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Carl1174 07-16-2011 11:09 AM

Tommy Kono Appreciation Thread
How Much Training is Enough?
by Tommy Kono

The base of the isometric contraction principle is maximum contraction of a muscle or muscle group from 7 to 10 seconds. That is all that is required to stimulate the muscles to enlarge and become stronger. Arthur Jones, who developed the Nautilus machines back in the late 60's, stressed only one set of any exercise movement on his machines but performed until another repetition was not possible . . . exercise the muscle to total failure of contraction. Any more sets or reps were not necessary to achieve development.

The total opposite of the above two principles is the concept of increased volume of workload and consequently greater tonnage in your training. This, of course, means you are performing numerous repetitions of the two lifts in addition to supplemental movements that are similar in nature to the lifts considered as assistance exercises.

There are two contrasting approaches to develop stronger muscles but the first dot not involve any technique part of Olympic weightlifting. The basic principle of the original American style of training was to perform your technique work by performing repetitions with lighter weights in the Olympic lifts to ascertain the correct pattern of lifting and then quickly move to heavier weights with fewer repetitions.

The key was to perform the lighter sets to warm up the muscles and have the correct lifting pattern and then jump to heavy weights to actually tax the muscles in performing the lifts.

If you are still in the learning stage of technique work, you may spend nearly all your time in performing the light weight/repetition stage because you need to learn to lift correctly. If you are in the advanced stage, then only a few warmup sets are all you need and you can jump right into heavy weights to tax your muscles and hone your technique.

Training at a steady pace, usually half an hour of any one lift, is more than adequate time spent to get the most out of that exercise. Any more time spent and your ability to concentrate fully on the lift will diminish. In other words, you want to quit the movement before fatigue sets in and your timing and coordination become sloppy.

For instance, if you were performing the Snatch for a half an hour, you can perform some Snatch-grip High Pulls to end the Snatching session. This supplemental exercise can be performed for only 2 or 3 sets of 2 to 3 reps, depending on the weights you are handling. They are performed to augment your Snatch but not to tax your speed, timing or exacting movement of the actual lift; however, you may want to perform these pulls correctly.

The same warmup and heavy moves can be applied to the Clean & Jerk lift. Since the Clean & Jerkj is not so exacting a move as the Snatch, fewer repetitions are needed to warm up and you can proceed to heavy weights for single repetitions immediately.

Most lifters have become accustomed to tapering down on their lifts before ending. The last set of your lifts does not have to be a lighter weight than the heavy ones you were handling. There is no need to take a lighter weight for your last set of a Snatch or Clean & Jerk.

Your last exercise in your training program can be the inclusion of some type of squats. It can be Back Squats or the Front Squats but perform them correctly. If your back is not upright as your perform the squats, you are not performing them correctly. Performing heavy squats incorrectly may impress those around you but in reality you are only fooling yourself because these squats will not help your lifting. 3 to 5 sets of 3 reps performed correctly are all you need to tax your legs for this training period.

The whole workout should not exceed 2 hours and that includes a little stretching at the beginning and end of the session. If I were training alone, my session might last an hour and a half because I do not need to wait my turn on the platform, and with no training partner there is no time spent in socializing before, after or during training time.

The training program may sound simple but it will be productive, for you will be taxing yourself without being fatigued and there is enough recovery time built in if you follow it 3 or 4 times a week.

A complicated program and adding up the total volume of work is for those who believe in the European style of training. Your volume of work compared to those who train 6 to 9 times a week will not be impressive but your lifting will improve faster than theirs.

(and this can easily be adapted to all forms of lifting)

You are training to increase your Snatch and Clean & Jerk. Anything else is unimportant, so gross volume and tremendous tonnage means nothing if the Olympic lifts are not going up.


BendtheBar 07-16-2011 11:11 AM

If I Had My Way by Tommy Kono

If I had my way, the weightlifting area would be treated like a "dojo" as the martial arts students would use their area and equipment for training.

The entire area would be treated with respect from the bar to the barbell plates, from the chalk box to the platform.

The barbell bars would never have the soles of a lifter's shoe get on it to move or spin it, no more than you would place your shoes on the table top. The bumper plates would never be tossed or stepped on.

The barbell will always be loaded with double bumper plates on each side whenever possible to preserve the bar and the platform. The purpose is to distribute the load over two bumper plates instead of one with an assortment of small iron plates.

The barbell lifted would never be "thrown" down or dropped from overhead except for safety reasons. The hands will guide the bar down in a controlled manner as it is in a contest.

Anger from a failed lift will be controlled so no four-lettered words would be used.

Instead the energy for the anger will be directed for a positive result.

A good Olympic bar will never be used on a squat rack for squatting purpose. There is no need to use the good bar on the squat rack where it could ruin the knurling or cause the bar to be under undue stress, damaging the integrity of the quality of the bar that makes it straight and springy.

