Despite what Allen Iverson said, it is imperative to practice your technique! I use the same steps from the lightest warm-up to the heaviest work set when I train. Perfect practice doesmake perfect lifting. It’s critical that you don’t just go through the paces of training each day. Mentally prepare yourself for every single session, set and rep. I appreciate how Louie Simmons encourages lifters to treat their dynamic sets as if they were true max sets in a meet. Do this religiously and half the battle is won as a champion squatter.
2. CONTROL THE MOVEMENT.
It is clear there is some misunderstanding about the speed of movement that is witnessed by equipped lifters because of how slow they go. Some people think this it means a raw lifter should be the opposite, with a faster descent. I disagree, but I don’t think you need to make it a five-count negative. I think a nice 3-4 count once the judge gives you the “squat” command works very well. This allows you to stay totally in control of the lift, to better find your depth and have the explosive power to come out of the hole. The faster you go, the harder you have to reverse the momentum. A high-speed “suicide squat” will eventually K.O. your powerlifting career! Somewhere you need to find the speed that works for you to be the most efficient, so be sure to practice.
3. FIND THE BEST STANCE.
The stance is potentially the most debated part of squatting, period. I have been told that if I spread my feet out really wide I would be unstoppable. Well, that sounds great, but the application just doesn’t work for me. I am very comfortable being a shoulder width stance squatter. I have large quads so it stands to reason that I use effective leverages to be optimal in my lift. Some of the misunderstanding on stance has also been predicated due to equipped lifters that stand extremely wide. Equipment is going to protect the hips to a greater degree than without any, just as it does so for the knees. It makes little sense to copy someone if you are not using the same methods and equipment. Based on my personal experience and coaching numerous lifters, I recommend that raw squatters use a shoulder width stance to start with along with the toes pointed out around 45 degrees. The recommended starting stance is your base to tweak and adjust during practice to see what is optimal and comfortable.
One great tip for finding the correct stance for your structure is to sit on the end of a flat bench with your feet flat and spread at hip width. Attempt to stand up without leaning forward at all. By doing this, you will quickly find that if your stance is too close you lean forward excessively. Picture that same movement with 400 lbs. on your back and imagine how badly you’ll pitch forward. As you gradually spread your feet and do this over and over, you’ll find the stance where you can easily stand without leaning forward at all – that’s the ideal stance spread for you. Likewise, if you spread your feet extremely wide, you’ll find that you start to lean forward again.
|Legs built from lots of squats!|
Here are my favorite squatting exercises:
1. Safety Bar Squats
2. Pause Squats
3. Anderson Front Squats
4. Reverse Band Squats
Despite what others state I think volume is needed for raw lifters to build strength. I personally like variations like:
Week 1: 3 sets of 10 reps (7-8 RPE)
Weeks 2: 3 sets of 7 reps (7-8 RPE)
Week 3: 3 sets of 5 reps (8 RPE)
Week 4: 3 sets of 3 reps (8-9 RPE)
Week 5: Deload
Now I did leave you hanging a bit about the guess work for the intensity level of the weights to move. I like using the RPE concept to self-assess where you are THAT DAY in your training. RPE stands for the rate of perceived exertion. So basically it means how hard the lift was to complete.
A simple RPE chart would state:
10: Maximal, no reps left in the tank
9: Last rep is tough but still one rep left in the tank
8: Weight is too heavy to maintain fast bar speed but isn’t a struggle; 2–4 reps left
7: Weight moves quickly when maximal force is applied to the weight; “speed weight”
6: Light speed work; moves quickly with moderate force
5: Most warm-up weights
4: Recovery; usually 20 plus rep sets; not hard but intended to flush the muscle
Don’t get so caught up on the numbers of what you lifter while ignoring how you feel. Let’s face it, some days lifting just stinks! Just shoot for your RPE range even if it means you dropped some weight to do it. IF you have consistent workouts of 3 or more of failing with feeling like yourself DELOAD immediately and consider a break.
Once a week focus on one squatting movement while doing simple 3-5 sets of 5 reps as assistance work for another squatting movement. I might focus my squatting on the safety bar for my main lift while adding in some pause squats for my easier sets of 5. Obviously power squats and Olympic squats should be utilized regularly as well.
Here are some notes from the squat seminar we had here at RPTS a month ago.
Warm ups: These are a combination of active and direct warm ups. Active can be cardio, rolling etc. Direct warm ups are done with the actual lift itself. Never tire yourself out during warm ups and always use this as assessment time to see how you are feeling. If things feel heavy maybe go lighter. Seems like common sense but too many times people are married to the idea of the set numbers. Flexibility in programming is a precursor to long term success and longevity.
Set up: Bar placement, bracing and the walkout are all part of the set up not excluding feet spacing as well. Bar placement is the foundation to you success in the squat. So long as the bar is stable and works with your mechanics that is what matters whether low, middle or high bar placement. Keep the humerus pulled in tight to keep the upper back engaged along with the rear delts. This will keep you from rounding as much when in trouble. Bracing is just learning to take in air in the stomach and lungs and holding to support the spine to a higher degree than the belt alone. The idea is to push into your belt while sort of crunching down. Brace when lifting the bar off the rack and before you start your squat. Walkouts need no explanation beyond what we discussed but please practice them.
Environment: Be aware of your surroundings particularly in a mainstream facility. Never be afraid to approach people to give you space. Safety is paramount.
Foot placement: This is partly comfort based but also based on the bar placement and the shoes you wear. Be aware how these variables impact you as a lifter. A close stance in heels with a high bar is prone to balance issues for example.
Bar placement: Already mentioned but learn and understand why you use the bar the way you do. Understand which placement is best for your mechanics. This is always going to be something that is individual. Be willing to experiment.
Depth: If not competing find a comfortable range of motion period. If competing learn to lift every time like on the platform which includes depth on every rep. Know what is good by feel not others telling you. The ping effect of the lifter hearing creates tentativeness and is very robotic. The first sign of an unprepared lifter is bombing out of a meet for depth.
Mobility: Your feet, bar ride and depth are all factors of mobility. Heels can come up because of high bar position pitching the lifter forward as can tight achilles and hips. When squatting your descent is based on bending at the hips first. Lifters than bend at the waist often get stuck being pitched forward and can even “lean into parallel” which is a crap shoot for white lights.
Bar Path: Sitting back is incorrect. Drop. Drop it like its hot. Whatever helps you to understand. Raw lifters drop but we do stick our butts out. The bar should really travel in a straight line up and down. Try some of the apps around to see the difference of a box squat and a regular squat. Perfect practice makes perfect so consider box squats as a secondary or assistance exercise at best.
Getting out of the hole: Squat, pause squats, low box squats, high bar close stance, front squats, safety bar squats
If you are struggling with exercise creativity here are a few to add to your training programming.
Supplemental lifts for the squat: Pause squat, Pin squat, Front Box Squat, Slow Squat, Front Squat, Wide Front Squat, Anderson Front Squat, Safety Bar Squats, Manta/High Bar Squats
Developmental lifts for the squat: Wall Squats, Zercher Lunge, Front Lunge, Hack Lunge, Duck Foot Squat, Negative Squat, Belt Squat, Lockouts, Squat with Chains, Leg Press, Leg Extension, Ham Curls, Squat Jumps, Depth Jumps, Box Jumps, Calf Raises, Hyperextensions/Weighted in various ways, Seated GM, Reverse Hypers, ABS ABS ABS
The walkout is the most underappreciated part of the squat to most lifters it seems. I encourage you to practice walkouts as if you were in a meet on all of your sets regardless of the weight. When we do walkouts with 100-130% of our max we will then hold the position in a 10 count and then rack the weight on command like in a meet. Repetition makes you remember. Give these a try.
