An Old School Pressing Program!

Hail to the Dinosaurs!

Here's an interesting training
question from an old English
magazine called VIGOUR. This is
from the June, 1947 issue.

John Barrs, one of the editors
of the magazine, gave the answer.

I'll offer my own comments after
the question and the answer from


Dear Mr. Barrs,

I have made good progress with
my lifting since my last letter
to you . . .  but now my press
has got stuck.

I can't get past 160, yet my
snatch has moved up to 165 and
my clean and jerk to 210 or 215.

I have been using the 5/4/3/2/1
system. 135 x 5, 140 x 4, 145
x 3, 150 x 2, 160 x 1. I do this
at the beginning of my schedule
and again at the end with all
weights 5 pounds less. I work
out three times per week.


A change of programme and more
frequent pressing is indicated
in this case. Good results should
be obtained by employing the fixed
poundage method -- 8 or 10 sets of
3 presses at a time with about 75
percent of your maximum weight.

125 pounds will be quite enough to
start with, but this weight should
be increased about 2 1/2 pounds
every fortnight.

Leverage exercises with dumbbells
are not especially helpful towards
press improvement. The answer is
to press, press and keep on pressing.
Limit try-outs should be made not
more often than once a week


I think John Barrs nailed it! If you've
read Dinosaur Training, you know that I
discuss the following progression:

1. Train on 5 x 5 for awhile.

2. After a couple of months, change
to 5/4/3/2/1.

3. After a couple of months try something
like 5 x 3 or 5 x 2.

Note that the above are work sets, so the
idea is to do some progressively heavier
warm-up sets before the work sets. Thus,
5 x 2 might really be 2 x 5 progressively
heavier warm-up sets, 1 x 3 ditto, and then
5 x 2 work sets with the same weight.

You need to follow sensible set/rep schemes
at all times, but you also need to change
them up from time to time.

Barrs' suggestion of 8 - 10 triples with
75% is a tough schedule. You might want to
try 5 x 2 with 75% and add one set per week
(or once set every two weeks) until you get
up to 10 x 2.

Three times per week pressing will be too
much for many trainees (especially older
trainees). Once per week will work better
for many of you.

But over-all, John Barrs gave a great answer
and some great training advice. Follow it,
and you'll make good gains in the press!

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. The legendary John Davis was a six-time
World Champion and two-time Olymnpic Gold
medal winner. He followed a unique training
program that's very similar to the John Barrs
pressing program. Check it out in Black Iron:
The John Davis story:

P.S. 2. For more tips on how to build world
class pressing power, grab this:


Kindle e-book:

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

P.S. 4. Thought for the Day: "If you're going to
train, you might as well do it right." -- Brooks

Resting Outside the Box!

Hail to the Dinosaurs!

You've heard the phrase "think outside
the box."

Well, what about resting outside the box?

Here's a great email from Captain
Jeffrey Alton of the Greensboro, NC
Fire Department. He headed it "Resting
Outside the Box."

Captain Alton began by telling me a bit about
his training career. He's 54 now. He started
training at age 14, doing the typical muscle
pumper nonsense. he built some strength and
muscle, but not as much as he wanted, and in
his twenties he hurt his shoulder. The injury
bothered him for decades.

And then, two years ago, a friend gave him a
copy of GRAY HAIR AND BLACK IRON. It totally
changed his training.

He dropped the muscle pumping and started to
train Dino style -- hard and heavy on the

Currently, he's doing squats, deadlifts, snatches
and clean and jerks -- and his shoulder no longer
hurts! (Which shows you what those booby-building
workouts can do to your body.)

Anyhow, the purpose of Captain Alton's letter was
to share something that's given him great success.
He thought (and I agree) that other Dinos might
benefit from his ideas about rest between workouts.

Here's what he wrote:

"Being a firefighter I work an odd schedule. I work
24 hours on duty and then 48 hours off duty. I only
workout at the fire station. I run a paint business
on my off days which makes me so tired I don't want
to workout at the end of the day.

This workout schedule gives me two days rest between
each workout.

