The Bench Wonder of the World

James Henderson tells it like it is (his sweet haircut and shirt that says “BAAD” reaffirm this fact). He impressively preaches many lessons in the following video, and I’ll highlight some of them for you (you’ll appreciate them more if you watch the video, because Henderson is awesome).

Lesson 1: Light repetitions, heavy weights
You can’t get strong unless you lift heavy weights, yes. Heavier weights are necessary for structures to adapt and to neurologically get used to handling heavy weights. And light reps. Yeah c’mon.

Lesson 2: Thank you very much.
Be nice to everyone, even if you’re a big, imposing figure.

Lesson 3: Take your time, and do it right.
Be patient with strength training. Over time, you won’t need “all that fancy stuff like shirts and drugs”. It’s easy to say if you’re a massive human being, but exhaust solid training before reverting to other means.

Lesson 4: If you take shortcuts, you get short responses.
“We believe in workin’ for what you get, ya know, ain’t nothin’ gonna be givin’ to you.”

Lesson 5: “Why play with little change when you can go for the big dollars?”

Lesson 6: Be positive about your workout.
James requests 405 on the bar (to bench with), and says, “Gonna have a good workout today. A powerful workout.” There’s not doubt in his mind he’s gonna move some weight.

Lesson 7: Respect your warm-ups.
Watch James bench 405 for a few reps, then go back and watch him bench 225. They don’t look that different, and it’s because he reps out the light weights the same way that he’ll rep out the heavier weights. Respect your warm-up sets. At the very least you won’t expend any unneeded energy on lighter weights because of bad form, and you’ll establish solid motor pathways.

Lesson 8: Blow off some stress.
Training can be a sufficient outlet for stress. It’s probably preferable to murder.

Lesson 9: Call out your spotters.
If they aren’t doing their job, accuse them of being drunk.
(See 5:30 of the video. Might be the best part.)

Lesson 10: The Zone is a delicate place, and it requires good people and a good environment.
Pretty self explanatory. This is why there are a lot lifters who opt to train in their garage instead of the local fitness gyms.

Lesson 11: Speed.
Think speed on all of your lifts and it will make it feel faster, even on the heavier lifts. James did 500 for 6 reps while thinking “speed”, and THEN he bumped on up to 600 for a triple. His focus at 500 was to move the weight fast. Moving a weight fast will increase the number of muscle fibers that are innervated, so James is on the right track.

Lifting Vids

AC has been training with Taylor, a good friend that I used to pal around with when I was still in school. Taylor has pretty impressive pressing strength and bear-like features. I have heard stories of him cuddling a grizzly in its den because he “needed a soft warm body in those winter months”. I wasn’t shocked when he told me this.

A-way is his fiance and is in the top three funniest girls I know. She has surprising ferocity in her miniature stature, especially regarding her bear hug (it helps with Taylor). They are both the feature of another original AC film, and AC makes a deadlifting appearance at the end. Sweet song too.

T-Ray and A-way from A.C. on Vimeo.

In early June, Brent hit a PR Snatch at the WFAC in the midst of his powerlifting training.

Here’s a vid of Chris pulling 600 back in May (I think). He doesn’t get pumped at all, and that’s a rarity for him. I thought it was more impressive because he just walks up to the bar and pulls it (trust me, I know what he’s like when he’s amped).


PR Friday. Post any personal bests you may have hit this week into the comments.

If you wanna be the man, you gotta out-eat the man

“You mean I never told you the secret to gaining weight?”

The following is a write up by my friend Gant

This nugget comes from JM Blakely, a bench press specialist who was known for gaining and losing significant amounts of weight depending on where he was in his training cycle. He wrote several articles for Powerlifting USA, including “The Big Boy’s Menu Plan (reprinted here).

The article is gold. The summary: there are no hard gainers, only undisciplined eaters.

Blakely is specifically addressing bulking cycles for powerlifting. But anyone on the path to 70’s Big can can benefit from this knowledge. Make no mistake, eating for mass requires effort equal to that which you put into your training.

