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Garage Gym

  • Manhandling Dumbbells

    strength mag bent press-A-w-text-logo Bent Press: Manhandling Dumbbells

    Let me tell you about one of the least graceful, ugly and horribly inefficient lifts you will ever perform. Before I get to that, I must also say that if you want to get truly real world strong, then you MUST be doing this lift.

    I call it Manhandling a Dumbbell. Technically, I guess you would call it a 2 Hand Single Dumbbell Clean. As you can see in the photo above, this lift was commonly done for the purpose of a “2 Hands Anyhow Lift” with either “2 Dumbbells” or a “Dumbbell & Kettlebell”. The key is that the heavier of the two items would be a dumbbell. Unlike a barbell, that could be cleaned or leveraged into the one hand, how do get the dumbbell into the bent press or jerk position? The rules actually allowed you to use just about any method to get it to the shoulder.

    The amount of weight that can be shouldered this way is quite significant. It is also fantastic to train this movement, because, like in stone lifting, you will find your weak points very quickly. I do have some tips, based primarily on the techniques I have learned from the “One Hand Dumbbell Swing”.

    Allen Collars for Barbells & Dumbbells Allen Collars for Barbells & Dumbbells

    “Manhandling a Dumbbell” Techniques

    1. Start the dumbbell on the floor, on end. Use as small a collar as possible without any extra bar end sticking out beyond the collar. I will use Allen Collars, just like when I set up a barbell to be leveraged.
    2. Don't bother with a hook grip, because you can wrap your other hand around the hand that is actually holding the dumbbell.
    3. For maximum control, the hand that actually grasps the dumbbell handle needs to be the one you will end with, as you will release the other hand as the dumbbell reaches the shoulder.

    “Manhandling a Dumbbell” Additional Tips

    -Don't bother using thick handles with this lift. This is not a grip training exercise, but one where you want to use as much weight as you can handle.
    -5 Sets of 2 Reps will be maximally productive.
    -Backweighting the dumbbell is fine, but make sure to practice backweighting techniques, as it can easily get away from you and become squirlly.
    -I like using larger plates. I sell a lot of our Long Dumbbell Bars for guys to really load up heavy. The reason I use that bar is NOT because of the large number of 10 Pound Standard Size Plates I can load up, but because I can determine where on the bar I am going to actually grab it. It is more important to have the dumbbell on end with an essentially flat end on the ground than it is to have it perfectly center balanced.

    Enjoy your manhandling exercise and be ready to find your weak points. I know that I have found myself doing a lot more ab work, one hand deadlifting, and dumbbell curls after adding this lift to my routine.

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

  • Abdominal Exercises with a Slant Board

    Building a powerful midsection is essential serious lifting. It also makes you look good. Choose your

    Rudolph Liska: Slant Board Abdominal Work with Weights
    Rudolph Liska: Slant Board Abdominal Work with Weights

    reason, you need to do it.

    Check out Rudolph Liska, as shown in Mark Berry's book “Physical Improvement Vol. 2”, from 1930. Berry was the Olympic coach in 1932. Remember, this was a time when the Great Depression was in full swing. Weightlifting wasn't a new thing, but you certainly did not find a gym on every corner. These guys also didn't take steroids. They simply had not been invented yet.

    Liska is attacking the abs from both directions. Note, he has added weight. If you want to build bulging muscles, what do you do? You train like a bodybuilder with lighter weights and higher reps. Look at modern competitive bodybuilders, especially in the off season. Now, while forgetting about the Super Heavy Weight Class, look at competitive weightlifters. Those guys don't have big guts. In fact, their “cores” or midsections are tight and powerful. So, maybe it is time for you to pick up some weights for working your abs.

    In the top photo, Liska is doing a standard sit-up with a barbell behind his head. He is not holding a plate on his chest. This makes for maximum chest expansion and range of motion with the abdominals. The first part of the exercise is pulling the barbell off the board. Make sure to use the abs to do this, not the arms or lats. The abdominals are groups of small muscles, so you should try to work them as such and in sequence throughout the range of motion. With a modern adjustable sit-up board you can modify the resistance and the muscle group emphasis merely by changing that angle.