When a lifter finishes using the area for training, it would be left neat and clean with the barbell bars and plates properly stored.

Imagine how it would be if you did not have the gym to work out in and had to go to one of the spas, health clubs or fitness gym to practice Olympic lifting.

Imagine if you did not have a "good" Olympic bar and bumper plates for training.

Imagine if all the equipment was your very own and you had to replace it if you or someone damaged it by abuse - the money coming out of your own pocket.

Treat the Olympic barbell bars, bumper plates, platforms and any items used for training or competition with respect.

Development of a strong character begins with respect even for innate objects.

Character Building begins with Respect and Responsibility.

Wlfdg 07-16-2011 05:30 PM

Carl, Good thread!
‪Tommy Kono Photo Slideshow‬‏ - YouTube

glwanabe 07-17-2011 08:40 AM

The ABC’s of Weightlifting, Part Four
by Tommy Kono (1969)

In this installment of the ABC series the information presented is directed more toward the benefit of the squat style lifters; however, the material in this article can be useful for both bodybuilders and power lifters.

Generally speaking, a majority of the squat technicians in the Olympic lifts can pull into the shoulders more weight than they can rise with. Or, should they have the ability to stand up from the squat clean they lack the extra power in their legs to jerk the weight overhead. This is often the case despite the fact that the lifter had performed many sets of heavy squats in training.

Improper squatting technique not only wastes the lifter’s time but also gives him a false sense of power in the legs which do not really serve him well for the squat style clean & jerk. What then, constitutes good technique in the squat exercise which will aid in the Olympic lifts?

The drawings accompanying this article show three of the variations used by the lifters of which one is the better style. Note the differences in the three techniques and figure why one is better than the other two. Compare the following explanation with your own.

Detailed Explanation of the Correct and Incorrect Methods

Figure “A” shows the body in an upright position which places all the stress on the thighs in coming out of the deep squat. Figure “B” illustrates a squat with the back inclined forward which takes most of the stress off the thighs and places it on the back. “B” technique employs a larger number of muscle groups so a greater load can be handled in the squat BUT it does not improve the cleaning ability. This is the style usually employed by the power lifers to get record poundage. A renowned superheavyweight not only employs this technique but also rides the bar NOT ON HIS SHOULDERS but almost on his mid-back; that is, below the rear deltoids. He also uses an extremely wide stance which brings into play muscle groups of the inner thighs. the MORE MUSCLE GROUPS EMPLOYED AT ONE TIME THE GREATER THE WEIGHT THAT CAN BE HANDLED. But, it doesn’t mean that the cleaning ability will improve.

Why is the inclined style an inferior technique to use for the squat clean? In figures “A” and “B” imagine the bar resting on the chest instead of on the shoulders as in the squat clean and it will become more obvious. In the upright squat position it makes very little difference but in the incline technique the body is forced to become more upright to rest the bar on the chest. This means that the advantage of using the back muscles becomes less; consequently, more stress is thrown on the legs, a muscle group unaccustomed to the load since it had shared the load with the muscles of the back.

Quite some time ago two middleweights who at one time or another held the world record in the Clean & Jerk trained together. The first middleweight used to squat with 400 pounds for 5 reps in almost every workout without much difficulty while the second middleweight in his best shape had a hard time performing 3 reps with the weight once a week. Yet, when the squat exercise was performed with the BAR RESTING ON THE CHEST, the first middleweight had a rough time completing one repetition with 375 pounds while the second middleweight who had a rough time with 400 pounds in back was able to successfully make 3 reps with 375 in front. The first middleweight had kept his back flat but used to incline his body forward as he went into the squat while the second middleweight always used to perform the squat exercise almost bolt upright. Incidentally, the 2nd middleweight also had a heavier development of the muscle right above the knees (Vastus Internus) than the first middleweight because of the correct squatting position adopted.

Squatting correctly for lifting requires a certain amount of flexibility in the ankles, knees and hips. This is achieved by stretching the calf muscles and the frontal thigh muscles and an ability to flex the lumbar muscles to tilt the pelvic girdle back.

The key points to remember in performing the squats for lifting are:
(1) Try to maintain a flat back with your chest held high (lungs filled with air),
(2) Keep the upper body as upright as possible as you descend into the squat, and
(3) Attempt to bring the hip joint as close as possible to the ankle joint when you reach the bottom of the squat. This means that the knees (viewing from the sides) will have to point forward and not upward.

Some lifters go into the full squat in the correct manner but instead of rising correctly they either fall into the lean forward technique or lose their flat back and collapse into a “bow” as in figure “C” to relieve the legs of the load and throw it on the back muscles. They can do this in the regular squat but the moment the bar is shifted from behind the neck to in front of the neck as in the squat clean then the effectiveness of the squat exercise is lost. Use the lean forward or “bowed” position and eventually you develop a thick set of spinal erector muscles; especially where the bow is the greatest. Use the bow technique and you also find yourself developing a thicker waist because of the pressure created in the abdominal region and from the thickening of the lower back muscles.

