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Tag Archives: York Barbell

  • Jack La Lanne’s Crystal Blue Vinyl LP

    I love classic vinyl records, especially when they are done in something like cool blue!

    "Jack La Lanne's Glamour Stretcher Time" Blue Vinyl Record
    Jack La Lanne's Glamour Stretcher Time Blue Vinyl Record - Roger is working on an article about this package and the new exercises Jack shows in the corresponding instructional wall chart.

    Rarely do several of my interests so neatly come together. In this case, we have my love for classic strength training collectables and old vinyl records, so my hat is off to my buddy Tom, who found this gem. Sure, it’s not really anything that I will listen to very often. Old Jack has one exercising along with his counting reps, backed up by an organist who clearly has some ball park experience. The Jimi Hendrix Experience this is not, but the camp factor is out of this world.

    Jack_LaLannes_glamour_stretcher_time
    Jack La Lanne's Glamour Stretcher Time Blue Vinyl Record with Jacket and Instructional Wall Chart. The earliest "Strand Pulling" course we have found is the Professor Anthony Barker Course from 1910. You can get your own copy by clicking on this photo.

    Jack Lanne’s Glamour Stretcher Time album is actually a whole package. There’s the album, in blue vinyl, together with a two tone blue double sided wall chart demonstrating the 17 exercises Jack is performing on the album.

    Classic Spring Chest Expander
    The amazing thing that I have here is several more variations on exercises with the strand type “Spring Chest Expander”. Almost every time I find one of these classic courses, Jack’s is from 1960, I find another way to train with that tool. Now Jack is hawking his GLAMOUR STRETCHER, which is just a single strand made entirely of rubber, but it’s the same concept. In an upcoming issue of the Garage Gym Journal I will be concentrating on strand pulling, so I will actually put in an entire short article on this piece, with the unique exercises and Jack’s audio recommendations.

     

    Complete List of Exercises

    Jack La Lanne’s Glamour Stretcher Time

    1. Warm-Up
    2. Bicycle Exercise
    3. Deep Knee Bends
    4. Front Raises
    5. Back Leg raises
    6. Side Leg Raises
    7. Pogo Jumps Exercise
    8. Side Bends
    9. Front Bends
    10. Knees To Chest
    11. Forward Push
    12. Straight Arms – Cross Over
    13. Front Pull
    14. Arm Extension
    15. Front Arm Flex
    16. Flex Fingers
    17. Running In Place

     

    Almost all of the exercises have 2 or more photos, for nice sequential exercise instruction.

     

    For now, you will have to be satisfied with framing these awesome reproductions for your gym:
    “Lost” Spring Cable Course Featuring John Terpak, circa 1939
    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/york-cable-course-wall-chart-circa-1939-featuring-john-terpak.html

    York Expander Dumbbell & Stirrup Course w/ Adjustable Strap and Rings
    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/gym-art-charts/york-expander-dumbell-and-stirrup-course-wall-chart-with-modern-strap-stirrup.html

    Professor Anthony Barker’s 1910 Cable Course
    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/professor-anthony-barker-cable-course-instructional-wall-chart-poster.html

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

  • Polaroid of the Thick Bar with Weights Hanging by Shoelaces

    The Polaroid photo had a big thumb print in one corner. It had the weird rainbow-like oil slickbomb halo, but the dried blood really set it off. I finally had an image of the, “Chicken Killer.” This article is his short story, but also a great workout.

    I was going to title this article, “Making the Most of Your Thick Bar Training.” Like much of my writing, after starting with one idea another took hold, throttled me by the neck, did a Suplex, and after trying to fight it back, I relented and did a complete re-write. In this case, the offending concept was an old photo I remembered.

    Once in a great while, I’m given a story by a garage gym lifter that most people would write off as crazy. I know my neighbors put me in the “off-kilter” category and many of my customers get that moniker as well, but now I’m talking about a whole different level of nut case.

     

    Cleaning the Beast

    The photo showed “The Chicken Killer” doing a static hold with a thick piece of pipe, weights actually hanging by shoelaces. I’m guessing this was his sandy Texas backyard, with an old Trans Am parked behind him. He held the bar at his waist with a clean grip. I’m guessing it was 2” plumbing pipe, so the diameter would be 2 1/3 inches. I have no idea how much weight was hanging there, as it looked to have a mix of plates and a big gear. The pipe also had a dirty chunk of concrete cast around one end. I took equipment orders from “The Chicken Killer” about once a month. With each shipping quote I got a story. He got the thick bar grip work concept from me, as I had told him that Smitty trained Bill March with a 2” bar. The unbalanced details were his unique execution.

