Wednesday, March 07, 2007


If, for what ever reason, I was forever allowed access to only one book on strength training, the book I would choose is, The Complete Keys to Progress by John McCallum. Originally written as a series of articles between June 1965 and November 1972 for “Strength and Health” magazine, this goldmine of information was collected into a book, and is still available and relevant even today. In this one book, is how to advance from beginner to intermediate, to advanced. How to train if your old, young, skinny, fat, or injured. You will find the recipe for the “Get Big Drink” , how to properly do a ketogenic diet, and the benefits of protein. I consider myself fortunate to have been exposed to McCallums writings very early on in my training career. While to many, my views about strength training fall into the “HIT” school, in my own mind, I consider myself a “McCallumite”. The bottom line in training is out right hard work. There is no substitute. All these complicated schemes of sets and reps and undulating periodization patterns and what ever the latest buzzwords are is a sham. Most people spend way to much time thinking about how to train. I was speaking to an acquaintance of mine who knew that I lifted. He wanted my opinion of a spread sheet he had developed to help him keep track of what set/rep scheme he was supposed to do and for which body part on any given day. It was full of a's, b's, c's, and d's in multiple colors with a legend and auto calendering, truly impressive it was. I told him I thought it was “something else”. He asked If I wanted a copy. I politely refused. He looked confused, and somewhat hurt. There was a question on his lips, when I interrupted, “I only workout twice a week, maybe three if I'm doing an upper/lower split”. I then proceeded to receive a mini lecture on the science of strength training and optimal lifting patterns yadda yadda yadda. To which I responded, “So, how much do you squat?” Confused silence. So I continue, “like for Instance, right now I'm squatting 235 for 2 sets of 15, how much weight do you put on the bar when you squat? “Really?” he asks. “Yup, I'm doing some foundation work do get my strength back up to par”. - “Oh,... can you really squat 235 for two sets of 15?” - “Sure, I've done more than that. But at this point I don't go really heavy anymore. Not worth it.” Now, I realize that for many squatting 235 for 2x15, isn't very heavy. I agree. Unless of course you are A: a small framed women, or B: one of those folks who never really works hard, but just works out. But, If you're a man under the age of 50, and have no limitations from illness or injury, squatting 250 for 2x15 should be a minimum for a foundation of strength. Women should go for about 1.25 x body weight. Until you build a foundation of strength, all those fancy schmancy schemes will do you more harm than good. Even after you build your foundation a good basic work out, worked hard, will get you far. Whats a good basic work out? I'm so glad you asked. Based on the work out in Chapter one of “Keys”:

Overhead Press 2 sets of 12
Bent Rows 2 sets of 15
Bench Press 2 sets of 12
Curls 1 set of 10
Squats 2 sets of 15
Breathing Pullovers 2 sets of 20
Straight Leg Dead lift 1 set of 15
leg lifts 1 set of 25

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