Every Other Week Squatting and Deadlifting
John Sanchez (a.k.a. Mr. Bigbutt)
Sanchez? Rationale for Infrequent Training?
Do not perform a squat workout on one day and a deadlift workout on another day during the same week. Read this again. It is not a typo. This is the one thing that will save your adrenal glands, regain your manhood, and earn you some semblance of respect on the platform.
Squat one week and do deads the next. Continue to alternate. Once every 14 days is all most (natural) people need for good gains with either lift. If you’re juicing, try staggering your squat and dead workouts every 5 days instead of every 7. This will mean you squat and deadlift only once every 10 days.
Do not yield to the temptation of throwing in a few “light” squats on your deadlift day. Do deadlifts only! This approach will preserve your knees for many more years to come. Likewise, do not perform extra “pulling” movements on your squat day. Keep your workouts simple and to the point. Eliminate any excess baggage.
The only assistance I recommend is heavy hamstring work.
Training only 2 days per week doesn’t diminish the quality or frequency of your muscle growth stimulus. You are still hitting all pertinent muscle groups involved in the powerlifts once every seven days. If that seems like too long an interval for you, I suggest going to a once every 5 or 6 day routine. Even once every 4 days would work better than the popular twice every 7 days approach that most people adopt. Most conventional routines will have you squat, bench, and deadlift heavy once per week. With this approach you are working lower body heavy (squat/dead) twice in a 7-day period, although most you will usually only bench heavy and then go lighter the second time around.
With the twice every 7 day approach that some people use, the most significant shortcoming is impaired progress on the squat and dead due to incomplete muscular recovery. 72-96 hours is not always enough recovery time for lifters, especially non-druggies. Both of these lifts have many prime movers in common, yet a lot of people will give one lift 96 hours of recovery while the other only gets 72. Why not throw an extra day in there and give both lower body movements an equal 96 hours?
I actually developed this approach years ago when I was competing and quickly realized how much better I performed. I then got even braver and tried going from once every 4 days to once every 5. This approach worked even better for me. Today, I go once every 7 because all of my steroid-dealing cronies are either dead, in jail, or born again naturals.
Note: Sanchez was a 1980s powerlifter. He deadlifted 775 @ 220 back in 1985 ?juiced to the gills? (his own words). He claims to currently be capable of a 700 raw pull ?any day of the week? (again, his own words). He is retired and also says he is drug free since 1988. He deadlifts twice a month on alternating Saturdays.
Sanchez on cycling?
I train heavy 90% of the time. Lately, that means the top set is a heavy triple, occasionally 4-5 but only with deads. If I get a triple with my target weight, I’ll bump it up 20 the next time I DL and go for 2. I’ll then stick with the weight until I can get a solid triple. This may take 2-3 workouts. Figure on 26 deadlift workouts per year. If I add 20 pounds every 3 workouts that adds up to at least 160 pounds improvement. Of course, there’s no way in hell I’m going to improve like clockwork every 3 workouts to the tune of 20 pounds each time! Hell, I couldn’t even do that on the juice! Here?s the reality. Whenever I go stale, I reduce the poundage considerably and cycle back up 20 pounds per workout until I’m once again hitting PR?s. I have improved 100 pounds in a year like this, but I was also gaining weight – A BIG HELP. I wouldn’t cycle for a meet while using any pre-conceived time frames or peaking rep-set schemes. When healthy, I’m always within a few workouts of a true max single.
90% simply means, “training to near max failure every workout.? Whether one does singles, doubles, triples, etc. doesn’t matter. My top sets in nearly every workout are gut-busters. This is obviously pretty tough on one?s recovery and helps explain why I keep my workouts short, simple, and infrequent. It also explains why I reduce poundage considerably whenever I go “stale” and need a break from this type of routine. Having trained for over 22 years now, I’ve got a pretty good sense of my body’s limitations. This random approach to one?s training poundage (in contrast to a systematic cycling approach) is purely instinctive, and not really appropriate for inexperienced lifters. Newer lifters would probably be better off cycling poundage in the more traditional style.
SATURDAYS: (alternating each week)
Leg curls (2 legged)
Deadlift (always come to a COMPLETE STOP between reps)
Leg Curls (1 legged)
SUNDAYS: (alternating each week)
T-Bars (wide grip)
Dumbbell Laterals (1 armed)
Chins (wide grip)
T-Bars (narrow grip)
Dumbbell Laterals (2 armed)
Chins (narrow grip)
Notice the complete absence of supplemental quad work. I have always used a moderate stance squat. In the old days I would do leg extensions but only for looks. I can squat just as well now as I ever did without all that extra shit.
If I HAD to recommend any single leg exercise for a sumo deadlift, it would be the FRONT SQUAT. Fronts hit my upper back like no other exercise and of course develop the quads much more than regular power squats. In the old days, I would do them right after deads and would work up to 500+. I didn’t use them much, however, as I easily overtrain my back. Today, I avoid them completely.
T-Bar rows are done on one of those machines where your back is supported. I don’t recommend anything in terms of auxiliary back work where you are taxing the low back. This would preclude the use of low cable rows, unsupported t-bars, bent over rows, stiff-legged deads, etc. I feel like your erectors get PLENTY of work from plain old squats and deads. Chins are an ideal lat exercise for this very reason.
I do dumbbell work strictly for the tarp-delt area – just a personal preference. Shrugs are okay for tarps, but I prefer compound movements. I can hit my tarps and the delts with the laterals. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that shrugs will help a weak DL lockout. T-bars are better. It’s your mid tarps and rhomboids you want stronger for a nice deadlift finish.
The most important thing to remember when working out is that LESS IS MORE.
Other Elements of the Workout?
I forgot to mention some other specifics about my long ago training, some of which may relate strongly to the so-called “HIT” method of powerlifting.
1. I always pyramided my warm-ups, then hit one, maybe two, top work sets. Never did back-off, cool-down, or pump-up sets.
2. I always went to total concentric failure on my top sets. Didn’t worry about eccentrics, partials, pauses, or any other lifting permutations.
3. I didn’t cycle my lifts by starting light after a meet. I would just pick up where I last left off (sans equipment); with higher reps instead of singles or doubles, but these sets would be max effort to failure.
4. The farther off the meet, the longer I would continually push my limits. This could go on for several weeks or several months, until I felt burned out or got injured. At this point I would back off somewhat and give myself a few weeks to rest with relatively easy weights. (I’ve been in this mode now for the past 12 years…)
5. Over time I did less and less assistance work. Towards the end (1987 ? ?88, I did little more than leg curls and calf work to supplement my deads and squats. Extra upper body stuff included mainly chins, dips, and rows.
6. In keeping with the short and brief concept that is common to HIT, my workouts rarely used to take more than an hour. Today, it takes me an hour alone just to wipe my ass off between sets (weak sphincters)….
7. I did resort to doubles and singles as a meet approached, but I favored 5’s during the off-season.
8. Typically, I would gear up maybe a month or two prior to a meet. I used to hate gear. Most of the time, I lifted with just a belt.
9. My gear was mostly worn out hand-me down junk from James Cash. I had an old Elite suit that I used both to squat and deadlift. I got maybe another 25 lbs. from that for both lifts. The wraps were something
they used back in the early 80’s and gave me around 50 or so on the squat. I used a very early type Inzer shirt in my last couple of meets and got maybe 20 lbs. from it.
