Hail to the Dinosaurs!
When I was a kid, my favorite Iron Game
author was Bradley. J. Steiner. His work
appeared regularly in Strength and Health,
Muscular Development and Iron Man.
One of Steiner's classic series of articles
was a four-part opus titled, "The Essential
Exercises." It ran in Iron Man way back in
1969 or 1970.
For those of you who missed these articles
the first time around, here are Bradley J.
Steiner's "Essential Exercises." Note that
there aren't too many of them -- and that
they don't require much in the way of
equipment -- and they can be performed
in most home gym settings.
Yes, I said home gym. Steiner was
a home gym trainer, and believed that
it was best to train at home whenever
possible. At the time he wrote his four-
part series, he trained in an apartment
in Brooklyn -- using thick rubber pads
to keep from disturbing the neighbors
when he lowered the bar to the floor!
Arms and shoulders
1. Barbell curls (strict)
2. Dumbbell curls (standing, seated or lying
back on an incline bench)
3. Press behind neck (standing or
Note: This was Steiner's favorite shoulder
exercise, by far.
I did a lot of these when I was young - but
not now, at age 60. They're too hard on my
4. Military press (strict)
5. Dumbbell presses (both arms together
or alternate arm style)
Note: Steiner did not believe in doing direct
exercises for the triceps, such as french presses
or triceps extensions. He believed they put too
much stress on the elbow joints. he also believed
(as did John Grimek) that overhead presses in
strict form were the very best exercise for the
triceps. Steiner also believed that bench pressing
was a great exercise for the triceps.
1. Light breathing pullovers with dumbbells
(performed after squats, with light weights
and lots of deep breathing, solely as a way
to help expand the rib-cage)
2. Bench press (strict!)
3. Dumbbell incline press (strict and heavy)
1. Power cleans
Note: Steiner also liked high pulls.
2. Stiff-legged deadlifts
Note: this was Steiner's favorite exercise
for the low back.
3. The good morning exercise
4. Barbell bent-over rowing (strict!)
Note: This was Steiner's favorite
exercise for the upper back.
5. Dumbbell bent-over rowing (strict!)
6. Shoulder shrugs (barbell or
7. Bridging (for neck development)
Note: This was the first time I ever saw
anyone recommend neck training in a
Note: As you might imagine, Steiner believed
that squats were the single best exercise.
2. The straddle lift
Note: I think Steiner liked this exercise
because John Grimek did them. He was
a big Grimek fan.
3. Calf raises
1. Leg raises -- preferably with iron boots
2. Dumbbell side-bends
3. Sit-ups with weight resistance -- preferably
on a sit-up board
And that was it. A total of 21 exercises. In Steiner's
opinion, the 21 BEST exercises. The "Essential
You may or may not agree with Steiner's choices,
although you probably agree with many of them.
But I like the idea of picking THE BEST exercises
and building your training programs around them.
There are literally thousands of exercises to do, but
you only have so much time and energy -- so why
not focus on the very best movements?
By the way, the fact that Steiner selected 21
"Essential exercises" did not mean you were
supposed to do all 21. You might use only five
or six in any one training program. But that's
a topic for another day.
As always, thanks for reading and have a great
day. If you train today, make it a good one!
Yours in strength,
P.S. Gray Hair and Black Iron is must reading for
P.S. 2. My other books and courses are right here
at Dino Headquarters:
P.S. 3. Thought for the Day: "For best results,
focus your effort on the BEST exercises."
-- Brooks Kubik