I lift on Mon, Thurs, Sun, Wed, Sat, Tues and Fri and
then repeat the schedule because the next work day is
Mon. I do four different workouts on a rotating
schedule. Which means I repeat each workout every
12 days.

Most serious lifters follow a routine which fits into a
seven day week, perhaps lifting on Mon, Wed and Fri or
something similar. But extending the workouts over a
longer period works better for me, not only because it
fits my schedule but because it fits my body and gives
me more rest between workouts.

I hope this information is beneficial to other Dinos.

Thanks for your time and commitment to lifters like

Your friend at the Iron Bar,

Captain Jeffrey Alton"

So there you have it -- and now you know what I mean
when I talk about resting outside the box!

I've said this before, but it bears repeating. To make
good gains, you need to train the right way -- but you
also need to get enough rest to allow your body to
recover from your workouts.

Many Dinos have made great gains on three workouts per
week, using a divided workout program.

Others have made their best gains on TWO workouts per
week -- or on three workouts every 10 days -- or (as
Captain Alton has found) four workouts every 12 days.

The bottom line is, REST IS IMPORTANT! Make sure you
schedule your training so you get enough rest between

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 over the age of 35, you NEED Gray
Hair and Black Iron. Go here to grab a copy:

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

P.S. 3. Thought for the Day: "You need training days
and you need rest days. One won't work without the
other." -- Brooks Kubik

The Energy Workout!

Hail to the Dinosaurs!

I found an interesting workout in an
old copy of VIGOUR, an English magazine
for physical culture and lifting fans.

This one dates back to 1949. The author
was physical training coach and author
David Martin.

It's a special program designed to build
something important:


You warm-up by doing some slow, easy, total
body stretches. Martin recommended the "Surya
Namaskar" from yoga practice. Google for it.

Maertin also noted that his lifting club
trained in a school cafeteria, and so  the
weights were put up during the day and had
to be put back out for training - which was,
he thought, pretty much an ideal warm-up!

Here's the program:

1. Two hands SIMULTANEOUS dumbbell curl --
1 x 10 reps

2. Barbell press on back with half bridge,
i.e., a floor press with a shoulder bridge
(not a neck bridge) -- 1 x 10 reps

3. The clean from the hang -- performed in
split style or power style, as you prefer --
1 x 8 to 10 reps

4. Parallel dips 1 x 10

Note: Not a favorite exercise of mine, but
Martin liked it, so here it is. Weighted
pushups or any pushup variation from
Dinosaur Bodyweight Training would work
fine here.

5. One hand snatch with barbell or dumbbell --
1 x 5 reps per arm.

Note: Lift with one arm, lower with two. See
Dinosaur Dumbbell Training for details on how
to perform the lift.

6. Squats -- 1 x 10

7. Light breathing pullovers -- 1 x 10

Now, here's the fun part.

You go through all seven exercises one after
the other -- and then you rest -- and then
you do it again. And then you repeat the
process a third time.

In other words, you do three circuits of
seven exercises per circuit.

If you have enough equipment, you can set
everything up and do the whole program in
non-stop fashion, like circuit training or
a PHA program.

Otherwise, just move from exercise to exercise,
taking only enough time to change the weights
and set up the next exercise.

The idea is to get the blood moving -- to get
you breathing hard -- and to energize your

This was a common method of training "back in
the day." Think of it as 10% pure iron cardio
training, similar to the cardio programs for
lifters that I outline in Gray Hair and Black

Good stuff. Worlds removed from the typical
muscle pumper nonsense and the "Spot me, bro!"
silliness you see most people doing.

Energy training. It's good for you. Give it a

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 mentioned Dinosaur Bodyweight Training,
Dinosaur Dumbbell Training and Gray Hair and Black
Iron. You can find them right here:

P.S. 2. My other books, courses and Dinosaur Training
DVD's are right here:

P.S. 3. Thought for the Day: "The right kind of
training builds strength, health and energy. Don't
settle for anything less." -- Brooks Kubik

How to Build a Lifting Platform!

