John Christy "lost" articles

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Tom K
Posts: 198
Joined: Fri Jun 02, 2017 12:17 am

John Christy "lost" articles

Post by Tom K » Sat Sep 30, 2017 3:55 pm

Update :10/05/2020 the complete ebook is available on page 4

John Christy, one of the hardgainer authors died at a young age. Most of his articles are available from the Hardgainer magazine still sold.

I found he self published a book called "Real strength real muscle". It is now very very rare, and contains many articles that were never published in hardgainer magazine. I really like his style of writing- and one of my hobbies is to try to find and preserve rare, more importantly useful-drug free knowledge.

So I have a friend in the USA who owns the book, and he is kindly sending me photographs of the pages that never got published in hardgainer. It is my job to transcribe them to keep these from slipping away.

This site does not allow me to upload the articles as pdf or word files, so I will post them here. I hope you can enjoy these.

Please note that these have been transcribed in my spare time- which is limited- so there maybe some errors and spelling mistakes. But the bulk of the message should be able to get across. Personally, I hope to be able to compile the book digitally myself- I will not be able to release it as Stuart still sells Hardgainer, but for those who own hardgainer already, here are the missing articles from the book.

"Bad shoulders and benching, Warmups and aerobics"
Bad Shoulders & Benching, Warm-ups, and Aerobics

In this issue I want to hit a variety of topics that have been brought to my attention

Shoulders and the bench press

This morning I dealt with another trainee who’s having severe shoulder pain due to a specific bench pressing technique. This technique involves “pulling" the bar towards the face once it leaves the chest. The bar then travels “up and back" till it ends up over the eyes. This technique causes many shoulder problems particularly because of the bar being pushed back to a position where the arms are locked out above the eyes. I am vehemently against this practice. This exposes the shoulder, and upper back musculature, and other soft and hard tissues to “unhealthy" severe stress which can cause a multitude of chronic and acute injuries. The bar should not end up any further back than a position directly above the shoulder joint.

There are very few trainees that I am aware of who do bench press this way and experience no problems. These trainees belong in that rare group of people who can get away with using an otherwise dangerous training technique.

The bar pathway I recommend is a natural one. I have my trainees lower the bar to where the bottom of the pecs and top of the abs meet. This is a point about one inch below the nipple. From this point I just have the trainee simply push the bar back up. The body is very efficient-it will find the pathway that is the most productive and the safest-as long as it is allowed to do this. If a trainee is instructed to push the bar in a certain way (that is not natural) their bodies natural abilities will be thwarted and they will end up “teaching” their body an improper way to perform the exercise. I’m not saying that everyone starts out with the best bar path and doesn't need instruction. But in most cases, if a trainee is not “over-coached”. his body will naturally find the optimal path. This path will vary a little with every trainee but when viewed from the side the bar will start moving horizontally back towards the upper chest once it leaves the chest-but it is not abrupt. It will move back slowly during the entire length of the ascent (as the bar is moving vertically). It will do this on its own you don’t have to consciously make this happen as some unknowing (or think they know it-all) coaches advise. The bar will end up somewhere between the upper chest and straight up from the shoulder joint. This path greatly reduces the risk of injury to any of the shoulder and upper back tissues and will also give you the greatest leverage to lift the heaviest weights possible.

Selecting Warm-up weights

The selection of warm-up poundage's is not as important for “warming you up” as it is for the progressive recruitment of more and more muscle fibres leading up to the “live" sets. Performing aerobic work for 5-10 minutes before your workout Will warm you up in a general fashion. Follow this with some mild stretching and you will be ready to go. For a general recommendation I would suggest the following scheme for your warm-up sets.

60% for 5 reps

80% for 5 reps

90% for 1-2 reps

The percentages are of your “live” weight for the day. You should rest 2 minutes between the 60% and 80% sets (more if you need it-don’t get worn out), and 34 minutes between the 80% and 90% sets. Then rest 3-4 minutes and hit the live sets. These are general recommendations. Some trainees may need more warm-up sets and or a lighter starting set. Generally, advanced trainees will need more warm-up sets because the weights that they use on the live sets are much heavier relative to a beginner. Beginning trainees need a lighter set at the start performed for higher reps (50% for 10 to 15 reps) to allow for more motor skill work (practice) to help with technique development. As with everything else in the iron game, every trainee is different. Start with what I’ve recommended and let experience teach you what to do. A very important point is that you don’t wear yourself out on the warm-up sets.

