Posted by in Dr Ken Leistner on May 1, 2018 Comments off

My daughter often will chide me about my inability to correctly note time. I can read a clock accurately. I may be Polish but I can “tell time” but admittedly have an inability to properly “sequence time.” Events of twenty years ago could have been two years or “not too long ago” in my reference of history. It frequently is necessary to think about the appropriate placement of an event or incident on a timeline, much like a doctoral student must sit and consider the exact wording of his or her dissertation. Especially coming off the top of my head, I am often “not close” in determining when something occurred. I attribute this obvious inability to having witnessed, lived through, survived, or been exposed to “too much stuff.”


I got in early with Mike Lambert and his POWERLIFTING USA MAGAZINE as did Kathy with her numerous photos. The best of the best in our sport began as an almost pocket-sized mimeographed collection of pages originating on a hand cranked machine in the basement of Mike’s parents’ home. These were stapled and mailed. At every improvement, going to a full sized magazine, publishing “real” photos instead of “off copies,” to glossies, to a color cover, and then to color throughout, we as a staff would celebrate and hope we could continue to move forward. Thanks to Mike and the support of his wife In Joo and family, and with everyone pitching in when it was time to sort, label, bag, and then literally carry into the post office to mail, it was a labor of love that literally “made the sport what it was.”

The November 1986 edition featured World PL Champion and great bodybuilder Bev Francis. One of the nicest individuals one could ever know, Bev at the time, lived but a few streets away from us and had trained under my supervision prior to her last World Championship due to a low back injury I was treating. She won, having nothing to do with any guidance or advice I offered but because of her willingness to train harder than anyone she competed against while ignoring pain, a true multi-sport champion. This unique photo was taken by Kathy by climbing to and lying across the supporting beams of our garage, and then aiming her camera directly down on Bev.

This proved to be one of our most popular covers for that time period and of course, indicates Mike’s willingness to do everything possible to give lifters an opportunity to be displayed at their best.

For those in our sport too young to remember, Mike Lambert’s POWERLIFTING USA MAGAZINE which began publication as a mimeographed group of pages in 1977, became and remained the bible, the lifeline, and the conveyer of news about our sport. There were, through the decades, imitators and those who made an honest but ultimately fruitless attempt to capture Mike’s audience but no one did it as well. Mike was a lifter and a lover of the sport. He was absolutely one of the most honest and nicest individuals one will ever meet in any area of endeavor and held his personal beliefs apart from both accurate reporting and doing what was best for powerlifting. That he was literate, creative, artistic, and had some sort of innate “knack” for knowing what his audience wanted, kept PLUSA as the literal voice and conscience of powerlifting until the cessation of publication in May of 2012. As Mike wrote at that time:

“After exactly 35 years, and about 1/2 billion pages of printed matter distributed, the May 2012 issue will be the last edition of POWERLIFTING USA magazine produced by Mike Lambert. We have been ‘bleeding out’ financially and the future outlook for print magazines is bleak. We consider the marketplace to be a democracy, and we recognize that consumers vote with their dollars. When financial support for a given venture starts to slip away, it’s like an election and–like it or not–you have to ‘leave office,’ which I accept. We are making arrangements to fulfill our obligation to our subscribers with another publication in our field. We will maintain our website and Facebook presence for the time being. Someone may come out of the woodwork with a great idea on how to continue POWERLIFTING USA in some way, and we will let you know if that happens.”

My wife Kathy and I were an integral part of the magazine, Kathy with her years’ worth of photos and meet reports, and the blessing Mike gave to me as an editor who had a monthly column and room for as many articles as I cared to write and publish in each issue. It was an honor to serve him and his family as well as provide the multitude of lifters (and it truly was a multitude as almost every competitive and “just in the gym” powerlifter I ever met during the years of publication did in fact subscribe) with the training information, contest results, and equipment and book reviews they benefitted from. I decided recently to review some of the material I had written and chanced upon my column in the July 1991 issue. Interestingly, I found the article to be germane to discussions I have recently had with a few lifters and topical because the information and questions it raises still applies to the sport. Needless to add, with my “time-telling issues” it is a discussion I could have had with the lifters in our present office or garage facility a week ago.

One of the plagues of the Internet remains the glut of information that can only be described as “bullshit.” I personally take advantage of utilizing e mail for communication because I can wander past the computer in the time between patients, glance at the screen and provide a rapid response to any pressing matter with a promise to proceed further later in the day if necessary. I rarely have time to utilize the telephone and don’t like to as during the work day, the process literally takes too long. I have never owned a cell phone thus e mail is quite effective for me. I write a monthly column for HELMET HUT related to football history, the evolution of football equipment, and any other football related topic that interests me in addition to seasonal histories and feature articles. My collection of books always comes first but the ability to search out information on the computer is a wonderful adjunct to my extensive library. The complaints that I recall hearing about the Internet exchange of information as early as the mid-1990s persists with too many self-proclaimed, pseudo, guru-like, money grabbing experts spewing their opinions and wares to what truly is an unaware or willing to be led by the nose audience. One of the most important, exciting, and rewarding aspects of powerlifting is what one learns

The great Bill Pearl in front of his gym in Inglewood, CA. The gym began as George Redpath’s creation, was purchased and nurtured by Bill, and became a haven not only for those talented bodybuilders who wanted to follow in Bill’s footsteps, but also for a great group of powerlifters. I served as one of Bill’s 5 AM training partners for a brief time in the 1960s but was enthralled with the strength exploits of Pat Casey who became a close friend for decades, Mike Barnett, and some of the exceptionally powerful bodybuilders and track & field athletes that trained in this iconic location

about themselves by going through the process of training. The process includes figuring out what works and what doesn’t work for any specific individual. “What works” emotionally is just as important as what works physically and experimenting, tinkering, trying, and forming one’s own approach and philosophy can be as important to one’s overall lifting success and that extended to other areas of endeavor, as one’s ultimate total.

Seeking out an Internet expert or “final solution” adds nothing to the process. We all wish to progress but the self-discovery aspect of the process has been lost as never before. That so much of the Internet information should stimulate the response “you’ve got to be shitting me” due to its blatant stupidity, lack of scientific logic, divorce from any type of true or realistic powerlifting success others have had through decades of proof, emphasizes the point that many just will not think for themselves or take on the task of working as hard as possible while figuring things out for themselves. The age-old question of “Which routine, which approach, or which training philosophy works best or best for me?” is often not even a matter of consideration for the typical lifter, not when they can look something up on the computer and “devote” an entire four weeks to the program.

The specific question at hand emanates from the July 1991 edition of POWERLIFTING USA MAGAZINE for those who have wisely kept their lifting library intact and the question persists to this day, the “Rubic’s Cube” of consideration remains and that will be the discussion for Part 2.


PART Two Next Month