Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Classic Physique Building Principles: Progressive Resistance!

(Photo above: Classic Physique Builder Reg Lewis - Mr. Northern California 1955, Mr. Pacific Coast 1956)

One of the keys to building a classic physique is in understanding what we call the Classic Physique Building (CPB) Principles. These are the principles of weight training that were discovered, developed, and named in the Golden Age of Classic Physique Building (the 1940s and 50s).

These principles were discovered, largely, by trial and error by the Golden Age champs. Joe Weider was responsible for giving many of these principles "catchy names" and promoting them to his readers. So many of them became known as the "Weider Principles." These names now form some of the modern "vocabulary" of weight training. So the CPB Principles (as we call them) include the "Weider" principles and others (named by others or named by us) that were utilized during the Golden Age.

Although it may sound too basic, it is best to start off with discussing the CPB Principle of Progressive Resistance. This is one of the most important and foundational principles of building a classic physique. The principle is this - muscles grow in response to progressive resistance. In other words, a muscle will get larger in response to lifting progressively heavier weights over time.

As basic as this is, we are continually surprised in the gym when we see people - day in and day out, for weeks and weeks on end - continue to perform the same exercise using the same weight and same number of sets! We recall seeing a poor fellow who is always in the gym, always does bench presses with 20 lbs on an Olympic bar, and always does the same number of reps and sets! Of course, this fellow never grows! His physique never changes. His problem is that, although he is persistent (which is good), he doesn't understand the CPB Principle of Progressive Resistance.

So if you want to increase your muscle mass (for any body part) for building a classic physique, you must strive to continually push your weights (poundages) up in your exercises. For example, if a workout routine calls for doing 2 sets of 8 reps, what does that mean? It means you should pick a weight that allows you to just barely complete the 8th rep (in other words, doing a 9th rep would not be possible) on your first set. Then after resting for a minute, you might be able to do 6-7 reps on your second set with the same weight. If this happens, then you've picked the correct weight. Now, after a few workouts, you get stronger and find that you can easily complete 8 reps on both sets! This means, you've gotten stronger AND a little bigger (even if you can't measure the size increase yet). So now, you MUST increase your weight! How much? Increase it so that, like before, you can barely complete your 8th rep on your first set and 6-7 reps on your second. Then repeat the same process (after a few workouts when you can easily complete 8 reps on both sets, increase the weight again).

Understanding and using this principle correctly will be your first and foundational key to muscle growth (whether you are younger or older)! It is not the only CPB principle - but it is, perhaps, the most important one to understand at the beginning of your training. And regardless of what other principles you use, this one should be the cornerstone of your training if you want to gain size.

So check your workout routine. Have you been performing the same exercises, with the same weights and same reps, and feeling like you are getting nowhere? If so, perhaps you now understand why. Just take a week lay off, adjust your workout routine to include the CPB Principle of Progressive Resistance and then start up again! Assuming that you are not overtraining your muscles (with too many exercises, too many sets, or too many workouts per week), and that you are eating and resting properly, you should start to see some gains!

Stay tuned for future posts on CPB Principles!


Monday, January 26, 2009

Classic Physique Champ Marvin Eder Interview!

(Above photo: Classic Physique Builder Marvin Eder - Mr. New York City, 1949; Mr Eastern America 1950)

One of our readers (Ibrahim) found a great interview with CPB Champ Marvin Eder at the following site: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/drobson304.htm. This is a great interview (conducted by David Robson) and gives you a glimpse of the Golden Age from Marvin's perspective.

Among the notable highlights of the interview, Marvin states that he also followed the 3 meal-a-day plan (and did not eat great quantities of food), took no steroids or even supplements, and trained heavy following a split system. He was one of the Golden Age champs who was also interested in Olympic style weightlifting and was known for his exceptional strength. Now, at age 75, he still does 500 crunches every morning! The interview is also notable for his clear disgust with steroids and what they have done to mainstream bodybuilding.

Thanks again to Ibrahim, and to all our readers who make valuable contributions to CPB Blog through their comments and info!

Enjoy the interview!


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Junior Mr. America - Mass Building Routine!

(Photo above: Clement Desjardins - Jr. Mr. Canada 1955, with Miss Body Beautiful Rejane Robert, on the cover of the premier Dec 1955 issue of Junior Mr. America magazine)

In December of 1955, Joe Weider came out with the first issue of his new Junior Mr. America magazine. This magazine was targetted towards teens and young men from 12 - 21 years in age. On the cover of the first issue is Clement Desjardins, Jr. Mr. Canada 1955 (at 18 years of age). You can see by the photo above that his physique is outstanding for someone his age. The idea of the magazine was to present cases/stories of young men who, in a short time, had transformed their physiques through weight training (of course, using Weider methods).

Two years before (at age 16), Clement was 5 ft 5 in. in height and weighed just 125 lbs. After 2 years of weight training, he gained 45 lbs of muscles, increased his arm size by 5 inches, chest size by 12 inches, and grew an additional 1.5 inches in height. So at 18 years, 5 ft 6.5 inches in height, and at 170 lbs, he captured the Junior Mr. Canada title in 1955!