My personal scheme is to perform only 5 reps with the first warm-up, then only 1 or 2 reps per warm-up set after that. I try not to waste any energy (glycogen and my creatine phosphate stores). My goal is to allow my nervous system to get adjusted to the heavier and heavier weights. Also, the last warm-up of 90% doesn’t always get me “close enough” to my live weight. On my bigger exercises, that 90% may be some 50 pounds or more from my live weight. My experience has taught me that 50 pounds is too big a jump going into the live set. So I’ve adjusted the above percentages to make them feel right to me. For instance, my Iast warm up for the squat and deadlift has to be Within 30 pounds of the live weight. For the bench press I need to be Within 20 pounds. For overhead work and arm work I need to be Within 10 pounds. I‘ve shared this With you just to show you how the general recommendations need to be fine tuned by experience. If you've been doing lots of reps on your warm-up sets. try cutting back. and watch how much more energy you have for the live sets. For more information please read the article Warm up Sets aren't Supposed to “Warm You Up".

High-intensity Aerobic work

There’s been a lot of talk lately about “high intensity” or “interval” aerobic training being superior to “traditional" (low to mid-level) aerobic training. To shed some light on this topic we need to define the various levels of intensity as applicable to aerobic training and what their energy requirements are.

There are primarily three types:

1. Low-level Aerobics are performed at 50-65% of the trainee’s maximum heart rate for long durations (one hour or more). The primary fuel used at this aerobic level is fat which supplies up to 90% of the energy used. The other 10% is from glycogen and protein. Unless the trainee is completely de-conditioned (out of shape), this level of training provides only a slight cardiorespiratory effect.

2. Mid-level aerobics are performed at 70-85% of the maximum heart rate for moderate durations of 20-40 minutes. About 50% of the fuel contribution is from glycogen; about 45% from fat and 5% is from protein. Mid-level aerobics provide a very thorough cardiorespiratory workout. This is the aerobic zone that most trainees equate with aerobic training.

3. High-intensity aerobics are performed at 90% and above of the maximum heart rate. They are usually performed as “intervals”. Interval training is where the trainee runs at a low-to mid-level pace and then bursts into 1~3 minutes at a high-intensity level, and then settles back to the previous level. About 90% of the energy contribution comes from glycogen, and 10% from fat and protein. This type of training is used to greatly increase one’s aerobic capacity, or what is known as their V02 max.

We prescribe this level of training for our competitive aerobic athletes such as distance runners, triathletes, and middle to long distance swimmers to name a few. These athletes are trying to increase their speed over long distances. We also use a form of this (sprints with short rest intervals) for our athletes who are involved in a sport that requires anaerobic conditioning such as football and hockey. The name “high intensity" aerobics Is actually a misnomer. ’l his level of training is more accurate termed “anaerobic conditioning". lf the trainee can only maintain this intensity level for about 30 seconds at the most before lactic acid “shuts them down." At this point the trainee must either slow the pace or stop.

A simple way to estimate your maximum heart rate is to subtract your age from the number 220 and then multiply by the desired percentage. For instance, to determine the 50% training heart rate for a 20-year-old you would take 220 minus 20 = 200 Then 200 multiplied by 50% = 100 beats per minute. This 16 known as the “straight line” method. For more Information on conditioning please read the articles Complete Conditioning Parts I and 11.

Now, let's get back to our original thought that high-intensity aerobics burn more fat than the other forms of aerobic training. When you look at it from a fuel (fat. glycogen, or protein) consumption standpoint, the answer is a resounding “no”, at least not while you are actually performing the exercise. High-intensity aerobics use glycogen as the primary fuel, and will only create a fat-loss state if the trainee doesn’t consume many carbohydrates after the workout. In this case the body would be forced to try to convert part of the fat molecule to glycogen. For fat loss while consuming a balanced or calorically dense diet, the best bet is low-level to mid-level aerobic training. To determine what is best you need to look at its-like anything else-from the standpoint of your overall goals.