The mustache is good for another 10 pounds.

The mustache is good for another 10 pounds.

In a recent article article, Dave Tate tells how Blakely helped him over a mass plateau. Prepare to be inspired.

There was a time at the Old Westside gym where I couldn’t gain weight to save my fucking life.

There was this dude who trained there who could just put on weight like fucking magic. He’d go from 198 to 308 and then to 275 and back down to 198. And he was never fat. It was amazing.

I finally asked him one day how he did it.

“You mean I never told you the secret to gaining weight? Come outside and I’ll fill you in.”

Now remember, we’re at Westside Barbell. And this guy wants to go outside to talk so no one else can hear. Think about that for a minute. What the hell is he going to tell me? This must be some serious shit if we have to go outside, I thought.

So we get outside and he starts talking.

“For breakfast you need to eat four of those breakfast sandwiches from McDonalds. I don’t care which ones you get, but make sure to get four. Order four hash browns, too. Now grab two packs of mayonnaise and put them on the hash browns and then slip them into the sandwiches. Squish that shit down and eat. That’s your breakfast.”

At this point I’m thinking this guy is nuts. But he’s completely serious.

“For lunch you’re gonna eat Chinese food. Now I don’t want you eating that crappy stuff. You wanna get the stuff with MSG. None of that non-MSG bullshit. I don’t care what you eat but you have to sit down and eat for at least 45 minutes straight. You can’t let go of the fork. Eat until your eyes swell up and become slits and you start to look like the woman behind the counter.”

“For dinner you’re gonna order an extra-large pizza with everything on it. Literally everything. If you don’t like sardines, don’t put ’em on, but anything else that you like you have to load it on there. After you pay the delivery guy, I want you to take the pie to your coffee table, open that fucker up, and grab a bottle of oil. It can be olive oil, canola oil, whatever. Anything but motor oil. And I want you to pour that shit over the pie until half of the bottle is gone. Just soak the shit out of it.”

“Now before you lay into it, I want you to sit on your couch and just stare at that fucker. I want you to understand that that pizza right there is keeping you from your goals.”

This guy is in a zen-like state when he’s talking about this.

“Now you’re on the clock,” he continues. “After 20 minutes your brain is going to tell you you’re full. Don’t listen to that shit. You have to try and eat as much of the pizza as you can before that 20-minute mark. Double up pieces if you have to. I’m telling you now, you’re going to get three or four pieces in and you’re gonna want to quit. You fucking can’t quit. You have to sit on that couch until every piece is done.

And if you can’t finish it, don’t you ever come back to me and tell me you can’t gain weight. ’Cause I’m gonna tell you that you don’t give a fuck about getting bigger and you don’t care how much you lift!”

Did I do it? Hell yeah. Started the next day and did it for two months. Went from 260 pounds to 297 pounds. And I didn’t get much fatter. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life, though.

Follow the jump to watch Pisarenko in the clean and jerk portion of the 1982 World Championships.
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Equal Opportunity

See, women can do it too!

Women typically have a paranoid view of barbell training in that they think it will make them “bulky” or “big”. This is a typical misconception that forgets that women don’t produce the same levels of testosterone that men do. Furthermore, “bulky” is a meaningless subjective term that is relative to all of the underweight women scattered around television and magazines.

Women can and should barbell train. For the most part they adapt in the same way that males do, albeit slower. And to be honest, most girls, regardless of body composition, can stand to gain 10 to 20 pounds of muscle (the same way that most guys need to gain 30 to 50 pounds of muscle). It’s important to note that women will not achieve the status of 70’s Big (since that would be scary thing, indeed), but being stronger with more muscle mass improves the “toned” look that so many of them aim for.

In any case, even with all of these sterotypes and misconceptions, there are women who barbell train successfully. We have a few here at WFAC:


Shelley has squatted 180x5x3, but needs to eat more


Prior to breaking some ribs, Melissa deadlifted an easy 225x5

Follow the jump for more on Doug Young.

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