Health Fitness

Jimmy, pass the chalk!

There has been a lot of talk in the high intensity training community and on HIT forums about abbreviated workouts; performing a training of one or two series. Hearing this for the first time, the layman who hasn’t been trained in HIT fashion would dismiss it as a ridiculous statement. I guarantee you that this type of training is nothing to write home about, if you understand the limited resources of the body and what it takes to stimulate strength and muscles.

In the last two days, I have had the pleasure of talking to two people, one from my bodybuilding past, a close friend, and one I recently met through a friend of a friend, who reminded me of the days of yore. , when I started with bodybuilding.

Alex, who is a high-energy presence at Nautilus Exercise Equipment, and I remembered the old hard-core gyms, where extremely strong men even by today’s standards would do crazy things before a set, because their psyche was so into it. your series. Alex talked about a gym called the BG gym… BG stands for Blood and Guts… where there are still holes in the wall next to the squat rack where one of these extremely strong men, after scoring and sniffing an ammonia capsule , he smashed his head through the wall, hit a stud and with his head bleeding he proceeded to squat with hundreds of pounds to exhaustion. How many sets like that do you think one could do? (without the bleed of course!)

I have flashbacks of an image floating around somewhere (maybe still) in upstate New York of a guy named Bill, on an electrical rack, military helmet on and shirt off, with a thousand pounds on his shoulders after doing half squats with him. . There were no hundred-pound plates in the gym, so observers attached 45-pound plates to closed collars to raise them to one thousand pounds. The bar bent around his shoulders. Crazy, right… only one set could be done, that’s all she wrote!

You can tell what I mean. After performing sets like this, how many more sets to failure do you think the body is capable of without using all the necessary resources to not only compensate but overcompensate for the exhaustive effects of training? Let me put it another way… how many 10 second exposures, one meter from the sun, can you take before your body disintegrates? Remember that exercise is just the stimulus; we grow muscle outside the gym!

As I was speaking with my close friend Jimmy last night, whom I grew up with, it was apparent that even today, many who train in gyms these days do not have a deep understanding of how muscle gains are made. Jimmy and I do though, and I’m going to share it!


Jimmy was an incredible athlete and still is. Years ago, when we were in our twenties, Jimmy and I used to train together in the same dungeon. I call it a dungeon because that’s what it looked like. There was no flashy equipment unless you call a plate loaded leg extension machine and a lateral pulley machine flashy. For us it was all about strength because we knew that strength was always followed by size. The stronger you get, the more muscular you will become.

Jimmy was 6’3″ and weighed 310-320 naturally, without drugs. Although what I’m about to tell you was not his normal routine, he sometimes enjoyed the change by working up to 400lbs to press behind the neck, 315lbs for barbell curls , 500 or 600 pounds for shrugs. But this wasn’t his main training, it’s not how he got to his incredible size and strength.


His main routine was the bench press, squat, row, and deadlift… just three exercises. He didn’t waste time on the little exercises that usually didn’t matter. At that time, we didn’t wear wristbands either, we used chalk! You know, hand chalk? Or you? It would always be, “Jimmy, pass the chalk!” before a heavy lift as it was all about grip strength and you are only as strong as your weakest ink!

As we talked last night, Jimmy shared a story. While he was deadlifting in his usual gym, another younger guy was deadlifting next to him, he was in his early twenties. Jimmy, his gentleman, offered his chalk to this young man before he did his deadlift set. The young man replied…”What is that?”

In the days of shiny wristbands and gear, elevator music in corporate gyms, and little noise or gym yelling or grunting before a set, I reflect a lot on what laid the foundation for our success. It was the basics! It was the desire and the mentality, that “no matter what” mentality! What we did worked. We trained with abbreviated routines, we trained for strength and our physique showed it. We ate well and weren’t worried about a little belly fat. Our motto was: “Don’t shrink your waist, widen your shoulders.” Because it’s the illusion in bodybuilding that makes the difference, which is why a man with the right symmetry and body type looks heavier than he normally is. Remember Dorian, his waist was said to be almost 40, but you would never know!


Mike Mentzer, still my bodybuilding hero to this day, years later validated what we already knew worked. Not because we thought of it the way Mike did, but because that’s the way Jimmy and I train as bodybuilders in a powerlifting gym! It was all about strength. We never worked; right up to our “working set” we call it. We hardly did anything but great exercises and we didn’t want to waste any energy. When we were still feeling tired when our next training was scheduled, we would go eat and not worry about it. We would come back stronger the next day.

Mike showed us why it worked so well. Mike established the true theory of High Intensity Training and with that theory he reasoned and experimented to the point of having no doubt that an abbreviated routine is the most productive step in reaching his muscular goals. I am very grateful for his work and his contribution to bodybuilding. I don’t think anyone so far has had such a profound effect on the bodybuilding community.


The next question is which exercises are the best. Well, with strength in mind, Paul Anderson, who is my strength hero, knew and understood that strength really comes from the legs and the back. So this is where the focus should be. The basics… squats, deadlifts, rows or high pulls and to top it off, a pushing movement on the order of a press, bench or dip. Where is the arm, shoulder and calf work you ask? There is no need. Believe me if you do it right, none is necessary. Both Jimmy and I, without doing any direct arm or shoulder work for months, experienced huge arms even by today’s standards. Jimmy recorded over 20 inches and mine 18 ¾ inches. Without curling for months, he could barbell curl 225 reps or more! My calves responded similarly, as did my shoulders with 275 pressure behind the neck without doing them!

I am currently experimenting with such a program and once I perfect it in the gym I will post it on my website, but in the meantime stick with the basics for best results.

Jimmy, pass the chalk! And the ammonia capsules! 🙂

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