Your goals should determine your type of training, duration, frequency and intensity. If you're trying to gain a lot of muscle tissue, while minimizing fat gain, low-level aerobics with limited bouts of mid-level aerobics should be your choice. High-intensity aerobics would be out (even if they do burn more fat after the session) because you would be depleting your glycogen stores performing the aerobic work when instead, you need to be using them for your weight training workouts.

If you absolutely want to perform this high level of aerobic work (or if your sport requires it), you may have to sacrifice one of your lower-body weight training sessions per week because again, this level of training will deplete the glycogen stores similar to a weight-training session. Over the long haul, most trainees’ legs (and bodies) wouldn’t recover if you weight trained your legs twice per week and performed high-intensity aerobics or anaerobic conditioning twice per week too. This is the general rule; there are exceptions if the trainee or coach knows how to regulate the frequency and volume of lower-body training. For instance if a trainee is performing two lower body weight workouts per week and wants needs to perform two high-intensity or anaerobic sessions per week he should regulate the volume of the weight training sessions to allow for maximum recovery. This is accomplished by performing one of the workouts at a regular volume (3 to 5 sets} and the other at a lower volume (1 to 2 sets), This second lower volume workout could be preceded by the second anaerobic session to allow for maximum recovery. In other words hr could perform sprints and then hit the weight room for a set or two of squats

Here’s a program for the trainee who’s interested in gaining muscle tissue while minimizing (or even losing bodyfat. Hit the weights twice per week in a brief, progressive program. Perform low-level aerobic training two to three times per week, building up to one hour in duration. One of these aerobic sessions could he a midlevel session (for cardiorespiratory conditioning) as long as it’s worked into slowly. This session would need to be inserted into the training week as far away from the weight training sessions as possible; for instance, if you weight train on Tuesday and Friday, hit the mid-level aerobics on Sunday. The low-level aerobics can be inserted almost anywhere because they don’t tax the body systemically, and they don’t drain your glycogen stores. If adding the mid-level session is too much, then instead you could perform some mid level aerobics as intervals along with one of the low level sessions. It all comes down to your overall goal as to which level of aerobic conditioning you choose. Don’t get caught up on the latest craze that hits the gym scene. There really hasn’t been anything new in strength training, muscle building, or aerobic conditioning in the last 50 years. Most trainees are always looking for a gimmick. Most of these gimmicks don’t work. Stick with the basics. Regardless of their goals, everyone needs to take care of their health first. To do this you need to get stronger, get your heart and lungs in good shape, develop a good level of mobility around all major joints, and eat a healthy diet. To all you aspiring athletes reading this, you can be highly successful in your sport and accomplish all of the above. You don’t have to sacrifice your health to do well at your sport.

Again and again

You may be getting tired of hearing it, but here it goes again, because one of the purposes of my writing is to keep you on track with your training. Are you stronger now than six months ago? If you’re not, your training isn’t working. Have you been wasting your time jumping from one program to another? Are you disciplined enough to get your meals in? Are you staying up too late at night? Has greed got you to add weight to the bar in such large increments that you’re “heaving and bouncing” the barbell instead of lifting and lowering it? Think about it. Make the decision to do things right. Start now! So when I ask "the question” again you can say, “Heck, John, l am stronger-my training is working!”
Last edited by Tom K on Sun May 10, 2020 9:17 am, edited 2 times in total.

