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Atomic Athletic Blog

  • Before Bench Presses

    john-grimek-pullover-mb1
    John Grimek Straight Arm Pullover

    What do you bench?

    How many times have you heard that question? I hate that question. I have a torn right rotator cuff and bench presses really aggravate that injury. So, on the rare occasion that I do a bench press, I never go over 225. The amazing thing is that people THINK I can bench press a lot, because they think I look like a guy that can bench a lot.

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/traditional-training-legendary-strength.html

    Here is my secret... and it is not bodybuilding, unless you are thinking of bodybuilding from 80 years ago. In fact, it wasn't until some time in the 1950s that lifters started doing flat “press-ups” on a bench. Yet, without bench presses, lifters had huge shoulders, triceps, brachialis, and pectoral muscles. The secret is that you have to look back to the time when John Grimek built up his physique.

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/gym-art-charts/classic-training-hall-wall-chart-set.html

    I am going to give you three exercises, that need to be added into your barbell routine, as well as one really great “Chest” workout.

    Straight Arm Barbell Pullovers

    The photo at the top is a photo of John Grimek, from when he worked for Mark Berry, estimated to have been taken in 1934. John is doing my favorite upper body exercise, the straight arm pullover. I did hundreds of these as a teenager, on the swim team. In fact, I did them with a Milo Barbell that looked very similar to the one Grimek used in that shot, which I think is somewhat key to that exercise. Don't worry, you don't have to buy a whole new barbell, just use smaller plates, so that the bar starts closer to the ground. Use something like 25 pound, or even 10 pound plates. It will extend your range of motion. Yes, it is harder to perform and you won't be able to use as much weight, but the benefits will be worth it with this alternate variation.

    Before Bench Presses Workout

    Stretch & Warm-up with Indian Clubs and/or Speed Bag Work
    Clean & Standing Barbell Push 5 x 5
    Clean & Front Squat 5 x 5
    Straight Arm Pullover 3 x 10
    Dumbbell (or Kettlebell) Crucifix Hold 3 x 3
    Dips 3 x 10
    Stretch

    If it is nice outside add in half a dozen 100 yard sprints. You will be shocked at how well they work in with this routine. In high school, I would do this routine in the morning and then head off to the pool for morning swim, which was only 45 minutes, but felt great.

    All the best,

    Roger LaPointe

    "Today is a good day to lift."

  • Learning Lost Secrets

    1950's York Wrist Roller at top and Atomic Athletic Firestorm Wrist Roller bottom
    1950's York Wrist Roller at top and Atomic Athletic Firestorm Wrist Roller bottom

    Lost variations of exercises can be your key to success.

    Because you know the secret, I am going to let you in on this one. When I stumbled across this variation on wrist roller work, it was one of those DUH moments for me. You know what I am talking about, when you see something for the first time and say to yourself, “Duh! Why didn't I think of that?”

    This exercise does not come from an exotic locale, like the Shaolin Temple or a Kushti Wrestling school in Varanasi, but from strange and exotic 1960's New Jersey. Of course, to a kid from Michigan, it may as well have been the North Pole.

    Presented by Professor E. M. Orlick, we have “Series B: Arms Bent and Elbows Held In Against Your Sides”. Try your wrist roller work with your arms like this. “Your lower arms must be bent so that they are at right angles to your upper arms and parallel to the floor.”

    If you have one of the Firestorm Wrist Rollers we sell, it should be just long enough for you to have your arms straight out and not crowded in next to the cord in the center. If you collect wrist rollers, like I do, then you will know how this exercise is virtually impossible to do with the little short red wrist roller that York sold many years ago. See the comparison photo above. You simply don't get anything close to a full range of motion in the palms up, bent arm position with a short wrist roller. Don't get me wrong, you can do some other interesting things with some of the short wrist rollers, but this is not one of them.

    Once you have mastered this movement with a light weight, cut your 10 reps down to 5 reps and really increase the weight. With your arms in this position, you should be able to do a lot more weight than with the straight arm, palms down position. In addition to pyramiding the weight, I like to do a set/rep variation in this position that goes from very light weight for 20 reps to very heavy weight where 5 reps may be impossible, then back again, repeating several times.

