Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Elbow: Injury Prevention and Healing - Frank Zane

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Building the Body Quarterly:

Injury Prevention and Healing
Frank Zane (2011)

You need strong forearms to prevent elbow injuries. That, and proper hand position when working upper body with barbells and machines.

It's important to do upper body pushing and pulling exercises with hands in a user friendly position. This is best achieved with dumbbells. Since you can rotate the dumbbells there is little stress on the wrist and elbow. Barbells put the hands in elbow-unfriendly positions during pushing and pulling movements and when the thumbs are tightly wrapped around the barbell stress is aimed at the elbow. Here's how:

Outer elbow injury (tennis elbow) is caused by excessive pronation when a straight bar is pulled toward the body with an overhand grip as in wide grip chins, straight bar pulldowns, bentover barbell rowing, barbell upright row. Barbells are the culprit and, since the hand is locked to the bar and can't rotate, stress is put on the elbow. The wrist too. Use varying grip positions and do forearm work, as explained below.

Inner elbow injury (golfer's elbow) is caused by excessive supination when the arm is straight with the elbow locked. This happens when you are doing barbell curls and your straighten your arms out completely as the weight comes back to starting position. The hands aren't used to hanging at this angle. You can check it for yourself by letting your arms hang naturally by your sides. How are they hanging? In a neutral grip position. When dumbbells go back to starting position in the curl you are able to rotate the dumbbells into a neutral grip. Can't do this with a barbell, so the inner elbow takes a hit.

So if your elbows hurt, try doing all your curls with dumbbells. And do forearm work too. Here's where the barbell comes in. It's actually one of the few times I use a barbell anymore: barbell wrist curls for the inner elbow, and barbell reverse wrist curl for the outer elbow. I suggest doing both these exercises, 2 sets of 20 reps each at the beginning of your upper body workouts. This warms up the forearms, elbows, and grip. Before you begin rub some liniment like Sombra and/or DMSO in (if it's really sore), and put a loose elastic bandage over it.


Super-set wrist curl with reverse wrist curl and you will thoroughly warm up this area. Reduce the weight on reverse wrist curl as it is a stricter movement. Do this movement slowly and hold the contraction for half a second in the contracted finish position.

These are the two safest movements. Start light, keep the elbows warm and do your reps. When the elbows start feeling a little better you can add pronation/supination exercises. One example comes to mind and that is 'baton twirling'. Get a baton or light bar, hold it in the middle and twirl slowly: right hand counter clockwise strengthens inner elbow, opposite direction strengthens outer elbow.

Don't have a baton? Try dumbbell turnovers. Put a light fixed weight dumbbell on the floor, and with forearm resting on floor grasp the dumbbell. For right hand, turning left works the inner elbow; turning right works outer elbow.

Finishing up your arm workout with a gripper is a good idea too. This will strengthen your forearms and help your elbows feel better.

Reverse curl will strengthen this area too but don't start with these until the pain is almost completely gone and even then start very light.

Healing elbow pain depends on not doing exercises that hurt it Be careful of curling machines too. Any exercise that fixes your hands in a position that doesn't rotate may put excessive stress on this area.

Remember, if it hurts, don't do it.     

Leroy Colbert - His Training Philosophy - Howard Alpert

Leroy Colbert and his wife, Jackie, in one of their health food stores which are so highly successful, and part of the reason is the couple's exuberant good nature and obvious joy in living. Leroy, at one time, had one of the top physiques in the world until an injury sidelined him from competition.

Leroy doing some dumbbell work for his arms. This photo was taken some years ago, shortly after his injury and while he was getting back into shape again.

Slacks, possibly tan.

Howard Alpert

When the definitive history of bodybuilding is written, a significant section will be devoted to a man who 'rewrote' the rules of training and whose physical development still remains as a standard that other bodybuilders try to reach. In an era when a 16-inch arm was considered very good and an 18-inch one was something that trainees dreamed about, the fabulous Leroy Colbert smashed all barriers by developing a 21-inch muscular arm. Only a near-tragic accident prevented him from going on after winning the Mr. Eastern America title to become Mr. America and Mr. Universe.
However, the unfortunate event had a silver lining. It gave Leroy some time to seriously think about his future. He knew that he wanted to find a career doing something that would help people live a healthier life. At first, Leroy though about opening his own gym. Then he realized that he could reach many more people if he had a health food store. The idea of opening a traditional health food store was not in keeping with the Colbert desire to do things in a bigger and better way than they had been done before. Finally, Leroy decided to open a 'health department store'. 

Today, Leroy and his lovely wife Jacqueline own and operate the two World Health Centers in New York City. These are unique establishments that contain everything from protein supplements and vitamins to fresh organic vegetables, fish, eggs, and meats, all of which are delivered daily. In addition, each store contains a large selection of exercise equipment.

When I discussed with Leroy the idea of doing an article about his training philosophy the concepts that helped him to develop one of the greatest physiques ever seen, he graciously said that he would be only too happy to provide this information for readers. If you could see the busy schedule Leroy maintains during a typical day, you would get a better understanding of how difficult it was for him to set aside time for an interview. You would also get a clearer realization that he is so dedicated to helping others that he did provide the time even though it meant extending his working day well into the night.

Before Leroy stated his training ideas, he wanted to be sure that I set down his views on using steroids. "You know me long enough to know that I rarely get angry. But when guys come in here and tell me that the only way they can build a good physique is by using steroids, I want to grab them by their necks and shake some sense into their heads. How can anyone be so foolish as to play Russian roulette with his health? Fortunately, I have been able to convince a considerable number of fellows that steroids aren't necessary by showing them photos of the guys that were my contemporaries when I was competing. How many bodybuilders today can equal the development of Jack Delinger, George Eiferman, Marvin Eder, Reg Park, and, if you want to talk about the defined and vascular physique that is in vogue today, which of the present day stars would like to compete against Roy Hilligenn or Bob Hinds when they were at their peak? Oh yes, there were also a couple of fellows named Bruce Randall and Enrico Thomas who would have given today's competitors a few nervous moments. All of these buys and many, many more built their bodies to exceptionally high levels of development, and they did it the way we did it at that time - through consistently hard training. And we didn't have the information that the guys today have. Nor did we have the different types of supplements - liquid, predigested, even without any carbohydrates. All we knew was that if you wanted to gain weight and size, you trained like the devil and ate everything in sight. When you wanted to cut down, you trained like the devil and ate less. If we had the facts on nutrition that are common knowledge today, we probably could have gotten results in half the time. No, I repeat that the most foolish thing a bodybuilder can do is to take a chemical substance into his body, a substance whose side-effects are potentially so dangerous and that was never intended to be used by healthy people.

"With that off my chest, let me say a few things about training. When I started to train, the 'rule' was that you never did more than three sets for a bodypart. I wanted a body so badly that after using the three-sets idea for a while, I just decided I had to try something else. As I recall, Marvin Eder (I would like to add for Iron Man readers who aren't familiar with Marvin Eder's career, that he bench pressed 500 lbs at a bodyweight of less than 200, and did other feats of arm and shoulder strength that haven't been equaled to this day - Ed.), decided one day that we would do 10 sets of each exercise we were using instead of the usual three. Then we swore that we would meet again early the next morning to see if we were both still alive. When we felt the difference from training that way and found out that we both lived through it, I threw the 'rule book' out the window and started to grow as I never had been able to do up until that time.

"From that workout on, I decided to use my head. I used many types of routines until I found the ones that worked best for me.What I found was that 10 sets was the minimum I could use for my 'easy-growing' parts. Usually I did 15 sets for most parts and sometimes went as high as 20 sets a workout for those parts that were really stubborn.

"I found that working with very heavy weights that forced you to do the exercises slowly was not as effective as working with a weight in a continuously moving manner until you completed the set. I don't mean working so fast that you use sloppy form, but I mean that you don't actually pause at the top or bottom of a repetition but just keep moving the weight in a controlled, steady way. Notice that I said "controlled." I believe that you can't fully control a weight that is so heavy that you can barely do your reps with it. I get much better results by using a weight that makes you work but not one that you have to 'kill' yourself with to get through the exercise.

"I mentioned before that I usually did a certain amount of sets for a particular area. Actually what I did was to go more by the feel of the muscle and the pump I was getting. If I found that I was beginning to lose the pump in an area I was working, I would stop exercising it even if I hadn't completed the number of sets I planned to do. I found that any sets that weren't increasing the pump were a waste and perhaps were even overtraining the muscle. On average, though, I usually did about 15 sets for most areas.

"I used to change my workout around every two or three months. I found that if I tried to stay on exactly the same program month after month, I would go stale. Sometimes I would change several of the exercises. Other times I would just rearrange the order of the exercises. For example, if I was doing chins, pulldowns and rowing for my back, I might change my routine by beginning with rowing and finishing with chins. Sometimes I might switch to dumbbell rowing, bent-arm pullovers, and close-grip chins. There is an endless variety of changes that can be made. I found that each new program was a new challenge.

"When I did exercises like squats, bench presses, or deadlifts, exercises for which you would use sizable poundages, I would begin with about 2/3 of the weight I could handle on my heaviest set. I would work up to sets of 8 reps until I hit my top set of 8. This would take about four sets. Then I would drop back for two finishing sets of 8. For exercises that didn't require heavy poundages, I would generally stay with one weight for all my sets. I always kept the repetitions on my exercises between 8 and 10.

"I think that it is important to maintain a fast pace throughout the workout. I always began my next set as soon as my breathing returned near normal. I found that the more work I could do in a given period of time, the better I would respond.

"I think that if I had only one thought that I wanted readers to remember, it would be that consistency in training is the thing that separates the best from the ordinary. Train heavier on the days that you feel strong and lighter on those days that you really don't feel great, but don't miss a workout. Every champ I trained with rarely missed a workout. I don't mean that you should train if you are really sick, though we did because we wanted to build our bodies with such a deep intensity that we wouldn't even let illness stand in our way. Just don't let laziness cause you to miss a workout. Cut your poundages in half just to get into a workout on a real 'down' day. Very often by the time the workout is over, you will find it has been one of your better sessions."

