Softening Up For Weight Gains, Part One
Softening Up For Weight Gains, Part One
by John McCallum
(from Strength & Health, December, 1969)
Brandyside is four and a half miles of tawny sand fronting the blue Pacific. It's the best beach in the area. Every morning, sun worshippers by the thousand pour on to the hot sand and eat candy bars and picnic lunches and prostrate themselves before their god. And every night, man being the sloppy beast he is, the big machine from the city lumbers down the beach and scoops up the day's collection of wax paper, beer cans, Popsicle sticks and Hershey bar wrappers abandoned by the multitude in blithe defiance of the "No Littering" signs posted every five hundred feet.
I go down to the beach every chance I get. I like to lie around and practice my guitar. My friend Ollie comes along quite often and we sit on the sand and soak up the sun and argue about everything.
We were down at Brandyside about three months ago. I was hacking away at "Eleanor Rigby" and Ollie was staring through a set of 15X zoom binoculars at a dozen teenage girls in bikinis playing volleyball a hundred feet down the beach.
"Tremendous," he muttered.
"Ollie," I said, "if your old lady comes down here and catches you ogling those bubblegummers she'll punch your head in."
Ollie snorted his indignation. "For a healthy interest in the game?" he said. "For a spartan appreciation of the fine points of sport?"
"I'm sure you appreciate the fine points," I said. "But I doubt they've got much to do with sport."
Ollie swung the glasses around and looked up the beach. He jerked and his mouth dropped open.
"My god," he blurted.
"What is it" I said. "More bikinis?"
Ollie dropped the glasses and pointed. "Look!"
I turned and looked. About two hundred and fifty pounds of muscle in hippie sandals, curly black hair, bright red jogging shorts, dark glasses, and Buddhist prayer beads was swaggering up the beach with a reasonable facsimile of Raquel Welch on one hand and a monstrous ice cream cone in the other. Every woman for a straight mile down the beach was standing up.
I waited until they were almost up to us. "Hey, Uncle Harry," I yelled. "Careful where you kick that sand."
He walked over. The frames of his sunglasses were shaped like hearts and the glass had a reddish tinge.
"That's a pretty cool set of shades," I said.
"Nothing, really." He adjusted the glasses.
I looked him up and down. "Uncle Harry, you must have gained fifty pounds."
"Forty," he said. He shook his arm and the muscles rolled like truck tires.
"You know Ollie," I said.
"Sure." Uncle Harry grinned at the girl. "This is Bibsy."
Bibsy popped her gum and took a deep breath.
Ollie made a strangling noise.
"What have you been doing, Uncle Harry?" I said. "You're as big as a horse."
"Not much," he said. "Just a little thing I do every year or so."
"What d'ya mean?"
"Gaining weight," he said. "I soften up and gain a lot of weight and then I trim it down for definition. I always end up looking a lot better."
"What do you mean, soften up?" I asked him.
"Just that," he said. "I soften up and gain weight."
Bibsy whispered in Uncle Harry's ear. He smiled and patter her shoulder. "Bibsy wants to know if I can hold your guitar a minute. She wants to take my picture with it."
"Of course," I said. "I'll even snap the picture."
I handed Uncle Harry the guitar, took the camera, and stepped back ten feet. He put the strap around his neck and hit the strings with a dramatic flourish.
"Take it easy, Uncle Harry," I said. "That ax is worth five hundred bucks."
Ollie leaned over. "Does your uncle play a guitar?"
"Are you kidding?" I said. "The old lecher can't even turn a radio on properly." I sighted through the view-finder. "O.K."
Uncle Harry placed a paw delicately on the strings, flexed his lats, and beamed at the camera. "Fess up," he said. "Do I or do I not look like half of Simon and Garfunkel?"
I stepped farther back. "You look like three-quarters o the Norman Luboff Choir," I said. Deflate a bit so I can get you all in."
I snapped the shutter and Bibsy squealed delightedly. There was a spatter of applause. I glanced over my shoulder. The girls had stopped playing volleyball and were looking at Uncle Harry. He bowed graciously and they gave him another little hand.