When you fall into the bowed squat position your balance shifts toward the heel which in turn automatically forces the back muscles to take the bulk of the load.

In all of your squatting movements in training whether the bar is resting on your shoulders or in front of your chest, always try to squat with your upper body as upright as possible. Incline or bow your back if you have to with the extremely heavy ones but try to execute the squat exercise correctly for the greatest benefit for your clean & jerks.

glwanabe 07-17-2011 09:48 AM

The Olympic-Style Deadlift - Tommy Kono

Photo No. 1: Gary has already tensed his back flat (arched) and bent his legs to reach down to grip the bar. The arching of the lower back can become more pronounced if an effort is made to inflate your chest so your lower rib cage fans outward. It is easier to assume this tensed lower back-raised, lower rib cage position before gripping the bar then to bend over, grip the bar, and then to get the proper tension and raised chest position

Photo No. 2: Back is flat, arms straight and the chest well in front of the bar. The lower back is tensed. To help fix the back even the latissimus muscles are flexed.

Photo No. 3: Start the movement with the leg drive. Note that the back angle has not altered although the weight has left the floor.

Photo No, 4: The leg drive has lifted the bar higher but very little change has taken place in the back angle from the previous position. (The bar is slightly above the knee level position here.)

Photo No. 5: The important point in this photo is that Gary is attempting to keep the shoulders in front of the bar which automatically causes him to bring his hips closer to the bar. In other words the shoulders remain in a fixed vertical path while the hips move forward to get in line with the shoulders and not the shoulders coming back to where the hips are.

Photo No. 6: This is just before Gary brings his shoulders and hips in the same line. Note that his shoulders are still in front of the hips and he has maintained his flat back thoughout the movement. The completion is when the shoulder point is directly over the hips and the bar is across the front of the thighs. DO NOT LEAN BACKWARD AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE UPWARD MOVEMENT.

Tommy Kono Bands & Power Hooks

The Olympic-Style Deadlift
by Tommy Kono (1974)

"As a twig is bent, so grows the tree," is an old and familiar saying, and the idea behind it can well be applied to the Clean. Time and again I have seen the most experienced lifters lose attempts well within their capability simply because they started the pull incorrectly. ONCE THE LIFT IS WRONGLY INITIATED IT IS EXTREMELY DIFFICULT TO CORRECT THE ERROR AS IT PROGRESSES.

Correct technique is one of two important requisites to reach high levels in our sport. The other, or course, is power. I have always stressed that technique of the lift comes first. Once the proper form is acquired then the bulk of your program can be focused on the development of power for the two Olympic lifts. However, should you develop power first and then try to correct your lifting technique, more likely than not, when the weights become heavy on the lifts you tend to rely more on power than technique to make the lift. The result is unharnessed power -- which spells disaster.

When Stanley "The Flash" Stanczyk was at the peak of his illustrious championship form (six times world and Olympic champion) he appeared on Ed Yarick's annual "Big Show" in Oakland, California. I was an enthusiastic, wide-eyed teenager in the lightweight class destined to make my first Clean & Jerk of 300 lbs. that night while lifting along with him.

Stanczyk's best official lightheavyweight Jerk record was 363 lbs. but he was capable of cleaning 370 or more in the split style. His second pull begged description, so strong was the "whip" from the knee level. I was full of questions that evening for I wanted to know how he developed such a strong pull. In our conversation I learned that his best Squat was 420 lbs. which was not much more than my best of 410 but the information that got me thinking was his ability to Deadlift 600 lbs. which he made as a middleweight to win a wager. I learned also that he never really practiced the Deadlift movement in his regular training routine but he was naturally strong in his lumbar region from all his lifting training.

Like a mathematician, I related the Deadlift poundage to the Cleaning ability of Stanczyk. I had never incorporated the Deadlift in my training program in the past but now armed with this "secret" I intended to specialize on the movement. After six weeks of concentration on my new program I was able to perform 10 repetition Deadlifts with 400 lbs. while standing on a couple of two-inch boards. Imagine my surprise and disappointment when I failed to clean any better after all this training. My pull was strong from the floor but by the time the bar arrived at my knee level I had no pulling power to follow through on the Clean! Back to the drawing board with more research to follow.

In this "era' was a fellow who had the world record Deadlift with 725 lbs., making this lift at approximately 179 lbs. bodyweight. He had entered some Olympic lifting meets and his best Clean & Jerk was 310 lbs. No Deadlift-Clean relation here, for sure!