With these concluding comments, Leroy said that he had to get back to work. Time had passed so quickly that the bright sunshine had been replaced by darkness. Judging by the pile of papers on Leroy's desk, I knew that he would be having a very late supper that night. But as we shook hands, he smiled and thanked me for giving him the opportunity to convey his thoughts to readers. I might add, and the photographs that accompany this article will substantiate it, that although Leroy expressed many of his ideas in the past tense he is still training regularly and is in excellent condition.

Leroy Colbert is one of the greatest champions the bodybuilding world has produced. His achievements and philosophy will remain as a permanent legacy to inspire the bodybuilders of today and of the future.  

Monday, August 25, 2014

Controlling the Motor Cortex - Thomas Fahey

The Secret to Getting Big Reps
Thomas Fahey
(Powerlifting USA 1993)

The motor cortex is the part of your brain that determines which muscle fibers contract during a lift (Figure 1). If your brain coordinates muscle forces properly, you use your strongest fibers and get a good lift. If coordination between your motor cortex and muscles is poor, then you will not lift to your potential. Your training program determines how well your motor cortex signals muscle fibers to contract. Scientists are learning that establishing the wrong kind of communication between the motor cortex and the muscles will delay progress and hamper strength gains.

Motor units and their muscle fibers receive the signal to contract from nerves connected to the spinal column. The signal originates in the motor cortex. A motor nerve (a nerve connected to muscle fibers) may be linked to as few as one or two muscle fibers or more than 150 muscle fibers. Nerve-muscle combinations are called motor units (Figure 2). Powerful muscles, such as the quadriceps of the legs, have large motor units - each motor nerve is connected to many muscle fibers. Smaller muscle fibers, such as those found around the eye, have much smaller motor units.

The three types of motor units are fast glycolytic (FOG), and slow oxidative (SO). They are subdivided according to their strength and speed of contraction, speed of nerve conduction, and resistance to fatigue. The type of motor unit chosen by the body depends upon the requirements of the muscle contraction. The body chooses FOG fibers for lifting heavy weights or sprinting because they are fast and powerful. SO fibers are chosen for prolonged standing or slow walking because they are more resistant to fatigue.

The body exerts force by calling upon one or more motor units to contract. This process of calling upon motor units to contract is called motor unit recruitment. When you want to pick up a small weight, for example, you use few motor units to do the task. However, when you want to pick up a large weight, you will use many motor units. When a motor unit calls upon its fibers to contract, all the fibers contract to maximum capacity.

Training with weights improves your nervous system's ability to coordinate the recruitment of muscle fibers. It is a kind of 'muscle learning' and is an important way of increasing strength. Strength training improves your nervous system's ability to coordinate the recruitment of muscle fibers. During the first few months of strength training, muscles can increase in strength without greatly increasing in size. In fact, most of the changes in strength during the first weeks of weight training are neurological adaptations.

Motor units and their muscle fibers are recruited according to size. According to the size principle, the frequency of motor unit use (recruitment) is directly related to the size of the nerve cell. Motor units with smaller nerve cells, such as those found in slow twitch motor units, are easier to recruit than motor units with larger nerve cells found in fast twitch motor units. Those motor units with the smaller cell bodies will be used first and, overall, most frequently. Those motor units with larger cell bodies will be used last during recruitment and, overall, least frequently.

The choice of muscle fibers is determined by force necessary to perform a movement and not by the speed of a movement.  

For example, lower threshold (easier to recruit) motor units may be exclusively recruited while lifting a very light weight, even when you try to lift it rapidly. However, in lifting a very heavy weight, all motor units are recruited. In general, the large high threshold motor units are only recruited when you exert maximal force. Absolute force is critical. As you fatigue during a workout, you use lower threshold units, even though you are training at 100 percent of capacity. This supports the importance of high quality (high intensity, low volume) workouts in your training program. These are the workouts that develop the strongest high threshold motor units.

The characteristics of fast- and slow-twitch motor units are largely genetically determined. However, compared with other types of tissues in the body, skeletal muscle is very plastic. This means that a muscle fiber can change dramatically in response to certain types of stimuli.

You can change a motor unit's characteristics by changing the nervous signals from the motor cortex.

This can happen when you train for endurance or subject muscles to low frequency electrical stimulation. In other words, if you do the wrong type of training (such as distance running when you are trying to increase strength), you will 'bias' the fibers towards endurance. Strength and power will be compromised.

Muscles adapt specifically to the nature of the exercise stress. The strength training program should stress the muscles in the way you want them to perform. The most obvious example of specificity is that the muscle exercised is the muscle that adapts to training. Thus, if you exercise the leg muscles, they hypertrophy rather than the muscles of the shoulders. Fibers and motor units also respond to the rate of force development. So, if you try to generate force rapidly, you will develop the muscles in a different way than when you generate force more slowly.

There is specific recruitment of motor units within a muscle depending upon the requirements of the contraction. The different muscle fiber types have characteristic contractile properties. The slow twitch fivers are relatively fatigue resistant, but have a lower tension capacity than the fast twitch fibers. The fast twitch fibers can contract more rapidly and forcefully, but they also fatigue rapidly.

The amount of training that occurs in a muscle fiber is determined by the extent that it is recruited. You can only train a motor unit and its fibers when you use it. High repetition, low intensity exercise, such as distance running, uses mainly slow twitch fibers. Endurance training improves the fibers' oxidative capacity. Low repetition, high intensity activity, such as weight training, causes hypertrophy of fast twitch fibers. There are some changes to the lower threshold slow twitch fibers. The training program should be structured to produce the desired effect.

Increases in strength are very specific to the type of exercise, even when the same muscle groups are used. Figure 3 shows the results of a study in which subjects performed squats for 8 weeks and made impressive improvements in squat strength. However, strength gains in the leg press were only half as much and gains in knee extension strength were negligible. Specific motor units are recruited for specific tasks. If a person is training to improve strength for another activity, the exercises should be as close as possible to desired movements. Likewise, when attempting increase strength after an injury or surgery, rehabilitation should include muscle movements as close as possible to normal activities.

Much of what we have learned about motor recruitment is useful to the practicing weight lifter. Following several principles about motor unit recruitment will help you master you motor cortex and better control the motor units in your major muscles.

 - Train specifically for competitive lifts. Be careful not to drift to far from presses, pulls, and squats in your workouts. Until biceps curls [once again] become a major powerlifting event, don't concentrate on them at the expense of more critical lifts. Having large, shapely biceps is of little use when you are trying to get a big rep in a contest. The time and energy you spent on your arms might have been better used working the prime mover muscles needed for weight lifting.

 - Don't overemphasize auxiliary exercises that ostensibly work the same muscle groups as the primary lifts. For example, many lifters do knee extensions to help improve performance in the squat. Several studies have shown surprisingly little transfer from these lifts to the primary exercises. As discussed, a study conducted in Canada by Sale showed that lifters who improved squat strength by 75 percent only improved knee extension strength by 3 percent.

 - Don't do too much endurance exercise if your goal is to gain maximal strength. Endurance exercise is important for good health. Unfortunately, classic exercises like jogging interfere with your ability to gain strength. Strength training will provide some small benefits against heart disease (although much less than endurance exercise). Serious weight lifters have a problem when trying to use exercise to prevent heart disease.

 - Train explosively. This means exerting as much force as rapidly as possible duri8ng the active phase of the lift. The largest, most powerful motor units are used in a lift when a large nerve impulse is sent from the motor cortex. You can influence this signal by lifting explosively. This doesn't mean cheating on lifts or moving light weights very fast. Rather, it means consciously trying to 'explode' during the power part of the movement. For example, when doing a heavy single on the bench, lower the weight into position, staying tight and controlled. Then, blast the weight upward. If you do this consistently in training, you will gain strength faster. Also, this skill will transfer to a contest so that you will lift to your actual strength potential.

 - Give yourself enough rest between training sessions. Remember, the high threshold units respond to absolute effort. You will only train them significantly when you have had enough rest. When you build rest into your program, you can plan heavy training days. Those are the days that develop the high threshold, strongest motor units. Those are the motor units that give you the big lifts.

 - Include enough quality in your program. Intensity is the most important factor in increasing strength and power. Don't do a lot of reps at the expense of singles, doubles, and triples in your program. Doing 30-40 reps of a lift with 135 lbs may cause you to fatigue, but it will do little to increase absolute strength.

The Bulgarian Olympic weightlifting team has had considerable success with multiple set, single rep workouts. Except for warmups, they don't do multiple reps when doing the Olympic lifts. From a theoretical standpoint, this method has a lot of merit - single, maximal reps cause your body to use the largest, most powerful motor units. Motor units must be used to be trained. Heavy singles call on the high threshold units that translate to bigger lifts.

You can make faster progress in your program if you will understand the way your motor cortex works and harnesses its power. Force the motor cortex to call on the largest motor units during training and you will have better results in weight lifting contests or wherever you need to exert maximal strength and power.     

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Training for the Over-40s - Achilles Kallos

Have you ever wondered what it feels like to be a worldclass powerlifter? Or a European champion bodybuilder? How about a world record breaker in strongman competition? My name is Ray Nobile and I have been there, done that and got the t-shirt as the saying goes in ALL THREE!! Join me on a journey through the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s as I lift, hold, carry and flex my way through my iron game career.

Meet the super-strong highlander who gave it up for love while still in his prime! See the eccentric lifter who raised 700lbs with the help of a foot pump (or did he?)! How about the giant lifter who ran away.. from an oily salad? And much more!

Meet legends of lifting that became friends of mine, and experience what it was like to compete against them. Chapters as seen on Strength Oldschool BUT revised and with more pictures, more stories from my life PLUS bonus all new chapters featuring Marion my wife and her recordbreaking success, PLUS various training routines and diets I have used over the years.

More than 100 pages of drama, laughter, tragedy and entertainment awaits you within this e-book from a former topflight competitor in the iron game...enjoy!