Tom K
Posts: 198
Joined: Fri Jun 02, 2017 12:17 am

Re: John Christy "lost" articles

Post by Tom K » Sat Sep 30, 2017 3:56 pm

"The long cycle"
The Long Cycle

Simple Periodization for the Beginner to Intermediate Trainee

The program philosophy presented in this article is one of the absolute best ways for a beginner to intermediate trainee to dramatically increase their strength and size in a relatively short period of time. Now, when I say “short period of time" I'm referring to the real world not fantasyland. “Short” in the real world is at least one year of training time. In fantasyland, where most of the steroid users, clever marketers and arm-chair theoreticians hang-out, you’ll get promised 20 pounds of ‘rock solid’ muscle in a week-what a joke! Using what is presented below I’ve transformed trainees within a couple of years to the point where it is routine for them to be accused of steroid use.

Periodization Defined

So, what is periodization anyway? By definition it is a process of structuring training into phases. I know that to most trainees it seems like some mystical formula shrouded in the language of the old Soviet Union; that it is pretty complicated stuff. But, in actuality, it is quite simple. And that’s what I’m going to do in this article-explain how to make it simple.

The essence of periodization, also known as ‘cycling’ is to build up the workouts so that a trainee is training hard for a period of time and then to purposely ‘back-off’ by training relatively easier, so that the trainee can recover and super compensate from the previous period of hard training. After the back-off period the body is fully recovered, stronger, and ready to start another period of building up, training hard, and then backing off again. This cycling of training has been proven over and over again to be superior to just training as hard as you can all the time.

There are a multitude of interpretations of periodization-most of which would make a mathematics PhD shudder. Now, there may come a time when a trainee may need to get more sophisticated, but only when they‘ve achieved an advanced level of strength and development. Also, I believe that having ‘preset’ dates for the ‘back, Off" (regeneration) training period(s); as is the case in the standard periodization model, aren't as productive for the beginner to intermediate level trainee as letting the body dictate when it's time to back-off. Now, you may be thinking that such an instinctive type of setup would be reserved for the advanced trainee but it is just the opposite. And it’s not so much ‘instinctive’ as it is simply letting the body dictate when these periods are to occur. Yeah, you can start a beginner trainee out on a routine that has preset back-off weeks but I feel you’ll be cutting the results short verses letting the body dictate when this is necessary.

For instance one method of periodization has the trainee hitting it hard for three Weeks with the fourth week designated as the back-off week. But, what if the trainee is still going strong at the end of week three? And what if the trainee keeps going strong for 12 weeks? If you’d have followed the typical formula presented above (where you back-off in week four), you would have lost three weeks of progress in that 12 week period. Now extrapolate this over a one year period, and it becomes very evident of the time ‘lost’ to backing-off essentially one week every month. Understand that I am not against backing-off; I‘m for it, but only when it is necessary.

My plan has the trainee going hard until the body dictates that it has plateaued Experience gained through over 60,000 hours of hands-on instruction has taught me that a beginner to intermediate trainee can go at least six months before a back-off and rebuild is necessary.

Keep in mind that I’m talking about beginner to intermediate trainees here-not advanced trainees. The beginner to intermediate especially if substantial muscle mass gain is a goal, and the necessary caloric intake to accomplish this goal is being met-can ‘go’ a lot longer then an advanced trainee before hitting a plateau. The main reason for this is that the nervous system of a beginner isn’t as developed as an advanced trainee. Therefore, it doesn’t adapt and then plateau as fast. Also, the beginner has much more room for improvement versus an advanced trainee who is pushing his genetic limits and may not want to gain substantial bodyweight.

The Plan

Here’s how I do it. The trainees experience and goals will dictate the rep goal that I’ll start them out at. But for this example let’s say that I’ll start a trainee out using sets of 12 reps on all the big movements (squats, deadlifts, bench pressing, overhead pressing, rowing or chins or pulldowns, barbell curls, close grip bench or dips etc,

With”) about Four to six weeks the training gets to the proper level of effort (with one rep left before failure and l start Micro loading (see chart below) as the means of progression to allow the trainee to ‘ride' this rep target as long as possible. If the trainee is eating properly, progression will continue for three to six months using a rep target of 12 reps

