I’ve been training with weights for 52 years. I enjoy it just as much now, at 64 years of age, as I did when I first began working out as a 12-year-old, in the garage of Cowboy Bill Watts, the heavyweight world champion of professional wrestling.
Over these many years I looked for ways to make my training more productive. I eventually came to the same truth that most successful weight men come to: The harder you train, the more you gain.
You can increase the intensity of your workouts in a number of ways: supersets, giant sets, descending sets, slow reps, holds, preexhaustion, negatives, rest/pause, partial movements and so on. Basically, any training system that you work hard on will work for you and bring positive results.
One of the most productive and enjoyable ways that I have found to add muscle size and strength is to use what I call “breaks.” You’ll need a power rack and plenty of plates, as you’ll be using more weight than you normally would when working out in conventional style.
You also need the power rack so you can position the barbell at a stragetic point in the range of movement on each exercise. Let’s use the bench press as an example. You position the barbell on the lower rack pins so that when lying on the bench and grasping the barbell, your upper arms are parallel to the ground. That will be somewhere close to the middle range of the exercise. You simply press the barbell off of the pins.
How much movement? Are you ready? You move the bar a distance of approximately one-half inch. That’s it. You just break the bar clear of the rack pins—hence the term breaks.
Some newcomers to the weight world will think that’s ridiculous. You’re probably asking how only one-half inch of movement can produce any gains in size and strength. You read articles that emphatically insist that you use full-range movements to build size and strength.
Well, you’ve probably heard the old adage, “Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.” That’s great advice in this case. I’ve used partial movements in my workouts for many, many years, and I’ve experienced great success. I gained more than 100 pounds of bodyweight in nine months, eventually built 22-inch arms at a bodyweight of 245, performed a standing press of 400 pounds and a close-grip bench press of 530 pounds. It works.
Pick five or six basic compound exercises and go for it. I use the bench press, curl-grip pulldown, seated wide-grip press, barbell curl and triceps pressdown. I would use squats too, but a back injury sustained in an automobile accident now prevents me from performing them.
Place the barbell on the lower rack pins at a point in the middle range of movement, and perform your breaks there. Remember, you’re just breaking the barbell free from the lower pins. Only a half inch of movement—that’s it.
Perform two work sets of eight reps each. Use an amount of weight that will barely give you eight reps. When you can perform eight reps for both sets, go up in weight by five pounds at your next workout. Keep progressively going up in weight used over time.
If you stick with this program, you’ll make great gains in muscle size and strength. So give yourself a break—you’ll like the results.