 A wise, compassionate book that guides readers through the four key stages of aging—such as “Lightning Strikes” (the moment we wake up to our aging)—as well as the processes of adapting to change, embracing who we are, and appreciating our unique life chapters. Unlike many philosophical works on aging this one incorporates illuminating facts from scientific researchers, doctors, and psychologists as well as contemplative practices and guided meditations. Breath by breath, moment by moment, Richmond’s teachings inspire limitless opportunities for a joy that transcends age.

Baars compares and contrasts the works of such modern-era thinkers as Foucault, Heidegger, and Husserl with the thought of Plato, Aristotle, Sophocles, Cicero, and other Ancient and Stoic philosophers. He shows how people in the classical period—less able to control health hazards—had a far better sense of the provisional nature of living, which led to a philosophical and religious emphasis on cultivating the art of living and the idea of wisdom. This is not to say that modern society’s assessments of aging are insignificant, but they do need to balance an emphasis on the measuring of age with the concept of "living in time."

Achilles Kallos

Many people are reluctant to train with weights because they have the mistaken impression that if they discontinue training they will turn to fat. They even believe that heavy training will affect the heart adversely. Besides, training over a prolonged period is foreign to them and they feel that physical training should be curtailed or even discontinued after the age of thirty.

All this is, of course, incorrect. Weight training can be done all your life. As a matter of fact, weight training is one of the very few forms of physical training that can be done  to an advanced age. You can adjust the poundages according to your age and state. In other words, there is no reason to strain to the point of injury, and no fear of harming yourself . . .  if you use common sense in your training.

Weight training can not only be used to develop the body, but, if done correctly, the respiratory system can be activated to benefit the heart as well. With weight training you do not need a training partner, nor does the weather affect if as in other sporting activities. Therefore, the aim of bodybuilders should be the maintenance of their physical development until an advanced age.

John Grimek, Sig Klein, and Jack LaLanne are examples. Others nearer 40 like Reg Park, John Isaacs, George Paine, Bill Pearl, etc., continue to train in spite of abstaining from competitions and have retained their remarkable bodies.

When a person reaches the age of 40 and over, he becomes aware of the importance of keeping fit. There are usually three types of aspirants. The one who has never trained much before and finds himself in bad shape at the age of 40; and, the one who has trained before but gave up a long time ago and would now like to do something about his out-of-shape body.

For these two categories, it is recommended that before embarking on a weight training program they consult a doctor and have a thorough medical examination. Once the doctor gives them the green light to go ahead with physical training, only mild training, preferably under supervision at a local gymnasium is recommended at first. The instructor should plan an all-round course with exercises which affect the legs, waist and also the upper body. Not more than three workouts weekly are advisable at this stage. One to two sets per body part for the first three weeks. After that they can increase the sets to five, but only once they feel they are capable of doing so. This must, of course, be done gradually - maybe one set increase every two weeks until they reach the recommended five sets. Thus it should take about six to eight weeks for the goal to be reached. For the first week or so they are going to be very stiff, especially in the legs, back, abdominals and chest areas. However, they must not give in by missing a workout because of severe stiffness, as by training on the planned day the stiffness will eventually be eased in the areas aforementioned and by the second week they should be able to settle down to regular training.

It is suggested that only one exercise per body part be selected, working from two to five sets each employing eight to ten repetitions. Something like this:

Warm Up
Full Squat
Calf Raise
Standing Press
Bentover Barbell Row
Barbell Bench Press
Barbell Curl
Triceps Pressdown
Leg Raise
Light Deadlift

Ten simple, basic exercises that will affect the main muscle groups in the body. Eventually, if one's enthusiasm grows, select two exercises for each body part, totaling 20 movements which should take under one and a half hours to do three times a week. 

The third group concerned with in this in this article are those who have trained for many years and have been able to continue exercising without laying off for any prolonged period. In my case, I have trained regularly for over 30 years successfully. Having traveled throughout the bodybuilding world, meeting and training with many top men has given me a certain insight of which not many can boast. In my observations, particularly of those who have kept up training into an advanced age, too many are training incorrectly and have developed bad habits without realizing it. Of course, men like Grimek and Park do not fall into this category.

When I combined amateur wrestling with bodybuilding, I realized that besides developing muscular size with the weights, wind power was essential as well. Wrestling is one of the most perfect forms of exercise, as it develops muscular power and the respiratory system at the same time.

During recent discussion with a doctor who has been a bodybuilder many years, he remarked that most people die from respiratory failure and not old age! He further stated that the older we grow the more important respiratory training becomes.

What is meant by respiratory training, and how does one achieve it - can it be done with weight training?

First, for your heart to benefit a fit person should do an exercise that causes heavy breathing. Normal weight training does not accelerate one's breathing sufficiently. Exercises like curls, bench presses, etc., do not do the job.

The weight exercises that cause you to breathe harder are most leg movements if done in higher repetitions, as well as any bending exercises like the clean and press, power clean, snatch, squat clean, deadlift - but only if done in high repetitions. How many of you are doing this? Few, I can grant you. Running, rope skipping, bag punching, swimming are the most important respiratory exercises. According to the health authorities, it is necessary to one to indulge in any one of the above 'breathing' exercises for at least ten continuous minutes for your heart to derive benefit. This means hard work - ten minutes running should take you a minimum of 1.5 miles, ten minutes swimming at least 10 lengths of 33.3 yards. In other words, a run around the block or a couple of lengths of the swimming pool is not enough.

Recently, I read with amazement that a certain authority claimed that running was not good for bodybuilders and was not necessary. He further claimed that all one had to do for the respiratory system was to train with weights faster by reducing the rest period between sets. However, he does not believe in exercises like squats. So how can curls, chins, presses do this most important phase of training? Experiment for yourself. Take a dozen of the 'normal' bodybuilding exercises and reduce the rest periods. Then try high repetition squats, deadlifts, cleans-and-presses and see how much more you will be breathing. As a matter of fact, I warrant that you will not be fit enough to do more than two sets of each in reasonable time.

Now try something more strenuous. Run, swim, or even better try and wrestle for just five minutes and see how tired you will become. It will become obvious quite quickly just how conditioned you really are from your bodybuilding only workouts. Now, I know you may say that all you want to develop is a muscular body and not be a health fanatic, but as this article is directed at bodybuilders who have passed the forty mark, it is important to consider more than just muscles. At any rate, for those who have been training over a long period, a reassessment may be necessary.

I have observed many 'older' bodybuilders who have developed bad habits, lazy ones at that. Remember, when one is young his metabolism works better and it is not always necessary to consider respiratory training seriously. As one gets older, however, you may become invariably lazier. Maybe social and working responsibilities become greater. Nevertheless, I feel that most bodybuilders are ignorant about the 'true' physical culture way - that besides muscle training one requires respiratory training as well. It should form an integral part or your training program. Breathing exercises should not, of course, interfere with your bodybuilding training. It should form a part of your regime, and this needs correct planning and readjustment.

What happens to a normal bodybuilder who has been training incorrectly for many years? When he trains he thinks of muscle only and and as a result he finds to his consternation that his waist is no longer trim and muscular as it used to be when he was much younger. The neck shows lines and a little flabbiness, but then, he never really did much in the way of neck work. His legs are not what they used to be, much muscular shape has been lost, but then, he trains them little and when he does so he shuns the more strenuous squatting movements and favors leg presses and other less strenuous squatting movements. His chest is still big for he still does countless sets of bench presses and flyes. However, his lower pecs are so big that they now appear soft and even sag a little.

Due to the lack of lower back exercises he does not show any development in this area; as a matter of fact a bit of fat has accumulated here, including around the sides and lower abdominal area, in spite of doing regular situps which he has done for many years without ever trying to vary the exercise much.

Granted, he still has a very good pair of arms, broad shoulders, wide back, but instead of looking like he did many years ago, he may now look like an overgrown bear! Do not ask him to walk for any length of time or run after the bus for he will feel exhausted quickly now if he does. Although he tries to eat correctly, he cannot help overeating and by now may have acquired the habit of taking a few drinks, which he never did before - even smoking may have now become a habit. Through the lack of more strenuous exercise and his lazy training habits, he does not burn enough energy to counteract his overeating habits, habits in his diet that were ingrained during his younger 'bulking' days. Besides this, his heart does not even get the minimum exercise it needs.

Does this sound familiar to you? If so, you had better take another look at your training habits. From now on think respiratory first, and then muscle training.

How do I do this without making my schedule longer than it is, you might ask. Well, it's not so so simple nor is it easy. Respiratory training is hard work, but once you have become fit enough you not only feel better, but also look better.

First, you will have to reorganize your weight training schedule. No doubt you will still want to maintain a certain muscle size that you have taken so many years to cultivate. Combination exercises may be an answer, such as continuous clean and press, squat clean, power clean. These exercises develop more than one group of muscle at a time, especially when done in higher repetitions. More bending exercises are essential, they are good for the spine also. Any movement where you bend over to pick up the weight from the floor is beneficial.

I have given many athletes some of these exercises to be done in higher repetitions and they were surprised how strenuous and beneficial they were in spite of the light weights they were using. These exercises not only affect the lower back and trapezius but the waist in general, thus benefiting the abdominals, besides, they also make you breathe harder. Your legs may also need a new look, especially the thighs. When did you last do high repetition squatting movements? Well, if you have neglected this phase of your training, you are in for an unpleasant surprise. Recently an old friend of mine who now owns a gym, and still competes in international events, received a bit of a shock after we had a workout together. Some of my 'pet' respiratory exercises caused him to be terribly stiff the next day in spite of being a seasoned veteran in the game. What about your neck? When (if ever) did you last do any direct neck exercises? They are important. Neck exercises affect the head, bringing new blood to the area, thus benefiting the brain and the eyes. Besides, they will firm the neck and give a better appearance, especially when clothed.

With regard to the chest, you may have to concentrate more on the upper chest and even the rib box. I will not elaborate on the arms or upper back, because I am sure you are aware of the important exercises for these areas.

Your workout should not take longer than 1.5 hours and the tempo should be fast, with as little rest as possible. If you train correctly you need not train more than three times a week when doing weights. As a matter of fact, if you incorporate the more strenuous breathing exercises in your routine, you will not find it necessary to do more training.

