Hard Gainer or Easy Gainer?

Hail to the Dinosaurs!

A reader asked me if I consider myself
to be a hard gainer or an easy gainer.

He also asked me if I've been following
John Wood's recent articles on bone
strength and heavy support work to
build your bones, and wondered if
I had ever done anything similar.

That's two questions, of course, but
they are closely related. We'll cover
them in two emails -- one today, and
one tomorrow.

1. Am I a hard gainer or an easy gainer?

Well, to begin with, I was a sickly little
kid with terrible eyesight, great big
bottle-cap eye-glasses, severe allergies
(for which I got weekly allergy shots
from age 7 to age 21), and crippling
asthma. I was small, puny and skinny.
Not exactly championship material.

I began barbell training at age 11. I
weighed 83 pounds. I hit a growth spurt,
grew a couple of inches and put on some
weight and muscle. Moving from 83 pounds
to 103 pounds was a big deal.

At age 14, I weighed 135 pounds and cut
three pounds to wrestle in the 132 pound
weight class. I was 5' 9" then, and never
grew any taller.

The next three years I wrestled at 145
pounds. The most I ever weighed in high
school was 155 pounds, which I weighed
for one day -- the day before a summer
wrestling tournament where I had to cut
one pound to wrestle at 154 pounds.

My top bench press in high school was
225 pounds, and my top squat was 250
pounds. I think my top deadlift was
320 pounds.

In college, I continued to train, and
gradually got my weight up to 165 or
170 pounds, and my top bench press to
320 pounds. I made the lift with an
old iron bar I found at a local YMCA,
loaded with 170 pounds of iron plates
and 150 pounds of homemade concrete
plates. This was in 1978 or so. I was
21 years old.

After college, I went to law school. I
was able to eat as much as I wanted in
the school cafeteria, and to train
three times per week in the school
weight room, and I pushed my weight
to 180 pounds and my bench press to
320 pounds. This was in Spring, 1980.

The next two years I was very busy
and couldn't train much. I also got
married and no longer had the luxury
of those big meals in the cafeteria.
My weight dropped to 160 pounds.

After graduating from law school in
1982, I took a job at a law firm in
Louisville, found a gym, and started
training again. I also was able to eat
more now that I had a regular paycheck!

My weight went up to 180 pounds, and my
bench press went up to 355 pounds --
and they stayed there.

It didn't matter what I did.

It didn't matter what I ate. Or how much
I ate.

The different supplements I tried didn't
make any difference at all.

I was stuck at 180 pounds -- and my bench
was stuck at 355 pounds -- and they didn't
budge for year after year after year.

By 1988, at age 31, I was only 10 pounds
heavier and could bench press only 35 pounds
more than I could manage in 1978.

If my math is correct, that's a gain of
exactly one pound of bodyweight and 3.5
pounds on the bench press every year over
the entire 10-year period.

So YOU tell me -- am I a hard gainer or
an easy gainer?

Of course, before you answer the question,
you might want to see what happened in 1988.

We'll get to that part of the story tomorrow --
and we'll also talk about the interesting issue
of bone strength and how to build it -- and
what it can do for you. Tendon and ligament
strength, as well.

As always, thanks for reading, and have a
great day. If you train today, make it a
good one!

Yours in strength,

Brooks Kubik

P.S. If you're interested in bone strength --
tendon strength - and ligament strength, here
are two great resources with plenty of ideas
on how to build it:

a. Dinosaur Training: Lost Secrets of Strength
and Development

http://www.brookskubik.com/dinosaur_training.html

b. Strength, Muscle and Power

http://www.brookskubik.com/strength_muscle_power.html

P.S. 2. My other books and courses are right
here at Dino Headquarters:

http://www.brookskubik.com/products.html

P.S. 3. Thought for the Day: "It's not where
you start, it's where you finish that counts.
The problem is, most people give up before
they get there." -- Brooks Kubik

Rest-Pause Reps for Strength, Muscle and Power!

Hail to the Dinosaurs!

Yesterday I gave you a great little training
technique that combined pause reps and regular
reps.

You did 3 x 5 working sets, and you started
with one pause rep followed by four regular
reps.

You worked up to 3 pause reps followed by
two regular reps -- and then you added weight
in the next workout and did 3 x 5 regular
reps, and after that, you repeated the
cycle with the pause reps and regular
reps.

Here's something similar using rest pause
reps and regular reps.