10. Drugs drugs drugs! Eight and a half years of hypertension, elevated LDLs, liver enzymes, and tender kidneys. This is also the main reason why I was so injury-prone. It happens to most druggies eventually, especially if their electrolyte levels get fucked up. Tendons need good electrolyte levels to keep from cramping up and avulsing from bony attachments during max efforts. I am always being facetious when talking about steroids. I wouldn’t encourage my worst enemy to take them. They are the stuff of illusions! I used them for 8-1/2 years. The shitty thing about juicing is the “ball and chain” relationship you’ll always have with your dealer, plus the constant need to cycle your lifts up and down like a yo-yo when your strength levels change from cleaning out. I not only had to cycle my drugs in the old days, but I had to BUDGET for them as well, and all for about a 10% advantage. In retrospect, it?s definitely not worth it.
Development of the Program?
Back in the days when my lifts truly mattered (1980 ? ?8 , I figured out that (for me at least) training a lot LESS yielded much MORE in terms of results. Initially, I started out in 1977 as a bodybuilding wannabe and employed a Weideresque “bomb and blitz” routine that would have done Arnold proud, but I hadn’t yet discovered the joys of ANABOLICS and quickly became overtrained.
After meeting James Cash in 1980, I learned how to train like a powerlifter from one of the best and quickly adapted my approach. Cash was not an innovator by any means, but employed a standard overload progression that a lot of guys found useful back in the late 70’s and early 80’s. My own powerlifting schedule initially employed the common 7 day framework that most lifters still adhere to: squat and deadlift once a week, bench twice a week, and throw in a healthy amount of assistance work for good measure. I was usually in the gym 4-5 days each week. This routine lasted about a year after which I entered my first meet in 1981 at 198 and went mid 1600s.
I changed my routine after this and experimented with an 8-day, then a 10-day framework around which to schedule my workouts. Ultimately, I settled upon a routine like this:
Every 5th day I would either squat or deadlift. This meant I only squatted and deadlifted 3 times per month. I did the same with my bench, choosing to alternate the flat bench with incline every 5th day. I didn’t change up my assistance work much, but spread it out over the 10-day framework. So now, instead of training in the gym 4-5 days out of 7, I was training 4-5 out of 10. Lots more rest and recuperation = nice gains.
My next meet was just 5 months after the first and saw another 75 lbs. on my total, including my first 700 squat and deadlift. This was back in 1982 at around 210-lbs. bodyweight. I took a hiatus from serious training for a few years after this due to several injuries but returned to competition in 1985 at my first Texas meet. I squatted 711 (missed 750) and pulled 775 at 217 bodyweight. I went elite in this, my 3rd meet.
Injuries continued to plague me, as did bomb-outs, in subsequent meets, and my swan song was in 1988, where I finally put together a total at 242 and went elite in that class as well. I also hit a 755 (missed 777) squat and just missed 804 in the dead. Today, at age 43, I am living in a nursing home and can barely walk. Ha ha…
Sanchez on nutrition?
Eat 250 grams per day of quality protein. If you can stomach it, try chum salmon (cheaper from the can). Lots of omega-3s and 70+ grams of protein per 15-ounce serving.
Take one good multivitamin/mineral supplement, lots of vitamin C (work up to several grams), and glucosamine HCL for the cartilage.
Q: How can one watch their fat composition eating 250 grams of protein a day?
A: Fat is not the enemy. There are good and bad fats. Fats from saltwater fish are rich in omega-3s and have many positive benefits, including cardiovascular protection due to different prostaglandins, lowering of cholesterol, and protection against the stress of overtraining. To illustrate the power of omega 3 fatty acids, I once switched off my customary diet of daily canned mackerel (full of omega-3 rich fats and protein) for a period of one month. Instead, I ate only albacore solid white tuna in spring water (virtually fat free). In addition, I carefully maintained the other components of my diet, with no other changes.
Total cholesterol before switching: 125
Total cholesterol 30 days after switching: 176
More importantly, HDL to total Cholesterol ratio was up from 2.4 (less than 1/2 risk) to 2.9 (3/4s risk). Though I had reduced my daily fat intake nearly 20 grams per day, look at the difference.
Sanchez on creatine?
Actually, I’ve got nothing against the stuff…it was working great for me for several weeks. I’d gained over 10 pounds bodyweight with 15 grams per day. I was very pleased with the strength gains I’d experienced, UNTIL the day I avulsed my semimembranosus hamstring with 635. I was not dehydrated at the time. My legs, however, were in full extension and I was essentially stiff-legging the damn weight up with the bar at knee level – big mistake. Had I not been using creatine, the strength of my hamstring contractions would not have exceeded the tensile strength in their tendinous attachments. The semimembranosus tendon would therefore have not avulsed and I would simply have stood there with the bar not moving (like has happened many times before in training when one gets “stuck”), until I decided enough was enough and set the bar down.
Sanchez on GMs and SLDLs?
This current fascination among powerlifters with good-mornings and SLDL’s is a mystery to me. Of course, Ed Coan’s SLDLs with 700 lbs. might have some people convinced its a good supplementary exercise.
I remember reading how Bruce Randall bulked up to 400 lbs. BW back in the early 60’s and was doing good-mornings with 600 lbs. (but could only squat around 750). He was considered something of an oddball; however, especially when you consider that he later reduced down to 195 to win the Mr. America title. (What a waste of 205 lbs. of perfectly good fat…)
But seriously, I tend not to do ANY low back work aside from REGULAR squatting and deadlifting. Hamstring work is always on one of them pretty leg curl machines.
Some people may feel that the spinal erectors need tons of supplemental work in order to progress ones squat/dead, but I disagree. As for hamstring stimulation from SLDLs, you’ll get plenty from just the regular deads, plus you won’t trash your erectors in the process.
The notion of enhancing a weak start off the floor with SLDLs is probably wishful thinking, too. You’d be better off doing DLs off a block, plus building up your quads, especially with front squats.
If you’re actually experiencing muscle cramps in your low back then maybe creatine is to blame. That shit has the potential to throw off your electrolyte balances. Consider a good cal-mag supplement and/or potassium gluconate tab.
Sanchez on Weight Gain?
Gluttony is the last refuge of the defeated. In other words, if you ain’t shit at 242, why not try 275 or 308? You CAN’T HELP BUT GET STRONGER! His sacredness PAUL ANDERSON squatted only around 675 @ 275, and a whopping 1200+ @ 390. Extra girth around the middle helps your squat and bench! You’re young, FORGET THE CARDIOVASCULAR COMPLICATIONS!
The Sorid (Sordid?) Past of JPS
Recently, the People’s Champ mentioned how furosemide, or lasix, helped him lose several pounds before his last meet. As long as I can remember, Tim has never pulled any punches when it comes to discussing his use of “supplements”.
Although I’ve never met the guy, I’ve been living in Austin since the early 80’s and still remember how blown away I was when the inimitable one went before local TV cameras for an evening news segment and showed everyone how to load up a syringe with testosterone. This was many years ago and was actually background fodder for another story which concerned his fight with the city over Josie the tiger.
While the rest of us only whispered about our drug use, here was a guy who didn’t hesitate to let everybody know where he was coming from. Even if you didn’t agree with his stance on supplements, you had to admire his chutzpah.
As for me, I didn’t make much of a secret about my drug use, either. This was during the 80’s, long before they made anabolics a controlled substance, so people weren’t quite as uptight about getting caught in possession as they are today. Actually, most of the lifters I knew tried to keep their drug use a secret for another reason: credibility.
They were too embarrassed to admit they indulged in anabolic use because they felt it diminished their accomplishments in the gym. This may seem bogus to many, but consider how different the 80’s were when compared to the here and now. Bear with me now while I relate a little history.