With regard to the other non-weight respiratory exercises, you may have to do them on another day. Skipping or bag punching can be done after your workout if you are not too tired; otherwise try and reserve your energy by curtailing some other bodybuilding movements. Try skipping for three minutes at first (I doubt if you will be fit to do more) and work up to ten full minutes.

I feel running or swimming (if you can) should be done at least twice a week even though weight training is done. Ten minutes running does not take up that great a part of your life. It can be done on your off days, either early in the morning or after work. Jog at first for about five minutes; when you become more fit, run harder and faster. I usually run normally for the first mile or two, then sprint in bursts of 200 yards for the next mile. Let me outline a training schedule.

Weight Training -
Three times a week. It is important to warm up properly. The older you get the more careful you must be before attempting heavy weights. Some exercises require more warmups than others, and each of us has different needs for different exercises in this respect. For instance, I do free squats before attempting my commencing poundage. Free squats (squats without weights) are done in 2 sets 30 reps. I do not have the same flexibility in the knees as I used to have when I was younger. Before I do any lower back exercises I do free toe touching. Before shoulder work I swing my arms, etc., until I feel I have warmed up the shoulder area. By doing these simple physical training movements injuries will be avoided.

Full Squat - 18-20 reps for the first set, a little under bodyweight. Take deep breaths between reps. Increase the weight about 20 lbs and decrease the reps to 15. Increase again by 15-20 lbs and do 12 reps, and so forth until you achieve the amount of reps and sets you require. Strenuous, I know, and if you have not done breathing squats (as they are called) for some time, then attempt only two sets at first and increase weekly. You can substitute regular parallel squats, front squats or lunging squats. Full-squat cleans done in reps of 10-15 are tough and will definitely get you breathing rapidly.

As mentioned, movements that make you bend forward are important. They affect the lower back, abdominals and trapezius in particular, and make you breather heavier. These compound exercises are time savers as well.

A) Continuous Clean and Press - Increase the weight and decrease the reps each set. Pyramid. Start with 15 reps.

B) Power Clean - Pull the barbell from the floor to your shoulders in one movement, reps and sets as above.

C) Pull Up From Floor to Overhead - Similar to the clean and press, but you do not pause at the shoulders. Sets and reps the same.

D) Dumbbell Swing - Arms stiff, legs slightly bent, swing a pair of light dumbbells (25-30 lbs) from the floor between your feet to overhead in one movement. In sets of 10-15 reps.

E) Deadlifts - Ordinary, and stiff legged, in reps of 10-15, will benefit you now more than those heavy lifts you did in the past. Instead of straining your back you will benefit from them.

These compound exercises will make you breather heavier than ever before, your lower back will come strongly into play and, surprisingly, the abdominals are affected strongly as well.

Regarding direct abdominal exercises, I favor movements that make me stretch. Situps off a high bench with a twist done slowly affects them much more than regular situps.

NECK - From now on take special care of your neck and always do at least one exercise for it. When the neck is better conditioned you can try more strenuous bridging work.

Now this does not mean that you have to incorporate all the exercises recommended, only a few at a time. They are tough and you will undoubtedly have difficulty with them at first. I recommend the following routine (as a guide):

1) Squat - high reps
2) Calf work
3) Clean and Press
4) Shoulder work - presses, laterals, etc.
5) Upper back - chins, rowing, etc.
6) Chest work - mostly upper pecs
7) Arm work - the usual
8) Light deadlifts - high reps
9) Dumbbell swings or pull up from the floor -
10) Abdominals - high sit up or slow leg raise
11) Neck work
12) Skipping or bag punching - 5-10 minutes

Do you think you can do the above routine within 1.5 hours? I have no trouble in doing so. However, I must caution you to take it easy for the first two weeks. Gradually increase the sets and reps. If this program is too long, then by all means reduce it accordingly and sensibly.

Maybe you can split your program into by doing legs one day, upper body the next, then rest the third day and so forth. At any rate, you have been training long enough to be your own judge by now.

A novel way of incorporating cardiovascular work with weight training is by using the P.H.A. system, or sequence training. Bob Gajda, former Mr. America, popularized this system which became known as 'peripheral heart action' training. He not only found this method benefited his heart and lungs but his physique as well.

It is a very rugged way of training when done properly. By selecting four or five completely different exercises for various muscle groups and doing each exercise for the required repetitions one after the other without rest between, a terrific heart-muscular action occurs. But you have to work up to a high level of fitness before being able to do justice to this type of routine.

On the other hand, because different muscle areas are exercises each set, a certain amount of respite enables you to go through the schedule without the same effort as if one tried compound sets.

Let me give you an example by selecting five different exercises that can be done one after the other with hardly any rest between.

Standing Press
Barbell Curl
Lying DB Flye
Calf Raise

Upright Row
Leg Raise

Bentover Row
Calf Raise
Standing Lateral
DB Swing
Calf Raise

Make up your mind you are going to be healthier, fitter and trimmer. Do not forget to incorporate running or swimming or any activity you choose that will take care of your breathing.

Diet Plays an Important Part in Your Training Program

Older people are plagued with the cholesterol problem and efforts are made to curtail a high cholesterol intake. A high protein diet is essential, although many doctors are against large quantities of animal products like milk, butter, etc. It may be advisable to have your cholesterol level checked by your doctor and if it is high. to refrain from foods that contain too much of it. It has been been proven that exercise keeps cholesterol down.

I personally believe in the power of fresh fruit and vegetables and make sure to eat them in abundance daily. In my salads I use lemon and olive oil dressing with plenty of fresh onions and garlic. Meat and fish are eaten sparingly as I feel overeating them should not be done. In between meals I like apples, bananas and nuts rather than cookies, sandwiches etc. I do not drink tea or coffee, instead choosing herbal tea (mainly German origin) with honey as a sweetener, also yogurt and fresh milk. Milk taken in moderation is still one of the healthiest drinks. Fresh orange juice is also taken daily upon rising in the morning. At breakfast I favor old fashioned oats with honey. Bread is seldom eaten and only the whole grain variety. Somehow eggs have not played an important part in diet. About once a week I may have a couple of soft boiled eggs. I find that eggs do not mix well with porridge in the gut in the morning.

Fried foods, heavily spiced foods, etc., are taboo and should always be avoided.

Protein supplements are important as well, even if your diet is well balanced. Poor soil, overcooking, etc., can damage food.

Liver tablets for Vitamin B, wheat germ oil for your heart, kelp for minerals (abstain from using normal salt) are the most important vitamins you should take every day.

In conclusion, the author has always led an active life, but this does not mean that everyone over the age of 45 can be so active. By all means train according to your ability and it what is outlined in this article is too much then adjust your efforts accordingly.

Your editor, Peary Rader, has always advocated continued training to an advanced age. He will tell you that training should become less strenuous as you get older. For instance, at 35 you are able to do a lot more than at the age of 45. At 50, 60, and over, you are able to do less. Yet it does not mean you should automatically refrain from active training. As a matter of fact, as stated before, it is most important to train for health via muscular and respiratory activation.

So be your own judge, but try not to get into those lazy habits discussed in this article. Training is hard work but then, health is the reward and

anything worth having is worth working for.



Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Rack Attack - Mike Mahler (2014)

An Old-School Method of Fostering
Size, Strength, and Mental Toughness
Mike Mahler

Many trainees waste a lot of time with ineffective training programs that do more damage than good. too many just love complexity and try to avoid the basic power moves - even though they're the ones that provide the most bang for your buck. Others want training to be entertaining and don't want to repeat the same workout twice. The problem is, muscle confusion may be great for selling videos, but it will never build serious size, strength and mental toughness.

If you really want to excel, you must master the skill of the basic power moves. Whether your goal is to get stronger, get bigger or improve your physique composition, the compound power moves will always be the best options. That's something Peary Rader, the founder of this very magazine, understood extremely well.

The author of The Rader Master Bodybuilding and Weight Gaining System, he knew the value of hard work focused on bang-for-your-buck exercises such as the squat and deadlift. His squat program was so effective that Rader put on almost 100 lbs of muscle in a year! A gardgainer, he'd weighed just 130 lbs before starting the program.

You're probably incredulous at Peary's gains on the squat program. That's because you've never done it. Peary's squat routine is brutally difficult, and most will give up before they complete the first workout.

Rader ascertained the benefits of intense squat workouts from fellow old-schoolers Mark Berry and J.C. Hise. Berry had difficulty putting on size but managed to add 29 lbs of muscle in one month on the squat program.

Hise was another exasperated trainee. After learning about Berry's results, he gave the squat program a shot and acquired 10 lbs in one month, a total of 75 lbs over the next two years.

Rader believed that the squat should be the main focus of an effective weight gaining program, and all other exercises should be secondary. If trainees were short on time, he let them go through periods in which the squat was the only exercise they did.

Rader's program is known by a number of names, including '20-rep squats' and 'breathing squats'. Rader recommended that beginners start with two sets of 10 reps or one set of 20. More advanced athletes could do as many as three sets of 10 to 15.

Each set had to be an all-out effort, and Rader told lifters to add weight whenever possible. He cautioned them to start out fairly light and gradually work up to more intense, heavier sessions. You need to get good at the skill of doing high-rep sets before ramping up the weights.

For added benefits, Rader recommended a precise breathing method that maximized the squat's effectiveness. He call it the 'puff and pant' method. Hold your breath during each rep, and then pause between reps, with the barbell still on your back, and take a deep breath.

Make sure you breath through your mouth, as deeply as possible, so you use the entire chest cavity. Don't breath into the lower chest or diaphragm. That's not where you want expansion. Focus on the upper chest.

On the first five reps take one deep breath between rests each time. After that go up to three breaths f more, as needed. By the time you get to rep 15, you'll probably be taking eight to 10 breaths.

If you're not, you likely picked a weight that's too light to be effective. That's not a big deal early in the program. Just increase the weight at the next session, and remember that the best gains will come when you're working brutally hard.

Some trainees who jump into this program get hung up on how many breaths they should be taking between reps. Rader believed that the breathing should come naturally; take as many breaths as you need for the next rep - and no more.

Keep in mind that until you get used to the technique, you'll likely find that the deep breathing between reps makes the set seem more difficult. Yet, with enough practice, the deep breathing will facilitate your use of much heavier weights for more reps.