    The second photo is a sit-up board leg raise. I don't advise you to hold a plate with your feet. While, in the original photo, it looks like the plate is tied to his feet, Iron Boots would be a much safer and more effective tool for this exercise. They will also allow you to do an isolateral version, ie. Alternating Leg Raise, with adjustable weight.

    Here is a great home grade ab bench for doing any of these movements.
    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/adjustable-sit-up-board-york-fts.html

    With any of these exercises, the classic 5 sets of 5 reps are a great way to go. As you can see in the photos, Liska had outstanding abs, serratus and oblique muscles.

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

  • Black Friday Specials

    Throughout the month of November we will be adding various specials.  We are not doing anything

    SPECIAL: Kettlebell & Iron Boot Boxed Set SPECIAL: Kettlebell & Iron Boot Boxed Set

    just for Black Friday.  However, most of our Specials will be of limited supply, so when they sell out, they are gone and will be pulled from the site!

    Here are 2 great Specials:

    Iron Boot & Kettlebell Boxed Set: http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/kettlebell-iron-boot-boxed-set.html

    Bob Hoffman & York Barbell Holiday Special: http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/holiday-special-featuring-bob-hoffman-york-barbell.html

  • The Bent Press: How to Leverage a Barbell

    Before you can do the classic old time strongman barbell lift called the Bent Press, you have to get it to your shoulder.  There are several ways this can be done, but the Leveraging the Barbell will move the most weight.

    4 Shot Sequence Photos of Barbell Leveraging

    Step 1: Lift Barbell On End

    It is best, if you don't have a classic globe type barbell, to put your plates all the way to the end of the bar.  You can use an Olympic barbell, but be prepared to jam it up permanently.  In the photos, I am using an antique standard size barbell with our Allen Collars on the ends.

    barbell-leverage-sequence-a

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Step 2: Find The Center

    Gravity is your friend here.  Find the center point, with palm facing your, like in a curl.  Let the barbell rock to the shouldered position as you drop into your squat.  The longer your barbell the easier this movement is.  Don't forget, your humble model is only 5'3".  Even I find a 7 foot barbell easier.  These are some great collars to use as inside collars.  With the plates all the way to the end, you effectively add "bar length".

    barbell-leverage-sequence-b

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Step 3: Drop and Squat

    After dropping under the bar, you simply stand up out of the squat.  It can be very helpful to use your shoulder to steady the bar.  This is something you can't really do with a barbell or kettlebell, simply because you don't have the bar length.

    barbell-leverage-sequence-c

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Step 4: Stand Up

    From this position, you are ready to do your bent press.

    barbell-leverage-sequence-d

  • 1932 Atlanta Police Department Gym

    Caption: “Here we see the barbell section of the Atlanta Police Department gym, under the personal, efficient, directorship of Edward Rosendahl, standing on the extreme right.  No wonder the Atlanta police force are strongly erect and vigorously alert.  They are an example which the police departments of other cities could copy with pride.  Instructor Rosendahl is the enthusiastic, aggressive type that accomplishes great things in body building training.  He also conducts two other schools in the city of Atlanta, Ga.”

    Equipment List: Based on Close Examination of Photo

    Old Time Strongman Gym Atlanta Police Department Gym: Circa 1932

    Adjustable Barbells
    Adjustable Dumbbells
    Adjustable Kettlebell Handles (Milo Bar Bell 1908 Tri-Plex Type): York improved on this design about 10 years later and we sell that type now. They are extremely versatile and are the preferred type to use for the competition type crucifix hold, found here: http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/kettlebell-handles-pair.html

    Globe Kettlebells (Milo Bar Bell Duplex Type)
    “Pro-Style” Barbells: Various Weights
    “Olympic” Plates – In a Rack
    Block Weights (I have some antique Toledo brand for sale here: http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/antique-toledo-block-weight-50-pounds.html

    Parallel Bars
    Wooden Seats/Benches
    Spring Steel “Crushers”
    Strands (Spring Type Chest Expanders)
    Barbells Racks
    Dumbbell Racks
    Plate Racks
    Tons of Plates
    Photos of Boxers, Wrestlers & other Strength Athletes

    Keep checking back, as I am doing an analysis of the equipment with related links, with the actual caption.

