Thursday, July 10, 2008
If you are truly interested in size and strength, you need to train your legs. -- and one of the best leg exercises is the barbell squat. In fact, heavy squats have built the foundation of some of the greatest strength athletes in history.
Here's a look at the great John Davis squatting at Ed Yarick's Gym in Oakland, California in the 50s -- and that's how you should be squatting: full and deep.
No monkey business there, just pure power development.
I don't recommend squatting with a board under the heels but it seems to work for John Davis, who was Twice Olympic Weightlifting Champion (1948 and 1952) and Six Time Senior World Weightlifting Champion (1938, 1946, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1951).
From Old Time Strongmen.
The second of the four powerlifts I'm working on is the Squat. If the Clean and Press is complicated, the Squat is as simple as it gets. Take it off the rack, take it down, take it back up. There is really nothing else that works your foundation the way a heavy squat does. Your upper body is always working to hold form and to keep balance. That's a lot of iron laying across your shoulders. Your lower body is driving force down into the earth, pressing the planet against the barbell. I feel it the most in my glutes. This lift will literaly work your butt off. The quads support the weight on the way down and keep you from sinking too far into "the hole", but the glutes and hams do the work of moving the weight back up. It is a massive exercise, and one of my favorites.
I did the lifting part of my workout as planned, but my upper body was still pretty sore from yesterday, so I decided to skip the warmup. I did push out some dips and chins though. There is this marvelous machine that allows weaklings like me to do these exercises with the assistance of a counter-weighted platform. That way, you don't have to actually move your whole body weight. Here's a video from ExpoTV explaining how it works.
I have worked my back and arms enough now that I can execute these movements using the maximum available counterweight. From here on, the task will be to strengthen those muscle groups and lower the counterweight until I can lift my own bodyweight. That's going to be a while.
I'm taking tomorrow off to give my muscles some time to recover.
Great news! I ran/walked a mile on the treadmill. The calves complained a little, but I treated them with respect and together we all made it to the one mile mark. I also did a few minutes on the stair climber. That one really showed me that my conditioning has suffered a little during my recovery.Like the dips and chins, I'll build up my time gradually.
When I was stretching, the lady who leads the Yoga class came up to me and suggested that I try that to increase my flexibility. I think that's a great idea. The class meets on Thursdays and I think I'll try to work it in. I'll have to find a mat somewhere, I guess.
Halfway through the four day split and I have to say it feels like this is a pretty complete workout. I have that healthy afterburn soreness in my legs, shoulders, butt, and arms. Not the pain that says something's hurt, but the soreness that says you did some good hard work and need to slow down a minute to recover.
It's encouraging to be back up running - even if it is only two minutes at a time. The desire to run is what keeps me in the gym I think. I have this fantasy about running down a quiet country road on a Saturday morning. I pass horse farms and cross bridges over trout streams, whispering prayers of thanksgiving to the God who gave me the chance to run. I'm looking forward to making that dream come true. If a twenty-minute mile is the first step toward that sweet Kentucky morning, then I thank God for that too.
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