Hail to the Dinosaurs!

Several readers have asked about my
lifting platform and how I built it.

So let's cover that in today's post.

Lifting platforms are a great addition
to your home gym -- and they're pretty
much a MUST if you plan to do serious
Olympic lifting. But the good news is,
they're inexpensive and easy to build.

The dimensions are 8 ft. x 8 ft.

I began by laying two 4 ft. x 8 ft.
sheets of 3/4 inch rubber gym mats
on the floor of the garage. That
gave me an 8 ft. x 8 ft. area covered
with heavy duty rubber mats. That may
not have been necessary, and some
people don't do it, but I figured
it would be good insurance to help
prevent cracking the floor.

Next, I placed two 4 ft. x 8 ft. sheets
of 3/4" plywood on top of the rubber
matting, lying them next to each other
so they fit the 8 ft. x 8 ft. area.

Then I laid two more sheets of plywood
on top of the first two sheets.

The bottom sheets of plywood run east
and west. The top sheets run north
and south. I face north when I lift,
so the seam between the two top sheets
of plywood is between my feet. If the
top sheets ran east and west, my feet
would be on top of or close to the seam,
and sooner or later I'd catch my shoe
in it -- which is not good if you're
doing a squat clean or a squat

After laying the plywood in position, I
screwed the top sheets to the bottom
sheets. Some people prefer to glue them
together. That would probably work fine.
Of course, I made sure all the screws
were drilled deep, with the heads level
with or slightly below the surface of the
wood, and I didn't use any where my feet
would be going. Again, the last thing you
want is to catch your foot on something
while you're lifting.

That gave me a platform that was 2.25
inches thick -- 3/4 of an inch of hard
rubber topped by 1.5 inches of plywood.

To finish it off, I laid two long strips
of 3/4 inch rubber gym matting on each
of the platform, where the plates of the
bar go. The strips are 8 ft. long and 2
feet wide. That leaves me a lifting area
that's 4 feet x 8 feet.

And that's how I did it. The whole thing
cost less than a hundred clams.

I made the platform about ten years ago,
and it's had plenty of hard use over the
years, but it's held up just fine. Of
course, Trudi and I are the only ones
who use it, and we're both good about
NOT dropping the weight to often. Actually,
she's better at it than I am. She NEVER
drops the bar -- but I do sometimes, like
if I miss a heavy lift. But those are rare,
and that's probably helped the platform hold

Still, if the platform were to need repairs
or replacement, it wouldn't take much in
time, clams or carpentry to get it fixed.

And I have to say this -- that 8 ft. x 8 ft.
platform is a GREAT place to train. In fact,
it's one of my favorite places in the
entire world.

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 have more tips for home gym training
in Strength, Muscle and Power -- and plenty
of great home gym workouts in all of my books,
including Chalk and Sweat:

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

P.S. 3. Thought for the day: "The place where
you stand and hold a barbell is one of the most
important places in the world." -- Brooks Kubik

Some Very Important Training Advice!

Hail to the Dinosaurs!

Let me begin with a story. A true

There was a kid who fell in love
with wrestling in junior high school.
He won the City championship for
7th and 8th graders two years in a
row, and the wrestling coaches were
looking for him when he started high

He went to a school with a great
wrestling program, and worked
like heck to become another of
the schools place-winners at the
state tournament.

His goal was to win the state
championship. And for his entire
high school career, he worked
tirelessly to achieve his dream.

He won the state championship
in Greco-Roman wrestling during
a summer tournament, and it looked
like he had a great shot at the
collefgiate style (or folk style)
title during his senior year of
high school.

But then -- disaster.

His right shoulder started to slip
slightly out of joint whenever his
shoulder or arm took a hard hit --
as in, for example, when he shot in
on a single leg take-down and his
opponent countered with an arm block.

He qualified for the state championship
in a bizarre match where his shoulder
got hurt in the first few seconds of
the match and he had to wrestle it --
and win it -- one armed.

He won in the final seconds with a
reversal, a quick turn, and three points
for a near fall -- all with one arm.
And against one of the toughest kids
in the state.

