would give you a better shape to your leg in a sense. As it is, I always thought my leg mass was too large, and for years I tried to trim my legs down by doing excess-repetition squats. I'd do so many squats-like hundreds of repetitions in a workout- just so I could overwork them, and in that way reduce my thighs. But whether I overworked them, underworked them-and I tried both-it never happened.

On how his training changed after he stopped competing in weightlifting:

I guess I just started planning or figuring out what is the most effective exercise or exercises I could do that did the job for me. In other words, what I wanted, these exercises would do for me and in half of the time that I was doing it in the past. And after a while I just didn't give a damn whether I weighed 500 pounds or 120 pounds, see? That's the attitude I took. And it worked wonderfully for me. I never put on weight unless I wanted to put on weight. Then I would increase my food intake. But otherwise I could eat all the darn ice cream and all the cream puffs you could give me, and it wouldn't have any effect on me; my weight would remain the same, and my muscularity would remain the same.

On his typical workout pattern in the mid-to-late '40s:

I'd usually train about five days a week and sometimes six. How long? Sometimes when I felt ambitious and I wanted to do more, it would take four to five hours. Normally it would not last more than two hours at the most. I trained everything in every workout-I didn't do what they call split workouts and train legs and arms one day, back and other stuff the next day. No, the only way I ever isolated a group of muscles was when I was finished with my routine for the day and I still thought I needed more for my back or chest or legs or whatever. Then I threw in an additional two to three exercises and much heavier-you know, trying to maximize the thing. And that was it. What is called split training wasn't used then, although I had read somewhere that Hackenschmidt was using a method where he would isolate certain groups on certain days or else put more emphasis on a specific part while training the entire body on a given day. But I never had a yen for that. I was making progress all over, so there was no need for a concentration on a certain area. And I never found that training the whole body in each workout was too tiring. In fact, when I got through, I was feeling a helluva lot better and more ambitious and energetic than I did when I started.

On his use of the training technique now known as pyramiding:

I would take a weight that was well within my ability and do a higher number of repetitions with it. If I was working the legs, for example, I would start off with about 225 pounds and do about 20 to 22 repetitions-the highest I think I would go up to would be 28 repetitions consecutively. Then I would do some chest exercise, then put on another 90 pounds and do another 15 or 18 repetitions. After doing the chest exercise again, I would add still more weight, maybe 35 pounds on each side. So I would keep on building the weight up and dropping the repetitions slightly. The next set would be about 12 repetitions, and then the next set would be about nine or eight repetitions, with the weight gradually getting higher and higher. Eventually I would work up to 600 and some pounds. I remember with 645 I did two or three reps, and then I knew I was coming to my maximum. The next time I squatted, I would take on maybe five or 10 pounds more and do maybe one with it. If I could do three with a weight, I would increase the weight and do a single repetition the next time I did the exercise.

And that applied to whatever area I was training-my arms, my chest. Any exercise I did, I would begin with a medium weight and then just keep on building it up and cutting down my repetitions. But when it was all done, there would be enough repetitions to equal, say, somebody doing four sets of 10 to 12. So there would be ample repetitions, and at the same time the resistance would climb so that it would be almost the maximum at the end. That way I was achieving both ends. Whereas everyone worked the opposite way. They started out with a heavy weight, did a couple of repetitions, then as they reduced the weight they would do more repetitions.

On his penchant for variety and flexibility in his training:

Instead of always taking an exercise and repeating it in sets four, five, six times, I often preferred, if I was working the arms, for example, to do five, six or seven exercises that were different. I felt that there were some deep-seated muscles that needed an extra jolt. And the only way to get that jolt was to either exercise it from another angle and see if you could make it function as fully as the other part of that muscle was working. And that's what I always tried to do. I did a lot of exercises for the same part of the body. And it worked! At least it felt like it was working. That's why, when people ask me how I trained, I can't think back right now and say, "Oh, yeah, that was the one exercise I did which promoted everything." No, I cannot say that, because I did a variety of movements even for the same part of the body. And I would also do what I felt like doing on that day That's the thing. If I felt I needed additional repetitions or additional exercises, I did it. But if I felt, "Oh, the hell with it! I've had enough of that," I would quit! See, there was no sense of a routine that was stringent in any way, something that I felt I had to do. The hell with it! I did what I wanted. If I started an exercise, and I found that I didn't like it or need it that day, I just bypassed it. In the beginning, of course, I followed a more formal system of training, like the kind you would get when you ordered a set of weights from a company like the Mb Barbell Company.