When you're doing a 20-rep set properly, you'll try to talk yourself into stopping short of 20. That's where mental toughness becomes a must. If you aren't mentally tough before you start, you will be once you get deep into it. (If you aren't, you won't stick with it long enough to get results.) Every part of you will be begging to rack the weight, to rest, to quit. Fight that urge and finish the set, and you'll have a real sense of accomplishment. Of course, you want to make sure you squat in a power rack and for added safety have a capable spotter.

The key to finishi8ng one of these sets is to take it one rep at a time. The last thing you want to be doing is telling yourself that you have 'only' five more reps to go. Instead, focus on the next rep. That's the only one that matters. When you're on rep 16, your only focus is finishing rep 17. Don't rush through the deep breathing between reps; take your time, and focus on the moment without being attached to the end results.

Rader suggested going to just below parallel on each rep. When you're about to reach that point, tense your glutes and hamstrings in preparation for rebounding out of the bottom position.

Rader called if a 'bouncing squat' and believed that it protects the lower back from shock at a weak point. To clarify, you want to avoid pausing in the bottom position. Minimize the time there, and drive back up as fast as you can.

Rader recommended a stance in which your feet are 12 inches apart, with your toes turned out slightly, but he wasn't adamant about it. He believed that a lifter's stance is an individual thing, and that you should do what works best for you.

Your eyes should look straight ahead - never up or down - throughout the lift, with your back as flat as possible. Rader believed that leaning forward constricts breathing, which will in turn have a negative effect on performance.

Program Options

You have many options to choose from. You can do one all-out set of 20 reps two or three times per week, or you can vary it - do one set of 20 in one session, two sets of 10 in another and two sets of 15 in the third workout of the week.

The first option - one murderous set of 20 at each workout - will work for some people but will wear down most, mentally as well as physically. Having more variety gives you a better chance of sticking with the program long enough to get what you want out of it.

Make sure you do at least 10 reps per set and at least 20 total reps at each workout, and don't do more than three sets. If you're an overachiever, you may think that it makes sense to go for the maximum across the board and do three sets of 20. Trust me, you don't even want to try. Once you've done a seriously hard set of 20 squats, you'll cringe at the idea of doing three such sets per workout.

New trainees will probably do best with three workouts per week. More advanced trainees will make better gains with two sessions, with two full days off in between. If you don't know which category best describes you, start with two sessions per week, and take advantage of the extra recovery time.

Rader's Recommended Routine

While you can go through a brief period of doing squats and only squats, you'll get better results by adding assistance exercises to give you a well-balanced program, like this:

Two Arm Dumbbell Pullovers - 1 x 20
Standing Barbell Press - 1 x 10-12
Barbell Cur - 1 x 10-12
Barbell Bench Press - 1 x 10-12
Barbell Bentover Row - 1 x 10-12
Situp - 1 x 10-12

Use a very light weight for the pullovers - probably about 20 to 30 pounds - and do your set immediately following the squats, with no rest in between. After you finish the pullovers you can take as long a break as you need before tackling the rest of the exercises.

When your strength and bodyweight stall, increase the volume, going up to two sets of 10-12 reps of each exercise. If you hit another plateau, increase to three sets of 10-12.

My personal recommendations are to do weighted pullups instead of barbell curls. I'd also skip the situps and do hanging leg raises, dragon flags or power wheel rollouts instead.

Feel free to add as much variety as you like within Rader's template. Just don't make the mistake of overly complicating the program.Remember that the squat is the main moneymaker of the regimen, and all efforts should be applied there before moving on to any other exercise.

The Deadlift Option

As effective as the squat program is, it's certainly not the best fit for everyone. For example, taller lifters typically don't do well with barbell squats. Others have injuries that make the squat a bad choice - and some just don't like doing squats two or three times a week.

Fortunately, you can do a similarly effective program with deadlifts.

If anything, Rader saw the deadlift program as the more strenuous option and believed that you should minimize or even avoid other exercises for the first few weeks. The goal is to focus all your energy on the most important exercise; however, few lifters will find a one-exercise program appealing, so at minimum you should include overhead presses, weighted pullups and perhaps some core work.

Just make sure you do the secondary exercises after the deadlifts. That applies especially to ab work, since a fatigued midsection is the last thing you want before brutal deadlift training.

The Plan

If you've never done high-rep deadlift sets, you're in for a humbling experience. Rader strongly recommended a gradual build-up. Start you first workout with one set of 18-20 reps, using a moderate weight. Take a few weeks to work up to one all-out set of 20.

As with the squat program you don't have to do the same reps and sets at every workout. You can try one set of 20 in one workout, two sets of 10 at the next, and two sets of 15 at the third.

Again, more advanced trainees will probably find that doing two sessions a week is more productive than three. You may even find that one session per week is all that you can handle. When you really push hard on the deadlift, it tends to break you down; so, when in doubt, take more rest days.

Breathing With the Dead

There are different ways to do breathing deadlifts. You can take three deep breaths at the midpoint of the lift, when you're standing with the weight locked out. Or you can leave the bar on the floor at the end of the rep, stand, take three deep breaths, and do the next rep. Then, instead of pausing again with the bar on the floor, do your next rep, lock it out, and then take your breaths while holding the bar.

With either option, breathe as deeply as possible into your chest, rather than your diaphragm.

Deadlift Variations

Rader cautioned against using the Romanian deadlift or stiff-legged deadlift with this program. Stick with the standard deadlift, keeping your back as flat as possible, with your hips low.

Low hips means bent knees, which Rader encouraged. He wanted lifters to use their legs as much as possible, minimizing the strain on the lower back and maximizing the work for the largest and strongest muscle groups.

I recommend using a trap bar for high-rep deadlifts because the weight is evenly distributed, away from your lower back. It's halfway between a squat and a barbell deadlift, and fits perfectly with this program. It's also much more comfortable and won't scrape your shins the way a barbell would.

These two programs are both winners. You just need to figure out which one best suits your skills and interests, and see it through. I would also recommend a back-off week after every three weeks of hard work. Even if you feel strong during the back-off week, enjoy the reduced intensity, and you will feel even stronger when you resume. Make sure you apply recovery and restoration appropriately. Get a recovery massage every other week and make sure you get as much sleep as you need and you're much more likely to stay on track.

Finally, whether you choose the squat program or the deadlift option, it's important to eat your preworkout meal at least two hours before training for optimal digestion. The last thing you need is an upset stomach in the middle of one of these brutal workouts. 




Karl-Heinz Otto: World's Fastest Bench Presser - Stephen Korte

Introduction -

I can still remember the day I met Karl-Heinz Otto for the first time. It was a freezing cold afternoon in December. I was working out in our local gym when he walked in.  To me, just a novice with only a few weeks of training under my belt, he looked like a giant. Standing 6'2" and 240 lbs heavy, with a beard like a mountain man, his friends called him Grizzly and he was as strong as he looked. My buddy Albert and I were really impressed to see him warming up for the bench press with 225, a weight that Al and I were using for our heavy sets at that time. That day he went up to 500 lbs without a bench shirt, which was an unbelievable feat of strength at that time, especially in our small town gym. But most impressive was his cool-down set with 225, which he fired up to 40 reps.

I am sure that some of you think that's not much weight and that there might be lifters who can bench more for even more reps, but I bet that none of them will be able to do it faster than Karl-Heinz. The weight was almost flying up and down when he finished the 40 reps in less than 30 seconds (no, he is not one of those 'short-arm lifters' where the bar travels only three inches from chest to lockout).

He improved his performance over the next two years and finally set a Guinness Book World Record in 1988. They even put a photo of him in the book. His record: 225 lbs for 50 reps in 38.7 seconds, and 325 lbs for 10 reps in 7.1 seconds. I'm convinced that I am right to call him the world's fasted bencher. Interestingly enough, the Guinness Book Record still stands (1997). By the way, how do you like his new goal - A one arm dumbbell bench press with 110 lbs for 50 reps in less than 60 seconds.

The following interview was done at a local track and field competition in Amsberg, Germany, a few weeks ago.

Stephen Korte: Karl-Heinz, can you give us some personal information about yourself like your age, occupation, and anything else you think is worth mentioning.

Karl-Heinz: I was born in Amsberg, Germany, on March 17, 1954. I am divorced and currently live with my daughter Janine and my dog Sherry in Bruchhausen, Germany. I work for a U.S. company called Honeywell as an accountant.

SK: How did you get started with weight training?

KH: I started lifting weights at age 18. At that time I did it to improve my performance in shot-putting. My philosophy was: The stronger I get, the better I will be in the shotput. In retrospect, this wasn't correct because technique is more important for success in track and field than raw strength. But anyway, I was bitten by the iron bug. I worked out 4 hours a day, six days a week. Technique training in the morning and weightlifting later in the afternoon. I did mainly cleans, pulls, squats, bench pressing and some exercises for the abs and lower back. Lifting weights really helped me in the shot. I finally got second at the German Nationals in 1975 and my state record hasn't been broken yet.

SK: How did you get involved with powerlifting?

KH: During my career as a shot-putter I did a lot of bench pressing and it became my favorite exercise. When I stopped competing and training for the shotput in 1980 I continued lifting weights because I loved it. I specialized on the bench press and competed in some local gym competitions. In 1986 I read in a bodybuilding magazine about the German Powerlifting Nationals. I hadn't heard about powerlifting until that day but I thought it would be worth a try. When I looked through the meet results I found that a former shotputter, Klaus Liedtke, had competed. I called him the next day and met him in his gym a week later. This was the first time I ever tried to deadlift and I did 595 lbs for 6 reps. Klaus was impressed and invited me to compete at the state championships four weeks later. That's how I came to powerlifting.

SK: How did you perform in powerlifting? Did you perform as well as you did in the shot?