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/atomic-athletic-firestorm-wrist-roller.html

    You may also want to check out the Pot Lifting Arts kit:

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/pot-lifting-arts-kit-firestorm-wrist-roller-loading-pin-book-dvd.html

    All the best,
    Roger LaPointe
    “Today is a good day to lift.”

  • Every Rep Counts

    Your body only has so many reps in it.  Make every one of them enjoyable.  I lift with antique equipment, home made equipment that was made using the same construction methods as old wrestlers from Bengal and some with water buffalo horn, as well as other "odd" things.  I also use some of the most highly advanced materials found in the aerospace industry, and other items in between.  I use what I use because it is the right thing for the job.

    I really enjoy it and what is going on in my mind during my training is partially driven by my surroundings and the people I train with.  I hope you enjoy each and every rep, just like I try to.

    All the best,

    Roger LaPointe

    "Today is a good day to lift."

  • Weight Loss: What do I do?

    I have this regular customer who is fat.  Seriously, his doctor told him he has to lose weight and get his blood sugar level down or he is going to become diabetic.  This is brass tacks stuff.  He is at least a 100 pounds over weight.  So, what does he ask me?  "Give me one thing to do to attack this problem, other than just lifting and eating less, because I know it's more than that."

    I told him to eliminate high fructose corn syrup from his diet.  I told him he couldn't do it, but if he genuinely did, that would be a really, really great first step.  I hope he does it.

    He's already doing a training routine based on my Traditional Training Legendary Strength and the tips in the Garage Gym Guide, but that is just activity level stuff.  I wish him the best.

    All the best,

    Roger LaPointe

    "Today is a good day to lift."

  • Garage Gym Accessory Wall

    power-shack-grip-board
    Carmen Caputo's Grip & Accessory Board

    Carmen Caputo's Power Shack Gym really is one of the best garage gyms out there. This is the second Atomic Athletic Bomb Proof Bulletin based on his place. It is a true unattached pole barn type 2-car + size garage, that is exclusively a gym. Carmen and his buddies completely finished it off, with heat. I can really appreciate that right now, as it's -5 F as I write this.

    The photo shows The Power Shack accessory corner, highlighted by the peg board. Hanging on the bottom are real antique Whitely spring type strand pulling units, with all the original Whitely accessory parts. He has them set up with 1-5 springs, just like a pro-style dumbbell or kettlebell rack. You also see an original cloth webbing York head harness and York wrist roller, together with some home made loading pins.

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/atomic-athletic-firestorm-wrist-roller.html

    Carmen and I had a great talk about the wrist rollers. We are both really into the wrist roller movement and concept. Carmen actually has two of those originals, but he stripped the paint off the one shown in the picture and poly coated it. I also have an original red painted one that I will show in a wrist roller article that is coming down the pike. Carmen's wrist roller advice is to, “...put a longer rope on your wrist roller, when it comes time to replace it. If you have a longer rope, you will find a way to use it. It's the basic simple details that the old strength guys were into, and that made all the difference. The longer rope is murder on your hands. Once you unroll it, you have to roll it back up before you can put it away.”

    In the floor rack you can see a variety of bars. He has an original Gaspari Bar, a 6 foot standard barbell, a 6 foot Olympic bar, a regular Olympic curl bar, an Olympic Super Curl Bar and an Olympic Hammer Curl Bar. He also has quite a pile of standard size plates.

    Rounding out the collection is a Power Twister, an Iron Man Super Gripper and a variety of rubber rings. The left wall also shows his framed original York Powerlifting Chart #2 (Bench Press). The other wall has his lat machine attachments (like the triceps rope), with the lat machine in the foreground. That padding is not the original naugahyde, but that cool late-60s glitter black that you may have seen on boat or motorcycle seats. He has re-upholstered everything in to match.

    All the best,
    Roger LaPointe
    'Today is a good day to lift.”

  • Check out Carmen's Gym

    carmen-caputos-york-kettlebells
    Carmen Caputo's Gym: Photo 1
    (Photo by Carmen Caputo with Permission)

    Check out what Carmen Caputo has put together! Seriously, put on your 7 year old kid attitude, with big excited eyes. We are going to take a walk back in time, to the days when afternoons were long and sunny. This is one of those days when opening this plain garage door seems somewhat slightly more interesting than kicking stones in an alley, then suddenly your whole life is changed.