"Listen," I said, "tell me more about this softening up thing."
"There's nothing to it, really," Uncle Harry said. "I find if I boost my body weight way up once in a while, it pays off in the long run. When I train down, I look better than ever and I'm all hopped up on training again."
"What about the softening up part, though?" I asked him.
"Well," he said, "You know when you've been training for a long time you kinda get into a rut. The gains come slow and you get pretty bored with the whole deal."
"Almost like going stale?" I said.
"Yeah," he said. "Something like that. Anyway you need something to spark your interest and bring some big gains. That's why I do the softening up thing."
The volleyball players had wandered over for a closer look at Uncle Harry. They were bunched up about twenty feet away with their eyes bugging out. Bibsy moved in a little tighter.
"Tell me more, I said.
Uncle Harry put his arms over his head and stretched slowly. There was a big murmur. I looked about. There were at least forty people, mostly women, standing in a big circle around us.
"Well," he said. "The first thing I do is get as lazy as possible. I stop all outside activity."
Bibsy cleared her throat.
"Almost all outside activity," Uncle Harry said. "I quit swimming, jogging, sports, anything that burns up calories." He paused for a minute. "There's quite a bit to it," he said, "as well as the exercise part. Which do you want first?"
"The exercise part," I said.
Uncle Harry flexed an arm very casually and beamed at the crowd. The volleyballers gasped and moved in closer.
"That's one of the secrets," he said. "That's where I make a big change."
"It's a progressive thing," he said. "It takes three full months, and I use a different program each month."
I looked around again. We were attracting more people all the time. "Listen, Uncle Harry," I said. "Either put on some clothes or else talk faster, will you? If this mob gets any bigger, the cops'll come down and spray Mace on us."
Uncle Harry smiled at everybody. He's got teeth like a toothpaste ad. The volleyballers were within touching distance now and Bibsy was looking worried.
"The program's strictly for gaining weight," he said. "Softening up and gaining weight. It's usually good for at least twenty-five pounds." He took off his sunglasses and peered at me. "You might think the programs are odd, though."
"Try me," I said.
"Well, the first month I only use four exercises," he said. "The whole workout only takes about fifteen minutes. It's really a lazy man's program."
"I start off with the seated press behind neck," he said. "I do three sets of twelve in very strict style. I use a moderate weight for the first set. Then I increase it twenty pounds for the second set, and finally drop it ten pounds for the third set.
"Now I take a little rest," he said, "and then I do the most important exercise in the program -- the breathing squat. I use all the weight I can handle for one set of thirty reps with about six deep breaths between each rep."
"That's a lot of reps, isn't it?" I asked him.
"Yes," he said. "It's a helluva lot of work, too. I'm absolutely gassed when I'm finish. I puff for five minutes afterwards. But it's essential. The program won't work without it."
"Okay," I said. "Then what?"
"Then I do a set of light pullovers," he said. "For thirty reps."
"That's three exercises," I said. "What's the fourth one?"
"Stiff-legged deadlifts," he said. One set of twenty reps with all the weight I can lift. I do them standing on a block so I can lower the bar right down to my toes."
"And that's all?" I said. "That don't seem like a heck of a lot."
"It's not," he said. "But that's only for the first month and it's only part of the bag." He cleared his throat. "I'll give you the other parts of the program and tell you why the whole thing works."
Uncle Harry tensed a thigh and there was a big murmur from the crowd. I looked about. There was a solid wall of people around us, all gawking at Uncle Harry.
"Listen," I said. "I think I'll just take your word for it right now and you can give me the details some other time. "This crowd's getting ridiculous."
"Whatever you think," Uncle Harry said. He bounced his pecs and grinned at the commotion it caused. He took Bibsy's hand, pushed through the crowd, and sauntered away. The volleyball players watched him go. They whispered and giggled to each other till he was out of sight. Finally they went back to the game, but their hearts didn't seem in it anymore.
Softening Up for Weight Gains, Part Two
by John McCallum
from Strength & Health (January, 1970)
I went to visit my Uncle Harry the other night. He's got a one bedroom thing on the 12th floor. He met me at his door.