KH: No. Unfortunately not. I made a big mistake. I was constantly overtrained. As a shotputter, I was used to workouts every day. I used the same approach with powerlifting. I did every powerlift twice a week and I also did some assistance work. I always lifted to failure. One training session 4 sets of 4 reps, the next session 4 sets of 8 reps. My lower back was killing me, but I didn't stop. In my first competition I deadlifted only 617 lbs. Considering that I had done almost 600 for 6 reps, I obviously made a big mistake. Then I made an even bigger mistake. I used the same routine for the next two training cycles. I trained as hard as possible but I didn't get any stronger. I get even weaker. I had a constant pain in my lower back and developed arthritis in my right knee. The injuries and the fact that I hate the tight powerlifting equipment have led to the decision to quit.

SK: You stopped powerlifting, but not bench pressing?

KH: That's right. I continued to train heavy on the bench press. Like I said before, it was my favorite exercise and compared to the squat and deadlift it is much easier to train. I had no more pain in my lower back.

SK: Tell us about your best lifts in training and competition and the titles you have won so far.

KH: My best competition lifts in powerlifting are: squat 551, bench 446, deadlift 665 lbs, all at 220. I don't count the gym lifts. My personal record on the bench is 545, but in a touch-and-go style. In competition I have done 486. Besides several state and regional titles, I consider the second place at the German bench press nationals in 1991 as my greatest success during my powerlifting career.

SK: But you haven't only competed in powerlifting and bench press meets? I've heard about some unbelievable feats of strength you performed outside of the sport of powerlifting. Please tell us about that.

KH: Sure. In 1988 I set a world record for the Guinness Book. I benched 225 lbs 50 times in only 38.7 seconds. On the same day I benched 325 for 10 reps in 7.1 seconds. Both are world records an the entry was in the Guinness Book for 3 years. No one has ever broken these records. One year later, in 1989, I pulled a bus with 60 people, all in all 30 tons heavy, over a distance of 50 meters. I applied for a Guinness Book entry, but this time they didn't take it. In 1994 I tried to set another world record for the book. A one arm dumbbell press with 110 lbs for 50 reps in less than one minute. This was part of a show program at a strongman competition in Germany. Unfortunately, I lost the groove on the dumbbell press and got only 43 reps, but in 36 seconds. Later in the afternoon, I placed second in the strongman competition. That's it so far.

SK: Did you follow a special bench press routine for your world record attempts?

KH: I wouldn't call it a special routine, but I changed a few things in my regular routine. I have always had a high level of speed in my upper body muscles, especially in my arms. This comes from thousands of shot put attempts over the last 20 years. This was a great advantage. That's why I didn't really have to improve my speed, just my muscular endurance. I

I worked out 3 to 4 times times a week. I benched every time, either with a barbell or with dumbbells. I always warmed up properly, followed by four heavy sets. In the first workout I did 4 sets of 4 reps. If I could do 5 reps in my first set I would increase the weight by 10 lbs for the next set. One rep was always 10 lbs. If I did only 3 reps on the first set, I decreased the weight by 10 lbs. In my next workout I followed the same approach, but this time with 4 sets of 8 reps. Every training session was finished by a cooldown set with 225 lbs for as many reps as possible. I also did a maximum attempt every two weeks. Some bench press sessions were followed by dumbbell incline presses or press behind the neck. I used the same approach for the assistance work, either 4 sets of 4 reps, or 4 sets of 8 reps. Barbell curls and seated rows were done once a week, each exercise with 3 sets of 12-15 reps.

SK: What are your future goals in powerlifting? Do you plan any world record attempts?

KH: Oh yes, I still want that world record in the one arm dumbbell press - 50 reps with 110 lbs in less than one minute. I've just started a heavy training cycle and I can already do 38 reps. It's just a question of time when it will happen. Right now, I am looking for a competition where I can do  that exhibition, hopefully by the end of this year.

SK: Are there any final comments that you would like to make?

KH: I would like to thank my parents for all the support they have given to me. I hope they can see me from up there and be proud of me. I really love them. Thanks to Powerlifting USA for publishing this interview. And last, but not least, I would like to send out a question to all the American powerlifters -

Hey, is there anybody out there who can break my records?
Do it.
I need something to keep me motivated!               

Monday, August 18, 2014

Eating for Strength and Muscular Development, Part Ten- Norman Zale (1977)

How to Conquer Mob Mentality!
How to Buy Happiness!!

Part food narrative, part investigation, part adventure story, Organic is an eye-opening and entertaining look into the anything goes world behind the organic label. It is also a wakeup call about the dubious origins of food labeled organic. After eating some suspect organic walnuts that supposedly were produced in Kazakhstan, veteran journalist Peter Laufer chooses a few items from his home pantry and traces their origins back to their source. Along the way he learns how easily we are tricked into taking “organic” claims at face value.

Fat Facts

Fats and oils are our most concentrated source of energy. Many sources of fats provide important nutrients, such as fat-soluble vitamins and unsaturated fatty acids. 

Why then are we constantly told to cut down on fats? In the first place, fats are loaded with calories - they contain approximately twice as many calories as you find in proteins and carbohydrates. Secondly, saturated fats can raise your blood cholesterol; however, it's not just the amount, but the kind of fat you eat that matters. Here is a rundown of the different kinds of fats:

 - Saturated Fats.
Generally obtained in meat an dairy products including butter, eggs, milk and cheese. These fats tend to raise blood cholesterol levels and do not melt at room temperature.

 - Unsaturated Fats
Found in fish, nuts, olive oil and peanut oils. Unsaturated fats contain less hydrogen than saturated fats and have little effect on blood cholesterol levels. Such fats are liquid at room temperature.

 - Polyunsaturated Fats
Found in soybean, corn and safflower oils. These fats contain less hydrogen than unsaturated fats and tend to lower blood cholesterol levels. Such fats are liquid at room temperature.

 - Hydrogenated Fats
Unsaturated fats that have been hardened by the addition of hydrogen. These are most often found in shortening and margarine and tend to raise blood cholesterol levels. They remain solid at room temperatures.

Any fat that is liquid at room temperature is called an oil. In general, oils are less saturated than fats, with the exception of coconut oil.

In buying a margarine or shortening, you want one that is high in polyunsaturated fats. Buy one that gives liquid safflower oil or corn oil as the first ingredient on the label, not hydrogenated vegetable oil. Pure vegetable oils are not saturated and should be your choice over solid margarine.

The fats used in oils, spreads, and shortenings are only part of the total fat in your diet. You have to consider both visible and invisible fat. A lot of fat is found in meats, especially marbleized steaks, hot dogs, hamburger, corned beef and duck. Cheese varies, depending on the type: Cottage, ricotta and farmer, for example, are low in saturated fats; others such as Brie, Camembert, blue cheese and cream cheese are high.

For most weight trainers, the ideal way is to incorporate the essential fats and oils in the diet is to use them in their natural state, or as nearly so as possible - nuts or seeds, eaten raw and sprouted, not only provide the finest oils but enzymes, raw protein, vitamins and minerals.

Avocados are another good source of oil, combined with other essential nutrients and raw protein. Even though small in quantity, the protein from avocados is high in quality and therefore a valuable addition to the diet.

Fresh grains, sprouted, soaked or freshly ground are also valuable sources of essential oils. Who can deny the value of wheat germ oil?

Fish oils such as cod liver oil and halibut are very valuable foods. They are high in Vitamin D and unsaturated fatty acids, and are useful in calcium metabolism. In addition to these two oils, flax seed oil has been found to have a cholesterol buffering factor which lessens the effect of hardened fats and margarines. However, since flax seed oil is one of the most perishable of all oils, the seed and oil should be kept under refrigeration at all times.

Any natural fat, whether from meat, poultry, or fish, will melt at room temperature, and will be a soft golden color. These fats may be used with safety. Animal fats that are hard, white, and will not melt unless boiled, broiled or fried, should be eliminated from the diet once and for all.

Honey comb, bone marrow, and raw butter are also good foods to include, not only for their unsaturated fatty acids, but for the Vitamin E and their "Factor-X" - an anti-stiffening factor which they contain.

Many men, when following high-protein-and-little-else diets, sometimes make the realization that their diets are deficient in essential oils. This condition is usually remedied by the inclusion of a teaspoon of either flax seed, safflower or wheat germ oil with each meal. Combining these three oils plus soy bean oil makes a welcome addition to the diet and insures the user that sufficient of the proper types of oils are used to insure maximum utilization of other foods eaten.

Next: A Large Chapter on Vitamins.



Sunday, August 17, 2014

Clarence Bass - Lee Bergquist

For decades, Clarence Bass (born 1937) has been photographed in bodybuilding poses that trace his transformation from an embryonic weightlifter of 15 to a ripped septuagenarian. The pictures represent a biological time line of how little the human body declines with proper care and feeding. His latest photographs, taken a little shy of his 70th birthday, reveal a man virtually bereft of body fat. He is not so much a portrait of strength, though he is that; he is a model of muscle definition. Everything seems to pop. Tendons and veins rise up out of his skin like tightly drawn cables. He has abs to die for.

"For all the softies of the world," said photographer Laszlo Bencze, who photographed Bass, "the only thing they desire is defined abs. And Clarence has got that in spades." 

Outside the hypercritical eye of the bodybuilding establishment, where no imperfection goes unnoticed, Bass's physique has changed little since 1978 when he won his height class at the Past-40 Mr. America competition. The similarity between age 40 and 70 is ll the more remarkable because Bass than was using anabolic steroids.

Now, instead of drugs, he uses a few over0the-counter nutritional supplements. He lifts weights twice a week, mixes in another two days of short bouts of heart-pounding aerobics, takes lots of walks, and eats a near-vegetarian diet. He is not a slave to the gym. And when I spent a day with him in December 2007, we ate all day long.

America's health clubs are filled with barbell-lifting baby boomers intent on staying young forever. But will they, over decades, have the discipline, diet, and passion for weight training that Bass had demonstrated? Will any of them ever look as lean and strong?
"I don't think that you will ever see many people like Clarence Bass," said Terry Todd, a professor of exercise history at the University of Texas. "Clarence is very unique."

I learned about Bass when I came across his photographs in Physical Dimensions of Aging (1995), by Waneen W. Spirduso, a professor of kinesiology and public health, also at the University of Texas.