Exercise Rate of Progression
Squat 2 1/2 lbs per week
Deadlift(bent-knee) 2 1/2 lbs per week
Power Clean 2 ‘/2 lbs per week
Stiff-leg deadlift 1 to 2 1/2 lb per week
Bench press (all forms), Dips 1 to 2 lb per week
Row, Pulldown, Chin 1 to 2 lb per week
Shoulder press 1/2 to 1 lb per week
Barbell curl 1/2 to 1 lb per week
Pushdown 1/2 to 1 lb per week
Close grip bench press ‘1/2 to 1 lb per week
Grip, Forearm work 1/2 to 1 lb per week
Crunch, Situp, Leg raises 1/2 to 1 lb per week
Rotator cuff work 1/2 lb every four weeks
Neck flexion and extension (neck strap) 1/6 lb per week
Standing calf work (barbell, machine) 1 to 2 lbs per week
Single leg calf work 1/2 to 1 lb per week (dumbbell held in one hand)
Back extension (45 degree, horizontal) 1/2 to 1 lb per week
Sidebend 1 lb per week

On this type of training program these increments provide the ‘right’ loading-or stating it another way-the right ‘dose’ of iron. This will allow the trainee to continue to make their rep target from workout to workout for a LONG period of time, especially when the rep target is reduced to 6 reps and below and especially when the trainee is gaining weight.

When the trainee fails to make the rep target (12 in the example above) I’ll have him repeat the weight for a couple of workouts. If he still can’t complete the 3 sets of 12 then it’s time to back-off and rebuild. Now, the way that I do this is different than what is normally prescribed in traditional periodization models.
Traditional periodization has the trainee reduce that top weight substantially (by up to 20%) for a week and then either jump right back to using their top weight again the following week, or taking an additional week to ‘climb’ back up to than previous top weights. Then, hopefully the trainee will go beyond the top weight that they were handling for the 12 reps during the next two weeks. This process does work, but us I said for beginner to intermediate level trainees I feel there is a better way. Now for you periodization aficionados don’t get your underwear all twisted by, the explanation I just gave. I KNOW that what I presented is an oversimplification but it is way beyond the purpose of‘ this piece (which is to make things simple to break down every nuance of the various loading parameters (wave, step, linear, non~ linear, conjugated, yada, yada, yada) that are used in various periodization formats‘

So Instead of dropping the weight what I’ll do is have the trainee actually increase the weight by the prescribed dose (say 2 '/2 lb. on the squat) BUT drop the rep target to 8 reps. This will give the trainee a couple of weeks of less intense training and then the training will climb to the proper level again. What is different, and great, about this is that the trainee continues to ‘feel’ the weight that had become a maximum effort to make the 12 reps-but now only does 8 reps. Without going into scientific detail I feel the nervous system doesn’t get ‘detrained’ as much using this method as when following other periodization models that have the trainee drop the weight. Here’s the other thing that’s great-the trainee gets quite a confidence boost because what was a weight that was very difficult for 12 reps is now performed for a strong 8 reps, and With additional weight on the bar. This confidence continues to grow as the weight mounts on the bar over the next several months till it starts to become very difficult again. Then I'll have the trainee ‘ride’ this rep target by continuing to Micro-load for as long as possible, and then I’ll drop the rep target again-in this case to 5 reps, and the entire process is repeated. The 5’s are a magical number (actually a weight that is roughly 80 85% of a one rep max)-I’ll explain what I mean by ‘magical’ sometime in a future article. For you must understand that working at 5 reps builds the maximum amount of functional muscle mass. I’ve had trainees utilize 5 reps as the rep target for up to a year before they’ll need to make the next drop to 3 reps. Once the 3’s ‘dry-up’ there are several ways I recommend the trainee to go dependant on their goals. I may go to program based on using sets of single reps followed by a backoff-set of 8 repetitions, I may have the trainee go back to the 5’s again. It just depends on the particular circumstances of the individual. This entire process takes anywhere from two to three years. Not very fancy, but hey it sure brings home the bacon, literally transforming the trainee into someone who is not recognized by family and friends.

