Monday, October 24, 2016

Bulking the Upper Body - John McCallum (1966)

Article Originally Published in June 1966

You're now ready for the next advancement in our training. And you'll like this one. It's designed for pure and simple upper body bulk.

Let's stop at this point and discuss briefly the bulk and power I keep referring to in these articles.

What I mean by bulk, and what this series is designed to produce, is your maximum muscular size. Not fat! At this stage we're not worried about maximum definition either, but enough separation will be maintained so you can reduce to contest condition with a short period of specialization after you're big enough.

Regarding power -- you're not training to be an Olympic lifter, but you should have about the same degree of all round strength. It's a sad fact, but true, that some bodybuilders have built their physiques without ever getting much stronger than the average man. It's easy to ignore this, and some magazines do. Fortunately, Strength & Health doesn't. 

When you finish this series, you'll be a Hercules in ability as well as appearance. You'll be every bit as strong as you look, and then some. 

Just to quickly summarize our goals. At this point, we're striving for the approximate appearance and strength of Reg Park, or Bill Pearl, or John Grimek before they train down for contest definition. And right now we're going to advance another step towards that goal by increasing the bulk of your upper body.

There's no doubt that upper body bulk is the big thing with fledgling bodybuilders. They may realize the need for power in the legs and back, but the upper body still has a magnetic appeal that's hard to resist.

The trouble with bulking the upper body, and the reason for most bodybuilding failures, is that too many bodybuilders specialize on it too soon. You can walk into any gym in the country and see scrawny kids slaving away on their arms and shoulders long before they're ready for it. Most of them don't make too much progress. They eventually become discouraged and quit. The hard and bitter truth of the matter is that if they'd spent the necessary time and effort building up a proper foundation first, then they'd get the results they want from their curls and presses.

Remember -- it's a fact in training and you can't get around it -- that you can't build really impressive bulk in your upper body until you've built the proper foundation in your legs and lower back.

If you've followed this series as written, you should have some of your foundation by now. You should have enough power in your legs and back to warrant a short session of straight upper body bulking. The degree of foundation you've built will determine the results you'll get from this program. If you've built properly, you'll gain inches and pounds of upper body bulk. You'll add slabs of muscle all over your arms, chest, and shoulders. You'll transform your appearance drastically in the next few weeks.

But remember -- this program is based on the assumption that you've followed the series to date. Don't try this program if you haven't. You'll be wasting time that could be better spent on squats and back work. If you're just starting, order back issues of Strength & Health and build the foundation first. then you'll make the gains you want on your upper body.

Building muscle is a complex affair. Let's set a few preliminary points in order. 

You'll be working out four days a week -- Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Don't work out any oftener. It isn't necessarily true that six hours of exercise is six times as good for you as one hour. There's a happy limit. Don't exceed it. 

Make sure that you get enough rest and sleep. You won't gain without it. Eight hours sleep a night is the rock bottom minimum and ten would be better. A short nap during the day is a big help. Lie down and take five whenever you can. Don't skimp on your rest, you're only cheating yourself out of the eye popping build you're working for.

You're still trying to gain weight, so be sure you eat enough. We're going to delve into the whys and wherefores of diet in another article, but for now eat lots of good food. Eat three big meals a day and a snack between each meal and at bedtime. Take the "Get Big Drink" as outlined in the November '65 issue of Strength & Health, or Gain Weight and milk. All the exercise in the world won't put weight on your if you don't eat enough.

Use fractional relaxation and auto-suggestion to improve your mental outlook. Maintain a calm and tranquil mind. Worrying is the one sure way to stop your progress. It's hard not to worry once in a while, but keep it to the minimum.

All the above points are essential. Don't overlook any of them. Put your mind to work and build your body wisely and well.

And now we come to the program itself. Do the exercises as follows:

1) Prone Hyperextensions. You should be getting pretty good at these by now and you should be developing a fair lower back. Don't worry too much about the poundage for this program. Increase the weight very, very gradually. Work at developing style. Concentrate on a flawless performance with complete extensions and contractions. You should be able to isolate the action almost completely to your lower back.

Do the extensions for 3 sets of 10.

2) Breathing Squats. You'll be doing 2 sets of 15 on these. Do the first set as heavy as you can. Try to get the weight well over the 300 pound mark. Put out to your absolute limit.

Drop the weight a full hundred pounds for the second set and step up the effort on the breathing. Three to five big breaths between each rep. The weight won't be heavy so concentrate on your lungs. Make each breath as big as you can. Lift your chest and shrug your shoulders a couple of inches.

The key to a big upper body is a big rib box. Nobody ever developed a really herculean upper body on a small rib box. You can gain a terrific amount of chest size just by increasing your rib box with breathing squats. Slap on heavy pecs and lats and you're into the 50 inch class.