In the state tournament, he lost a close
match to the eventual champion, went into
wrestle-backs, and ended up finishing
third in state. Again, all with a bad

Now, third in state is pretty darn good.
But if his shoulder had held up, he might
have been number one.

And yes, you guessed right.

That kid was me.

How did he hurt his shoulder?

He hurt it in training. In the weight
room. Doing pullovers on the old Nautilus
Pullover Torso machine.

The range of motion on the machine was
too great. It pulled his shoulders a
little bit out of joint on every rep.
And over time, those excessive stretches
with weight resistance did the damage.

He also did lots of dips with extra weight
around his waist. Those probably didn't

Neither did the behind neck presses.

And yet, in performing those exercises, the
kid was following the advice of virtually
all the Iron Game writers of the era -- and
the coaches -- and he was doing what they
said to do in Peary Rader's old Iron Man
magazine, which was widely viewed as the
best source of unbiased, sensible advice
that you could find back then.

So here's the moral to the story:

The most important thing about your training

I learned the hard way that there are certain
exercises that just aren't worth doing -- by
anyone -- because the risks far outweigh the
benefits. I mentioned three of them in this
email -- machine pullovers, press behind neck,
and weighted dips.

There are others. I cover them in Gray Hair and
Black Iron. If you own a copy, dust it off and
reread the chapter on exercises to avoid. If you
don't already have a copy, grab one now.

If I had avoided the WRONG exercises -- the ones
that hurt my shoulder -- I might have achieved
my dream of winning the state title -- and I
might have avoided 40 years of sore shoulders.
Because yes, that right shoulder has bothered
me ever since. Still does. Actually aches a
bit right now as I type this.

So choose your exercises wisely. Train smart.
Always use perfect form on all of your exercises.
Train with deep focus and total concentration.
Use spotters when you need to use spotters.

And if something hurts -- if you feel a twinge
that says STOP -- then stop. And don't do it.
Find a substitute that doesn't hurt.

The shoulder (or knee, elbow, wrist, ankle or
lower back) that you save may be your own.

Yours in strength,

Brooks Kubik

P.S. Go here to grab a copy of Gray Hair and
Black Iron:

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

P.S. 3. Thought for the Day: "Train to build
your body, not to destroy it." -- Brooks Kubik

The Wrestling Workout!

Hail to the Dinosaurs!

In yesterday's post I gave you an
overview about off-season training
for wrestlers, and I promised to
give a specific training program.

So here it is.

Note that this is a good program
for any athlete, and a good program
for all-around strength and power.

Train 3x per week M/W/F or T/Th/

In each workout, do the following:

1. General warm-up, lifting specific
stretching and loosening up

2. Standing military press, push
press or jerk -- 5 x 3 progressively
heavier warm-ups followed by 3 x 3
or 3 x 2 work sets.

Note: Perform all warm-ups in letter
perfect form. On the work sets, strive
to use the same perfect form on each rep.
Working sets should be challenging, but
not so heavy that you miss reps or use
bad form to gut the weight up.

3. Any pulling exercise -- snatch or
clean grip high pulls, power snatch,
power clean, squat snatch or squat
clean. Same sets and reps as the
overhead work outlined above.

Note: Choose an exercise that you can
perform in good form. High pulls are
the easiest to learn. If you can do
power snatches or power cleans in
good form, you can use them for your
pulling work. If you know how to
perform squat style lifts, you can
do those. But whatever you do, make
sure you know how to perform the
exercise properly, safely and
effectively. See my point below
about coaching.

4. Olympic style full back squats or
front squats -- same sets and reps as
the overhead work and the pulls.

Note: Once again -- perfect form! No
rounded back, no gutting the weight
up, and no drop and bounce stuff.

5. Five super-sets of pushups and
pull-ups. Use any pushup variation
and any pull-up variation that you
prefer, and base your reps on the
difficulty of the exercises chosen.
See Dinosaur Bodyweight Training for
some great ideas on specialized pushups
and pull-ups.