The great thing about this magazine is that it featured real physiques and real success stories. A person reading it could actually believe that he too could gain a physique like Clement's by taking up weight training, eating right, resting properly, and leading a healthy life - of course, with a little persistance and hard work! The magazine didn't discourage guys by presenting Hulk-like physiques that are out of reach to everyone except the drug and hormone users.

As part of that first issue (Dec 1955), Joe wrote an article that kicked off a "Giant Weight Gaining Contest." He challenged young men to use the same mass building workout routine (given below), to eat plenty of nourishing foods (including a protein supplement), sleep at least 8 hrs a night, to see how much mass they could gain in one month.

Here is the mass building routine as Joe gave it:

1. Squats (3 sets of 8-10 reps)
2. Bench Press (3 sets of 8-10 reps)
3. Bent Arm Laterals/Flyes (3 sets of 8-10 reps)
4. Upright Rowing (3 sets of 8-10 reps)
5. Bent Over Rowing (3 sets of 8-10 reps)
6. Barbell Curls (3 sets of 8-10 reps)
7. Lying Triceps Curls (3 sets of 8-10 reps)
8. Sit Ups (3 sets of 8-10 reps)

This routine is to be followed 3 days a week (e.g., M, W, F or T, Th, Sa). Rest as much as you can when you are not working out. Do not follow any other sports or athletic activity while you are on this routine. Of course, no smoking or eating junk either.

We (CPB) would recommend substituting standing calf raises, seated calf raises, or calf raises on a leg press machine (for 3 sets of 20 reps) for the sit-ups (just pick one of these exercises). Sit ups aren't going to raise your muscle mass and you don't want large abdominal muscles anyway. So it is better, we think, to have a mass-building calf exercise to help build/maintain your symmetry.

For this routine, use all the weight you can handle (without straining or injuring yourself). Start with 8 reps for all sets (except calves) and work up to 10. Once you can complete 10 reps for the 3rd set, then increase the weight! Don't change the rep scheme or subtract or add any exercises to this routine!

We feel that this routine is for intemediate classic physique builders (CPBers). It is not for a beginner. An intermediate CPBer is someone who has trained systematically (following some course of instruction) for at least 3 months. If you have been working out for 3 months but have been following no particular course and/or haven't had any formal instruction, then you are still considered a beginner.

So for you intermediates, you can take Joe's 1955 challenge and give this routine a try and see how much mass you can gain in one month (you see - for us, the Golden Age still lives!)! Take your measurements before you start. Keep a workout journal of your weights and reps. Don't forget to keep your protein intake high (about 0.8 - 1.0 grams of protein per lb of body weight). Then take your measurements after 1 month on this routine and see how much you've gained! If you try this, don't forget to report your results to CPB Blog! We would definitely be interested in seeing how you did!

Joe described this routine as "ideal for building bulk"! He cited the average weight gain for one month as being 10 lbs. Of course, that will vary by individual, but you can put it to the test if you like and see what it can do for you! Even if you don't gain 10 lbs, you might be very happy with the increase in your other measurements!


Steve Reeves: Classic Physique Mass!

(Photo above: Steve Reeves - Mr America 1947, Mr World 1948, Mr Universe 1950)

We are posting the photo above of Steve Reeves to show that classic symmetry does not exclude classic mass! Steve's weight varied throughout the years - from 215 lbs during his competitive days to between 190 - 225 lbs during his film days. His lowest bodyweight was about 190 lbs during the filming of the "Giant of Marathon". His highest bodyweight was probably about 225 lbs during the filming of "Hercules."

The shot above shows that a classic physique (of which Steve is the epitome) can carry a good deal of mass. We see broad shoulders, large arms, big forearms, wide lats, narrow waist, great classic V-taper. This is truly a "Herculean" physique in that it has mass, but like the mythical Hercules, that mass is truly functional! Steve did not have trouble with flexibility or impairment of his athletic ability.

Steve's arms were 18.25 inches, his forearms were 14.75 and he had a 24 inch difference between his shoulders and waist (waist was 29 inches) that produced that classic V-taper. Steve was inspired to intentionally develop that V-taper by seeing Jack LaLanne who had a 25 inch differential between his shoulders and waist!

So our take home message here is that a classic physique is balanced and symmetrical. But it can also have "Herculean" mass! The good news is that natural, classic mass looks "Herculean" not "Hulk-like" (it takes drugs and hormones to look "Hulk-like"). So, classic physique builders should be inspired to pursue classic mass as well as classic symmetry!

In our next post, we will present a one-month mass gaining routine for intermediate classic physique builders from the pages of Junior Mr. America - a Golden Age mag (circa 1956).


Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Golden Age, the Classic Ideal, and Mainstream Bodybuilding!