After much thought, speaking to others who were well versed in the Iron Game about technique and training, I realized that the normal Deadlift as it is performed was not the answer to greater pulling power for the Olympic lifts. In fact, the way the powerlifters perform their Deadlifts actually teaches the Olympic lifter to pull INCORRECTLY.

Bowing of the upper or lower back will make you handle heavier weights in picking the barbell off the floor but is severely impedes the "second pull" which begins at the knee level because you sacrifice your leverage of a stiff back necessary for the explosive straightening of the body.

In this two part article I want to cover two types of Deadlifts, and each of them is aimed primarily for Olympic-style lifters. For want of a better name I will term the first one "Olympic Style Deadlift". The second one is more or less required from the outcome of the first one and I will call it "Loosening Deadlift".

Before explaining the details of this Olympic-Style Deadlift exercise, a word of advice if you are an Olympic lifter and have never really trained on the Deadlift. It is best that you use straps even with the lightest of weight in performing this exercise. Only when you have acquired the ability to concentrate correctly on the proper technique would I recommend you use a regular grip with the light and medium weights and use the "hook grip" with the real heavy ones in training. Distraction from your concentration on the correct technique can come about very easily when you experience sore thumbs from hooking or your grip is giving from using the normal grip.

Description of the Olympic-Style Deadlift

Start Position: Approach the bar as you would for the regular Clean. Get into the proper pulling position: back flat (or even arched so your lumbar muscles are tightened), arms straight, and shoulders well in front of the bar.

Upward Movement: While maintaining a flat back (or arched which is better) and the angle of your back in relation to the floor in a fixed position, "PUSH" the floor downward with your feet. If this idea of a downward push of your feet is hard to imagine then perform the Deadlift in the usual manner but with emphasis placed on two things:

1.) Keep your back flat or arched at all times.
2.) Keep your shoulders well in front of the bar throughout the lift.

Downward Movement: In this exercise it is important that once the upright position of the body is attained the lowering of the bar is also performed in the exact reverse of the upward movement; i.e., from the upright position incline the upper body from the hips slightly forward so the shoulders are in front of the bar, and while maintaining a flat (or arched) back, lower the weight by bending your legs.

Never perform the movement hurriedly because the concentration on the correct technique would be lost. The barbell should never rest on the floor between repetitions.

Study the accompanying photos which were especially posed by Hawaii State featherweight champion Gary Kawamura who has Snatched 220 and Jerked 280 to total 500. These photos were not made with a sequence shooting camera but are a series of posed individual still photos.

Repetitions: The amount of repetitions in the Olympic-Style Deadlift should be between 3 to 5 reps. The amount or weight should be governed by what you can handle correctly for the required amount of repetitions. If you perform this movement correctly the weight you use for 3 reps shouldn't be exceeding 10-20 lbs. over your top cleaning ability. If you can handle more weight in the manner described than what is stated, then either your technique for the Clean is poor, or you are not performing the Olympic-Style Deadlift with the proper back position . . . or you have a new personal record on the Clean waiting to be made on your next "heavy day".

Sets: The total amount of sets to perform on this exercise depends a great deal on what you have already performed in your training. 3 to 5 sets is the usual number of sets performed with medium to heavy weights if it is included along with medium weight Cleans or High Pulls. More sets can be performed but only if you are concentrating on this Olympic-Style Deadlift at the conclusion of Cleans and High Pulls on that particular training day.

This exercise should be performed toward the end of your training period because it does tax and tire your lower back and legs.

The Olympic-Style Deadlift is a very simple movement and the range the bar travels is very short; however, this is a critical area and it governs the successes and failures in record attempts. This exercise has a twofold purpose:

1.) To teach the proper start for the Olympic lifts.
2.) To develop power for pull in the Olympic lifts.

When this exercise is performed correctly IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO "EXPLODE" THE WEIGHT OFF THE FLOOR!"

The Snatch-Grip Olympic-Style Deadlift is also an effective exercise to perform; however, on this lift you will be able to handle more than 20 lbs. above your record Snatch for 3 reps.

Carl1174 07-17-2011 10:08 AM

Goal Setting
by Tommy Kono

You know that a ship without a rudder will flounder around in the ocean. It can wander aimlessly forever. A commercial airplane would never leave an airport without a flight plan. It requires a destination; a time of departure and the time of arrival.

Our reason for training should be the same for we need a specific purpose and goals if we really want to show improvement. It is not enough to appear at the gym, all suited up to work up a sweat - unless you are there just to be physically active and to socialize.

Your training can be more meaningful and productive if you have a definite idea what you want to accomplish with your time at the gym. All this requires much thought before you even set foot in the gym. Having a definite objective in your training is critical if you want the time spent to be truly productive.

Let us say you want to break the Clean & Jerk record. Don't just say you want to break the C&J record. Be more specific and state the actual record weight that needs to be lifted. Where are you now in relation to that record lift you want to make? What kind of progression must you make to achieve this goal?