"C'mon in," he said, "and I'll be with you in a minute. I'm on the phone."
He went into his bedroom. I walked into the living room but I could hear him talking on the phone. "Listen, Shirl," he said, "call me some other time, will you? I've got company."
Uncle Harry's living room is right out of Playboy. The furniture is black leather and the floor is three inches of crimson wall-to-wall. He's got deep toned semi-abstracts on the walls, and a professional looking bar in the corner with enough booze eon the shelf to float a small boat.
Uncle Harry came out of his bedroom.
"What's with all the sauce?" I asked him. "You don't drink that much of it, do you?"
"I don't drink at all," he said. "The girls do, though."
"They're not very smart girls," I said.
The phone rang and Uncle Harry went back into the bedroom. "Not tonight, Bev," I heard him say. "I've got company."
He walked into the living room again. He had on cowboy boots, checked flares with a three inch belt, a tan turtleneck, and a creamy colored cardigan.
"You know, Uncle Harry," I said, "this is a real groovy pad."
He stifled a yawn. "Just four walls and a roof."
I squinted at him but he looked serious.
"Uncle Harry," I said. "You're unreal. How do you do it?"
"How do I do what?" he said.
"You know what I mean," I said. "How do you stay so young?"
He frowned. "What do you meanay so young? I ain't that old, you know."
"How old are you?" I asked him.
He looked up at the ceiling. "Around forty."
"Sure," I said. "Second time around."
He grinned at me. "How old do you think I am?"
I thought for a moment. "About a hundred and seven."
"Fifty-eight," he said. "Fifty-eight and not a day more."
The phone rang and he went into the bedroom. "Sounds good, Alice," he said. "Not tonight, though."
He came out again.
"What I mean is you look like about twenty-eight," I said. "How do you do it?"
The phone rang again.
"Sorry, Flo," he said. "Not tonight. I've got company."
He came out of the bedroom.
"Listen, Uncle Harry," I said. "Would it be better if I went home and phoned you?"
"It's okay," he said. "I took it off the hook."
"Jeez, Uncle Harry, you didn't have to do that," I said. "I'm not that much company."
He sat down. "You're not company at all. I got somebody else coming over tonight and you got exactly one half hour."
"Okay, Uncle Harry," I said. "I'll be gone. I just wanted to find out some more about that softening up thing you do."
"What do you want to know about it?" he said.
"Everything," I said. "Like why it works, for example."
He thought about it for a minute. "The big thing, I think, is that it's such a change. You do the minimum amount of training -- just a few growing exercises. You eat a lot more. You burn up fewer calories. You change your mental approach. You have to gain weight."
"Isn't there a danger of getting fat?" I asked him.
"Some," he said. "You gotta watch it. I usually put on a little fat when I'm doing the thing, but it's easy to work off afterwards and the extra surge is worth it."
"Gimme some more details," I said.
"Well, first, of course, there's the workout," he said. "I make a few changes in that."
"I already told you what I do the first month, didn't I?"
"Yeah," I said. 'You did. Seated press behind neck, 3 x 12. Squats, 1 x 30 with six big breaths between each rep. Breathing pullovers, 1 x 30. And stiff-legged deadlifts, 1 x 20.
"Right," he said. "That's for the first month. Now, for the second month, I make a few additions.
"I still start with the press behind neck," he said, "for three sets of twelve. But, when I finish them, I go straight into lateral raises for the deltoids. I do them standing erect for three sets of fifteen, and then bent forward at right angles to the floot for another three sets of fifteen.
"The big thing," he said, "is to pump the deltoids. Don't worry too much about how much weight you use. Do them in very strict style, with as little rest between sets as possible.
"I take a short break," he said, "and then do the squats and pullovers, both with plenty of heavy breathing. One set of thirty each.
"Then," he said, " I do hip belt squats. I cinch the bar up real tight under the crotch, use small plates on the bar, and put a 2 x 4 under my heels. That way I can squat right down until I'm practically sitting on the floor. I do three sets of fifteen and my thighs pump up like balloons.