     

    The Bomb Tattoo

    As nutty as it sounds, he claimed to do cleans with that mess. Of course, that wasn’t without incident. One time he broke a shoelace, as he did a clean, the remaining items swinging wide. Catching the clean forward and wildly unbalanced, he partially tore his right biceps. He never went to the hospital. The accident was commemorated with a Wile E. Coyote-esqe bomb tattoo, lit fuse pointing to the lumped up muscle near the crook of his arm.

     

    Lessons & Good Workout

    I know, you’re wondering how this fine individual got to be called “The Chicken Killer”. He always paid in cash, sent through the US Mail and wrapped tightly in brown grocery bag paper. The random bills were very dirty and would have bloody finger prints and a stray feather, or two, stuck to the mass. The guy never straight out admitted to betting on cock fights, as he was clearly paranoid. He certainly hinted at it and the physical evidence was such that York’s Bookkeeper made me count his money, never touching it herself.

    Thick bar cleans are great for grip strength and help in your regular bar cleans and snatches. Aside from the obvious grip strength gained, there’s an interesting forearm benefit. Olympic style weightlifters talk about keeping the bar close in the pull position, which is obvious in bar end tracking videos and sequence photos, the tighter the resulting pull loop, the less need for a jump backwards. I talk about this in the Power Clean Clinic video. Unless you have exceptionally large hands, you will automatically flex the forearms when doing any thick bar clean. You’re doing this to get the hand under the bar during the explosive pull, because you can’t hook your thumb. This also necessitates the use of rotating bars, either barbell or dumbbell, because the resulting rotation changes from a clean “flip” to a reverse curl. It’s that reverse curl which sometimes turns into the torn biceps that are seen in Strongman Contests.*

     

    THICK BAR WORKOUT

    Warm-up: Stretching mixed with light Indian Club Swinging

    Hang Clean & Power Jerk: 5 x 5 (Light & Fast)

    Rotating Thick Barbell (or 2 Rotating Thick Dumbbells)

    Power Clean: 5 x 3 Barbell Back Squat: 5 x 5

    (Use a Safety Squat Bar if you have ANY recurring Shoulder Issues)

    Trap Bar Dead Lift: 5 x 2 (Heavy)

    Hanging Knee Raises 2 x 20 (Use Iron Boots if you still have any remaining grip strength.)

     

    Masters Age Lifters Take Special Note

    Many lifters have a slight forward lean with thick bar work. Your center of gravity will be slightly forward, until you get used to it. If your shoulders can handle it, do Presses with your Thick Bar Power Cleans. Many Masters age lifters won’t want to do this. The Back Squats and Trap Bar Deadlifts will counteract some of the forward leaning compensation, while the Safety Squat Bar will be additional help the shoulders. The Hanging Knee Raises will decompress the spine and shoulders while providing some abdominal work.

     

    All the best, Roger LaPointe

    *There was more going on with the incident that resulted in The Chicken Killer’s torn biceps. Unfortunately, I no longer have the photo. For all I know it could still be in my old desk at York Barbell.

  • “I’m Crushing Your Head”

    Training a Chinese friend in Olympic lifting, who is a very competent jiu jitsu artist, an admission of fear was revealed to me. He said, “How do you put the barbell over your head like that?”

    The split snatch was the dominant form of the snatch Olympic lift, until the 1960s.
    Illustration of a classic "Split Snatch".

    “Well, that is what we’ve been working,” I responded with a tinge of a question mark.

    “No, it’s my English. When you snatch, the barbell could fall from above and crush your head. I fear it.”

    I had no immediate answer, but the old Kid’s In The Hall skit came to mind. I quickly squashed that inappropriate response and admitted that I had never thought of it that way. I wasn’t bragging. I have fears of other lifts, but in the snatch, that result is not one of them.

    Mulling the unsaid phrase around my brain for several years, I realized that it was not just a clever reply, gladly un-blurted.

    There is a ring of truth behind immediate responses, like the glimpse of one’s psyche in a Rorschach Ink Blot Test. It was one of the “secrets” Smitty had tried to ram into my skull. Because of his education, I automatically break down the lifts into component parts, easily accomplished, often with significantly more weight than the related full competitive lift. As I train those parts, I’m doing something far more significant than making muscles stronger and teaching neurons to fire efficiently, I’m training my mind. By adding perspective, the very rational fears will not crush my head.