If your goal is to C&J 400 pounds and you are now lifting only 300, you have to find ways and means of improving 100 pounds in this one lift. You know you require good leg strength to accomplish a 400-pound Clean. If you can perform a minimum of 3 reps in the Front Squat with a weight above 400 pounds you have the possibility of succeeding in making the lift. If you can perform only 3 reps with 350, common sense will tell you that you cannot expect a 400-lb. lift. So here is where practicality comes in. You have to boost your Front Squatting ability if you want to C&J more so a t raining plan must be created that will work your legs to make them stronger.

If your best Clean is 300 pounds, you have to develop pulling power that will equate to a 400-lb. pull. It cannot be a dead lift and a shrug but a smooth, accelerating pull that can be high enough for a Clean of 400 lb.

These squatting and pulling powers will not increase overnight so this is where developing a logical training plan comes in - to gradually improve these core exercises.

If you have a definite goal in mind, by logical thinking you can break it down into sub-goals that you will eventually attain; and this will lead to the fulfillment of your wish to succeed with your grand goal of a 400-lb. Clean & Jerk.

It will take great desire, determination, dedication, plus discipline of the mind; and the body must be adapting to these heavier loads. Sacrifices will be required as well as patience for the progress. It means quality effort and time must be spent to achieve the goal. To succeed, you must have faith in your ability to carry your training and training plan to success. Progress will come in increments so you must keep hammering away with your goal always in sight. Your focus on your goal should be so great that you even dream it in your sleep. Only when you come to the point of believing in your ability to accomplish it will this goal be met.


glwanabe 07-23-2011 10:30 AM

A great squat program for natural trainers
Two Squat Programs by Tommy Kono

If you’ve never been taught the correct way to squat, you’ll find the following instructions extremely valuable. Incorrect squatting technique not only wastes your time and energy, but it also taxes the wrong muscles other than those of the legs while developing bad habits that you’ll find hard to overcome later.

During the first few weeks of learning to squat properly lifters will want to work on stretching their soleus muscles and either stretching or strengthening their iliopsoas muscles. These two groups of muscles (the former lie under the calf muscles and are activated when the knees are bent, and the latter are attached to your lumbar vertebrae and keeps your back arched when you go into your deep squat) have to be ‘re-educated’, so you achieve the correct body position when you go into the bottom position of your squats.

You must concentrate on very deliberately squatting correctly until the right squatting technique becomes natural. Do not sacrifice form for heavy weights. If you perform the squats correctly, the muscles right above the knees will be sore from the extra stretch of your quad muscles, and your calf muscles will be tender too from the stretch they get because your upper body is upright when you go into the deep squat. (See illustration)

Remember that your knees must travel in the same direction your feet are pointing.(See Illustration D)

Stand sideways to a mirror to study the profile of yourself performing the squat. Your torso should be as upright as possible with a strong back arch (chest held high). This means your knees have to flex completely for your torso to travel straight down.

Attempt to place your buttocks between your heels without your back buckling. Practice this style of squats regularly even without weights. Perform it daily at home without weights so you gradually stretch the soleus muscles and learn to keep your body upright in squatting. Remember, press down on the floor to come out of the deep squats while maintaining an upright upper body position.
This squat program is based on the premise of taxing the muscles and then giving them sufficient time to recover. This means that you cannot max out on 3 reps more than once a week in your training. There is also a way of “maxing out” which you must understand to achieve the fastest improvement.

1. No single attempts at any time. In other words, no testing yourself for a single or even doubles.

2. Once a week you push yourself for three reps.

3. No “nerving up” of employing adrenaline on your heavy day!

4. No more than eight sets on the heavy day when you push yourself.

5. No more than eight sets including your warmup sets.

6. No more than six sets on the other two days of training where lighter weights are employed.

7. Avoid “pumping” the muscles up. Try to relax the muscles completely between sets so you are “fresh” when you begin each new set. With the warmup weights you can perform the sets much faster, but when optimum weights are used, make certain you have enough rest between sets to recover.

8. Always take a deep, deep breath and hold high your chest before going into the squat. Start with your balance on your heels. As you go into your deep squat you can shift some of the pressure toward the balls of our feet but make certain you are taxing the legs and not transferring the load to your back.

9. Control your downward movement and retain only a small bounce at the bottom of your squat. Concentrate on pushing the floor down when you are coming out of your squats.

Make your leg muscles work . . . not your back.

10. All squatting movements are done with a “feel.” By that, I mean your thoughts must be in performing the movements smoothly and with deliberate concentration. You must be focused on the exact movement, whether it be a warmup weight of with heavy weights. The purpose is to work the leg muscles . . . from the hip down.

Make your legs work!