Table of Contents:

Spirduso used pictures of Bass to make a point: Strength and muscular endurance decline mostly because of a lack of exercise - not because of factors associated with getting old. "One of the clearest findings in the literature on strength and aging is that disuse accelerates aging," she wrote.

For many years, much of the medical community failed to see the benefits of resistance training. "You really had to be there to see how people felt," said Todd, a former national champion powerlifter who weighed more than 300 pounds. He remembers meeting Kenneth Cooper, the physician and author of the 1968 book, Aerobics. At the time, Cooper saw little benefit in strenuous weight training. But with new research, attitudes began to change. A 1998 study by the American College of Medicine analyzed 250 research projects; among the findings, it found that strength training can make men and women stronger as they grow older, improve bone health, and help control weight. In one of the studies, older men and women were found to achieve greater gains in strength than younger people. Spirduso described elite elderly athletes as having a psyche in which the "body and functioning are very important components of self-awareness and self-esteem."

When I first saw the photographs of Bass, I was impressed with how strong he looked. But his muscularity, at his age, seemed excessive. I thought about TV muscleman Jack LaLanne and the infomercials featuring impossibly strong men and women hawking the latest exercise device. Mind you, this was early in my research, and I hadn't yet studied anyone as muscular as Bass. I didn't fully understand the passion, pride, and ambition that drove the older athlete; I hadn't come around to the notion that if a 70-year old man can spring 100 meters or run a marathon, why couldn't he try seeking physical perfection?

"I think the primary reason people are uncomfortable about these sorts of muscle poses, and to some degree this is true, is that vanity and ego are on such public display," Todd told me. He is co-director of Texas's Todd-McLean Physical Culture Collection, the largest archive in the world devoted to fitness, weightlifting, and exercise.

Todd described Bass as "sort of a poster child" for the older superfit and he planned on using photos depicting "the changelessness of Clarence's body" when the collection became the centerpiece of the university's new 27,000-square-foot Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports.

Muscularity can be intimidating, even when it's someone who qualifies for Social Security. "It's sort of like, 'What have you spent the last 30 years of your life doing? Well, not much," Bencze said. "And so that makes them feel guilty. And if you feel guilty, you are going to be angry."

His Body of Work

In street clothes, Bass is lean and wiry. He is not tall - 5'6". His skin is remarkably smooth, and in certain light he appears 20 years younger. Bass is fond of sharing his views and, in fact, much of his time is now spent communicating his ideas on fitness. But it is with restraint - and not gimmicks. "He talks very softly but very strongly," said his old friend, Carl Miller, a former U.S. Olympic weightlifting coach.

The Sport of Olympic-Style Weightlifting, Training for the Connoisseur - 
Carl Miller, 2011:

 "How I look is very important to me," Bass said when we first met at his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico. "That's my proof, so to speak." Photographs are the "most visible way I can show that I have maintained this level of fitness," he said. "I realize that it is a turnoff for some people who are not into bodybuilding. But one of the things that distinguishes me from almost any other bodybuilder is this continuing documentation."

Muscle definition is influenced chiefly by muscle size and level of body fat. Every Saturday morning before breakfast, Bass goes into the bathroom and steps on a scale that measures his weight and body bar. He records the changes in his neat handwriting on a legal pad, the numbers fluctuating by a pound and a tenth of a percentage point, respectively. He has tested his body this way since 1977. In the days before high-tech scales, Bass was dunked underwater in a laboratory by researchers at the Lovelace Foundation for Medical Education and Research in Albuquerque. 

In his most recent photographs, Bass weighed 150 pounds. His body fat registered 3.5% on his at-home scale - lower than that of most elite marathon runners. A more qualitative analysis occurs every morning when he gets out of bed and looks in the mirror at his nude body. "In terms of overall muscle mass, there are some posies that I used to be able to do that I can't now," he said. "But I am pretty proud of how I look."

Bass began lifting weights at 13, turning an old shed at home into his personal gym. As a junior in high school, he was New Mexico's state pentathlon champion - an event that combined push-ups, chin-ups, vertical jump, a 300-yard shuttle run, and an event called the bar vault, in which competitors pulled themselves over a high bar. As a senior, he finished second in the state wrestling tournament. In college, he began competing in Olympic-style lifts, which require great quickness and strength. Then he took up bodybuilding.

The year after he won his weight class in the Past-40 Mr. America, Bass, at 41, took first place in his class in another competition - the Past-40 Mr. USA. Overall, he won best abdominals, best legs, and most muscular. He was in the best condition of his life.

Then he stopped competing and I wondered why he suddenly quit. "I might lose," he told me as we sat in his kitchen. "I really had nothing to gain and everything to lose. I developed my reputation with these photos, and these contests aren't a lot of fun." 

Bass was practicing law full time. He was also writing a column for Muscle and Fitness magazine. The next goal was to leverage his credentials and write more expansively about weight training and bodybuilding. A year after leaving the posing stage, Bass wrote his first book, Ripped: The Sensible Way to Achieve Ultimate Muscularity, which he self-published in 1980. The book delved not only into his diet and training philosophies but also discussed his use of steroids. Ripped has sold about 55,000 copies.


Bass's experimentation with steroids must be viewed in the context of the times. The International Olympic Committee added steroids to its list of banned substances for the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, but there was no testing for the presence of the drugs at bodybuilding competitions. It was certainly off the radar screen of professional sports and the public mindset. In Ripped, Bass laid it out in the open. While he did not condemn those who used steroids, he concluded that even though he used them for a short time, they were a disaster on his body.

There are no known long-term effects of steroids because no studies have been done, according to Charles Yesalis, professor emeritus of health policy and administration at Pennsylvania University and a leading expert on drug use in sports. "There has always been a vanity to man, but it clearly accelerating," Yesalis said. "I think that performance-enhancing drugs are just one piece of the puzzle." Athletes use them to gain an edge, but there is also the human desire to look better. The use of makeup, tanning beds, cosmetic surgery, even exercise, all figure into this yearning for achievement, he said.

In 1978 for the Past-40 Mr. America, Bass had subsisted on a low-carbohydrate diet; in the weeks before the competition, he was eating 18 eggs a day. His hands trembled from overtraining. The diet, his training, and probably the steroids produced emotional highs and lows that he called his Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality. With steroids, "in short, your body's hormone-producing mechanism gets lazy," he wrote. "Thus a real problem arises when you stop taking steroids."

As Bass was getting ready for his second over-40 competition without the aid of steroids, his bodyfat had zoomed from 2.4 to 9.1 percent. While still far leaner than the average man his age, he had six months to rid his body of unwanted fat.

Bass changed his exercise routine from mega-lifting sessions to shorter, high-intensity workouts that trained different muscles on different days. Each muscle group got four days of rest. He also reverted to a diet that leaned heavily on low-fat protein whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Without using steroids, he was able to increase his strength and reduce body fat. Bass has essentially stayed with the same whole-foods diet and workout regimen ever since.

"If you are going to be a lifetime trainer," he told me, "steroids are absolutely the wrong thing to do. You're just jerking yourself around." Bass also is not a proponent of two other potential aids for older athletes: supplements for alleviating declining testosterone levels or hormone-replacement therapy. He believes a good diet and exercise trump supplements' purported benefits without risking potential consequences.

Bass practiced law until he was 57. But as his interest in health grew, he went into the fitness business full time with his wife, Carol. He has written ten and self-published nine books; his latest [as of the date of this article] is Great Expectations: Health, Fitness, Leanness Without Suffering, which was released in 2007.

The couple has also produced five audiotapes and three DVDs. Their business, Ripped Enterprises, sells other produces, including nutritional supplements. But unlike many fitness gurus, Bass does not tout supplements as the cornerstone of good health.

"The only defect with Clarence is that what he recommends isn't exotic enough," said Bencze, who in six months lost 20 pounds using Bass's whole-foods approach. With a good diet and exercise, Bass believes a person who wants to lose weight should try dropping no more than a half-pound (0.2 kg) per week. "It's so normal, so un-weird that many people think it can't work," Bencze said.
Eating to Stay Lean

Bass rarely leaves Albuquerque and prefers to spend much of his time at his two-story stucco home where he answers letters and emails from customers and writes on the topics of health, diet, and exercise for his website. 

I had been driven from my hotel to the couple's home by Carol, who was then 64 and whom he calls "the enabler." Warm and outgoing, she works from home in the morning and heads to the office in the afternoon mailing out products and handling administrative matters. She went back to college in her 60s, changed her major from biology to English, and edits her husband's writing. The couple has a son, Matt, in his mid-30s.

Said Terry Todd, "He would have probably made an ideal monk in the Middle Ages, up in a monastery on the hills of Greece, if he could have sneaked Carol in the back door."

Staying close to home also allows Bass to better control the foods he eats. He is not a calorie counter, per se, but he has followed the subject so long that he knows the caloric value of nearly everything that goes into his mouth. He avoids food that contains concentrated calories, such as sugar and butter. He rarely eats red meat but also believes that a good diet is one that never calls for going hungry and allows for an occasional indulgence.
For breakfast, he scooped one cup of a mix of cooked oat groats, hulled barley, rye, spelt, kamut [Khorasan wheat], and amaranth into a bowl and added two tablespoons of ground flax and a handful of frozen fruit. Then he poured in another handful of frozen corn, peas, and green beans and a cup of plain soy milk. Bass drinks both nonfat cow's milk and soy milk. But he likes soy milk because it has the fattier "mouth feel" of whole milk with fewer calories. He also prefers to use the sweetener Splenda, or sucralose, which cuts calories by reformulating the properties of cane sugar. He cooked the contents in the microwave.

He placed a huge bowl of food in front of me that looked absolutely awful. I love vegetables, but not in my cereal, and I am not sure I had ever tasted soy milk. On the table in front of me was a teaspoon. I was to eat this prodigious concoction not with a tablespoon but with a teaspoon. The idea was to slow down my consumption so I didn't eat past the point of feeling full. There was, however, an implicit understanding that I should finish the whole bowl. The breakfast turned out to be surprisingly good - nutty, sweet, and almost buttery. The grains gave it some heft and the fruit and vegetables went well together.