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

  • The Tan or Okinawan Karate Barbell

    The Tan - Traditional Okinawan Karate Barbell - Used in Hojo Undo
    The Tan - Traditional Okinawan Karate Barbell - Used in Hojo Undo

    The Tan, or Okinawan Karate Barbell, is a traditional strength training tool for that ancient martial art. The Tan is part of the Hojo Undo arsenal of supplemental training tools. Hojo Undo can be thought of as all the other stuff the traditional Okinawan style karate practitioner would train at, that’s not the actual fighting.

    The Tan shown in the photo above was made by Atomic Athletic customer Richard Rogers with a custom wooden “bar” that we made for him, with an exotic Brazilian wood that is highly water resistant. While it is a very strong hardwood, it also has multiple laminations to improve the strength. The finish is a traditional bee’s wax and mineral oil combination. Richard then took a pair of 25 pound Olympic plates and permanently secured them with epoxy, thus using the best of the ancient and modern worlds to make this beautiful training tool.

    Training with the tan can be done like modern western world bodybuilding, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. The advanced movements are much more like the barbell juggling that Sig Klein used to do, which have been resurrected in live shows by the likes of Andrew Durniat and Dan Cenidoza. The added bar thickness is not just for improving grip strength, but for the conditioning movements built on the style of Zercher squats.

    If you are interested in further study on this subject, I suggest the book The Art of Hojo Undo and watching Andrew Durniat’s performance at the 2009 Atomic Athletic Great Black Swamp Olde Time Strongman Picnic. While the book does an excellent job of describing many of these movements and how to perform them, your understanding will certainly accelerate if you can see some of them done at speed, in real time.

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

  • Deadlifts or Pulls

    Have you ever gone to a Push-Pull Meet?

    John Terry Deadlifting 460 Pounds
    John Terry in York Barbell Standard Barbell Set Advertisement Deadlifting 460 Pounds. His official world record of 600 pounds was set at a bodyweight of 132 pounds.

    I think they are a great concept. Here is where you can laugh at your author. When I was fresh and new to the competitive lifting world, I heard about a push-pull meet and started training for it. Fortunately, there was a powerlifter in the gym with an inquisitive mind. Logically, he asked what I was doing and why I had modified my fairly typical Olympic lifting routine. I was now doing lots of heavy push presses, power jerks and clean pulls. With a big laugh, he informed me what a push-pull meet is.

    Of course, the Powerlifters of the world know exactly what I’m talking about, but that may not be the case for Olympic weightlifters, bodybuilders, strongman competitors and many other lifters. If you fall into that non-powerlifter category, it’s a clever name for a two lift meet with a deadlift and a bench press competition.

    So now we get into the controversy. Which one is better, the deadlift or the pull? Clearly, the deadlift is better if you are training for a powerlifting competition and pulls are a training lift for the Olympic lifters of the world, but strictly speaking, unnecessary. They are not essential for Olympic lifters because the competition lifts are the clean & jerk and the snatch, not a pull – clean or snatch variety. The argument for training heavy deadlifts is certainly an old one. Hermann Goerner certainly set explosive lift world records, while doing amazing deadlifts in a wide variety of styles. On the other end of the size spectrum is John Terry, who I believe is really the lifter to look at with this discussion.

    John Terry is what I call the first modern American competitive lifter. He was highly successful in the Association of Bar Bell Men competitions, setting several world records, including a world record in the 2 hand deadlift. Using the modern alternate grip style, he lifted a confirmed 600 pounds* at a bodyweight of 132 pounds. Terry also set a world record snatch of 200 pounds, split style, at the same weight class.

    The argument for deadlifting is for overloading. With proper technique, you can lift more absolute weight with the deadlift that with a clean pull. The problem with deadlifting is that it closely resembles a pull, but is clearly a different movement. If your goal is to do a completed explosive lift, then the pulling with back and leg angles of the deadlifter will mess you up. The answer to that controversy was an easy one for Terry, already having the world record in the deadlift, he limited his training to a concentration on the three Olympic lifts, especially the 2 Hand Snatch.

    The modern solution was provided by York Barbell, in the form of the Power Rack. By doing partial movements and Isometrics, the Olympic lifters could overload in the proper positions, without doing deadlifts. Of course, powerlifters can do the same with their deadlifting. John Terry did not have the luxury of a power rack, as they weren’t invented until around 1960, at which point Terry had been out of the sport for twenty years.