Rest pause reps are different than pause
reps.  You do a rep, pause for 10 to 20
seconds, and then do another rep. This is
a very effective training technique, in
part because it allows you to make each
individual rep a 100 per cent, tightly
focused, PERFECT rep.

Some people do rest pause reps at the
end of a set, to allow more total reps
after they hit momentary muscular failure
and can no longer do consecutive reps.

But I prefer to do them at the beginning
of a set -- and finish up with some non-
stop reps at the end of the set.

For example:

After a progressively heavier series of
warm-up sets, do 3 x 5 working sets in
the deadlift or Trap Bar deadlift.

Instead of doing the reps in regular,
consecutive fashion, do ONE rep in
perfect form.

Lower the bar to the platform.

Pause for about 15 to 20 seconds.

Do a second rep in perfect form.

Lower the bar to the platform.

Pause for 15 to 20 seconds.

Now do three consecutive reps to
finish the set.

Sounds simple, but give it a try and
you'll be surprised to see how hard
it is -- and how it forces you to
dig deep to focus and concentrate
on each and every rep.

Good stuff.

And of course -- you can combine the
rest pause technique with pause reps.

Just include a two second pause on each
of the rest pause reps -- perhaps at the
point where the bar is right below the
knees.

That's some serious training -- and it
will build some serious strength, muscle
and power.

As always, thanks for reading and have
a great day.  If you train today, make
it a good one!

Yours in strength,

Brooks Kubik

P.S. I cover rest-pause training in detail
in Strength, Muscle and Power:

http://www.brookskubik.com/strength_muscle_power.html

P.S. 2. My other books and courses are
right here at Dino Headquarters:

http://www.brookskubik.com/products.html

P.S. 3. Thought for the Day: "If you're
going to train, do it right. Make every
rep count." -- Brooks Kubik


Try this Unique Progression System!

Hail to the Dinosaurs!

A reader asked about bottom position
squats.

Instead of setting the bar on pins
in the power rack, so he can wedge
himself under the bar in the bottom
position of the movement and stand
up with it, he prefers to set the
pins at the same position -- but
start at the top of the movement --
lower himself down until the bar
is right above the pins -- pause
for a second -- think "One thousand
and one!" -- and then drive back up
to the starting position.

He said that works better for him,
and wanted to know if it was okay.

Answer -- absolutely!

Remember, we're all different. Squats
are good for all of us (unless an
injury makes it impossible to do them),
but the exact manner of doing your
squats will vary from one Dino to
another.

Now, technically, our reader is doing
a pause squat -- but if that works
better for him than a true bottom
position squat, then that's what he
should do.

And speaking of pause squats -- here's
a way to use the pause as part of your
progression scheme.

Let's say you can do 3 x 5 working sets
with 300 pounds in the squat.

You could add weight in your next
workout -- OR you could add a pause.

For example, do 3 x 5 with a pause on
the first rep of each set and no pause
on the next four reps.

The next time you do squats, do 3 x 5
working sets with a pause on the first
TWO reps of each set -- followed by three
no pause reps.

In your next squat workout, do 3 x 5
working sets with a pause on the first
three reps of each set -- followed by
two no pause reps.

In the next squat workout, add weight and
do 3 x 5 regular reps with no pause.

In the workout after that, do 3 x 5
working sets with a pause on the first
rep of each set only.

And then repeat the progression cycle.

You can do this sort of thing on any
basic exercise. George F. Jowett wrote
about it way back in the 1920's -- and
a guy named Grimek read the article
and gave it a try on his presses.

It worked pretty well for him.

So there we have some old-school training
advice from George F. Jowett -- used by
none other than John C. Grimek -- that
I'm able to share in response to a
training question received on July 23,
2014.

I don't know about you, but I think that's
pretty darn cool.

As always, thanks for reading and have a
great day. If you train today, make it a
good one!

Yours in strength,

Brooks Kubik

P.S. I cover plenty of other old-school
training tips in Strength, Muscle and
Power -- and I cover more military press
secrets in my Military Press Course --
and I give you TONS more info about
John Grimek and his training in my John
Grimek training course. You can grab them
right here:

a. Strength, Muscle and Power

http://www.brookskubik.com/strength_muscle_power.html

b. The Dinosaur Training Military Press
and Shoulder Power Course

http://www.brookskubik.com/militarypress_course.html

c. The Training Secrets of John Grimek

http://brookskubik.com/johngrimek_course.html

P.S. 2. My other books and courses -- and
back issues of the Dinosaur Files Newsletter -
are right here:

http://www.brookskubik.com/products.html

P.S. 3. Thought for the Day: "Read, study, search,
and learn. The more you know about real world,
sensible strength training, the better."
-- Brooks Kubik


12 Questions Prompted by a TENS Unit!

Hail to the Dinosaurs!