After the above process has been completed, the trainee has gained so much muscle and increased their strength to a level that puts them in the intermediate to advanced trainee category. From here I’ll generally (once again depending on the trainee’s new goals) start ‘cycling’ the rep goal over a three to six week macrocycle. Using the example of a three week macrocycle; in week one the trainee will perform 3 sets of 8 reps. week two it’ll be 3 sets of 5 reps, week three the trainee will perform 3 to 5 sets m" 3 reps. Then the entire process will be repeated with the addition of a small dose 01" iron to each Weeks’ load. This process can go on for another year. Using the ("'00th that I’ve just explained, trainees under my guidance have put on up to 80 pounds of solid bodyweight and achieved national rankings in drug free, ‘raw’ powerlifting.

Program Design

It’s beyond the scope of this article to get into the details of program design as this topic can get very big and confusing. To get detailed information on how to set up a training program read the article Designing Your Training Program. What I’m going to do here is present two templates that I have had tremendous success with. One is performed two times per week the other three times per week.

Performed two times per week (i.e. Monday and Thursday):

Day one

1. Crunch 1 x 5-20 (choose a ‘fixed’ rep target between 5 and 20 reps) 2. Squat 2-5 x 5-15

3. Stiff-legged deadlift or back extension 1 x 10~15

4. Bench press 2-5 x 5-15

5. Pulldown, Chin, or Row 2-5 x 5-15

6. Calf raises 1 x 5-20

7, Static grip 1 x 60-90 seconds my two

Day 2

1,Side bend 1 x 5-15

2, Deadlift 2.5 x 5-15

3 Military press 2-5 x 5-15

4 Barbell curl 2-5 x 5-15

5 close grip bench press 1-3 x 5-15
6 Wrist curl 1 x 15-20
7 Reverse Wrist curl 1 x 15-20

Here are two effective templates for training three times a week (ie Monday, Wednesday and Friday). Recommended sets and reps are the same as the two times per week template.

Day 1
1 Squat
2 Stiff legged deadlift or back extension
3 Bench press
4 Pulldown, chin or Row

Day 2
1 Crunch
2 Barbell curl
3 Military press
4 Calf raise

Day 3
1 Side bend
2 Deadlift
3Close grip bench press
4 Static grip

This template spreads the ‘big' exercises; the Squat, Bench, and Pulldown or Chin or Row, over two days. Some trainees feel they can‘t do the Bench or a Pulldown, Chin or Row, justice after squatting hard
Day one
1. Crunch
2 Squat
3. Stiff legged deadlift or back extension
4 Barbell cur!
Day two
1. Bench press
2, Pulldown, Chin, or Row
3. Calf Raise
4. Close-grip bench press
Day three
1. Sidebend
2. Deadlift
3. Military press
4. Static grip
I kept the rep range broad because the goal reps that you choose to work at needs to be based on your goals and training experience. I generally recommend new trainees to start out utilizing higher reps in order to help develop motor skills (technique) and to keep the overall force on the connective structures relatively low (compared to sets of five reps and below).
As I mentioned above, I can’t go into the great detail that this area of strength training demands, but what I have presented should give you an idea of how to set up a productive program that will stimulate gains and allow for complete recovery.
So, if you are just beginning in the iron game, or if you have been at it for a while and feel that you haven't make the progress that you should have, I challenge you to string together at least one year of training utilizing the ‘long cycle’ approach that I‘ve presented in this article. If you achieve this goal I’m confident that you'll look, and perform, radically different this time next year.

Tom K
Posts: 198
Joined: Fri Jun 02, 2017 12:17 am

Re: John Christy "lost" articles

Post by Tom K » Sat Sep 30, 2017 3:59 pm

John Christy- Appropriate volume
Appropriate Volume

The confusion is unbelievable. And it’s really sad in this age of readily available information. What I’m speaking of is the modern-age question (I can’t call it ‘age old question’ because in the old days ‘it’ wasn’t a question at all); “how many sets should I do?” What’s best: One set? Two sets? Ten sets? And what makes it more confusing is that every faction has its poster child. You know, the guy that has tremendous development and strength who claims that he got that way performing ‘X’ (insert any number for the X sets. Very confusing I feel your pain-and hope to eliminate it.