The following is an example with 170 for 3 reps being near your max effort:
Heavy Day

Light Day

60 x 3
100 x 3
125 x 3
145 x 3
145 x 3

Medium Day

80 x 5
110 x 3
140 x 3
160 x 3
160 x 3

Heavy Day

90 x 5
120 x 3
140 x 3
160 x 3
170 x 3
170 x 3
170 x 3
170 x 3

Note: *means you do not need to perform this set if you are having a difficult time performing all the sets. Stress is a necessity on the muscles but over-extending yourself can tax your recuperative power and this can affect your next workout.

Heavy/rest day/Light/rest day/Medium/two rest days

This program is designed to make your muscles work so they become strong without the nervous stimulus being called in. In other words, you are not trying to work yourself up as if you life depends on its performance or to win a bet. You are performing the reps and sets with proper weights that you can handle to stimulate development of power.

Understand that you are performing the exercise the hardest way possible and not the easiest way possible. You can always find ways and means of “cheating” to improve your squatting record but that is not the purpose of this program. You are working on the legs to gain basic power so you can transfer this power to your Clean & Jerk.

The program is a systematic, progressive method of increasing your strength over 6 toweeks. Even an increase of 2.5 kilos every other week will mean 7.5 to 10 kgs. improvement from this program period that would definitely improve your Clean & Jerk.


When this period is over, a good follow-up program would be 4 to 6 weeks of the Front Squat Program. An example of the Front Squat program follows:

Heavy Day

60 x 3
90 x 3
120 x 3
140 x 3
140 x 3
140 x 3
140 x 3

Light Day

60 x 3
90 x 3
110 x 3
120 x 3
120 x 3

Medium Day

60 x 5
90 x 3
120 x 3
130 x 3
130 x 3

Always remember, it is quality you seek and not quantity of exercises.

BendtheBar 07-23-2011 11:40 AM

Tommy Kono on weight and how it impacts totals in Olympic lifting:


The fastest increase in totals continues on the average for 8 years, following which progress slows down. How long totals will continue to grow depends on the weight class of the athlete – from 11 to 16 years. The heavier the weight class, the longer totals continue to grow.

A significant increase in bodyweight (over 6½ pounds) cuts short the growth of results in the 8th year of training, on average. The transition from one weight category to another should be accomplished at the right time (say after 6 or 7 years of regular training or earlier).

big_swede 07-23-2011 12:02 PM

Great thread C!

BendtheBar 07-26-2011 10:33 AM

Interview: Tommy Kono

During the 1950's, from the time he won his first Olympic weightlifting gold medal in 1952, Tommy Kono was invincible. He was undefeated internationally until the 1960 Olympic Games, where he took a silver medal. He set a total of 26 world records in 4 weight classes. He also excelled in physique competitions as well, winning the Mr. World contest in 1954 and Mr. Universe contests in 1955, 1957, and 1961. DF member pierini had the opportunity to interview this Olympic legend for this Discuss Fitness exclusive article. Grab a chair and get comfortable. You'll enjoy the sage fitness counsel this wise Olympian has to offer Discuss Fitness members

by Discuss Fitness member pierini

After his competitive years, Tommy Kono then turned his energies toward coaching. He was the Olympic weightlifting coach for Mexico in 1968, bringing lifters to the Games from a country that had little history in the sport of weightlifting. He then went on to coach the West German Olympic weightlifting team in 1972, and returned to the U.S.A. to coach its Olympic weightlifting team in 1976.

He is in the International Weightlifting Federation Hall of Fame, U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame and one of the 100 Golden Olympians honored at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.

Tommy Kono was born in Sacramento, California in 1930, and was a weightlifting buddy of my Dad’s until he left for Hawaii in 1955. I grew up listening to my Dad tell me countless Tommy Kono stories. {quotes align=right}To make a long story short, during an August 2007 visit to Sacramento for a surprise friendship reunion with my Dad, Tommy Kono stayed as a guest in my home, and agreed to be interviewed by me for this Discuss Fitness exclusive article{/quotes} "When Tommy Kono speaks, wise men listen!". Grab a chair and get comfortable and enjoy the sage fitness counsel this wise Olympian has to offer Discuss Fitness members.

DF: Many new members at Discuss Fitness ask questions about a beginner weight-training routine. Please provide a beginner weightlifting routine with set and rep recommendations.

TK: I have designed a workout that I call the Kono Plan for increasing overall muscle size and strength. It consists of barbell exercises that concentrate on large muscle groups of the body and on exercises that call into play many muscle groups at one time. There are 8 exercises that make up the Kono Plan. They are as follows:1) situps - 1 to 2 sets of 15 to 25 reps 2) overhead press - 2 (later 3) sets of 8 to 12 reps3) upright rowing - 2 (later 3) sets of 8 to 12 reps4) bench press - 2 (later 3) sets of 8 to 12 reps5) bent over rowing - 2 (later 3) sets of 8 to 12 reps6) squats - 2 (gradually work up to 4) sets of 8 to 12 reps7) breathing pullover - alternate with squat exercise for 12 to 15 reps8) deadlift - 2 sets of 8 to 12 repsThis program is for a 3 days a week training frequency such as Monday-Wednesday-Friday or Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday.Additional details of my Kono Plan are included in my book, "Weightlifting, Olympic Style".