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

    *I’ve seen claims by Bob Hoffman of Terry doing 615, but have not been able to find any other confirmation of that. Hoffman frequently spoke of gym lifts in articles, which were not legitimized in a competition format. The photo for this article shows Terry in a Strength & Health ad from 1942 for a standard size 310 set, with an additional pair of 75s, for a 460 deadlift. Many famous deadlifters have advocated the use of standard size bars and plates for practice, including David Shaw.

  • Come to Schemansky's 91st Birthday Celebration

    This is your chance to meet the legendary Norbert Schemansky!

    Norbert Schemansky 91st Birthday Commemorative Poster
    Norbert Schemansky 91st Birthday Commemorative Poster

    Join Shemansky’s Celebration

    We are celebrating Norbert Schemansky's 91st Birthday on May 30, 2015. If you are a lifter, then you should be there. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t picked up the weights in 50 years or if you are only 15 years old. Norb wants to get together with his friends and fellow lifters. You should come, regardless how long it’s been since you last hung out with Norb, or if you’ve never met. All are welcome and encouraged to come.

    For those of you who want a few of Norb’s stats, here you go. For the strongman fans, he is the last guy to have lifted the real Apollon Bar. Replicas are almost a standard thing to lift in strongman contests today. He also has 4 Olympic Medals, in non-consecutive Olympics. Then there are the 70 plus records, including World Records, Olympic Records and National Records. In my opinion, his last World Record is the most impressive, because he was a 38 year old heavyweight when he did that snatch!
    Really, make sure to be there. Norb wants this to be an event where new friendships are made, great old stories are told and weightlifters make some new connections. Be a part of the celebration.

    Here are the details.

    Date: 5 PM, Saturday, May 30, 2015

    Location:

    Doc's Sports Retreat

    19265 Victor Parkway

    Livonia, MI 48152

    (734)542-8162

    RSVP by May 23, 2015

    PRICE: $50 - Includes Choice of Entree: Prime Rib, Grilled Salmon or Chicken Cordon Bleu with House Salad, Mashed potatoes, Veg du Jour, Desserts & Coffee, Open Bar

    Hotel Special: Embassy Suites Hotel $89

    19525 Victor Parkway

    1/2 Block from Doc's Sports Retreat

    Mention "Doc's" for Special Rate

    (734)462-6000

  • Hitler’s Idea of the Perfect Body

    John Grimek "Strength & Health" Magazine Cover Poster
    John Grimek "Strength & Health" Magazine Cover Poster

    John Grimek, Olympic weightlifting and Hitler all became strangely linked in 1936 and 1938. Thanks to my “York Barbell Picnic’s & Classic Strength Events” book project, I’ve really been getting into studying weightlifting in the time just before WWII. It was a fascinating time for the sport. Rules were being formalized at the same time two political super powers were emerging and attempting to dominate that sport.

    Today, the two political super powers associated in American minds would be the United States and Russia. Reality is that neither country has come close to dominating the sport since before the fall of the Soviet Union. In fact, in the 1930’s Nazi Germany and the United States were the two countries fighting for dominance.

    At this point, I urge you to get a little background for this setting. Start with this fantastic article, done by Alastair Sooke, on the BBC web site:
    http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20150324-hitlers-idea-of-the-perfect-body
    Of particular interest should be the propaganda film “Olympia” (1938), by Leni Riefenstahl, which has a link in the article.
    Sit back with a cup of coffee and enjoy.

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

  • Learn From History’s Best Deadlifters

    It’s time to learn a few real tips on improving your deadlift. I also know that you want the York Barbell secret to improving your deadlift. Everyone wants that secret. Now it’s time to ferret that secret out from the BS out there. As impossible as that may seem, with the deadlift, we are in luck.

    Surprise, surprise, Bob Hoffman didn’t come up with the secret, but he did use it. He was a smart guy. Like Hoffman, I like to look at records and then work backwards. Additionally, I’m drug free and the only real way to confirm that status is to look at a time before there were modern performance enhancing drugs.

    You also get a two-fer on this tip. You will improve your deadlift, while improving your grip. In the pre-drug era, two Americans rank up with Hermann Goerner for having the best two hand deadlifts ever. I believe that all three trained basically the same way. They were quick, explosive Olympic weightlifters who made extensive use of thick bars in the training hall. On a pound for pound basis, Olympic Weightlifters Chuck Vinci and John Terry were second only to Goerner, according to the calculations of David Willoughby. Both of them did, the now standard, reverse grip, while Goerner did a clean grip. Both Terry (132 pound bodyweight) and Vinci (123 pound bodyweight) are credited with 600 pounds, but there is some argument that Terry may have actually done 610 pounds.