What I’d like to do is to shed some light on the subject so that it isn’t so confusing and it really shouldn’t be. The information that I present in NOT based on some clinical study that I’ve performed it is based on many, many years in the trenches working one on one with trainees amounting to thousands of hours training over the last 20 years. And it is also based on the information that I’ve derived from being under the iron now for over 30 years, and still pushing it hard. So, this information is based on what I consider the most reliable form of data in the face of the earth-empirical. You can perform all the controlled studies you want (which many by the way are a joke but what it eventually comes down to is the test of time on a wide variety of subjects-in other words ‘real world’ results. Just ask any drug company executive what the true test of a new drug is. Drug companies spend millions of dollars to test a new drug in a clinical setting (arguably the best, most controlled clinical studies on the planet), the Food and Drug Administration approve the drug, only then to have to pull the drug off the market in a couple of months because of the adverse effects it has when the ‘real world’ starts using the drug. His answer will be empirical data. Empirical data either confirms or denies what the clinical studies found.

What’s great about this as it’s related to our field of strength training is that empirical data abounds. Not just what I’ve accomplished on my stable of trainees, but the data that is available from all the way back to the 19Lh century. And it continues to be proven to this day not only by the biggest and strongest men and women in the world that you hear about or see on the Strongest Man competitions on TV, but most importantly the big and strong men and women who are hitting it anonymously in the gyms, basements and garages around the world; so called regular people who can squat two-and-a half to three times their bodyweight only wearing a belt, or who sport 18+ inch arms.

The Right Amount

So, what’s the right amount? Well, it depends on several factors; what are you training for? What is your lifestyle like; three kids and two jobs? What other physically demanding activities are you involved in (sports, hard manual labor)? What is your experience development level? Would you consider yourself a beginner, intermediate, or advanced trainee? This is an oversimplification but, I would consider someone an intermediate to advanced trainee (real, drug free trainees), who can squat two times their bodyweight, deadlift two-and-a-half times bodyweight, bench one-and-a. half times bodyweight (no bench shirt, paused on chest) and strict curl 70% of their bodyweight. This at least gives you a rough guideline.

A simple rule of thumb to determine the right number of sets to perform is that as you become more experienced-as your nervous system becomes more developed-you need more volume to continue to progress. The prerequisite here is that your lifestyle must allow you to recover from the increased volume. Now, I know that flies in the face of many of the “high intensity” crowd-but not only is this what] found to be true over my many years in the game (some of which were spent utilizing HIT protocol) but, empirical data over the last 100 years confirms it. I found it very interesting when recently I read where a very well known, well respected he has mine) NFL strength coach who is not only a HIT devotee, but actually spent much time under the tutelage of Arthur Jones himself, recommend two and now three working sets per exercise. Makes you wonder why he’s decided to increase the volume of his training protocol-possibly because he’s getting better results? I don't know for sure-but I know he’s a bright guy who’s been in it longer than me.

Appropriate Volume

My goal here isn’t to get into the single set versus multiple set battles that has beefl raging on for awhile. And it’s not because I don’t like a good fight-I just don’t have the time for it in this writing.

In almost all cases, doing multiple sets is critical to your success in getting bigger and stronger. In the situations where a trainee is involved in other sports, or has to shorten a workout for out of the gym reasons, or for an experienced trainee “cutting back” to allow his body to regenerate, doing ‘less’ will still be productive. To state this simply; there is a time and place for everything. To think that a football player is going to come off the field after a two hour practice and perform squats, for five sets of five reps is ridiculous and counterproductive. But to require him t0 perform one hard set of five is not only realistic but absolutely necessary for him to

get stronger. The flip side to this Is that to think a trainee who wants to get as big and strong as possible, who works a desk job, is single, and has no other responsibilities, will get the optimal amount of stimulation from one set (practiced as the only training method throughout his entire training career) is also ridiculous.

The bottom line is that you have to build up to the point to doing more. Now when I say more this is taking into account that you are already training hard enough to stimulate gains. ‘Hard enough’ being a weight that you could possibly perform one rep beyond your target number. Yes, this is enough to stimulate gains many have been brainwashed into thinking that they must train to failure to gain this is absolutely false. And it is my opinion that unless you fall on the far side of the bell curve you will never reach your strength and size potential relying only on the ‘training to failure’ protocol.