DF: We recently had an interesting discussion at Discuss Fitness about how many reps and sets should be performed. What do you believe is the optimum number of sets and reps to perform for (1) strength, (2) hypertrophy, (3) general conditioning and (4) endurance.

TK: For strength, I recommend 7-10 sets of 3 reps using heavier weights and longer recovery periods. For hypertrophy, I recommend 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps, and for general conditioning, I recommend 2 sets of 8 to 12 reps. Finally, for endurance, I recommend 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps with the exercises done following a circuit format with very short recovery between circuits.

DF: What do you think of training that consists of a single set to failure for each exercise? For example, doing 20 reps of squats, picking a weight that is your 10 rep max, but taking standing rest pauses and continuing until you have completed 20 reps?

TK: I believe this is very hard and a different type of training, but the principle is a sound one. In my opinion, it is more mental training. I believe you need a training partner to successfully train this way. Personally, I have never trained this way although when I was young (about 20 years of age), I performed a 20 rep set of squats using 360 lbs. when I weighed about 154 lbs. At that time my single rep squat best was 420 lbs. Years later at a heavier bodyweight, I tried a 20 rep set of squats with the same 360 lbs. and quit after 14 reps after I told myself I wasn't going to suffer any longer.In your example of picking a weight that is your 10 rep max and completing 20 reps, that weight is not your 10 rep max because if it was, there is no way you could complete 20 reps.

DF: Should women train any differently from what you have recommended above?

TK: No, they have the same muscles.

DF: We have several members at Discuss Fitness who are competitive powerlifters. What words of training wisdom do you have for them to improve their bech press, squat and deadlift performances?

TK: I don't have a lot to offer other than to say that they should tax themselves and allow plenty of time to recover.

DF: Have you ever used kettlebells in your training? What do you think of them?

TK: I have never used kettlebells in my training, but I think they are good. I don't see them replacing barbells and dumbbells.

DF: Have you ever done just dumbbell only training? What do you think of dumbbell-only training?

TK: I have never done dumbbell-only training. I consider dumbbells to be auxiliary or supplemental to barbell training. I believe that weight training should concentrate on using the most weight possible, which you can do more with barbells than with dumbbells.

DF: How much attention do you think a weightlifter should devote to macronutrient percentages, for example, the percentages of calories consumed of carbohydrates, protein and fat?

TK: I have always favored a high-protein diet. I think carbohydrates are what make you gain or lose weight. I have never paid much attention to macronutrient percentages, instead just concentrating on maintaining a well-balanced diet.

DF: How important is meal frequency for the weightlifter/bodybuilder? What frequency did you follow during your competitive days?

TK: Your choice of food and amount eaten are very important. Meal frequency is an individual thing depending on how your body responds and your goals. Mostly ate three meals a day, evenly spaced apart. I have a small stomach and cannot eat alot at one sitting. When I wanted to gain weight, I had to eat more often. When I wanted to lose weight, I went back to three meals a day. Gaining weight was hard for me. Losing weight was easier.

DF: What are your thoughts about vitamins, protein and other supplements? What vitamins and supplements did you consume during your competitive days? What vitamins and supplements do you consume now?

TK: I am not a nutritionist, but I believe vitamins, protein and other supplements are very important because modern food processing methods do not provide reasonable assurance that you will get all essential nutrients.During my competitive days, I took a multiple vitamin, and additionally Vitamin C, Vitamin E, wheat germ oil and protein drinks.Currently, I still take a multiple vitamin, and additionally Vitamin C, Vitamin E, fish oil capsules, and a glucosomine/chondroitin combination. I don't know if the latter helps me but it sure does help my nails grow faster.

DF: How prevalent were steroids during your competitive years in America and other countries? What about now?

TK: Steroids came into existence in the early 1960s and then the word steroid was not used to describe these pills; rather they were referred to by their actual name such as Dianabol. This was during the latter part of my competitive years. There was heresay many years earlier that a Dr. Ziegler, who traveled with the American weightlifting team to Copenhagen and Vienna in 1954, claimed that he spoke to a Russian weightlifting coach who acknowledged that the Russian team was using "something" to enhance their weightlifting performance. I never attached a lot of significance to anything Dr. Ziegler said.

Now, there is random testing of weighlifters to see if they are taking any performance enhancing drugs.

DF: How important were training logs and journals to you in your training? Do you still maintain a journal?

