Part Two of HISTORY OF POWERLIFTING, WEIGHTLIFTING, AND
STRENGTH TRAINING NUMBER 114 began with the lines, “Hucksterism in powerlifting? The peddling of bullshit in the guise of legitimate training information? Enjoy a warm welcome to the media, advertising, and the Internet.” Briefly noting the fact that powerlifters, like all strength athletes are a prime target for purchasing “bullshit” products and information due to their dedication to what we must admit is a fringe sporting activity, annoyed some of our readers. However, as expected, it brought out many admissions and rather humorous accounts of “falling for the hype hook, line, and sinker.” Typical was this:
Ken- Really enjoyed this article. It was very timely for me since I
stopped taking all vitamins and supplements several weeks ago and
feel 100% better. It’s a long story, but my daughter sent me an
advance article from The University of Toronto that published last
week a 5 year study in the Journal of Science that studied various
vitamins and found zero benefit from taking them. I have been a big
vitamin and supplement user for about 40 years!! I used all of the
ones you mention- even the one about getting a huge dick- and had
talked myself into the idea that one day they will all work and that they
must have some residual benefit. I was completely wrong- too bad I
found out so late in life-I could have saved enough to go back to school for a Ph.D.!!! If one eats right, it’s all you need to be healthy ex your genetic makeup-anyway that’s my thinking right now.
This came from Steve Baldwin a former top-rated Memphis area lifter:
Thanks Ken – This month’s article is great! I love the photo of Bobby
Riggs! Stanley Warshak’s ads remind me of Dr. Charles “Roy”
Schroeder my teacher, academic advisor and great lifting friend from
1970 until his passing several years ago. Dr. Schroeder wrote a
dozen books that were used at the university level. I’m sending you
his satirical ad for a weight loss product from his book Fat IS Not A
Four Letter Word (see attachment). Dr. Schroeder was the 1958 Mr. St
Louis in bodybuilding, All-Service Boxing champion in the marines,
(He boxed Muhammad
Ali in an exhibition in Memphis), an expert juggler, unicyclist and
adagio/ballroom dancer. He also had a captain’s license and every
summer he sailed the Caribbean. In addition to teaching graduate
level exercise physiology and kinesiology he was also known as Bill
“Superfoot” Wallace’s early mentor. I used to tell him that he was a
“Master of all trades”. More important than any of that he was an all
around great guy and a dyed in the wool barbell enthusiast!! I’m
sending a second attachment of the cover of his boxing book. He
stayed that lean all the time!
Thanks again for sharing all the wonderful articles!
The untruthful solicitation for nutritional supplements has not stopped, there’s too much money involved but there are also a lot of powerlifters purchasing sure-fire, can’t miss, guaranteed to become stronger in weeks training programs across the Internet. This leads to two observations:
It’s important to figure things out for yourself to know what truly works and what doesn’t and as importantly to go through the process to find out who you are as you’re doing it.
No one knows you and what you will or do respond to as well as you do so if the training master is not in the room with you, how are you being monitored?
Part of the importance of dedicating oneself to a sport or “quest” is the self-learning process. When that quest is finished, will the self-learning process while never finished, be positively affected because of it? Unfortunately and with my admitted bias towards the younger generations showing, too many just want “the answer” or “an answer” and do not understand the benefits to be had by slugging it out with oneself in the gym environment. Seeking input and information is valuable and necessary but at some point, one must take responsibility for their own success or failure as a powerlifter.
I think I am a reasonably good coach because I view coaching as teaching and for a number of years I was a reasonably good teacher. Handed the responsibility of teaching and controlling a group of teens convicted of a range of violent felony crimes who were too mentally or emotionally unfit for the legal system and thus were remanded to the mental health system of the City of New York circa late 1960s, I was forced to be attentive, creative, patient, and persistent, all qualities I was weak and/or relatively inexperienced utilizing. The following August I moved to an all but abandoned high school Special Education program where the head administrator was on his way to prison for misappropriation of public funds and into a classroom where the teacher had not shown up since the previous Christmas vacation after being extorted for the use of his automobile and daily lunch money by his students! I was also asked to coach football in a school that was so basketball oriented that any athlete remotely interested in trying out for the basketball team, even with no obvious chance of making the squad, was not allowed to play football. I was successful because I learned to teach and came to realize that I was able to assist the training partners and other lifters I encountered who asked for advice because I did more than “write routines” for them, I taught. I will immediately admit that I have had success offering advice over the phone or via mail (and later e mail) to a number of world and national champions but I knew and/or had trained with most of these women and men, at least for a brief period of time, or knew them well personally. I have had a number of long time “long distance” lifting relationships where I have “coached” individuals to prestigious championships and world and national records but done with the understanding that it was almost impossible to do without being present to watch, analyze, know them better, know them in a personal manner, and criticize only after “seeing for myself.” In every case success came from the lifters’ willingness to work to their limits, not my coaching and in every case I allowed the lifter’s input to govern my primary decision making relative to the advice I gave. They still needed to figure out most of it for themselves.
Yet if one goes to the Internet, there are more than enough men and women present in bold advertising willing to sell to any lifter, of any level of experience and previous results “exactly what (they) need to climb the ladder of powerlifting success.” Yikes, really? One can send their goals, previous best contest and in-the-gym lifts (and who determined how legal those were?), a general statement about “usual dietary intake,” and the type of knee wraps or bench shirt they use and promise visions of vast improvement. If only I had known it was that simple, I could have doubled the number of world champions coached and had more than one small school state football championship to talk about. Like nutritional supplementation, powerlifting success is a lot more about hard work done on a consistent basis, the development of a true courage facing very heavy weights, and a willingness to learn from failure. These attributes do not come off of a computer spread sheet that dictates what one “should be lifting” by Week Three of a generalized program.
The specific program that sparked this entire discussion, now heading towards a Part Four was published in the July 1991 edition of POWERLIFTING USA MAGAZINE in my monthly “MORE FROM KEN LEISTNER” column. The varied responses received numbered into the hundreds so allow me to present it here and discuss it next month after our readers have had the opportunity to give it some thought. I will add that there is absolutely no charge for this program but “channeling” the late entertainer Soupy Sales, do allow me to add that “…your mother and dad are probably still sleeping and what I want you to do is tiptoe in their bedroom and go in your mom’s pocketbook and your dad’s pants, which are probably on the floor. You’ll see a lot of green pieces of paper with pictures of guys in beards. Put them in an envelope and send them to me at Soupy Sales, Channel 5, New York, New York. And you know what I’m going to send you? A post card from Puerto Rico!”
From the article in PLUSA, I wrote about World Champion, mentor, and friend Hugh Cassidy:
“A while ago I mentioned that Hugh Cassidy, one of the all time greats, trained as simply as one could. He usually trained two days per week doing a few heavy sets of the squat, bench press, and deadlift. His assistance work was limited to some neck and forearm work and little else. His garage gym was a safe haven from the rest of the world and also the site of his world championships preparation…Hardly high tech or complicated, although a lot of thought went into each and every one of Hugh’s programs as he tempered his body progressively in preparation for upcoming challenges.”
Is this a “brief” program? Is this a “beginner’s” program? Is this a program suited only for one utilizing anabolic drugs or a lifter who never utilized performance enhancing products?
Part Four to follow