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

  • Brodie's Saloon & the Kennedy Lift

         "Steve Brodie, the man who took a chance, he jumped off the Brooklyn

    Chain Bar Heavy Lift Strongman Hip Lift with Train Wheels

    Bridge(so they say) had a saloon on the Bowery back in 1892 with a gym in the rear. This was not unusual. A lot of barrooms supported gyms. The author (York Barbell's Gord Venables) visited the Turnverein in Union City, New Jersey, in 1960 and it was back of the bar in a Swiss Restaurant.

         Bill Kennedy, a New York carpenter, performed nightly at Brodie's Saloon, lifting 1500 pounds in the straddle deadlift with handle and chain. The lifting feat became popular among strongmen of that era and it now bears his name - The Kennedy Lift." (Strength & Health, “Incredible Feats of Strength”, Venables, Oct-Nov 1974, p. 59

    Atomic Tip: Using the Hand & Thigh Bar with the Chain Lift Bar for a Kennedy Lift will allow you to go much heavier than a Jefferson Lift (barbell Straddle Deadlift), as you can “set” the bar in the partial movement. While you certainly can use bumper plates, cast iron 100's are far more dense. Make sure you use accurate ones, or at least weigh them so you can get the weight right from one end of the bar to the other. Obviously, you want the chain lift bar to have a balanced load, without loose wobbly collars.

  • 25 Pound Chrome Plates are Sold Out

    Yes.  The Special we had on 25 Pound Chrome Standard Size Plates is over.  That is why you cannot find that item on the web site.  When I sent out the Atomic Athletic Bomb Proof Bulletin reader notice, they flew out the door.  That was a discontinued product that needed to be cleared out, which means I can't get more of them.  Pay attention for more Discontinued/One-of-a-Kind/Collectible items...

    If you are reading this BLOG post, and you are NOT on the NEW Atomic Athletic Bomb Proof Bulletin e-mail list, but wish to be, the sign-up is on the front page of the site... here it a link: http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/ Go to the Lower Left of the screen.

  • Super-Heavy Dumbbell Bench Presses by David Shaw

    Some years ago, when I was stuck at a 440 pound Bench Press, I searched for exercises that would boost my power on the Bench Press. I noticed that for some, it was various triceps exercises, however no one had a one size fits all exercise. In my case, I did heavy dips with up to a 150 pound dumbbell attached to my waist, then my elbows began to hurt, skull crushers ended with the same result, so for me I had to look elsewhere for a compound movement that would work more than the triceps, but would engage the chest, shoulders (anterior) front deltoid, and the triceps without placing the elbows in a position that with added weight while performing exercises, caused pain.

     

    I settled on the Dumbbell Bench Press.  The only mention of these over the years was by Dr. Ken

    Dr. Ken Leistner Pressing Dr. Ken Leistner pressing a custom Shot Loading Globe Barbell from Atomic Athletic.

    Leistner, where he did them also, increasing his Bench Press. The only equipment needed is a good solid bench that will not tip over as you sit on the edge getting the dumbbells in place, and returning them to the floor, and some heavy fixed dumbbells, or bars used for dumbbells, that plates up to 20 or 25 pounds can be used on.

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/long-dumbbell-bar-collars.html

    When I mentioned Super-Heavy in the title, I worked up to 200 pound dumbbells in each hand for two reps. I trained by myself, so there was no luxury of a partner that handed the dumbbells to me. I would sit on the end of a solid bench, bend over, grab first the right dumbbell, and place it on my inner thigh, and then grab the second dumbbell, and do the same thing on the left side. Then, sit on the bench, tighten the dumbbells to my chest and with control, lay down on the bench. This is not a bodybuilding dumbbell bench press, so the palms of the hands need to face each other, and not out away from each other as in the bodybuilding movement. By holding the dumbbells palms facing each other, there is more of a stretch at the bottom, as the dumbbells come down to the sides of the chest. This converts to a powerful push off of the chest when doing Bench Presses.