"Now," he said, "I do the stiff-legged deadlifts the same way as the first month. But, when I'm finished them, I do shrugs. Three sets of fifteen as heavy as I can. I try and get a full range movement out of it so that my shoulders raise and lower three or four inches.
"And finally," he said, "I do pulldowns to the back of the neck with the lat machine. I use a medium width grip, not too much weight, and concentrate on getting a good pump."
"That sounds like a pretty short workout," I said.
"It makes you grow," he said. "That's the main thing."
"What else do you do that's different?" I asked him.
Uncle Harry got up and turned on the stereo. It's a thousand bucks worth of mahogany and gold mesh with more controls on it than a rocket ship. The whole thing is faintly illuminated by a dark green swag lamp hanging right above it.
"Anything you'd like to hear?" he asked me.
"Anything," I said. "It doesn't matter."
"How about a little Deanna Durbin?" he said. "Or maybe some Nelson Eddy?"
I ignored him.
"Just kidding," he said. "Camp is out."
He put on a Gordon Lightfoot.
"Well?" I said.
He sat down again. "I change my diet a bit," he said. "I'm always on a supplemented, high-protein diet, you know, but I loosen up a bit for the gaining thing. I still take the supplements and proteins and all, but I add a few things I don't usually eat."
"Desserts," he said. "But it's a change, and that's the idea of the whole program. It gives you a load of extra calories so you can soften up and gain weight."
"Anything else?" I asked him.
"Oh, sure," he said. "I eat potatoes and bread, too. Normally, I hardly ever eat them, so it's a real treat for me. I bake the potatoes and slather them with butter and grated cheese and eat them skins and all."
"Do you eat white bread?" I asked him.
"Oh, no," he said. "Just whole wheat. I prowl through the European stores and the delicatessens and buy the darkest, heaviest bread I can find. Bohemian rye and pumpernickel and so on. I make it into big, thick sandwiches with cheese or meat or something and wash them down with milk."
"You still drink milk, eh?"
"Sure," he said. "More than ever."
"When I'm on this program," he said, "I drink at least four quarts a day. Sometimes more."
"That's a lot of milk," I said.
"Sure," he said, "but it does the trick. It's really great for softening up and gaining."
"Okay," I said. "Buy any time you see a bull coming, you better brace yourself."
"Don't worry," he said. "I will."
"Supplements," he said. "Take a lot of supplements."
"You always do, don't you?"
"Yeah," he said, "I do. But I take about twice as many on this program. It makes all the difference."
"What do you take""
"Practically everything," he said. "I use protein powder, vitamins and minerals, good oils, anything I feel like. I just take an abundance of everything and don't worry too much about it."
"It sounds like a pretty creamy deal," I said. "What else do you do?"
Uncle Harry opened his mouth to speak, but the intercom buzzed and beat him to it. He went over and spoke into it.
"Great," he said. "C'mon up."
He walked over and put his hand on my shoulder. "That's it," he said. "Split."
"What d'ya mean?" I said. The half hour ain't up yet."
"I know," he said. "But Trixie got here a little early."
He took my arm and ushered me to the door.
"Listen," I said. "I want to talk about the rest of your progarm."
"And we will," he said. "Some other time."
He opened the door and pushed me out into the hall. The elevator doors opened and a redhead stepped out. She came down the hall with her lips parted and a walk that would have been censored out of an Italian movie. Uncle Harry took her arm and guided her through his door.
"Okay," I said. "But I want to know about the program. I'll phone you."
He stepped into his apartment. "Not tonight," he said. "I've got company."
Softening Up For Weight Gains, Part Three
by John McCallum
(from Strength & Health, February, 1970)
For the past two months we've been outlining a program that's designed to soften you up and force weight gains. The procedure, in brief, is to ease up on your normal routine for about three months and do a few of the fattening things normally considered taboo. Actually, once you try it you'll like it. The fat cat life feels pretty good once in a while. And the change, strangely enough, will do you a world of good. It takes a little while to get over the guilty feeling of watching your old lady cut the lawn, but once you manage it you're home free.