Steroids go back way before the 60’s, but their first serious use started in York circa 1959. A lifter named Bill March hooked up with the infamous Doc Zeigler and D-bol found its first genuine athletic guinea pig. D-bol use spread like wildfire and was well known to the top guns by the mid 60’s.
I remember a conversation I had many years ago with a former training partner of Dave Draper who recalls just how easy it was to get D-bol back then. He said that in their LA gym the owner kept a mason jar overflowing with the little blue demons up on the counter. Any member that wanted some could simply help himself.
By the time I entered the iron game during the 70’s, steroid use had become firmly entrenched in the big city gyms, but its growing popularity was now tempered with tons of negative press. Chief among its detractors were notables like Peary Rader (of Ironman fame) and top bodybuilder Chet Yorton. Anyone wanting information on how to find or use anabolics wouldn’t find it in the popular press.
Until Pete Grymkowsky, that is. I remember reading his candid “drug confessionals” in Weider’s Muscle Builder mag during the late 70’s. Grymkowsky was very up front about how and what he used during contest prep. As for Weider, he echoed the popular sentiment of the day, which was that “only the top pro’s should even think about using steroids, and then only under a doctor’s supervision”, as had Mr. America Pete Grymkowski, presumably (snicker).
I actually met the guy in 1979 at a 7-11 in Vegas. He was 240 at 5′ 10″ and cut. He was particularly renowned back then for his broad shoulders. Pete retired a few years later and turned into a scarecrow. But that’s another, typical ex-steroid user story.
My own use started in 1980, after meeting some college powerlifters at Kansas State. They were getting their stash from a guy in Louisiana who had a nationwide mail order operation going. His catalog was several pages long, and he had a minimum order of 200 bucks. You could get anything from thyroid to HCG to STH to any number of different anti-estrogens, anabolics, even stuff like thiomucase, adrenalin, etc. It was the time of plenty, no counterfeits, and reasonable prices.
Which brings me back to the point about drug users in my day worrying about their credibility with the public. During the 80’s, as opposed to the 90’s and today, drug use was demonized. Today, it is an accepted part of sports culture, and as is typical in this day of liberal moral relativism, drug use is simply looked upon as just another “choice” lifters make.
More to come if there’s an interest.
I mentioned steroids being demonized during the 80’s versus being more accepted nowadays as an “alternative” lifting ergogen.
Does anyone honestly hold up the current icons of this sport (and they shall remain nameless, but you all know who the hell I’m talking about) as drug free paragons of virtue?
In fact, just trying to get a failed drug test these days to stick requires nothing short of Supreme Court intervention. Nobody is accountable for shit, and lots of folk simply wink and nod acceptingly.
But back to the 80’s: the growing grass-roots opposition to drugs in our sport spawned the ADFPA and a massive effort to entice drug-free lifters away from the USPF. It would be only a matter of time before the USPF itself started testing at the behest of its world affiliate at the time, the IPF.
When drug testing started at the IPF world championships in 82, there was a shitload of behind the scenes preparation going on:
drug test circumvention protocols were making the rounds, compliments of the higher-ups. Jim Cash, my training partner at the time and 220 lb Seniors champ got his, and I’m sure that others on our team were receiving similar memos. People were freaking out not knowing what to expect, but doing their best to deal with this new challenge to American powerlifting supremacy.
Drug testing at the USPF Seniors didn’t actually start until later (1986) and that’s what kick-started another break away organization, the APF. Many folks were pissed off about this new drug testing thing, and Ernie’s APF was promising there’d be none of that.
Nobody that used wanted to get caught. I know that certain members of the world team who were also businessmen couldn’t have afforded the public scandal of getting caught. Steroid possession wasn’t even a felony offense yet, but the stigma related to its use had grown to staggering proportions by the early 80’s. Compare this to the almost laissez-faire attitude of the 60’s and 70’s, where getting them was no big deal if you knew a laid back pharmacist or doctor.
One of the big time lifters I knew from that time got his stash compliments of the prescription pads his doctor would give him. All
this lucky guy had to do was write down what he wanted and then visit the pharmacist. He usually had several dozen to a pad, so this worked out quite well over time, if you know what I mean. The pharmacists never blinked.
Nowadays drug testing is no longer a big deal because our sport has become splintered by those wanting “choices”. Today there are plenty of feds out there that either can’t or won’t test. It’s heaven for the druggies: they can compete in any number of non-tested venues, and similarly, it’s pretty good for the non-druggies, provided you believe that the testing protocols in place for your federation really work.
With this more relaxed attitude towards testing has come a more relaxed attitude in general about drug use. Sure, the high schools may be preaching about the “evils of anabolics”, but what sort of role models are still being trotted out for the youth of our sport? And where can these paragons of virtue be seen doing battle without the encumbrance of any drug-testing?
The answer is obvious. And nobody is going to complain either, because big lifts are what everyone expects from the pros.
More to come after I pop a lasix.
My use of steroids began in 1980. When I started I weighed 165 lbs and was weak as a kitten. One year and several drug cycles later I won the state championship at 220.
My first cycle was 15 mg daily of D-bol. I gained 20 lbs in 9 weeks, after having gone through 2 bottles of 100, a $50 investment back then. My powerlifting total jumped about 250 lbs during these 9 weeks.
Sounds kinda nice, doesn’t it?
The weight gain became apparent after 2 weeks. I weighed daily and noticed about a one pound gain every few days. I was hungrier than usual and was eating like a horse. No surprise: steroids are supposed to augment ones appetite. I also became hornier than hell. No problem there either: I was practically a Casanova in those days.
Off hand, I can’t say there were any negatives associated with my very first drug cycle. I now weighed 187 lbs. My bodyfat was easily under 8%.
A few weeks later, I started to notice some loss of size and appetite. My lifts also started to suffer. This, of course, was to be expected. Steroid-induced gains are externally driven. Remove the exogenous supply and your body loses its “unnatural” advantage.
Taking the shit throws you out of homeostatic balance: your body’s feedback loop compensates by shutting down its own hormone
supply. Stop taking the shit and your body is temporarily left out of whack. It takes a while to resume natural production and regain
homeostasis. This is when most of the strength and size loss occurs.
Even allowing for a gradual reduction in exogenous hormones leaves one with much less than the peak steroid dosages administered. The body cannot hope to match the potentially limitless supplies of exogenous hormone that can be pumped into it by an enthusiastic user. No surprise here, either: just compare todays best druggie physiques and lifts with those from 50 years ago, before the steroid era.
Some people try to circumvent feedback loop inhibition by using substances like Human Chorionic Gonadotropin. This stuff is found in the urine of pregnant mammals and when administered to men is similar in action to luteinizing hormone, the naturally occurring substance that stimulates testosterone production by the testis. What results is the continued production of naturally occurring testosterone by the body, in addition to the already present levels of externally administered hormones. It’s quite a cocktail, folks.
I never used the stuff, but a lot of guys liked the fact that it kept your balls from shrinking.
Garth, I hope you’re taking notes: please consider my previous and future “Sordid Past” postings to be my official position
statement regarding steroid use.
More to follow tomorrow.
As I was quick to find out, neophyte ‘roiders find themselves confronting certain issues.
One is drug efficacy. Back in the 80’s you had a hell of a lot more choices than you do today and cost considerations weren’t that big a deal. (Aside from somatropin, there was very little that was prohibitively expensive.) As for what you wanted the drugs to do for you, it was mainly divided along the lines of performance versus looks.
As a powerlifter more interested in size and strength than looking “cut”, I leaned towards more androgenic orals and injectables. The refined stuff wouldn’t retain as much water and was used more by the “oil-me-up” boys.