On why he felt competed to blaze new trails in training:

How are you going to get beyond [a sticking point] if you're doing the same thing over and over again? You have to try a new approach. Of course, as you gain more experience, you have better control of what you're doing, and you're able to come up with something that your body is in need of. It's all right to change your training by listening to your body if you can interpret that in such a way to know what you're doing. A lot of younger people just think, 'Hell, I'm gonna change my routine," but they don't know why they're changing it. They may simply be bored with the exercises they're doing right then, but that isn't the real answer. It's just a diversion. When you're sincere about doing it in such a way that you promote muscle growth or whatever you want to call it, that's the basis on which you should change it. Otherwise it's just a diversion. When you make a change, you should know that the new exercises you'll be doing will be reacting upon your system more effectively and you'll be getting the results that you are trying to get.

On his attention to strict exercise form:

Whatever I did in my training, I tried to do it as completely and strictly as possible. I never did much cheating exercise, like swinging the weights up and getting extra muscles to help me get the weight up instead of concentrating on that particular muscle and doing the exercise as it should be done, getting everything into the muscle from the exercise and the effort I was putting forth. And, again, it worked!

BendtheBar 03-07-2010 11:14 AM

Quote from Get Big about Grimek in his 70's and 80's:


In his 70s, Jan witnessed, two times per week, almost every week for many years, John do "below parallel squats" 185x20-30, to begin the session, and then work up to 405x10 and he did this into his 80s.

BendtheBar 03-07-2010 11:23 AM

Dr. Ken Leistner on John Grimek

The posts re: John Grimek, who was so much "functionally stronger" than the overwhelming majority of those in the Iron Game today and who in person, into his fifties, was so strong and wonderfully built, truly bothered me. I wanted to clarify some statements I had made in print re: John and clear the air for those on this board. I just got off the phone with Jan Dellinger. Jan has held numerous positions at and for York Barbell and has been with them since 1976. Few in this world are more open and honest, just as Grimek was. Here is what I was told: Lee James, an excellent O lifter and member of one of our Olympic teams, felt his c&j lagged relative to the other lifts. He also knew that if his squat went up, so did his c&j. Thus, he asked Grimek how much John could squat, full to the floor deep knee bends, in his prime. John said he never tried to work up more than the weight that "gave (him) a good workout" and he would first (note this pleae) do a set of 25 full reps, add 90 pounds and do another 20 reps or so, then another warmup set of 15 reps or so, etc. He would do approximately 48-62 reps prior to his "top set(s)" and he told Lee he did 565x5. In his 70s, Jan witnessed, two times per week, almost every week for many years, John do "below parallel squats" 185x20-30, to begin the session, and then work up to 405x10 and he did this into his 80s. This was also witnessed at least one or two times by Bill Pearl and anyone who watched John in the York gym. He did these always, in his street shoes, and at most a single ply typical O lifting type belt if he used a belt at all. He would then go into the stairstep rack that every reader of Strength & Health has seen a thousand times, and work up to 850, and walk out to the last step with it and do partial squats ("at least 8" deep") to the age of 71 or 72. "He was never shakey and this is much more difficult than just standing in a rack and doing it" noted Jan. He said that John was always in complete control of the weight. He would do 5-7 reps with the latter being the usual. If he was off, it would be 5 reps "and he never busted a gut doing any of this." In his later 70s he only went up to 750 in that manner but still would lead off with the 405x10. After not squatting for two years or so he attended Leo Stern's show in Calif and when George Turner went to squat, John asked to work in. He had just used a bike at home but worked to "full squats, very deep according to George" to 385x8-10 and he was close to 80 at the time. On the Universal machine, Jan said John would put the seat as far up as it would go and then do the entire stack for 15-20 reps with one leg only, then the other. He did this for a few years when he didn't feel like squatting. At age 82 he had his first hip replacement and then fell over a cement parking block/stop three weeks after recovery and had the other hip done and that was that. This is straight from Jan who watched John from the age of 65 on up and who was a coworker so if you don't believe it, take it up with him but so many new guys just don't have any idea how strong the old timers really were. As Jan said, "John never pushed to see how strong he really was or how strong he could be". Sorry for such a long post.
Dr. Ken

glwanabe 03-07-2010 11:25 AM

Something that I've been doing that I don't include in my workout log is high rep warmup sets with 135. I'll do anywhere from 15-20 reps as a good warmup. Then jump up to either 185 or 205 for the first starter sets.

Good to see that JG did that as well.

BendtheBar 03-07-2010 04:41 PM

Reading about him squat more in his 70's than I do now grounded me.

CallmeKing 03-07-2010 05:02 PM

Inspirtation right there. That man is a freak.

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