Later in the morning he offered me an apple. Bass often has an apple and a quarter-cup of salmon as a mid-morning snack to keep his blood sugar at a high level.

Before lunch we walked on a patchwork of trails on the eastern edge of Albuquerque that threaded through public land a few blocks from his home. Sometimes he and Carol will walk farther into the Sandia Mountains. Bass has timed himself getting to the top. He told me that he knocked 10 minutes off the climb when he began taking the supplement creatine, which supplies energy to muscles. He also takes a multivitamin and vitamins C and E. But this was a recovery day and we walked leisurely through a moonscape flecked with withering grasses and cacti. On our return, the trail provided a sweeping vista of the city and the Rio Grande Valley.

"Most people think that aerobic exercise is boring," he said. "Well, the way most people do it, it is boring - going to gyms and reading newspapers. If you do it right, if you have a nice place to walk, you get revitalized."

When we came back, Bass served lunch: special peanut butter formulated with eggs and flax-seed oil on toasted whole grain break, a handful of carrots, and a large mug with equal portions of plain low-fat yogurt and plain soy milk. I was again handed a teaspoon. Bass quartered the sandwich for the same reason. "These are kind of mechanical ways to slow you down," he said.

By mid-afternoon, we were driving to his office in his Mercedes E55, and as I was eating a Tiger's Milk nutrition bar he had handed me, he gently admonished, "Eat slow."

Clarence and Carol often eat large salads, bread, and fish, chicken or eggs for dinner. But that night we went to a restaurant that served traditional New Mexican cuisine. Carol, who is as lean as Clarence, ordered a large burrito, without cheese, and ate it all. Bass slowly polished off a plate of huevos rancheros, sunny side up, and he shared a plate of Navajo fry bread with us. The two of them shared a Mexican flan (custard that is drizzled with caramel sauce). Bass did not have any alcohol, although he occasionally will have a glass of wine. He is abstemious because "alcohol weakens the control I usually have over my appetite," he wrote in one of his books, The Lean Advantage. "It seems to anesthetize my stomach and encourage me to go on eating beyond the point where I would normally be full and satisfied."

The Lean Advantage, Volumes 1, 2 and 3:

For a snack at night, Bass has a slice of toast with almond butter, honey, and Benecol, a product intended to lower dietary cholesterol. He quarters the toast and eats a section every 15 minutes.

Bass felt he needed to drop 4 or 5 pounds and knock down his body fat by a few percentage points before he posed for his photos at 70. Six months before the shoot, he had preliminary photos taken. "I didn't like them," he said. "I had some extra weight around my love handles and lower back - pretty much everybody has it." He cut down by backing off slightly at every meal: a little less cooked grain and flax seed at breakfast, smaller amounts of peanut butter, and one fewer slice of bread at dinner.

Ripped Enterprises is located in a one-story office building that housed his legal practice before Bass went into the health business full tie. Two of the rooms are jammed with an array of weight machines, free weights, and other equipment positioned atop aging gold carpeting. The walls are covered with mirrors and pictures of bodybuilders. One room is devoted to lower-body exercises; the other, is for the upper body. There are plates, benches, cables, dumbbells, barbells, and a pair of weightlifting shoes. Each room contains impeccably maintained metallic blue Nautilus equipment from the 1970s that Bass bought from Arthur Jones, the founder of the company. Bass was so jazzed by the technology of pulleys and cams when it first came out that he and Carol flew to Florida to meet Jones.

He keeps additional equipment at home: In a room next to the garage, he has a Concept 2 rowing machine, a stair stepper, a Schwinn Airdyne, and a Lifecycle. In his garage an entire bay is outfitted with a squat rack, old-fashioned kettlebells [yes, it wasn't that long ago they were referred to as old fashioned!], weight-resistance machines powered by an air compressor, and a contraption called a glute-ham developer [again, 'contraption - not that long ago].

Bass had a heavy weight-training session the day before, his biggest of the week, so I didn't expect a big demonstration when we arrived at his office. But when I asked about his favorite lifts to keep his abs so buff, he knelt down in front of a machine with a cable and pulley. He pulled down on the weight and let his oblique muscles do the work. At the bottom of the pull, he slowly raised the weight - again relying on his abdominal muscles. The exercise is often practiced with the subtlety of a pile driver. With Bass, it was almost sensual - an embrace between man and machine.

"Clarence can't wait for the next workout," said Carl Miller, who owns a gym in Santa Fe. The key to lifting weights over many years "is that it has to capture your imagination so that you keep looking for ways to get better," Miller said. "You are always looking for a new training technique."

Bass has picked up and discarded an array of exercises and lifts over the years. At 60, for example, after more than a 30-year absence, he began incorporating technically more difficult lifts such as the power clean, power snatch, and squat snatch, which require quickness, strength, and good balance.

Bass exercises six or seven days a week, but he lifts weight only two of those days. He sits down with his workout diary before each session and plans what he will do. His diaries are 500 pages apiece and he's accumulated dozens of them over the years. Over time he has added more aerobic training for his cardio-respiratory system as well. On periodic visits to the Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas, his fitness was judged by tests on a treadmill or stationary bicycle consistently put him in the top category for his age.

Bass is a disciple of the HIT (high-intensity training) school of weight training. Early proponents included Arthur Jones (the Nautilus founder) and former world-champion bodybuilder Mike Mentzer. Advocates of HIT believe the best way to build muscle mass is with short, infrequent, but very hard workout sessions rather than hours of exercise almost every day.

Typically on Sundays, he will work his entire body with weights, making more than a dozen lifts that push him to the upper end of his capabilities. After warming up, he will do only one heavy set or each lift - 8 to 15 repetitions. "The key point is that I do not wear myself out before I get to the set that really counts," he told me.

Three days later, he lifts weights with his upper body and then climbs on a Lifecycle, a computerized stationary bike for 20 minutes and pedals hard at various resistance levels. By constantly changing the intervals and intensity, he is mimicking what he believes is humans' ancient need to exert short bursts of energy.

Three days later he does crunches and works sundry core muscles. He also does about 20 minutes of hard pedaling on his Aerodyne, which requires pedaling and back-and-forth arm action. On other days he goes on walks for 30 or 40 minutes.

Bass has pushed back the hands of the aging clock because of his triad of diet, aerobic exercise, and weightlifting. His metabolism burns calories as if he were a youngster because he continues to stay almost as active as one. Strong, exercised muscles, even when they are resting, burn more calories than less-trained muscles. "Anyone wanting to lose or control weight should, in addition to eating less and exercising more, try to increase lean muscle mass," writes physician Andrew Weil in his book, Healthy Aging: A Lifelong Guide to Your Well-Being. Weight training, he said, will "keep the metabolic furnace burning bright."

I asked Bass about whether he ever thought of cutting back. What is the difference, I asked, between him and a 70-year old man in excellent health who walks a little and putters in the yard?

"One thing he isn't trying to do is challenge or improve himself," Bass said. "It sounds like he's an old man, and that doesn't excite me. I think you have to find something that excites you, that motivates you, so you want to get out of the bed and get down to the gym."

Aging is Inevitable

But Bass isn't bulletproof. There is the osteoarthritis in his lower back that has forced him to give up the use of his Concept2 rowing machine and traditional squats. He also has a weakness in his left shoulder and mild atrophy in his left triceps. On a visit to the Cooper Clinic, doctors discovered a buildup of calcium in his left anterior descending artery that requires the use of a statin drug to reduce cholesterol.  

At 67, Bass also found that he was retaining excessive amounts of urine in his bladder. After several tests, he had surgery to remove abnormal lobes where urine drains from the bladder through the prostate.

"The whole situation went against my experience so far and my optimistic view of the future," he wrote in Great Expectations. "I expected a few problems to come with aging, but frankly I didn't expect this so soon. I went to the doctor with what I considered a minor problem - and I ended up in surgery."

When he first met his urologist, the doctor had concluded that Bass would have to insert a device into his penis three or four times a day to keep the urinary pathway open. It seemed barbaric. Bass responded with understandable reluctance; later, after it was clear he would have to do something, Bass countered with using the device less. He has been able to pare down the number of sessions to once a week, with his doctor's blessing.

Then, at 68, Bass had his right hip replaced. Neither Bass nor his doctors know why he needed the surgery, although hip replacements are the second-most common orthopedic surgery after knee replacements for people 65 to 84, according to a 2007 study by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Fifty years of weight training might have been the cause. Bass knows his share of old weightlifters who have had a hip replacement and who usually trace it back to an injury. "But I don't think that I would have gotten this far had I not been exercising," he said.

Rather than undergo a traditional hip replacement, he learned about an alternative procedure that causes less tissue damage because the hip is replaced through natural breaks in the muscle. His recovery was faster, although it left him with weakness in his hip flexor and numbness in his upper thigh. I noticed when we went for a walk, he moved stiffly at the beginning.

Bass talked to me matter-of-factly about his ritual of keeping his urinary pathway open. The practice changed from dread to just another regimen in his life. He checked with knowledgeable friends and did his own research to find a better procedure for his hip replacement that was more fitting for his active lifestyle - even though it meant a trip to Houston for surgery. He has dropped some exercises that cause problems for his body and added new ones. To get around weaknesses such as his osteoarthritis, he showed me how he clasped a belt around his waist that was attached to a biceps curl bar with weights (hip belt squat). This way he could still do a squat and work his leg muscles while keeping pressure off his spine.

"One of the raps against older bodybuilders is that they are lean but they don't have any muscle - they don't have a butt," he said. "Believe me, I got a butt! I don't think that I am losing anything. I think that my butt is bigger than it was before."

For Bass, the hip replacement has become, in a sense, a badge of honor: The photo he used for his latest book is a softly lit nude that accentuated his signature abs and the surgical scar on the right hip.

Terry Todd has said that Bass understands that his physique is more than a finely sculpted collection of muscle and bone. He and his photographs are playing a historic role, he said, in the fields of aging and popular culture. "I think that he has understood his role more clearly as the years have gone by," Todd said.  

Bass's approach to aging underscores a trait I've seen in older superfit persons: 

They use knowledge, experience, and sometimes a healthy dose of independence to find a way to 



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