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/limited-edition-brass-thick-dumbbell-handle.html

    I did these twice weekly, heavy on my heavy Bench press day, and moderate on my moderately

    David Shaw Powerlifter David Shaw Powerlifter

    heavy Bench Press day. Repetitions were for example. 90x5, 100x5, 110x5, 120x5,5, this would be on the heavy day. Moderately heavy would be 90x5, 100x5, 110x 5,5,5

     

    The important thing here is to find a rep range that works for you, and push toward heavier and heavier dumbbells. On this routine, my regular Bench Press went to 485 pounds in training, I then substituted Close –Grip Bench presses (able to use more weight) as my assistance movement, and went to 523 pounds in competition. One important fact not to be overlooked is, if you are increasing body-weight, expect some dramatic changes in your upper body. You may go up a size or two in shirt size. By doing this movement heavy, you will not be disappointed.

  • New Masters Lifting Writer

    “Rog, start sending me everything you can find with old guys lifting.” I don't get requests like that. I really don't get that sort of request from genuine icons of strength.

    David Shaw Powerlifter
    David Shaw Powerlifter

    Coming up will be, what I am hoping, is the first of many, many articles by a “new” master writer. No, I have not raised Bob Hoffman from the dead, although I am sure he is still clutching his pen, but this guy has done some great writing and a lot of serious lifting.

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/books-and-videos/strength-health-magazine-package-special.html

    I know, you are thinking that this will be some Olympic weightlifting guy that I have known for years.

    Wrong.

    This guy is from the world of powerlifting. He has set 5 world records. He has won the Nationals and been in the Guinness Book of World Records. While he did all the amazing things you can read about on the inter-webs, he was training alone in his garage and pushing his education through two Master's Degrees.

    Guess where he lifts today? In his garage.

    While he no longer competes, he still lifts. He could lift in a modern corporate facility, which he happens to manage for a major, large corporation, but he doesn't.

    I know you are wondering who he is. Well, it's David Shaw.

    Let me tell you one of the coolest things about David Shaw. It isn't his past records or tales from meets back in the day. Sure, those are interesting things, but not nearly so cool as the day called me up, with an urgency in his voice and asked for that info on old guys. I asked, “Why? You did more than the old guys.”

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/books-and-videos/usawa-2000-nationals-dvd.html

    “I'm sorry, you misunderstand me,” he very politely said. “I want to see what guys are actually lifting and breaking records at, who are 60, 70 or a 100 years old. This is what I am going to aim for.” So, Dave is building his list. Some of his information is old, like his reports on what Ed Zercher did. Some is very recent, like the footage and results from my 2012 Atomic Athletic Great Black Swamp Olde Time Strongman Picnic. So, as Dave gets older, he will be looking at what guys did, and are doing, at his current age, even if the guy he's competing against has been dead for 50 years. Dave is constantly adapting, changing and trying to improve on what has worked in the past, with some very definite goals in mind. That's really cool.

    Because of his attitude, I had to get him to write for me. This weekend you will have Dave's first article. It's a short piece on dumbbell benching. Don't worry, everyone will get something out it, regardless of your age. Dave writes from a position of ageless truth.

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

  • East Meets West in Strength Training

    Shaolin Monks
    Roger and Shi Guolin discuss stone padlock training during a recent visit.

    I have been lifting weights for over 20 years and have been involved in one way or another with a number of sports: Olympic weighttlifting, Powerlifting, All-Round Weightlifting, Highland Games, Strongman and a variety of other sports, and I am still finding more new and exciting training methods each time I work out.

    My recent meeting with the Shaolin Monks really got me fired up for stone padlock training. The Monks showed me complex methods of strength training that blew my mind. They even showed me basic, foundation exercises that were super cool. Since then, I have been getting outstanding results in my training with stone locks. Most notably, my upper body and shoulders have never felt stronger and my forearms are reaching new levels of strength and definition with each new workout.

