Abbreviated Workout

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  • The Abbreviated Workouthas proved to be the way for-ward for many a workingman finding himself with littletime to train, or perhaps toolittle energy for regular train-ing on a full programme. For-tunately, this problem hasbeen addressed over the last100 years by a number ofwonderfully far sighted mensuch as Mark Berry, JosephCurtis Hise and Peary Rad-er, to name just three. Theyall made excellent progressin their personal training, asdid many of their pupils, andtoday we find that PavelTsatsouline, Russianstrength and conditioningtrainer and great admirer ofthe old time strength teach-ers, advocates an abbreviat-ed workout as a result-producing way of makingprogress in strength training.Let us look at a few shortworkouts that have producedexcellent results, if workedhard and coupled with anourishing diet and adequaterest. Back in the 1930s, MarkBerry was a very prolific irongame writer, and also editorof the popular Strength mag-azine, as well as coach tothe American OlympicWeightlifting Team. Whilsttraining at Siegmund Klein'sgym in New York, he noticedanother fellow training. It was

    Henry (Milo) Steinborn, prob-ably the strongest man onthe American WeightliftingScene at that time. Henrywas performing Squats witharound 500 lbs, rocking thebarbell onto his shouldersunassisted before commenc-ing his first Squat, and MarkBerry quickly linked Henry'sstrenuous leg and back exer-cise (the Squat) to the devel-opment of a more powerfulphysique.It seems unbelievable todaythat at that time, no-oneseems to have given muchthought to the use of squatracks to make the positioningof the barbell easier and toenable the user to handle amuch heavier poundage.

    Mark wrote an article for theStrength magazine, whichincluded a drawing showinghow to make a home-madesquat rack. The article ad-vised a short workout con-sisting of one set of Curls,and one set of Press OnBack, followed by one set of20 Squats that would leaveyou breathing heavily, andfinishing off with one set of20 light Breathing Pullovers.The whole workout only tookabout 15 minutes. Markwould also advise consum-ing as much extra nourish-ment as you could afford.Mark Berry was a smallboned man with a slim phy-sique, and he had not gaineda pound in bodyweight foryears, but by following hisown advice, he increased hisbodyweight from 130 lbs to180 lbs, along with a majorincrease in his overallstrength. Many others whohad taken his advice gaineda lot more. Two of them, Jo-seph Curtis Hise and PearyRader, both transformedtheir physiques and strengthlevels, and Joe Hise who iscredited with popularising thepractice of taking 3 to 6 deepbreaths between squats, de-veloped a very large and im-pressive physique and theability to Deadlift 700 lbs andSquat 20 reps with over 400lbs. He achieved this despiteworking very hard for his liv-ing in various mines, andsometimes even working a

    By Ron Tyrrell



  • double shift! He helped manyhundreds of people to im-prove their training methodswith no financial gain to him-

    self, and he truly becameone of the great unsung he-roes of the iron game.Peary Rader also trans-formed himself with the ab-breviated Squat workout,from a bodyweight of 128 lbsto over 200 lbs, after manyyears with no gains. He laterdeveloped a workout for all-round power and develop-ment that consisted of BenchPressing four sets of 6 to 8repetitions, Bent ForwardRowing four sets of 6 to 8reps, and one 20 rep sets ofSquats, followed by a lightset of Pullovers lying on abench.Both Hise and Rader recom-mended drinking at least fourpints of milk a day, to get thebest results. Peary Raderwent on to publish his Iron-

    man magazine for fifty years,and always recommendedthe 20 repetition Squatworkout for producing thebest balance between mus-cle strength and stamina.Through the medium of hismagazine, he also recom-mended the Deadlift as anexcellent power and musclebuilder. Not for nothing didthat great British old timer,holder of many weightliftingrecords, W A Pullum, refer tothe Deadlift as "the funda-mental test of man's bodilystrength". The type ofstrength gained from con-centrating on this exerciseseems to translate quitequickly into other strengthfeats. Peary Rader recom-mended a brief workout con-sisting of one set of Bench

    Henry Milo Steinborn, repetition squatting with 448lbs, 1930



  • Presses and one set of Bar-bell Curls, both for 10 to 12repetitions, then a 20 rep setof Deadlifts followed by avery light set of Barbell Pullo-vers, lying on a bench. Herecommended that 3 to 6deep breaths be taken be-tween each Deadlift. Mr Rad-

    er had reservations aboutusing the Deadlift in thisstrenuous manner, becauseof the compression effect bythe arms on the sides of thechest, so he would recom-mend that between eachrepetition you replace thebarbell back on the floor,

    stand upright, and take your3 to 6 deep breaths. He alsocautioned us to use goodform in the Deadlift with theback flat and the hips low,lifting with the legs as muchas possible.Excellent results in strengthand muscle gains were re-ported; the most outstandingwas a professional strong-man by the name of HaroldAnsorge, who gained 100 lbson his Personal Best Deadliftand 20 lbs of powerful mus-cle in a very short time. Con-centrating on either theSquat or the Deadlift as theirCore Exercise induced anoverall improvement instrength and muscle by allwho were prepared to workhard on these shortworkouts. Remember, withall these abbreviatedworkouts, start with a lightpoundage and allow 2 to 3weeks to work up to thestage where you are workinghard to complete the last 2 to3 repetitions, and try to add 5lbs per week to your CoreExercise bar. Do two or threeworkouts a week.Let us now spare a thoughtfor that "forgotten man" ofphysical culture, the enthusi-ast who works long hourswith many family commit-ments, does not have muchspare energy, no time to visita gym' and no spare spaceat home for a barbell. Hemay well find the answer byinvesting in a good qualityset of strands. Now, I mustadmit it took me a few yearsto be converted to the use ofstrands, but I became con-vinced of their value by the



  • writings of Leo Bowes of Ire-land, Dave Webster OBE ofScotland, and the help andencouragement I receivedfrom England's Jim Bartlett,who has trained many greatstrandpullers. The problem Ifound with strands was howto give the legs and lowerback a good workout. Youwill not get as powerful aworkout for these body partsas you would with weights.However, with the aid of abaseboard consisting of apiece of wood 36 ins. by 9ins. by 3 in. thick, and a fewstrategically placed eyehooks, you can do frontSquats for the thighs, andthe Good Morning exercisefor the lower back, by hold-ing the strands with bothhands at the base of theneck in the position as illus-trated by that great old time

    strand puller Alfred Danks,and you will find that you geta surprisingly good workout.In keeping with the"abbreviated" principle, therest of your strand workoutshould consist of a few wellknown strand exercises,such as -(1) Press Behind Back,(2) Overhead Downward Pullto the Back of the Neck,(3) Front Chest Pull,(4) Single Arms Curl: one seteach for 10 to 20 repetitions.When 20 are easy, add astrand and start off againwith 10 repetitions. Do threeor four workouts a week.

    Alfred Danks, front squat with strands attached to a baseboard

    (1) Press Behind Back

    (2) Overhead Downward Pull tothe Back of the Neck,

    (3) Front Chest Pull

    (4) Single Arms Curl