(Photo Above: Classic Physique Builder John Grimek on the Cover of Peary Rader's Iron Man Magazine - Feb 53 issue)
In the pre-roid, Golden Age of Classic Physique Building (the 1940s and 50s), Peary Rader promoted a number of abbreviated routines. An abbreviated routine is a workout schedule consisting of just a few compound exercises that work the major muscle masses of the body.
Rader said that these routines were for people in the following situations:
(1) for those who have only a little time to devote to working out
(2) for those who, by their nature, seem to have low energy
(3) for those who cannot gain on heavier programs
(4) for those who want to gain weight (build mass)
We can add that abbreviated programs are also great for:
(5) breaking through a rut
(6) older trainers (who may also have lower energy and less time)
(7) true beginners (as an intro to weight training).
(8) providing a foundation of core exercises to build upon to create a larger, more varied program.
So you can see there are a lot of upsides for abbreviated programs. The downside is that they do not usually hit all parts of the body (just the major muscle masses) and so your weak areas (e.g., calves) might not get enough work. If you do not address this, you can end up with an out-of-balance physique. So they are a tool to be used properly in the appropriate circumstances.
Here is the abbreviated routine that Peary introduced in the "Rader Master Bodybuilding and Weight Gaining System" in the pre-roid, Golden Age. The core of the program is 3 exercises (plus pullovers):
1. breathing bench press 12 reps
2. breathing barbell rows 12 reps
3. breathing squats 20 reps (1st set only, other sets 10 reps),
4. breathing pullovers 20 reps (using no more than a 20 lb barbell)
The breathing bench press and rows follow the same principle as the breathing squats. You take 2 deep breaths before pushing the weight out (bench press) or pulling the weight up (rows). This really revs up the metabolism!
Although Peary put the reps at 12 for benches and rows, it would be best to use a rep range of 8-12. Use all the weight you can to barely complete 8 reps. Then work up to 12 reps (do not try to increase your reps on all exercises during the same session - focus on 1 or 2 exercises each session).
The number of sets depends on your status. If you are a true beginner, then do only 1 set per exercise for the first month. Take a week layoff every 4 weeks. Continue with 1 set until the gains slow down. Then after a week layoff, go to 2 sets. Repeat this process and work up to 3 sets.
If you are an intermediate trainer, then start with 2 sets (if you are just transitioning from being a beginner) and follow a similar process as above and work up to 4 sets. If you have been an intermediate for a while and want to use this program for mass building, then start with 4 sets and work up to 6 sets.
If you are an advanced trainer, then you know what to do! :)
Rest between sets: try 2 - 3 minutes (since you will strive to use heavy weights).
Workout Frequency: It depends on you. Do this routine no more than 3 times a week. But most will gain fine on just 2 days a week.
Remember to rest properly, eat properly (include whole eggs in your diet if you can), and be persistent! Don't do any cardio or follow any other sports activity while on this program. Get extra sleep!
In our next issue (Fall 2009) of Classic Physique Builder (CPBzine), we will go into Rader's Abbreviated Routines in more detail and show how these kind of routines can be used as a basis for creating a more varied program. So stay tuned!
P.S. For a free, 1 year subscription to Classic Physique Builder (CPBzine) - a pdf zine patterned after the muscle mags of the pre-roid, Golden Age of Bodybuilding (of the 1940s and 50s) - just send your name, the name of your city (not your address), state/province, and country to email@example.com. That's it! Any info you send us is completely confidential. We don't share our info with anyone. You won't get on any unwanted lists or receive any unwanted, automated email (even from us)!