The most popular choices for orals were d-bol, anadrol, winstrol, anavar, and halotestin. Anadrol and halotestin were the most androgenic/hepatotoxic and used more for enhancing ones “mood”. Guys would load up on them like candy during the final weeks before a big meet in order to get the needed aggression that good lifting requires. Anadrol was $70 for a 100 tabs at 50 mg per tab. D-bol was $25 bucks for 100 tabs at 5 mg a pop. I hardly ever used winstrol, and never tried anavar. This last oral had a reputation of being pretty mild and was popular with the ladies. Not too many lifters liked it for strength gains but one senior national champ I knew used it as his primary oral and stacked it with a fairly refined injectable.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, d-bol was my first drug of choice and would continue to be for several more cycles. After learning that my boyhood idol, Sergio Oliva, was using 4 anadrol tabs daily as part of his regimen, I added the big tabs to my own personal cocktail. Training on this shit for weeks or months at a time only made me stronger and meaner but eventually would fuck with my liver. Nevertheless, I liked using it to the tune of 100 mg A-50 with 25 mg D-bol daily, especially near the end of my career.
For injectables, you had stuff like primobolan, deca-durabolin, various oil-based testosterone esters, water-based testosterone suspension, methandriol, trenbolone, injectable winstrol and even injectable d-bol.
The roughest shit was water-based test. It was used like anadrol, mainly to get one in the mood. It also had to be taken every other day with a huge needle, so your ass got real sore fast. Another injectable that killed your ass was inj. winstrol, but this stuff was extremely mild by comparison and good for cuts. I tried trenbolone (or Finajet) once and wasn’t impressed, but today it enjoys an almost mythic reputation as having been one of the best drugs around for size and strength.
The injectables I preferred were testosterone enanthate and/or cypionate, stacked with deca. Late in my first year on the shit I started using testosterone in addition to the d-bol, and this is when the bitch tits came.
I was only taking about 1 cc per week (200 mg) and 15 mg oral so it wasn’t that high a dose. The gynecomastia lasted several weeks through my first meet (the bench press pauses were sure fun), and went away forever after I cleaned out. Over the years, I would take TONS more shit than this but never experienced a recurrance of those nasty swollen nips.
More to follow soon.
Time for a disclaimer: My posts, of course, are not intended to brainwash, coerce, cajole, convince, or otherwise persuade anyone or their mother that anything even remotely similar to steroids should be messed with. They are mean, nasty, naughty things that only mean, nasty, naughty people use. So there.
Another consideration when using ‘roids is how much and how long. A lot of people are limited by their pocketbook, others have no constraints. I fit more into the latter group.
A lot of enterprising users wind up selling the shit as a sideline and financing their own habits with the profits. I speak from experience, having sold by mail order from Muscle Mag Illustrated. People would order a pamphlet I’d put together describing the top drugs of the day and then contact me later on to find out how to get the stuff. I’d respond and voila: orders would materialize from around the world. ‘Roiders were a very trusting lot back in those days.
I also had the good fortune to be dating a doctor’s daughter and found out what wholesale prices were really like. For two years I was getting my stash at less than 1/3 street prices.
Length of my cycles would vary. I preferred them longer than most. Many lifters were of the mind that you must stay off the shit at least as long as you had been on them, which meant that a lot of guys would do maybe 3 months on and 3 off. Between cycles HCG was a popular way to get your natural testosterone levels back up quickly. Trouble was, you never actually were off the shit entirely while using this approach. The hypothalmic and pituitary hormones were still in a state of flux from the exogenously administered hormones.
Dosages varied considerably during my 8 1/2 years of drug use. A complete neophyte can start out relatively low and still make great gains. His body is ripe for the stuff and will respond well for the first couple of months. By “low” I mean maybe 2-3 times the therapeutic dosage levels. With testosterone, for example, the therapeutic dose is 1 cc per month. Going 1 cc per week is therefore going to make quite a difference.
After around 6 weeks, however, you’ll start to plateau and must decide to either get off in order to resensitize or to start mixing things up.
You can mix things up one of two ways: either up the dosage or start stacking.
There was an old saying that went: “If your liver don’t quiver and your bladder don’t splatter, take even more shit, cause it really don’t matter.” This was the drug credo of the 80’s.
More to follow tomorrow.
The ultimate dilemma facing most druggies: how much is TOO much?
Let my own experiences be your guide. I started out in Oct 1980 at 15 mg oral D-bol per day. Peaked out after 9 weeks, gave it a rest. 250 lbs on my training total: I was hooked.
(As an added note, let me say that I’ve never tapered up or down during a drug cycle.)
Next cycle went a little higher on orals: 25 mg D-bol. Good results for another couple of months.
Third cycle (before my first meet): added in 1 cc test 200 mg) per week. Kept orals at around 25 mg. Got mild bitch tits, but they went away afterwards. Hit a mid 600 squat and dead in my first meet at 199 bodyweight. I’d been juicing off and on for one year. Before the juice I weighed 165 and never dreamed of anything over 500 in either lift.
Fourth cycle and 4 months later: I’d upped the test to 2 cc’s per week and kept the D-bol at around 25 mg. I hit my second meet and broke the 700 lb barrier in both the squat and dead weighing around 215.
Fast forward a few years to Austin Texas in 1985. My weight had been fluctuating between 215 and 235 (depending on how much shit I was using) and I was now into Anadrol, D-bol, test and deca.
A typical cycle would be 2 A-50’s and 25 mg D-bol daily plus a couple cc’s of test and deca per week. During this time I actually pulled 800 to my knees at 218, and squatted around 750.
My swan song was a meet in July of 1988. I was on the same oral dosages and had upped my test to around 6 cc’s per week. No deca. Unfortunately, injuries were taking their toll on my two best lifts (I’d never had a bench due to a bad rotator cuff) and all I was good for was still only mid 700’s in either lift. It was after this last meet that I decided to call it quits.
The shit sure made a difference!
How strong can a user get?
If one’s not a pussy and willing to take liberal doses of the right stuff, I don’t see why anyone couldn’t add at least 15% to their best natural total.
Can you keep your drug-induced strength?
This has been the subject of much pharmaceutical hoopla and false optimism over the years. I say HELL NO! It never ceased to amaze me how quickly my strength would drop after being clean for a month. It’s like WHAM now you’re natural again you big pussy: LET’S GET WEAKER!
A lot of guys who claim to lose only “a little” strength while cleaning out are bullshitting you. First off, some guys use HCG or STH in the off-season. Secondly, a lot of people choose the “off” times to train with very light poundages. So where’s their frame of reference?
Several years back, one good way of comparing drugged-up totals with “cleaned-out” totals used to be watching how our Senior national champs did at drug tested world competition. Their winning Senior totals used to always be a LOT higher than their World totals. Remember that before 1986, they didn’t test at the USPF Seniors. So between July and November when the IPF Worlds were held, these guys had 4 months to clean out.
And you should have heard the excuses. Nobody wanted to say they lost 200 lbs on their total because they were clean as Aunt Hattie. It was always due to some terrible injury, Montezuma’s revenge, or a bad case of tuberculosis.
Of course, as time went on things changed. You started seeing better totals at these tested events. A few guys still got caught but they were the stupid ones. Those in the know were learning how to beat the tests. But that’s a whole ‘nother subject.
As far as never losing your drug strength: forget it, unless you’re willing to juice for the rest of your life. But if you ever decide to go permanently “natural”, can you get most of it back over time?
Just ask John Kuc.
More to follow as the mood strikes me.