Some people are inclined to look down their noses in contempt at the lazy man type of weight gaining program. These are the puritans of weight training, and quite often they're heaping scorn on something they haven't even tried. They're the critics who attach more importance to antiquated theory than to constructive suggestion; the pseudo-academics more interested in preconceived opinion than in visible results. If someone like this is influencing you they'll probably talk you out of even trying the program. But if you do your own thinking, and I suggest you should, then you might want to give it a whirl. And you'll be pleasantly surprised if you do.
Once you decide to give the routine an honest try, you can figure on a few nice things happening to you. You can plan on a tremendous surge in your energy supply, greatly increased training enthusiasm, a whole new outlook on living, and, most of all, a big boost in your body weight.
The principle of getting as lazy as possible for a short period of time isn't new. The idea of conserving your energy has been around for a long, long time. The old-timers, in fact, had a saying that became almost a cliche. "Never run when you can walk," they said. "Never walk when you can ride. Never stand when you can sit. Never sit when you can lie down."
Bodybuilding, at least in recent years, is a pretty positive thing. Most of the paths have been well explored and charted. Years ago bodybuilding failures ran high. More men failed, in fact, than succeeded. Guys beat their brain out for years and never got their arms past fifteen or their chests past forty. But today any trainee can make good progress. Everyone can't be Mr. America, of course, but everyone can build a strong, shapely, herculean body. And most of all, everyone can gain weight. There's no excuse for staying thin. If you're trying to gain weight and you're having trouble doing so, then you're doing something wrong and it's as simple as that. If your gains aren't coming, then you're making one or more of several clearly defined mistakes.
Probably the most common mistake in bodybuilding, and the one you're most likely to be making, is frittering away your energy on a multitude of projects. Versatility is a great thing in most endeavors. It's a positive asset if you're a professional handyman. But it's no help in bodybuilding, and particularly not if you're a hard gainer.
A lot depends, of course, on how much you want to accomplish. Almost any form of training will develop you a little bit, but if you want to gain a lot of weight, if you want to really bulk up, then you've got to dedicate yourself to that goal. You've got to channel all your energy into adding pound after pound of solid muscle to your body.
Gaining a lot of weight in a hurry is clearly a form of specialization. You must realize this. If you want to add twenty, thirty, or forty pounds of muscle, then you've got to put your mind to it. You've got to dedicate yourself. You've got to make a few sacrifices. You've got to conserve your energy and direct it towards a great and rapid increase in muscular bulk.
If you're dashing around and doing the million and one things that burn up energy then you're making a big mistake. Don't forget that gaining weight is specialization, and during the period of specialization you've got to restrict your outside activities. You can do anything you want to after you gain the weight, but while you're gaining it you've got to devote yourself to that one basic purpose.
My Uncle Harry is a good example. He put me on to the softening up thing in the first place. Uncle Harry packs around more shapely muscle than any man is really entitled to. He's got a lot of things going, like blonds, brunettes, and redheads, and he leads an incredibly active life, but when he decided to gain weight, he restricts everything else for that one purpose. He goes on bulk sprees from time to time, and when he does he gains weight like a herd of elephants.
I was over at Uncle Harry's apartment a while ago. I asked him about some of the changes he makes in his normal way of life when he's on a bulk kick.
Uncle Harry stretched and yawned. He had on an enormous sweat shirt with a big button pinned to the front of it. The button read, "J. Edgar Hoover Sleeps With A Nite-Lite." "Well," he said, "I sleep a lot more than usual. I get nine or ten hours per night and a nap in the afternoon or early evening."
"Every day?" I asked him.
"Sure," he said. "I just wallow around and take it real cool."
"And that's one of the secrets, eh?"
"That's it," he said. "The nitty gritty."
"What else?" I asked.
"I get real lazy," he said. "I don't play any other sports, or jog, or do anything that burns up energy. I save everything for gaining weight."
"Doesn't it get boring?" I asked him.
"No," he said. "Not really. In fact, it's kinda nice for a change. It might get boring after a while, but don't forget this is only a three month deal. After the three months are up I go back to my normal way of life."
"That must be nice for the girls," I said. "They'd be getting pretty lonely by then."