6. Neck work with a head-strap -- 3 to 5
sets of 10 to 15 reps.

7. Gut work of your choice -- 3 sets of 10
to 15 reps (or do plank variations, working
up to one minute in each position)

8. Grip work of your choice unless you
hammered your grip with the pull-ups (e.g.,
with towel pull-ups, rope pull-ups or thick
bar pull-ups) -- 3 to five sets, with the
reps depending on the exercise. See Dinosaur
Training and Strength, Muscle and Power
for some good grip blasters:

If the program is too demanding and too tiring
when combined with your conditioning work and
your wrestling, then divide the exercises into
two different workouts and alternate them on
different lifting days. Do 1, 2, 3, 6 and 7
in one workout, and 1, 4, 5, 6 and 8 in the

The Light, Medium and Heavy system might work
well with this program.

As noted yesterday, be sure to wear Olympic
lifting shoes, and be sure you know how to
perform the exercises properly. A couple
of coaching sessions with an actual, honest
to goodness Olympic weightlifting coach would
be a great idea. You can find a coach in the
USA by going to the USA weightlifting website
and looking for the drop-downs with the listings
of local weightlifting clubs and the drop-downs
for the state chairman. If you live outside the
USA, contact your country's lifting federation.

There's another important point to cover --
several of them, in fact -- and they apply to
all athletes and all trainees. I'll keep the
series going for a few more days. Be looking
for tomorrow's email - it could save your
wrestling (or lifting) career.

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. For more strength and power workouts, see
Chalk and Sweat:

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

P.S. 3. Thought for the Day: "Everything I know,
I learned on a wrestling mat or with a barbell
in my hands." -- Brooks Kubik

Off Season Training for Wrestlers!

Hail to the Dinosaurs!

We just finished the end of the high
school and collegiate wrestling season,
and now I'm getting lots of letters and
emails asking about off-season training
programs for wrestlers.

So as a former wrestler, and long time
lifter, let me address the issue.

First and foremost, to be a good wrestler
you need to wrestle. The more mat time,
the better. So wrestling needs to be
part of your regular routine all year

Second, a wrestler's best hold is being
in great condition. To be a champion,
you need to be able to wrestle several
matches in one day -- all at full speed,
against top competition. And sooner or
later (or maybe often), you'll need to
win the match with an explosive move in
the very final seconds of action. That
takes great conditioning. So make
conditioning work a big part of your

Nothing beats running. Roadwork and
sprints, including hill sprints, are
great. Bodyweight work is also great
for both strength and conditioning.
See Dinosaur Bodyweight Training for

Your strength training should be based
on Olympic lifting and related exercises,
supplemented by some bodyweight work. Do
NOT do "bodybuilding." Muscle pumping is
silly for a wrestler, because the last
thing you want to do is "pump up" during
a hard match. And you don't want to do
isolation exercises. You want to train
like an athlete -- meaning, you want to
do total body exercises that teach you
to move with power, precision and

You'll want to train your neck and traps
extra hard. That means head-strap work
for the neck, along with the bridging
you do as part of your mat drills.

And you'll want to work your grip very,
very hard. A strong grip is one of your
best weapons on the mat.

As a brief aside, stay away from the
machines. They are useless for wrestlers.
I once saw a book that advocated a
wrestling workout where you did nothing
but machine training, and I wanted to
strangle the author. Any athlete who
followed the program would have been
doomed to second or third rate progress,
and that's not good if you're trying to
get into the best shape of your life to
make a serious run at a state or NCAA

But getting back to the exercises --
one of the best things you can do as
a wrestler is to get some one on one
coaching from someone who coaches Olympic
weightlifting. If you live in the USA, go
to the USA Weightlifting website and find
the drop-down that lists the LWC's -- local
weightlifting clubs -- and find a club close
to you and go over and get some coaching.

Olympic lifting is the best thing in the
world for wrestlers, but you need to do it
right. And since you don't have time to
make training mistakes -- not if your goal
is to win a championship before you
finish high school (or college), you
need to get some coaching in the lifts
from someone who really knows them --
and that means a USAW-certified coach.