I'm sitting here with a TENS unit
zapping my shoulder and right trap
because I didn't follow my own
advice.

And because I made a simple mistake
that many older trainees make.

For the last couple of years, I did
the clean and jerk as one lift. In
other words, I would clean the weight
and then jerk it.

But a few weeks ago I switched to cleans
in one workout, and push presses in the
other.

The idea was to go heavier on each
movement by splitting them up. And to
do push presses rather than jerks to
build some extra shoulder and triceps
strength.

And I'm pretty strong on push presses,
and went too heavy too soon. That was
mistake number one.

Mistake number two was separating the
clean and the push press. It would have
been better to do them together.

Why?

Because I position the bar better when
I rack it in a squat clean than when I
take it off the squat stands.

It's not a big difference - but it's a
difference. Enough of a difference to
give me a nice shoulder and trap spasm
that feels like someone is poking a
red-hot pitchfork into my neck and
shoulder.

Hence, the TENS unit  to break up the
spasm and let me get back to training.

So now I am reminded that I need to be
very careful to follow two important
rules:

1. When you change to a new exercise, don't
go too heavy too soon.

2. Clean the bar before doing a press, push
press or jerk.

Rule no. 1 applies to anyone at any age.

Rule no. 2 may apply more to older trainees,
because they're the ones who tend to have
flexibility issues such as tight shoulders.

Rule no. 2 reminds me of other things for
older trainees to consider -- and note that
the answer will vary from person to person,
and may change for you over time:

1. Is it better for you to use a lifting belt,
or to skip the belt and go a little lighter?

2. Do you go too heavy (and hurt yourself or
not be able to recover) if you use lifting
straps for your pulls and/or deadlifts?

2a. Same question for hook grip vs. regular
grip.

3. Can you still recover from heavy pulls?

4. Can you still recover from heavy deadlifts?

5. Can you still recover from heavy squats?

6. Can you still recover from heavy partials?

7. Is it better to do front squats by
cleaning the weight or by taking it off
squat stands?

8. Which work better for you -- front
squats or back squats?

9. Is it easier to recover from deadlift
sessions if you use the Trap Bar?

10. How many exercises can you do in a
given workout and still recover?

11. Are dumbbell presses (or push presses,
or jerks) harder or easier on your shoulders
than doing the same exercise with a barbell?

12. How many workouts per week are best for
you, and how many heavy sessions per week
are best for you?

These are interesting questions -- and they're
very important questions for any older trainee.

And the answers will vary for all of us --
and for all of us, they'll change over time.

Anyhow, I'm nursing a temporary battle
wound, and the TENS unit is feeling pretty
darn good. Kudos to Trudi for buying it a
couple of years ago. She must have known
I'd do something like this sooner or later.

As always, thanks for reading and have a
great day. If you train  today, make it a
good one!

Yours in strength,

Brooks Kubik

P.S. Here's the number one book about
sensible, real-world training for older
Dinos:

http://www.brookskubik.com/grayhair_blackiron.html

P.S. 2. My other books and courses are
right here:

http://www.brookskubik.com/products.html

P.S. 3. Thought for the Day: "Strength
training is a life-long journey. You never
stop learning." -- Brooks Kubik

Important News and Updates for Dinos!

Hail to the Dinosaurs!

I'm going to cover a couple of
quick updates in this post. So
I may bounce around a little,
sort of like Paul Anderson
repping some fast squats with
800 pounds.

1. Yesterday's Email Message

I received a ton of great feedback
to yesterday's email. Thanks very
much to everyone who sent a reply.

Several of you noted that you have
been diagnosed with glaucoma or
pre-glaucoma, and you appreciated
my comments about finding exercises
that won't generate potentially
harmful internal pressure for
your eyes.

Others said you were going to get an
eye exam and glaucoma screen -- which
is a good idea, and one of the reasons
why I sent the email.

And one reader unsubscribed. I was
sorry to see that, but hey, it happens.

2. The Diet and Nutrition Book

I've been working full-time seven days
a week on this one, and really putting
a lot of effort and energy into it.

The goal is to get it finished and out
the door to readers as soon as possible.

I'll keep you posted, but rest assured --
it won't be long now.