    Carmen's gym really exists and he has been an Atomic Athlete since before I was born. He has been seriously weightlifting and collecting equipment since 1960, with most of it originally coming from Peary Rader and York Barbell. For the past several years, he has been adding in some Atomic Athletic pieces, supplemented by collectibles that have come from me, eBay and other random sources.

    The photo shows his “Kettlebell Rack”. Where he has put together classic kettlebells built with kettlebell handles and all York standard size plates, bars and collars. He has pairs of them in 10 pound increments from 20 – 60 pounds*, which he occasionally modifies for mid-range increments. You can also see his collection of Iron Boots. Not all of his pieces were acquired new, but you can see how everything is now in pristine shape and order, ready for the next workout. Carmen follows the rule he was taught in the Marines, “If you take care of your gear, it will take care of you.”

    Kettlebell Handles: http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/kettlebell-handles-pair.html

    Now, take a gander at the gym art. Those instructional wall charts are originals. He has framed classic posters and other art all over the gym. I have a bunch of great shots that I will be showing in the next few weeks. Keep an eye out for it. Everything is solid, basic and high quality.

    To quote Carmen, “Only in America could the grandchild of immigrants be able to acquire something like this. We are truly blessed.” You may not remember when you were first introduced to weights, but it would be great if we could all be so fortunate as to find a place like this to start from.

    All the best,
    Roger LaPointe
    “Today is a good day to lift.”

    *Not all of Carmen's kettlebells are shown in this photo.

  • Iron Boot Strap Special

    Intermediate Strength Iron Boot Strap (Set of 4)
    Intermediate Strength Iron Boot Straps

    I know that a lot of our readers are big fans of Iron Boot training. Many of you even have antique Iron Boots. In fact, the next few bulletins are going to be highlighting antique equipment that is regularly in use.

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/intermediate-strength-iron-boot-straps.html

    If you are familiar with the straps that used to come with the various antique Iron Boots, then you know they were virtually worthless. In fact, it is my opinion that Iron Boots declined in popularity because the various manufacturers had those terrible straps. Put on some decent straps and your Iron Boots become really outstanding training tools. Iron Boots really are dumbbells for your feet!

    Right now is a great time, if you are looking to upgrade your Iron Boot Straps. Today, we are introducing our NEW Atomic Athletic Intermediate Strength Iron Boot Straps!

    For a Limited Time, we are giving BOTH Free Shipping and a discount on the NEW Intermediate Iron Boot Straps. Additionally, because of the increase in popularity of our Iron Boots, we are also able to lower the price of our Heavy Duty Iron Boots straps! I don’t know how long we can do that as well, but we are going to try it.

    Here is the link for the Heavy Duty Iron Boot Strap Sets:
    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/heavy-duty-iron-boot-straps.html

    Here is the link for the NEW Intermediate Strength Iron Boot Strap Sets:
    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/intermediate-strength-iron-boot-straps.html

    All the best,
    Roger LaPointe
    “Today is a good day to lift.”

  • Soaked My Hat

    Yep. I soaked my fleece hat in sweat. I was shoveling. It was disgusting, but

    Atomic Athletic Fleece Hat
    Atomic Athletic Fleece Hat

    kept my head warm anyway.

    Here's my rant. The county finally lifted the Level 3 Snow Emergency, so we can drive without getting a ticket. Sure, it was record snow, 22 inches, and record cold. I don't care. Forty five minutes north of us, in Michigan, it's not a problem.

    The Good Side: Hey, I got in some great lifting in the home gym and moved tons of snow for the cardio. As I read the news, it looks like I am far from the only one to be in this situation. CNN reported that Atlanta had a temperature of 26 degrees, while Anchorage, AK was at 34. Crazy. Here, we were down to -14, so today's 18 degrees felt like a heat wave. I heard the wind chill got down to less than -40. Nasty. This morning, our packing tape was shattering in the warehouse. You read it here first. Packing tape shatters if it gets too cold. So we brought all the tape in, turned on electric heaters and got a few things taken care of. Tomorrow will be a better day.