And on a slightly related note -- wear OL
shoes when you lift. You need the shoes to
support your feet, and you need them to
perform the lifts with proper technique.
Wrestling shoes won't work, and neither
will going barefoot -- and neither will
those Chuck Taylors you own and love.

I'll give a sample wrestling workout
tomorrow, but I wanted to cover some
basic points -- and that's what we
just did.

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. For some great ideas on grip training,
grab a copy of Dinosaur Training:

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

P.S. 3. Thought for the Day: "Wrestling and
weightlifting go hand in hand." -- Brooks

10 Little Known Facts for Iron Game Fans!

Hail to the Dinosaurs!

I thought you'd enjoy 10 little known
facts from the ever elusive and always
interesting history of the grand and
glorious Iron Game. See how many of
these are new to you:

1. Health crusader Paul Bragg, the man
who invented the Health Food Store,
also invented deep dish pizza while
working at a small neighborhood deli
in Chicago. Bragg's original deep dish
pizza included nuts, sun-flower seeds,
protein powder and wheat germ.

2. Paul Anderson set a Heavyweight
World record in the tractor lift at the
Macon County Fair in 1953. Anderson had
a bit of an off day, but still managed
to press a John Deere tractor overhead
for six reps.

3. Bob Hoffman almost missed the 1948
Olympic Games (where he coached the
USA weightlifting team to victory)
because he took time off to go to
Warsaw, Poland to compete in the
World Polka Championships. Hoffman
managed a credible fifth place
against a field of international
Polka stars.

4. World Weightlifting Champion John
Davis doubled as a pro-wrestler when
he needed extra cash to travel to
lifting meets. Due to his great strength
and power, Davis wrestled as a one-man
tag-team, and did amazingly well, with
a six-year unbeaten streak from 1946
through 1952.

5. At the 1936 Olympic Games, John Grimek
represented the USA in weightlifting team.
But Grimek also represented the USA in
the the men's 100 yard freestyle in
swimming, when he filled in for an
ailing Johnny Weissmiller. Grimek might
have won the race, but he insisted on
wearing street shoes in the pool and
finished in fourth place.

6. A recent study rates New York cheesecake
as the healthiest of all foods. It's rating
is even higher when topped with fresh berries.

7. Another recent study has determined that
Dino style strength training is better for
you than chess, checkers and shuffleboard,
but burns less calories than tai chi and
table tennis. Curiously, the lead researcher
is a former table tennis champion.

8. Steve Stanko won the 1954 North American
Horse Shoe Throwing Championship with an epic
heave of 473 feet, 5 inches. Stanko modestly
credited his success in the event to barbell
training, clean living, and practice throws
with a small cannonball pilfered from the
war memorial in the York town square.

9. When Mr. America and Mr. Universe winner
Steve Reeves played Hercules in the movies,
he insisted on doing all of his own stunts,
including a scene in "Hercules Saves the
World" where he wrestled a 1200 pound
Kodiak grizzly. Moments after Reeves pinned
the grizzly, the massive beast body-slammed
the physique star, knocking him unconscious
for several minutes. Referee Cecille B.
DeMille disqualified the bear and barred
him from future films.

10. Although he set a World Record in the
lift that has never been matched even to
this day, Arthur Saxon disliked the bent
press and would only agree to perform it
in his strongman show if his contract
provided for three large slices of German
Chocolate Cake for lunch and dinner. Saxon
and his brothers ate so much chocolate
cake in the Fall of 1907 that they caused
the virtual collapse of the chocolate
industry as supplies dwindled to almost

There you go -- 10 little known facts from
Iron Game History! Brought to you straight
from Dino Headquarters on this grand and
glorious April 1!

Oops . . . I just gave it away, didn't I?

Yours in strength,

Brooks Kubik

P.S. Start the new month by grabbing a copy
of this little monster:

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

P.S. 3. Thought for the Day: "A smile adds more
weight to the bar than a frown." -- Brooks Kubik