Also note -- this is "not just a diet
book." It's a book about making smart
choices that will help you build and
maintain life-long strength and health.

It's geared to strength athletes, of
course, and it covers trainees of all
ages.

We'll talk about protein, carbs, fats,
how and where to get the healthiest
and most nutritious foods, my take on
supplements, gaining weight, losing
weight, special advice for older
trainees, and how to sort through
all the diet and nutrition mumbo-
jumbo and peudo-science out there.

And it will NOT be a one-size fits all
book.

Far from it.

One of the things we'll cover is how to
develop an individualized diet and
nutrition plan that's best and most
effective for YOU.

Anyhow, I'm very excited about how it is
coming together, and I'm really looking
forward to the day we launch the big
pre-publication special.

3. Other Dino Projects

As soon as the diet and nutrition book
is finished, I'm going to work on some
more training courses -- and launch the
Dinosaur Files newsletter in expanded,
bigger than ever quarterly format. The
goal is to get two issues out the door
in 2014 and 4 issues out the door in
2015.

On the courses front, we'll probably start
with volume 3 in the History's Strongest
Men series. I have someone in mind, and
I think you're going to agree that he
deserves a course of his own!

4. Questions from Readers

The bad part about being so busy with
Dino projects is that I can't keep up
with the emails I receive from readers.

So if you send an email and I don't
get back to you right away, that's why.
There just aren't enough hours in the
day.

I will try to answer all questions --
but understand that I receive MANY of
them every day, and it is impossible to
get back to all of them right away.

5. Something Terrific for Hand-balancing
   Fans!

Finally, if you haven't already seen it,
here's something new and terrific for
hand-balancing fans -- a very rare
hand-balancing course authored by
none other than the Maestro himself,
Sig Klein. My buddy John Wood has
done a reprint edition of the course,
and it is getting rave reviews.

John is doing a hard-copy version
and a Kindle version of the course.

I understand the hard-copy version
is not yet ready, but you can grab
the Kindle version right now -- by
going right here:

http://www.oldtimestrongman.com/klein_handbalancing.html

I understand the server crashed 2x
yesterday after John launched this
little baby, so it looks like it's
an official best seller.

6. The Wrap-Up

That's it for now. I have to get back to
the diet and nutrition book!

As always, thanks for reading and have
a great day. If you train today, make it
a good one!

Yours in strength,

Brooks Kubik

P.S. Did you know that John Grimek was
a master hand-balancer? I cover some of
his hand-balancing feats in my John
Grimek training course:

http://brookskubik.com/johngrimek_course.html

P.S. 2. My other books and courses are
right here:

http://www.brookskubik.com/products.html

P.S. 3. Thought for the Day: "The only
two directions are forward and back.
Forward is the best choice."
-- Brooks Kubik

Another Reason Why I Do Olympic Lifting

Hail to the Dinosaurs!

Last week I was talking about my
current training, and why I prefer
to do Olympic weightlifting at this
stage of my career.

I gave you seven reasons.

But I omitted one, and it's a biggie.

Olympic weightlifting is easier on my
eyes.

Yes, you heard that correctly.

My eyes.

Here's the deal. 

My father has glaucoma. My brother has
glaucoma. All of my paternal uncles
had glaucoma. Every man in the family
has it.

Glaucoma is a degenerative eye disease
caused by unusually high inter-ocular
(inside the eyeball) pressure. It's
sort of like having high blood
pressure in your eyes.

It causes the death of nerve cells in
the eyes -- and if untreated, it can
lead to progressively greater and
greater vision loss -- and even to
blindness.

It's an hereditary condition -- which
is why all the men in the family have
it.

We're not sure if I have it or not.
Because of the family history, I get
checked every three months. I'm right
on the edge. I've been told, "Yes, you
have it" -- and I've been told "You
know, I think it's close -- but I
don't think you have it." Three
different opthamologists have said
"Yes, you have it " -- and then
changed their minds in later exams,
and a fourth flat out said he just
wasn't sure.

Anyhow, we watch it very closely, and
I take the same eye-drops I would take
if I were diagnosed as having glaucoma.
The drops reduce the inter-ocular
pressure.

Now, as you might imagine, my opthamologist
and I have had a number of conversations
about my weight training.

He wants me to stay away from any slow,
grinding movements where my blood pressure
goes sky high and my face looks like it's
going to explode.

But he's okay with snatches, cleans and
jerks -- because they're much faster and
you don't hold your breath for as long --
and thus, there's much less internal
pressure, even if you do a heavy lift.