(Photo above: Muscular Development Feb 09 issue - a modern mainstream bodybuilding mag; Photo Below: Mr. America June 58 issue - a Golden Age mag)

When we say that during the Golden Age of Classic Physique Building (the 1940s and 50s), the classic ideal was valued and promoted, we aren't kidding! The contrast between the classic ideal of the Golden Age and the abandonment of that ideal by the modern, mainstream bodybuilding world is clearly seen in the contrast in magazine covers above.

The photo above shows the current cover of Muscular Development magazine (Feb 09 issue) - a mainstream bodybuilding mag. The photo below shows the cover of Mr. America magazine (June 58 issue) - a Golden Age mag.

Look at the Mr. America cover. Is there any question that during the Golden Age, the ideal of physique building was to build a classic, natural, healthy, athletic, and attractive physique - reminiscent of the statues of the heroes, demigods, gods of ancient Greece and Rome? This is a worthy goal! This is a worthy endeavor! What male, young or old, could not identify with this ideal?

Now look at the MD cover. What happenned? Where is the classic ideal? What goal is being promoted? The mainstream bodybuilding ideal represented here is NOT classic, NOT natural, NOT healthy, NOT athletic, NOT attractive - and is NOT derived from the best of ancient Greece or Rome. Does this ideal represent a worthy goal? Is this kind of bodybuilding a worthy endeavor? How many males, young or old, can really identify with this mainstream bodybuilding ideal?

Which ideal would you rather pursue? Which ideal will serve you better?

The ideal that you hold is important, because it will consciously or unconsciously guide your actions - for better or worse. So as you start to work out and build your physique, it is best to have your ideal and goals clear so that you can gravitate to those things that can help you achieve them (and stay away from those things that cannot).


Monday, January 12, 2009

Steve Reeves' Workout Drink!

(Above Photo: Classic Physique Building Champion Steve Reeves - Mr. America, 1947, Mr. World 1948, Mr. Universe 1950)

Here is a treat we thought everyone would like: the recipe for Steve Reeves' Workout Drink. It is a simple drink you can easily make and bring with you to your workouts. Steve would sip this drink between sets. He didn't know about "electrolytes being lost in perspiration," but he instinctively knew that this drink would "replace nutrients" that he needed during a workout. He found that, by drinking it, he would have more energy and was able to get much more out of his workouts without tiring prematurely. So no need for commercial "electrolyte replacement drinks."

Mix the following together:

1. 1/2 cup lemon juice
2. 3 tablespoons of honey (mix thoroughly until the lemon juice dissolves the honey)
3. 1/2 gallon of water

Mix the first two ingredients first and then add the mixture to the 1/2 gallon of water. Steve would consume the entire 1/2 gallon during his workout by taking 2 or 3 sips after each set.

You can try it out yourself and see what it does for you!


Saturday, January 3, 2009

2009 New Year's Message from CPB!

(Photo Above: Informal shot of Golden Age champ and film star Reg Park in a swimming pool).

Happy New Year to all you classic physique builders (CPB'ers) around the world! We hope 2009 will be a great year for you and one that brings you closer to your classic physique building goals.

We will do our best, at CPB Blog, to continue to promote the ideal of building a classic physique and living a healthy lifestyle by bringing you information and inspiration from the Golden Age of Classic Physique Building (the 1940s and 50s).

This year, in addition to bringing you our CPB Blog, we plan to put out our first issue of CPB Zine very soon - a do-it-yourself (maga) zine devoted entirely to building a classic physique. It will be patterned after the magazines of the Golden Age of Classic Physique Building. CPB Zine may, of course, cover some of the same topics as those that appear on the CPB Blog. However, those topics will be able to be developed more in depth in the Zine. Our first issue is nearing completion. Compared to today's mainstream bodybuilding mags, our zine will be small. But, over time, it will grow. It won't contain page after page of supplement ads, steroid-enhanced physiques, cars, tech gadgets, and other irrelevant items - just a lot of straight talk about building a classic physique and classic health. When our first issue is complete, we will announce it here on CPB Blog and let everyone know how they can get their free copy.

We also plan, this year, to make available our CPB Golden Age Muscle Building Courses - which will be patterned after and based on the courses that were available during the Golden Age. The beginners course will probably be offered first, followed by the intermediate and then advanced courses.

Thanks to everyone who participated in our polls. We will still keep them open. So if you haven't participated, please feel free to do so. Your response in these polls are very helpfult to us.

We encourage everyone to contribute constructive comments to CPB Blog about our post topics. You can post using your name, initials, alias, or "Anonymous" - whichever of these you choose is fine. But it would be great if you could let everyone know what country you are from. We hope that through our collective effort, and with your help, we can ignite classic physique building interest around the world!

We end our 2009 New Year's message with a photo of Reg Park's classic physique (see above). It is powerful, symmetrical, natural, radiating with health, inspiring and looks great! Who wouldn't want a physique like that? Let's let Reg and the other CPB champs of the Golden Age be our inspiration in 2009 as we follow their example in building a classic physique. If they could do it, so can we! Let's make this a really great year and get ever closer to our classic physique goals!

Happy New Year!