    All three lifters made a major focus on their deadlift, but started as Olympic style weightlifters. Goerner is not known for his Olympic weightlifting prowess today, but in the 1920s he was trading records back and forth with Charles Rigoulot in all the quick lifts, especially the one handed Olympic lifts. In addition to his World Record in the two hand snatch (215 lbs., 132 Class), Terry also held the Right Hand Barbell Clean & Jerk of 148 ½ pounds.

    Their common training tool was the thick bar. Both Goerner and Terry made use of thick bar training. It is widely suspected that Chuck Vinci did as well. As Terry lived in York, PA and trained at York Barbell, he had access to a wide variety of thick bars. In fact, at the 1940 Strength & Health Picnic, Hoffman made a big deal out of a specially made thick bar that he used for bent pressing. Additionally, if you go to the York Barbell Weightlifting Hall of Fame, you will note a number of thick handled globe type barbells, including the Cyr Bell, pictured above.

    When I worked with Smitty, he showed me photos of himself training with a two inch diameter bar, with Bill March. They used that barbell extensively in their power rack training. Smitty was a huge proponent of thick bar work, because of the results he saw as the York Barbell trainer. All of the York guys made use of a variety of both rotating and non-rotating thick bars.

    If you are going to seriously work on your deadlift, the simplest modification you can make to your routine, is the addition of a thick bar training, both with barbells and dumbbells.

    Eric Fiorillo and Roger LaPointe did a Motivation & Muscle Podcast on this topic, called "Goerner & Grip Strength".  For additional reading, this BLOG posting is an excerpt from the new book by Roger LaPointe "York Barbell Picnics & Classic Strength Events".  Click the link and pick it up from the Atomic Athletic web site.

  • Podcast Interview: The Pre-Steroid Era

    Tuesday, July 1st: Atomic Athletic's Roger LaPointe was interviewed on the Motivation & Muscle

    York Barbell's John Grimek's Forearm Development
    John Grimek using a Wrist Roller.

    Podcast, put out by Fiorillo Barbell.  Check it out here: http://www.fiorillobarbellco.com/motivation-muscle-roger-la-pointe-atomic-athletic-john-grimek-pre-steroid-era-2/

    Titled, “Motivation and Muscle, Roger La Pointe, Atomic Athletic, John Grimek, Pre Steroid Era”, this is Roger's first interview with Eric Fiorillo, of Fiorillo Barbell. Fiorillo Barbell is a no-nonsense source of solid training information, headed by a guy who truly takes his strength seriously.
    As reported by Fiorillo Barbell, “Today is another first for Motivation and Muscle. We welcome a long time friend Roger La Pointe to Motivation and Muscle. Roger talks about an era of lifting which we feel has been forgotten. Men like John Grimek will never be seen again. Roger dives into  York Barbell which I’ve never heard anyone talk about. It’s a very interesting and insightful interview with a gentlemen who has lived the York Barbell experience. Motivation and Muscle is the Podcast that connects your Brain to your Brawn. Enjoy!”

    http://www.fiorillobarbellco.com/motivation-muscle-roger-la-pointe-atomic-athletic-john-grimek-pre-steroid-era-2/

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

  • Bob Hoffman Throwback Workout

    Bob Hoffman lifting at the old Ridge Ave. York Barbell Gym.
    Bob Hoffman Deep Knee Bends with a Globe Barbell at the old Ridge Ave. York Barbell Gym.

    Bob Hoffman, the owner and founder of the York Barbell Company, believed that a creative individual could build a Mr. America body with just one adjustable barbell and two quality adjustable dumbbells, combined with hard work and creativity. In that spirit, try out this Throwback Workout.

    1 Barbell & 2 Dumbbells Workout

    Barbell
    Power Clean & Press 5 x 5
    Straight Arm Pullover 5 x 5
    Front Squat 5 x 5

    Dumbbells
    Alternate Zottman Curls 5 x 5
    Side Laterals (Delts) 5 x 5
    Strongman Double Biceps Curls 5 x 5
    Crucifix Holds (Front Delt / Upper Chest) 5 Reps
    Held for a Count of 6

    Sit-ups (Use Barbell to Hold Feet Down) 50 Reps

    Do 5 x 5 for all exercises except the Sit-ups and Crucifix Holds.  If you can't do 50 Reps as a single set, then just make sure you get them all done.

    All the best,

    Roger LaPointe

    "Today is a good day to lift."

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