Keep your head up, your back flat, and your chest high. Work at making your chest ache from the heavy breathing.

3) Pullovers. Do 20 pullovers with a very light weight after each set of squats. Keep your lower back on the bench during the pullovers. Don't just arch up. You're supposed to be expanding your chest, not practicing the wrestler's bridge.

You can take five now and get rested up for the upper body work.

You're going to need some equipment for this program. Buy it or build it if you haven't already got it. Equipment is one thing you can't afford to skimp on. If you're going to put out the necessary time and effort for a good build then you may as well do it properly and get results.

You'll need a flat bench, an incline bench, parallel bars, and an overhead pulley or lat machine. You'll need ample weight and you should have two sets of dumbbells to allow you to alternate exercises without having to change the weight every time. 

Give some thought to building up a nice home gym. We'll talk more about it later. It's not really that expensive when you spread the cost over the number of years you'll be using it. It'll pay for itself many times over the course of your career. 

You'll be doing the exercises in pairs. We'll call each pair A and B for now. Alternate back and forth between A and B with 30 seconds to a minute's rest between them for the required number of sets. 

After you finish the first pair, you go on to the second pair and treat it the same way. Then a short rest and on to the third pair and so on.

The exercises are grouped for maximum flushing of each body part. 

You start with work for the chest and shoulders by alternating bench presses and the alternate forward raise with dumbbells. Do them for five sets each. 

Do a set of bench presses first. Take 30 seconds to a minute's rest and do the alternate forward raise. Then another set of bench presses and another set of forward raises. Keep this up for 5 sets each. 

The second pair of exercises for the chest and shoulders is the flying exercise on a flat bench and the lateral raise to the side with dumbbells. Do them each for five sets. Alternate them in the same fashion as the first pair. A set of the flying exercise, then a set of lateral raises, a set of flying, a set of lateral raises, and so on.

You'll need two sets of dumbbells. It takes too long to change the weight between each exercise and you lose the pumping effect.

You can take a rest now. Sit down and put your feet up for four or five minutes. 

The next area we hit is the upper back and shoulders.

The first pair of exercises is bent forward rowing and lateral raises with dumbbells while bent forward. Do them each for five sets and alternate them as before.

The next pair is pulldowns behind the neck with the pulley machine and presses behind the neck. Alternate them for five sets each.

That wraps up the back and shoulders. Now take another four or five minute rest. 

We wind it up now with arm work.

The first pair of exercises is barbell curls and parallel bar dips. Five sets each and alternated.

The final pair is incline bench dumbbell curls and triceps extensions on the pulley machine. Alternate them for five sets each.

The whole program, then, looks like this:

Prone Hyperextensions: 3 x 10
Squats: 2 x 15, alternated with
Pullovers: 2 x 20


Bench Press: 5 x 10, alternated with
Alternate Forward Raise: 5 x 10
Flying Exercise: 5 x 10, alternated with
Lateral Raise to Side, 5 x 10


Rowing: 5 x 10, alternated with
Bent Forward Laterals: 5 x 10
Pulldown Behind Neck, 5 x 10, alternated with
Press Behind Neck: 5 x 10 


Curls: 5 x 10, alternated with
Parallel Bar Dips, 5 x 10
Incline Curl: 5 x 10, alternated with
Triceps Extensions: 5 x 10

Don't go poundage crazy on this program. Work for a nice smooth performance on each exercise. Use all the weight you can, but perform the exercise in a steady, even manner.

Pick a weight that will allow you to get 10 reps out of the first two sets on each exercise. You should only be able to make eight or nine reps on the third set, and from five to eight on the fourth and fifth sets.

Do the above program on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On Saturday, if you can, do the following: 

Upright Rowing: 1 x 10

Curls: 1 x 10
Parallel Bar Dips: 1 x 10

Take a minute rest and repeat the three exercises in the same order. Take about 30 seconds rest between exercises.

Use very light weights. From half to two-thirds of what you normally use in those exercises is plenty. You don't want to tire the muscles, just put a mild pump in them.

If you can do the three exercise series three times on Saturday. Once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and once in the early evening.

The whole thing is a pretty rugged program. It's not for beginners. Follow it exactly as written and don't try to toss in any extra exercises.

Don't forget -- this routine is designed for people who have a fair degree of bulk and power in the legs and back. Don't waste time on it if you haven't been working properly on the power exercises. Set it aside and tackle it when you're ready for it.

remember to get lots of rest and sleep, eat plenty of good food, take supplements for weight gaining, and maintain a relaxed and cheerful outlook. 

You ought'a be hunting for bigger clothes when we make our next advance. 

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