John Kuc was an awesome SHW and 242 competitor back in the 70’s. His swan song as a self-admitted steroid user was in the 1980 world championships where he went 832 – 501 – 870(WR) for a 2204(WR) total @ 242 that withstood the test of time for years.
In contrast to his days as a super, Kuc looked awesome at 242 and pulled the biggest deadlift of his competitive career at this meet. He then retired, but the lure of the ADFPA gave him cause to return to the platform a few years later, this time as a drug-free 275 lber with only one mission: set an open world record simply to prove that quality lifts could still be made drug-free.
Kuc did wind up pulling an open WR deadlift in the mid 800’s and totalled in the mid 2100s to give the upstart ADFPA a much needed shot of credibility. A few years later Mike Bridges and Joe Ladnier did the same, returning to competition as drug-free lifters, and while not quite as strong as they had been previously, still putting up respectable totals.
Besides helping the drug-free cause, these lifters did prove one other thing: the best are still going to be the best when competing on equal terms, with or without drugs…
Now let me get on to my final topic of discussion and close out my long-winded posts:
Last topic: How long is too long with ‘roids?
Hell, if you listen to the People’s Champ, you might as well buy stock in Pharmaco because you’ll be the best damn customer they’ll have for generations to come!
Contrary to what his appearance might indicate (especially on the PEOPLE’S CHIMP Website), The Poopmeister has been pretty healthy by his own admission. This is indeed fortunate, as he claims to be on one LONG f’ing cycle. And he knows as well as I do that Anadrol (his candy of choice) is one bad ass nasty f’ing hormone.
But that’s the price you pay nowadays for wanting to be on something that’s the real deal. And at $5/pill street cost, what a price! Personally, at this stage in my life I would choose a much safer injectable that didn’t have the hepatotoxic side-effects. Testosterone comes to mind.
But here’s where I take issue with Tim regarding steroid use and ones health. Now don’t get me wrong, I used the shit for years and have no regrets; I’d probably do them again if I thought Tim TRULY NEEDED AN ASS-WHUPPIN, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t warn all the lil wannabes that taking too much of this shit for too long JUST MIGHT FUCK YOU UP DOWN THE ROAD…
(And yes, I know, there is a difference between USE and ABUSE…)
But who the hell knows when enough is enough for their body? What little signals will you be looking for that warn you to back off or clean out?
And no, I’m not talking about all those “terrible side-effects” you’ve heard about like drug-induced mood swings, hypertension, kidney ailments, liver problems, or benign prostatic hypertrophy. I wouldn’t worry myself about them because none of these things would kill you.
Let’s talk instead about what’s really killing some of the ex-lifters out there.
One great lifter (still living) comes to mind, who by his own admission used tons of shit and probably shouldn’t have due to bad genetics. He nearly died not once but several times and even kept on the sauce after the docs warned him otherwise.
His name is Larry Pacifico and he was a 9 times world champion. Heart disease is what ended his career.
I challenge anyone, including the Poopmeister himself, to tell me how in the hell one might be able to predict their likelihood of heart attack short of an arterioscopic exam. I might add that such examinations are not prophylactic procedures done on a whim at the patient’s request, either.
No…just because you have perfect blood pressure readings or decent HDL/LDL ratios won’t mean you’ll be immune to heart disease. Believe me, in my practice I’ve seen plenty of otherwise non-remarkable blood screenings that would support this conclusion. Fact is, doctors really have no way of knowing for sure just who is going to die from a heart attack, but statistics don’t lie, and this is where those “high risk” behavior warnings come from.
So I’m tellin’s ya: if you look at what’s been happening to some of our greatest lifters these last few decades, prolonged steroid use should certainly be classified as a high risk behavior. It might not affect all lifters the same way, but it may be all one needs to tilt the odds against them somewhere down the road.
A “THEY DIED WAY BEFORE THEIR TIME” WHO’S WHO OF STRENGTH ATHLETES (ALL HEART RELATED – YOU DRAW YOUR OWN CONLUSIONS – I WON’T SAY WHETHER THEY EVER USED THE SHIT OR NOT!!):
Gary Aprahamian (in his 20’s)
Dave Johns (30’s)
Don Ross (40’s)
Jon Pall Sigmarsson (30’s)
Curtis Leffler (30’s)
Jerry Jones (50’s)
Doyle Kenady (50’s)
O.D. Wilson (30’s)
Lee Moran (40’s)
Wayne Bouvier (30’s)
Chuck Braxton (50’s)
Hannu Sarelenin (sp?) (50’s)
Honorable Mentions (still alive and kicking after heart attacks):
Magnus Ver Magnusson
And this list is by no means complete, it’s just off the top of my head.
So what other sport do you have where the greats die in such disproportionate numbers before their time?
Oh well: If you gonna go, maybe it’s better to go like Jon Pall did…while doing some heavy deadlifts at the gym, versus being one of
my patients at the local nursing home.
Make up your own minds, people.
JPS on walk away deads: Guys like Anello and Cash did what are known as “walk-away” sets. You single the weight, walk-away for a several seconds (certainly no longer than one minute), reapproach the bar, reset, and pull another single. Repeat until your target reps are achieved. I witnessed Cash do 5 walk-aways with 800 before he later pulled an 832 world record. Cash preferred walk-aways with anything over 800 because of gripping problems. His palms were shredded and never fully allowed to heal. He could do 700 x 10 no problem though.
Do not fool yourself into thinking that a walk-away set will give you the same conversion as a stop and go set. You’ll always convert better from a max set of 5 stop and goes than from a max set of 5 walk-away singles.
It’s a very easy matter to cheat on walk-aways by resting longer and longer between singles and thus giving a false impression of ones strength levels from one workout to the next. Stay honest by timing the rest intervals.
Guys like Anello and Cash used walk-aways at training peaks. Neither one was afraid of repping out with 10’s early on during a cycle, however.
JPS on front squats for sumo deads:
Front squats for the initial pull off the floor. I couldn’t deadlift or squat for months due to a back injury from back squatting. During this period I only did front squats and leg curls for legs. After healing up and resuming the back squats and deads I noticed an immediate increase of around 30 lbs in my dead.
Reason: The initial drive in an upright stance sumo puller comes from the quads. Back then, I was very upright with my sumos, even
dragging them up my shins on the way up. Strengthening my quads with fronts really made a difference.
Over the years however, my hips and hams have taken over. Today I
no longer pull the same way that I did 20 years ago. Something to do
with my 44 year old knees….
JPS on front squats again:
I had some success doing my fronts after the deads, although I have
to admit, I always found that doing any more than just an extra set or
two afterwards tended to wipe me out. I was usually capable of
around 100 lbs less in the fronts than in the regular back squat, so
things could get rather heavy. After I got to over 500 in this
movement, I abandoned it. It actually started to hamper my deadlift
progress. At this point, I was pulling close to 700. I didn’t do anymore fronts for years after that, but still managed to get another 100 lbs on my dead. But like I said, I started using less quad….
Try doing sets of 5.
If you want to see even more progress on your lifts: try alternating
your squats and deads every 4 or 5 days instead of doing them both
in a 7 day period. This will mean you squat and dead during an 8-10
day period. The extra days off will yield tremendous dividends.
JPS on natural vs. roided lifting:
Here’s how it is guys:
I got up to a 775 DL @ 220 on the sauce. I have been clean for 12 years now.I can still pull around 700 @ 250. In order for me to get to 775 once again, I’m gonna have to gain another 20 lbs or so (some fat included, unfortunately) of bodyweight. Question is, at age 44 and 5′ 9, do I want that much bulk and a heart attack for a 775 dead? When I was young and juicing, I didn’t give a shit about my health: today I have my misgivings.