TK: Training logs and journals were very important to me during my competitive years as I did not have a coach. My training logs and journals were very detailed. I no longer maintain a training log or journal for I am not so goal-oriented as in my competitive years.

DF: What is your current training? How many days a week do you train and what exercises do you do? Reps/sets. Free weights versus machines?

TK: At 77 years of age, I now exercise to maintain my muscles and health. I train three times a week on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for about 35 minutes each. There are seven exercises I perform for two sets of 12 reps. My first set is a lighter weight for a warmup, then I perform the second set after minimal recovery. The seven exercises that make up my current training are:1) machine leg press2) lat pulldowns3) sitting machine bench press4) machine abdominal crunches5) machine sitting lower back extensions6) sitting rear deltoid pullback using the pec deck machine7) machine overhead press.

DF: Have you ever trained using isometric contractions? What do you think of this training? Did you ever perform the exercises that were part of the Hoffman Functional Isometric Contraction System?

TK: I experimented with isometric contractions as outlined in the Bob Hoffman course but found that this way of exercising was not for me. You have to be able to give all that you have for a maximum effort and I wasn't able to do this by myself; it was just too difficult for me. I believe you can fool yourself into thinking that you are giving your maximum effort when, it fact, you are not really. Therefore, in my opinion, this training works better with a training partner who can encourage you to try harder. I personally did not and do not think much of this as a primary training method so there is no sense in me training this way if I do not believe in it.

DF: American weightlifters Bill March and Louis Riecke made phenomenal gains in their weightlifting totals in the early 1960s that Bob Hoffman attributed to his Functional Isometric Contraction System? Did this get other lifters into doing isometrics? How prevalent is this training for today's national and world-caliber Olympic lifters?

TK: Other lifters tried isometric contractions after observing the gains made by March and Riecke. I do not know how far they went with this training. I do not know how prevalent this training is today for national and world-caliber Olympic lifters.

DF: The term "busted up weightlifter syndrome" is used in the bodyweight-only training community to describe guys who are pretty banged up from their days of heavy lifting. How is your back? How are your shoulders? How are your wrists? How are your knees? What about other lifters you know from your competitive years?

TK: I have never heard of the term "busted up weightlifter syndrome". It reminds me of when people would say that if you lifted weights you would get "muscle bound". We knew that wasn't true. This term also reminds me of a humorous phrase in the old days that bodybuilders were burnt-out weightlifters.I don't think it exists, but I will say this, {quotes align=right}if you strive to be the very best, you have to challenge and extend yourself and some injuries will occur. A former Bulgarian Olympic weightlifting coach said it best when he said: "if you go to war there will be casualties."{/quotes}As far as me, at age 77 my back is good, I have a bad left shoulder, my knees are bad and I had my left hip replaced which I damaged due to my knees. My fellow Olympic team members, specifically Pete George, Isaac Berger, and Chuck Vinci are all doing good with their bodies.

DF: How much does America owe Bob Hoffman for his contribution to weightlifting/bodybuilding?

TK: Bob Hoffman was the father of barbell and dumbbell training. He stressed the importance of weightlifting for all aspects of fitness, not just strength or appearance. Mr. Hoffman's contribution was tremendous. He gave a lot, including funding the travel costs so the American team could attend world championships.

DF: You've written a book called "Weightlifting, Olympic Style". I have read this book and think it is great. It doesn't really cover split style snatches and cleans. Are there any competitive lifters who split snatch or split clean? Your book also doesn't discuss the power jerk or the squat jerk that a small percentage of competitors use. What do you think of the power and squat jerks?

TK: Split style snatches and cleans are extremely rare nowadays. They are as obsolete as the "Western roll" high jump technique, you just don't see itI believe the split jerk is superior to the power jerk and the squat jerk, and will always be the predominant jerk method used by lifters. A competitor has got to have superior leg strength to successfully perform the squat jerk. Most of the time, coming out of the squat is the limiting factor when performing a very heavy clean and jerk so to be able to then squat jerk a heavy weight takes exceptionally strong leg power.

DF: You have designed and marketed weightlifting accessories. Tell us a little about these products. Are the knee bands a good knee injury prevention measure for those who do not have any knee problems?

TK: I have designed and market Tommy Kono knee bands and waist bands and I believe both of these weightlifting accessories are equally good for lifters who do not have any problems, as a preventative measure, and for lifters who have problems and need extra support and stability.

DF: What is your website address for our members interested in learning more about you and your weightlifting accessories or your book "Weightlifting, Olympic Style"?

TK: My website is Tommy Kono Bands & Power Hooks.

DF: On behalf of the members at Discuss Fitness, thank you very much for this interview, Mr. Kono, and best wishes for you and your family's good health, fitness and fortune in the coming year. Come back to Sacramento soon. You are always welcome in my home.For more information about the life of this amazing Olympic weightlifting legend:

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