"Uncle Harry polished his nails on his sweat shirt. "They are," he said, "but I'm worth it."
Let's get on with the exercise routine. It's a three month deal, you'll remember, and the routine for the first month looked like this:
Seated Press Behind Neck - 3 x 12
Squat - 1 x 30 with six deep breaths between each rep
Breathing Pullover 1 x 30
Stiff Legged Deadlift - 1 x 20
The squats are the most important exercise. They're to be done in puff and pant style with all the weight you can handle. Take about six deep breaths between each reps, and if you can walk properly afterwards you're not working hard enough.
The routine for the second month was a little longer, and looked like this:
Seated Press Behind Neck - 3 x 12
Standing Side Lateral Raise - 3 x 15
Rear Lateral Raise - 3 x 15
Squat - 1 x 30 with six deep breaths between each rep
Breathing Pullover - 1 x 30
Hip Belt Squat - 3 x 15
Stiff Legged Deadlift - 1 x 20
Shrug - 3 x 15
Lat Machine Pulldown - 3 x 15
The routine for the third month is different again:
The first exercise is the One Arm Military Press. This exercise can cause deltoid strains if you're not careful. Warm up well before you tackle it. Spend at least five minutes doing light presses, presses behind the neck, and lateral raises. Use very light weights for the warm-up. Just get your shoulders ready, don't wear them out.
When you've got your blood circulating well, do the one-arm presses. Maintain a very erect position. Don't sway over any more than five or ten degrees from the upright. You can hang onto a post or something with your free hand if you like. It'll help you to hold a strict military position.
Do the presses 5 sets of 12 with each arm. Alternate arms. Use a moderate weight for the first set, your heaviest weight for the second set and drop the poundage five pounds per set for each of the last three sets.
The second exercise is the Breathing Squat. Do 1 set of 20 reps with all the weight you can lift. If you've been working hard enough, this should be a pretty impressive poundage by now. TAKE THREE HUGE, GULPING BREATHS BETWEEN EACH REP AND LET IT ALL HANG OUT. As soon as you finish the last rep do 20 breathing pullovers with a real light weight.
You can have a five minute rest now, and you should need it badly. Some of you, I'm afraid, haven't grasped the concept of hard work on squats. You can figure as a rough rule of thumb that if you're not totally wiped out on the 20th rep then you're not working hard enough and you're not going to gain properly.
After you've rested up from the squats, you can go on with the rest of the program. The next exercise is the Hip Belt Squat, the same as in last month's program. Do 3 sets of 15. Hip belt squats, properly employed, will do more to bulk up and shape your thighs than any other single exercise. They don't have the overall growing effect that regular squats do, but for pure leg work they're unbeatable. Some of you seem to misunderstand the exercise, so we'll devote a little more space to it in another article.
The next exercise is the Stiff Legged Deadlift. Do them as in last month's routine -- 1 set of 20 as heavy as you can.
The next exercise is actually two exercises combined. You alternate Parallel Bar Dips ->with-> Concentration Curls. Do a set of dips and then a set of curls for each arm. Then another set of dips and another set of curls for each arm, and so on. Do 15 sets of 10 reps in each exercise.
Start the dips with as much weight as you can handle tied around your waist. Cut the weight down each set and keep the reps up to 10. When you get down just your body weight you may have to drop the reps a bit. Do your best with it and keep working at it. The weight isn't too important in the curls. Use a moderate poundage and reduce it as you have to. The important thing is to get a good pump. You should be blown right up when you finish the final sets of the sequence.
The whole routine, then, looks like this:
One Arm Military Press - 5 x 12
Squat - 1 x 20 with three deep breaths between each rep
Breathing Pullover - 1 x 20
Hip Belt Squat - 3 x 15
Stiff Legged Deadlift - 1 x 20
Parallel Bar Dip - 15 x 10
Concentration Curl - 15 x 10
That completes the program. Keep your supplement intake very, very high and follow the dietary suggestions from last month.
I'm running out of space. Give it all you've got -
surprise your friends and confound your enemies.
Exellent read, thanks for posting!
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