After I cleaned out in 1988, I deliberately dieted down to under 165 lbs (my pre-steroid bodyweight). At this size I was once again pulling what I did before I ever touched the sauce, around 550. In fact, I was as weak as I had ever been before I’d ever touched the sauce. My training had been brutally consistent, however. As I gained weight naturally, my strength slowly returned.
As far as permanent advantages conferred from prior steroid use: I’m doubtful.
Since I went to all the trouble of actually LOSING size down to my
PRE-STEROID bodyweight over 12 years ago, I noticed a complete loss of all steroid related gains. Since then, my strength has returned only as my size and mass have increased over the years. It’s been 12 years now and I can see myself getting back to a 1900 total only if I go to a full 275 lbs versus the same strength levels I once had at 220 – 230 lbs bodyweight on the juice. My strength gains have otherwise been unremarkable. Aside from the obvious advantages steroids conferred strength-wise, one other significant difference I’ve noticed over the years is my propensity for injury since having gone natural. I used to heal up very quickly in my druggie days. Since having gone natural 12 years ago, I have avulsed a bicep and hamstring muscle. These types of injuries never bothered me when I was juicing.
One useful strategy for me now that I’m natural and trying to recoup my strength has been adding significant bodyweight, which is in itself no big secret. That’s how Paul Anderson went from an upper 600 squat at 275 to 1200 at 390. This is also the way John Kuc went about setting a world record in the dead after he abandoned steroids. He pulled an 870 WR on drugs at 242 and a few years later pulled an 856 WR @ 275.
More On Roid vs. Drug free liftin’:
Poor body image? Hell, you should have seen me at 145, which is where I started out at before lifting weights.
Actually, my natural bodyweight IS 165 – 170 lbs: this was eating what I wanted and as much as my appetite demanded, which was not a whole lot, obviously.
Once I got up to this weight (usually consuming in the neighborhood of 2700 kcal), it was necessary to up my daily kcal intake to 3000 or so in order to get my bodyweight around 185. This took just a few months.
To get over 200 lbs I was consuming around 3300 kcal daily, and today at 250 I must eat around 4200+.
When a lifter accuses another of body dysmorphia because they weigh 165 after having weighed 240+, he betrays a personal bias which obviously favors size and strength as positive traits. But this is not borne out statistically.
It makes much more sense, healthwise, to carry 165 lbs on a 69″ frame than 240 lbs, even if it’s primarily muscle. Obviously, if ones priority is getting as strong as possible, than one must choose between the lesser of two evils:
being scrawny and weak versus being huge, strong, and possibly a cardiac arrest waiting to happen.
I had no problem losing the weight. Without the roids my ravenous appetite vanished. I found it rather easy to maintain a lot less mass, but it sure freaked out my friends who knew me when I weighed 75 lbs more.
I didn’t like being weaker at 165 however, which is why I started to
methodically gain weight again with a carefully monitored diet. As totalling 1900+ becomes a possibility, I am also toying with the idea of getting up to a full 275.
At age 44, however, it seems like I’ve come full circle, once again possibly jeopardizing my health for the sake of a nice total. It used to be roids, now it’s simply getting too damn big for my own good….
JPS: Rational behind whole body workouts?:
Okay, I wanna know why some of you guys think you’re getting optimal results from a full body workout. As I understand it, some of you seem to be following this approach on a twice a week basis.
Isn’t it possible that even with as few as 5 or 6 “core” exercises comprising your routine, that about half-way through you’re just a little tapped out?
Granted, some of you might have the mental and/or physical fortitude/endurance to cope with this kind of workload, but even so: I
doubt that anyone with advanced strength levels could complete a routine like this in under 60 minutes….
…which is the optimal time frame one should aim for when planning a
“perfect” routine. (For size and strength, shorter, high intensity workouts are much more productive than longer, low or medium intensity workouts.)
I direct these comments to those of you out there whose primary aim is
strength and size, not muscular endurance.
My own experience with whole body workouts has been abysmal.
Instead, an upper/lower split has been the ideal approach with just 4 or 5 exercises done each day. Even when working up to 600+ squats or deads plus any assistance work, I can get out of the gym in under an hour.
More On whole body workouts:
Nate has the right idea for any strength athlete that sinply HAS to do a whole body routine.
Reducing ones workout to its simplest elements is theoretically the best approach. Ergo: a powerlifter would just do the power three, an olympic lifter his two lifts, etc. For someone interested in general all-round strength even just a full squat clean and press would do the trick. Trouble is: Man is by nature a “tinkerer”. So we gotta tinker with the basics,add a few “supplemental” movements, work on the “weak” links, blah blah blah.
A lot of strength athletes should just admit they’re closet bodybuilders and be done with it.
As for supplemental stuff, I say just add it on a little at a time and back off if your “core” lifts start to suffer.
JPS on leg strength/leg size/etc:
What is “strong”? Can you squat double bodyweight for sets of 5 with just a belt? If the answer is “yes”, then perhaps you need to re-assess your squatting style: are you a hip and back squatter (wide stance or leans forward) versus a leg squatter (narrow and upright)? If your hips and back do all the work, then forget the big legs, dude. You’ll have a world class set of glutes, however.
Actually, I wouldn’t expect tree trunks for legs until you could do TRIPLE bodyweight in the back squat with just a belt. A narrower stance will get you bigger legs, too. Those ultra-wide guys have nice inner thighs, but little in the way of quads.
Incidentally, have you ever seen an olympic lifter with bird-legs? Consider dropping back squats altogether and doing only fronts. And forget that leg press shit. It’s for pussies.
Random stuff on powerlifting from JPS:
A powerlifting routine is good for powerlifters, but may not be what someone interested in “functional” strength is looking for. I refer to the inadequacy of benching and deadlifting as a meaningful expression of upper body strength, especially in this age of high tech lifting gear. Much more functional is the power clean and push press. If you’re going to choose alternative core exercises, I think these are preferable.
Deadlifting lends itself well to technicians and long-armed folks; benching to short-armed, hyper-lordotic, and barrel chested individuals. But ask most triple bodyweight deadlifters or double bodyweight benchers to power clean and push
press double their bodyweight for reps and I’m betting you’ll get that “deer caught in the headlights” look.
This kind of strength went out with Paul Anderson.
Back squatting is also less desirable than front squatting if you have a chronically bad back, unless you can do them olympic style.
JPS on the “RAW” situation with the bitter Scott Taylor:
Let me deal with Mr. Taylor’s points one at a time.
l. Regarding his correlation between higher rates of injury and “raw” lifting: Pure bullshit. As an exercise physiologist and physical therapist, let me reiterate: this idea is pure unadulterated bullshit.
The use of gear allows lifters to use more weight and/or to train AROUND chronic injuries. Want to lift more? Use all the gear you can get your hands on. Got a nagging shoulder injury? Use a bench shirt. Got a suspect lower back? Use a belt. Got knee caps that don’t track right? Use knee wraps. But will using this gear prevent long term disability?
I’m 44 so I can sympathize with Mr. Taylor’s middle-age “break-down”, but problems with degenerative joint disease are not going to be lessened with knee wraps, bench shirts, suits, or belts. Problems with ones intervertebral discs won’t be prevented either by the use of gear. If anything, engaging in ANY kind of heavy lifting over several years, whether assisted or not, is like an invitation to degenerative joint disease. This is why you see very few guys in their 50’s and 60’s doing what they did in their 20’s and 30’s. It’s not that their
muscles can’t get as strong or even maintain their strength, it’s the
accumulation of breakdown and trauma over the years in other parts of the machine. Think of your body as a car, and your joint cartilage as the tread on your tires. Your tire tread wears away quicker when you carry a bigger load or drive a lot harder than usual. Ergo, gear use does nothing to reduce the compressional forces acting upon your articular cartilage. Your joints are more affected by the weight-bearing roles they play over several years and your genetics.
