Strength targets

4.43 Male hard gainers who build to being able to squat 400 pounds, bench press 300 and deadlift 500 for single lifts in good form are much more impressive, relative to the genetic material being worked with, than are the easy-gaining elite.

4.44 ^e 400, 300 and 500 numbers, for a man of 59" and a solid 190 pounds or so, roughly translate to a 16-inch arm and 45-inch chest, with other girths in proportion. Percentage wise, and relative to bodyweight, these 400, 300 and 500 numbers roughly translate to 200% squatting, 150% bench pressing, and 250% deadlifting. And 100% bodyweight for overhead barbell pressing can be included too.

4.45 Once you can strictly press a barbell weighing the equivalent of your body-weight overhead, you will be a better presser than 99% of all weight trainees (including many big bodybuilders). Generally speaking, the press is a neglected exercise. Pressing overhead at least your bodyweight should be one of your most prized targets.

4.46 Successful hard gainers provide down-to-earth and practical examples of how typical people with busy lives should train. ^ough modest when compared to the huge men, a muscular 16-inch arm, 45-inch chest and other girths to match—assuming you are lean enough to see your abdominal lines—is enough to set you apart from over 95% of the members of almost any gym anywhere in the world. ^at is some going, though it will not win you a Mr. Universe title. With such a development, however, you could have placed very high in national bodybuilding competition back in the pre-ste-

roid days. Take a look at bodybuilding magazines from the forties and fifties, and see for yourself.

4.47 With the link between exercise poundages and muscular girths being so strong, here are some guidelines—but not definitive numbers—for the sort of weights you need to be lifting if you aim to get to 16-inch arms and corresponding girths. But the strength-to-girths relationship is not uniform among all individuals. Some people need to get considerably stronger than others to develop the same muscular girths. ^e following guidelines assume a controlled (no cheating!) training style, and no use of powerlifting support gear. ^ey include a short pause for a breath or few between reps, especially during the final stage of a set. But this group of mostly core exercises is not suitable for a single training routine for a hard gainer—there are too many exercises here for productive use in any single routine.

Regular squat to parallel: 300 lbs x 20 (and 400 x 1)

Bent-legged deadlift: 385 x 15 (and 500 x 1)

Stiff-legged deadlift from the floor: 300 x 10

Parallel bar dip: (bodyweight plus 100) x 6

Overhead press: 175 x 6

Pulldown: 240 x 6

Chin: (bodyweight plus 50-60) x 6

One-arm dumbbell row: 110 x 6

Barbell curl: 120 x 6

Shoulder-width bench press: 220 x 6

Single-leg calf raise: 20 reps with a 60-lb 'bell

4.48 When you make it to these strength levels, focus on the next 5%, and then the next 5%, and then the next—for as long as you want to keep growing.

4.49 Some of you will get to the target girths without having to get as strong as the performances just given, but others will need to get stronger. Either way the connection between muscular size and strength will be clear.

4.50 ^e given poundages will seem modest relative to the mighty weights that some of the elite men can lift. But do not knock this "modest" strength level. How many drug-free men where you train can move these poundages?

Refining the 300-400-500

4.51 Few people slot neatly into the 300-400-500 threesome that is specifically targeted at the male, experienced, very-well-trained and successful hard gainer who is about 59" and 190 pounds. Height, bodyweight, age, gender, limb lengths relative to torso length, knee-to-ankle (tibia and fibula) length relative to knee-to-pelvis (femur) length, elbow-to-wrist (radius and ulna) length relative to elbow-to-shoulder (humerus) length, muscle composition and belly lengths, type of training, posture and neurological efficiency, among other factors, influence how one body will respond relative to another, even if all variables that can be controlled are kept constant.

4.52 As an example, while the 300-400-500 trio is a proportionate representation of many well-trained men's strength, some body structures produce different proportions. A long-limbed person will likely have a deadlift proportionately ahead of the squat and bench. A short-limbed person would likely have deadlift strength proportionately weaker than the bench and squat, even assuming the same level of application to the three exercises.

4.53 Next time you are in a crowd of people, scrutinize the great variety of interpretations of the human form. We are all basically the same, but the range of variation is vast.

4.54 To give you poundage targets that take into account age and bodyweight, and thus to some degree height, here are more figures, again based on the squat, bench press and deadlift threesome. ^e three powerlifts are used because there are lots of published figures on them.

4.55 ^e figures are loosely based on sampling from powerlifting meets that had at least some threat of limited drug testing. ^e highest level of performance was ignored because such performance necessitates exceptional genetics or serious drug assistance. ^e figures were further modified because they are based on contest lifting.

4.56 ^e figures are based on competition powerlifting, e.g., bench pressing with a pause at the chest and with buttocks touching the bench throughout the lift, and squatting to parallel. Compare yourself based on the same technique criteria.

4.57 Powerlifting contests permit the use of support gear (belt, squat suit, squat briefs, knee wraps, and bench shirt) which inflate the squat and bench press poundages. ^e deadlift does not usually benefit heavily from assistance gear used in powerlifting meets (though it can for some lifters, especially the sumo style).

4.58 You should always train without support gear—other than perhaps a belt for squatting, deadlifting and overhead pressing, and possibly very prudent use of wrist straps if you are performing very heavy partial pulling exercises. ^e exception is if you are a powerlifter getting ready for a contest, when you must get used to using support gear.

4.59 With no support gear other than a belt, most people who train the deadlift and squat seriously will deadlift more than they squat. But in meet conditions and using squat support gear, some of them will squat about the same as they deadlift, or even squat more. A contributing factor here is that the squat is done first and the deadlift last. ^is favors the squat performance.

4.60 Different lifters benefit to varying degrees from support gear, according to the size of lifters, quality of paraphernalia, and how well it is used. Typically, 20-40 pounds on the bench press and 60-100 on the squat is the sort of help the gear can provide. ^e figures that follow assume no support gear other than a belt, and have been adjusted to a multiple of 25 pounds.

4.61 ^ese figures are totals that do not specify the three individual component lifts. Breaking the totals into individual lifts is something you can do yourself. Consider the 300-400-500 threesome. ^e total is 1,200 pounds and the proportion for the bench press is 25%. For the squat, it comes to 33.33%, and the deadlift gets the balance of 41.66%. Make it a threesome of 25%, 35% and 40% for round figures.

4.62 ^is composition breakdown may or may not tally with your relative strength levels. Assuming you have trained each exercise equally seriously, consistently and intensively (which very few people do, usually because they prefer the bench press to the other two movements) you can calculate your own relative strength proportions. If you have not trained each of the exercises with equal seriousness and application for a number of years, then you must do this before you can accurately work out your relative strength levels.

4.63 Taking the proportions that reflect your actual relative strengths for each lift, or using the 25%-35%-40% estimation if you have no precise figures for yourself, you can calculate the breakdown of the three lifts for whichever bodyweight and age category you are considering, or targeting.

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