Now, please note -- I am NOT a medical
doctor, and I'm NOT an optthamologist,
so if you have glaucoma or are at risk
for glaucoma, talk with your doctor
and work up an appropriate plan,
including the right kind of exercise
program for YOU.

All I'm saying is that in MY case,
based on my current eye condition
and overall health, I've been cleared
to do snatches, cleans and jerks.

Kettlebells would also be okay,
as would most of the exercises
in the Dinosaur Bodyweight
Training course. (I'm supposed
to stay away from any inverted
exercises, such as handstand
pushups, because the blood runs
to the head -- which increases
the pressure on my eyes.)

I'm sharing this because it's an
example of how things change as
you grow older -- and an example
of how important it is to find the
right kind of exercise -- and how
the right kind of exercise might
change for you over time.

Anyhow, my eye pressure and visual
field test was fine at my last exam,
and hopefully it will stay that
way.

In the meantime, I'm having fun out
in the garage, and my lifting platform,
Olympic bar and plates are getting lots
of use.

As always, thanks for reading and
have a great day. If you train today,
make it a good one.

Yours in strength,

Brooks Kubik

P.S. Gray Hair and Black Iron is a must
read for older trainees:

http://www.brookskubik.com/grayhair_blackiron.html

P.S. 2. If you're looking for something
fun, different and effective, try Dinosaur
Dumbbell Training or Dinosaur Bodyweight
Training:

http://brookskubik.com/dinosaur_dumbbelltraining.html

http://www.brookskubik.com/dinosaur_bodyweight.html

P.S. 3. My other books and courses are
right here:

http://www.brookskubik.com/products.html

P.S. 4. Thought for the Day: "Train hard,
but train smart. You last longer that way."
-- Brooks Kubik




Championship Training!

Hail to the Dinosaurs!

Part of training like a champion is
making do with whatever equipment is
available.

And part of it is overcoming adversity.

Take the case of a young Army private
named Tommy Kono.

The year is 1952.

Kono is stationed at an Army base in
Northern California.

He's training for the USA Senior
National Weightlifting championships.

And if he wins the Senior nationals,
he'll make the USA Weightlifting team
and be able to compete in the Olympic
Championships later in the year.

So this is a really big deal.

Problem is, the Base gym has only one
barbell.

It's an exercise barbell, not an Olympic
barbell.

The biggest plates are 25's, and the
rest are 10's and 5's. He can only load
it up to 285 pounds.

And there's no lifting platform --
and no squat racks.

Plus, he has hardly any time to train.

So what does he do?

He hangs the bar from two strong ropes,
so it's exactly at the right starting
position to do presses.

Then he loads it up -- and does 8 sets
of 3 reps in the wide grip (collar to
collar) military press.

Why the wide grip?

Because it's HARDER than regular grip
presses. He figures that if he can get
stronger when pressing the bar with a
grip, he'll be able to lift more weight
when he uses his regular grip in the
contest.

These two simple changes -- hanging the
barbell from the ropes, so he doesn't
have to clean it, and performing wide
grip presses -- allow him to make the
most out of that old, seemingly
unsuitable barbell.

And hanging the barbell on the ropes
allows him to train FAST. He finishes
his workouts in just 20 or 30 minutes!

When he has the chance, he goes to the
San Francisco YMCA and does snatches,
cleans and front squats.

And guess what happens?

He not only wins the Senior Nationals,
he wins the "Outstanding Lifter" Aware.

He goes to the Olympics -- and he wins
the gold medal.

That's how a champion trains -- and it's
how YOU should train!

So take Tommy Kono's lesson to heart.

Make the most of what you have -- don't
make excuses -- if there's a problem,
figure out a work-around -- and SMASH
through any obstacle in your path!

As always, thanks for reading and have
a great day. If you train today, make
it a good one!

Yours in strength,

Brooks Kubik

P.S. I give many more tips for success
in all my books and courses -- including
these:

Dinosaur Training: Lost Secrets of Strength
and Development

http://www.brookskubik.com/dinosaur_training.html

Strength, Muscle and Power

http://www.brookskubik.com/strength_muscle_power.html

Dinosaur Bodyweight Training

http://www.brookskubik.com/dinosaur_bodyweight.html

P.S. 2. My other books and courses are
right here:

http://www.brookskubik.com/products.html

P.S. 3. Thought for the Day: "Where there's
a will, there's a way -- and it leads to
success!" -- Brooks Kubik