    After working on several of the movements the Monks showed me, suddenly I had an epiphany; something I had always wanted to try but could not previously understand. Several years ago, I read about a special training method of German Strongman Herman Goerner called “Die Kette” (the chain).

    goerner Meet Goerner

    Before I get into exactly what "The Chain" is, here is some background information on Herman Goerner for those of you who may not be familiar with him.

    He was born in Haenichen, Germany and lived from 1891-1956. He stood around 6’ tall and his weight varied from 220 in 1920 all the way up to 260 lbs during the 1930's. Goerner was one of the last great professional strongmen of the 20th century. He was particularly well known for his phenomenal hand strength and his deadlifting ability. Goerner could do a one-arm barbell clean with 297.62 lbs, a strict barbell curl with 220.46 pounds, a one hand snatch with 264.55 lbs. and a two-arm snatch with his arms crossed with 231 lbs. Also among his many outstanding lifts was a one arm deadlift of 727 ½ pounds.

    Goerner was a true physical culturalist and he employed many different training techniques to build and maintain his tremendous power. His gym in South Africa was stocked with all types of weights including globe barbells, block weights, dumbbells and kettlebells. He also had an area to practice boxing, wrestling and gymnastics.

    In his biography “Goerner the Mighty” by Edgar Mueller there was a section on how he trained.

    As I mentioned earlier, one of Goerner's favorite techniques was called “Die Kette”(the chain) and he loved to do it using kettlebells. He could do this since his gym had many different sizes of each. He began with lighter kettlebells. and did a variety of movements then moved onto the next size and performed many of the same movements. As he moved down the rack the exercises changed and adapted as the weights got heavier. Sometimes he only did one circuit, sometimes he did several.

    I thought since I have three different sizes of stone locks to use, that this would be a perfect opportunity to give “Die Kette” a try, but I would modify it with complexes, in the manner of the Shaolin Monks.

    I began with the 10 pound stone padlocks. First, I started out with some callisthenic exercises to warm up a bit. I held the locks and did some arm circles and various types of swings. I varied the speed of these movements and my shoulders were already fried. Then I did a variety of lateral raises. My shoulders were screaming by this time as were my forearms. I finished up with some wrist curls and reverse wrist curls.

    justin10pl_d See a real Kung Fu master at work

    Then I immediately grabbed the pair of the 25 lb. stone locks and began overhead pressing. First as strictly as possible then as many push presses as I could. Keep in mind that I had to “stay tight” and grip the padlock tightly the whole time to be able to complete the presses. I then started what you might call curling. Due to the unique shape and leverages of the stone padlocks, all the
    stress was on my fingers and wrists and forearms. I did horizontal curls and then hammer curls and my forearms felt like they were about to explode, since
    they were so gorged with blood.

    I was huffing like a boiler at this point, but now it was time for the big
    boys. The 45 lb. padlocks were up next. I did cheat hammer curls until I
    couldn’t feel my arms. I ended the workout with a farmers walk with these up
    and down a hill near my house.

    The whole workout took maybe 30 minutes and my body was utterly destroyed. The
    next day I was so sore that I could hardly move but I was happy knowing that my
    training was working.

    Atomic Athletic will be coming out with more detailed stone lock training
    programs in the future, including traditional movements as well as many we have
    come up with on our own. Check back often and don’t miss our workout reports
    and periodic updates in the Bomb Proof Bulletin.

    Here are some other tools to help in getting strong from the East and the West:
    Shaolin Muscle Tendon Change Classic DVD

    The Art of Hojo Undo: Power Training

    Stone Padlock Training DVD - the tools aren't any good if you don't know how to use 'em. This is an Atomic Athletic Exclusive

    30 Pound Stone Ball - East collides with West in this Atomic Athletic exclusive granite ball. Use for strongman training or kung fu... the choice is yours. We include the instructional wall charts for FREE.

    Live Strong!

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