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/t-shirts-hats-etc/fleece-hat-atomic-athletic.html

    Tonight's Workout (Home Gym)
    Stretch
    Padlock Clean & Press 3 x 10
    Competition Style Dumbbell Swing 3 x 3
    Padlock Swings 5 x 10
    Stretch
    Sleep

    Check out the Atomic Athletic Video BLOG with the Competition Style One Hand Dumbbell Swing here: http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/blog/sample-page/

    Keeping it basic. I did a lot of snow blower work this morning and shoveling out the car. I had the good old reliable pick-up truck done yesterday morning. Good old GM knows how to make a truck that starts right up in the cold... knock on wood.

    All the best,
    Roger LaPointe
    “Today is a good day to lift.”

  • Snow Day Workout

    Snow-day-lifting
    Snow Day Weightlifting

    Short bulletin:

    Wood County, OH is under a Level 3 Snow Emergency Travel Restriction, allowing ONLY emergency personnel to travel.

    This means that Atomic Athletic Offices are closed today, January 6, 2013. This means that the showroom, warehouse, shipping and phones will NOT be open.

    Home Gym Day

    Today is the perfect example of why you want a home gym. Growing up in Michigan, there was no such thing as a day with restricted travel, not so in Ohio. That means without special credentials, I will get a ticket if I drive my vehicle today. Therefore, I will be visiting the home gym for today's workout!

    As I will be doing a lot of snow shoveling, heavy squats and deadlifts are out. However, it is a perfect time for bodyweight squats, stretching and accessory work.

    1st Lots of Shoveling

    2nd Home Gym Visit
    Serious Stretching
    Padlock Clean & Press 3 x 10
    Kettlebell Swings (Light) 10
    Dumbbell Swing – Competition Style 3 x 3
    Dumbbell Bent Press (Technique Work for about 10 Min.)
    Bodyweight Squats 3 Sets of 25 (with extra stretching)
    Iron Boot Leg Extensions 2 x 15
    Iron Boot Leg Curls 2 x 15
    Iron Boot Bicycles 2 x 10
    Wrist Roller: 1 Set of 10 Reps Each – Frankenstein, Palms Up Curl Position, Hack Style
    Arm & Grip Massage & Stretch

    3rd Probably More Shoveling...

    See you tomorrow!

    All the best,
    Roger LaPointe
    “Today is a good day to lift.”

  • Garage Gym Leg Extensions & Leg Curls

    York-flex-bench-iron-boots-leg-extension
    Roger LaPointe performing Iron Boot Leg Extensions on a York Flex Bench

    Some people look for reasons not to go into the gym.  They find reasons to call an exercise dangerous.  When I first got into the fitness industry, it was Olympic weightlifting, followed by Behind the Neck Presses.  Now the pendulum has swung the other way.  For several years it has been leg extensions getting a bad rap.  Oh well.  I still do them.

    Let's face it, I love leg work.  It's simple and basic.  One exercise that I feel is very important, if you want strong, powerful legs, is the humble leg extension.  If you can find a machine that fits you, machines can be fine.  I have one that I love, but most of them don't fit me.  What does fit are my Iron Boots.  There are a million exercises that I can do with Iron Boots.  They really are dumbbells for the feet.  Unfortunately, to get some exercises right, you actually need some extra equipment, like a bench or seat of some sort.

    Garage gym guys take note.  The York Barbell Flex bench is a great one to

    Roger LaPointe doing Leg Curls with Iron Boots on a York Barbell Flex Bench
    Iron Boot Leg Curl on York Barbell Flex Bench

    pair up with Iron Boots.  Amazingly, it was sitting right in front of me for about fifteen years, since I worked at York.  They even used me as a "short, but real lifter" model for that piece, when it was originally being designed.  The current version has a few more positions than it used to have.  The one you need for BOTH Iron Boot Leg Extensions and Iron Boot Leg Curls is that butt pad adjustment.  That pad also has a wide, rolled edge.  That is very important for both exercises.

    Check out these Leg Extension and Leg Curl photos.  You don't need tons of weight, but getting the right angles and support IS KEY.  That York Barbell Flex Bench paired up with Iron Boots is an economical, efficient tool for your garage gym.  Like or hate Leg Extensions they work.  This pairing will remove two more excuses.

    All the best,

    Roger LaPointe

    "Today is a good day to lift."

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