I might add that gear use over the last 20 years sure as hell HASN’T prevented some pretty spectacular injuries from happening, either! I recall the Wide World of Sport intro from several years back that alway showed a brief highlight of Paul Jordan’s muscular long-haired 220-lb countenance approaching the squat bar in a frenzy at the World Championship in Australia. What they didn’t show you was what followed: both knees blowing out on his descent and his body crumpling in a pile under 750+ lbs. It was the scariest shit ever seen in the
sport and probably one of the best things to happen for powerliftings ratings back then….
Gear use is definitely NOT some kind of magical panacea for preserving ones lifting health, but it does enable some with chronic or degenerative problems to lift a little longer. The REAL reason (of course) that MOST powerlifters use gear is quite simple: BIGGER LIFTS. Same reason they used tennis balls and bed sheets.
2. Mr. Taylor states that since RAW lifting sprang up a few years ago, the sport of powerlifting has become more fragmented.
Truth is, RAW lifting has contributed to powerlifting’s alphabet soup mentality
only at the tail end of a very long downward spiral. Long before the “rawbies” came around, some twenty years ago, in fact, there was dissension in the ranks and it had little to do with gear use.
The first cracks in powerlifting’s armor were all about drug use and the growing resentment among “natural” athletes who wanted tested venues. A few years later, as “tested” federations started popping up, the druggies sought solace in their own break away federations which eschewed tests of any kind. For Mr. Taylor to blame the VERY FEW federations out there that accomodate raw lifting for the fragmentation of our sport betrays a deliberate disregard for
the truth, and perhaps his own ulterior motives.
3. Mr. Taylor accurately portrays some arguments advanced by “rawbies” to justify their own agendas. Whether powerlifting needs to go “raw” in order to get in the olympics or garner more public approval is probably a moot point,however. And whether PL-USA’s being “thicker” truly means an increased patronage versus increased advertising revenue is truly difficult to ascertain for
sure. (The number of subscribers doesn’t appear to have changed much in the last 15 or so years, however.) Furthermore, few of the dozen or so federations have accurate records regarding their own memberships, and no one can tell how much membership overlap occurs between federations.
Powerlifting will probably never ascend to the ranks of monied “supersport” for reasons well beyond the use of gear, drugs, or any other arcane differences cited by competing factions within the sport. The real reason we’ll remain small time (along with olympic lifting) is simply this: Powerlifting/Olympic lifting has no Joe Weider, and powerlifting ain’t bodybuilding. (The public still prefers buff over brawn.)
JPS on extremes:
Not to panic: I’m talking extremes here.
Sure, any kind of moderate weight-training is ostensibly “good” for you in the sense that you describe, but I’m talking peak one rep performance of the sort that gets you raves in the hard-core powerlifting world, not a by-line in one those fluff-and-muff fitness magazines or certification as a fitness “trainer”.
Sure, I have my elderly patients all lifting bird-weights for all the
aforementioned health “benefits”, but how the hell does this compare to what an elite-level powerlifter does?
Try repping triple bodyweight squats for 20 plus
years and see where that gets your knees over time. Truth is, reality sucks: My friend and former multiple world champion James Cash has a trashed back and knees at age 50. This guy used to move world records poundages for years and now wouldn’t think of touching weights most beginners handle…
Real strength ain’t about health: it’s an extreme lifestyle choice. If going elite is your goal, then you can forget that “lifting for good health” shit. Either that or join the Weider gang…..
Some stuff for weight gain by JPS:
Part of your problem is obvious: you even alluded to it. The squats
and deads are wiping you out. You cannot expect optimal gains when
during half your workout you are dragging ass.
The solution is also equally obvious. Switch to an upper/lower split.
Regarding cardio: Contra-indicated with hard-gainers.
Hypers (as in for the lower back?): What for? You do deads and
squats. Plenty of lower back work already. Waste of time.
Side-bends: Huh? Bigger obliques = bigger waistline. You want a more
powerful torso? Try STANDING overhead presses, especially with
dumb-bells. Don’t want a bigger waistline? Drop the oblique work.
Regarding food consumption: Run less and you’ll have to eat less.
Don’t like to eat? Try drinking milk. Cheapest weight-gainer known to
man. Don’t like the fat? Try skim. Lactose intolerant? I use non-fat
lactose-free milk: 1/2 gallon per day.
Pathan dude, anybody that reads Bill Phillips ain’t ready for roids… That sonofabitch is the biggest sell-out and hypocrite out there, nor is his advice worth a damn…. He’ll tell you whatever it takes to make a fast buck promoting his overpriced EAS shit.
Nobody with any sense uses “grams” of steroids. I once did and that made me a stupid sonofabitch. Today I am smarter, so heed my advice:
Ask yourself WHY you want to use. Is it because you feel there’s no alternative? Is it because you’re too impatient? Or are you just a lazy SOB who thinks roids are gonna give him what he wants without any consequences?
There IS an alternative to roids. It’s called “KNOWLEDGE”. Learn how to train smarter as a natural athlete. Most natural guys don’t have a clue. They think that “bad genetics” and a couple years of little progress in the gym means they’re destined to mediocrity for the rest of their lives. That’s bullshit. Most of these unfortunates simply don’t know how to train or eat right. Bad genetics is a bullshit myth. EVERYONE can get stronger and bigger. Most people can get a hell of a lot stronger and bigger than they realize. The only other missing ingredient is SELF-DISCIPLINE.
KNOWLEDGE AND SELF-DISCIPLINE will carry you to unrealized heights in the gym.
If you’re IMPATIENT, consider this: roids will make you bigger and stronger really quick. But it’s an ILLUSION. Lose the source and you’ll lose the gains. I’ve seen many a roid king turn into a shriveled up has-been in just months following “retirement”. These are the guys who will cross the street to avoid meeting their former gym buddies out of sheer embarrassment. Why bother with the temporary facade? Why take this see-saw approach to strength and size, with your progress totally dependent on what dosages you can afford and/or tolerate? Get on the right track with PERMANENT gains that don’t depend on some unreliable shady sonofabitch travelling to Mexico every other month for a stash of roids to smuggle back in this country. Patience is a virtue. Better to gain 10 lbs a year naturally and permanently. With KNOWLEDGE and SELF-DISCIPLINE the MUSCLE will come. And more importantly, STAY.
Consequences: No, I’m not gonna waste my time repeating all that stuff on my website. But how about this:
Roids make you lazy. Any fool can make good gains on roids.
You can train any damn way you want and eat whatever you want. A lot of these drugs were designed with clinical applications in mind for very ill people. And if you’re an 84 year old man dying from malnutrition (like some of my patients), nobody is going to expect you to start eating and training right in order to maximize your muscular gains. So there’s a lot of leeway for progress here, dude. As a result, taking advice from a roider is akin to asking a blind man what he sees….
Roids make you stupid. Why train smarter if you just need to up the dosage any damn time your lifting goes stale? Let your liver enzyme levels be your guide….
Roids make you depressed. When you get off them. Nobody wants to shrink. Or to be whispered about (“he’s getting small… must be off the stuff”). So you get back on. And off. And on, and off, and on, and off, and on….
Roids cost too damn much. Hell, you’d be better off just mailing your money to me. I’ll send you some empty bottles of oxandrolone from the nursing home where I work….