I want to go back to the doing ‘more’ statement that I made above. I want you to name something in life in which the practice of doing ‘less’ makes you better; hit golf balls once a week?, study a Finite Mathematics problem ‘once’ and put the book away? Spend time with your significant other for 20 minutes once in a two week period? Go to the tanning bed one time a week for 10 minutes to get that deep dark tan? I can’t think of anything that doesn’t require someone to do more to get better. More work on the field, more work in the classroom, more time at home with your wife and kids, getting more done at work, AND, more work in the gym period. Kind of seems like its natures law doesn’t it?

Let what you just read sink in. Some of you just had a light bulb go off; others are downright pissed off at me right now; since I am the coach that is known for abbreviated training for ‘real people’ with ‘real lives.’ Go back and read that statement again-thoroughly; I wrote more work in the gym, not more time in the gym. If you know how to structure your workouts you can complete more quality work in less time.

So, Exactly How Much?

As I posed in the first paragraph: Is it one set? Two sets? Ten sets? Here’s what my empirical data (supported by empirical data from the biggest and strongest drug free people who walk the earth) has taught me and what I use successfully on the people I train. Generally, you should perform between two and five working sets on exercises that will produce the changes that you desire. And although this piece isn’t about exercise selection, the “changes that you desire” will be best produced by the crop of commonly known compound basic exercises-squats, rows, deadlifts, bench presses, sit-ups, etc. Other exercises that support your continued progress on the

basic group, or other exercises chosen for their ‘cosmetic effect’ (for competitive bodybuilding) should be performed for one or two sets if they are performed within the same workout as the compound basic exercises. If they are performed on a different day, then they should also be performed for two to five sets.

I want to reiterate again that there is a time and place for everything. I recently read this stated in another way and I think it’s great; “all training laws are reversible under the right circumstances”. BUT, don’t make a point to train against what has already been proven through time, just to prove that you can train differently or train in a Way that is falsely more ‘macho’--very, very few have succeeded this way.

Why You Should Do More

This topic can get real big. So, I’m going to try to keep it simple. My explanation is based on factual exercise physiology, and proven by experience.

Doing more sets helps you to perfect your performance of each exercise. It perfects your skills. Just like swinging a baseball bet or golf club thousands of times helps to perfect your swing. Perfecting your ‘groove’ or motor skills of each exercise makes them more efficient. More efficiency leads to better leverage which leads to lifting more weight which leads to more strength which leads to more muscular development. Better leverage greatly reduces the risk of injury, which leads to lifting more consistency, which leads to consistent stimulation, which leads to more strength You get the point.

My experience has taught me that whether it is with a rank beginner, or a seasoned trainee, performing only one set even if it is done ‘too failure’, does not--even after months or years of training develop ‘great’ technique. They’re pushing as hard as possible all right, but the bar still ‘drifts’ in different directions, the ‘groove’ is inconsistent from rep to rep; it’s just not perfect. Yes, the trainee does develop some muscle mass, but strength development (relative or absolute) slows to a crawl even when utilizing a rep goal of six or less, usually accompanied by an injury of some sort. Also, I have noticed that the strength that is displayed by these trainees is far below what a trainee of their muscular size should have. The reasoning behind this is that the mass is mostly sarcoplasmic (increased fluid, capillaries, and other organelles inside the muscle), caused by the fatigue of training to failure-instead of the increased mass being a product of an actual increase in the contractile proteins-which is produced by the combination of creating maximal tension and fatigue. To get this combo you must perform multiple sets with a heavy weight. So, the ‘one set’ trainees have gotten bigger and a little stronger but not nearly as strong as if the mass was produced by performing multiple sets (not to

failure) utilizing relatively heavy weights (approximately 70% of max and up) Using a weight in which it becomes difficult to perform six reps or less.

There is something else that I want to address concerning the skill of exercise performance’. There are some authorities who claim that basic strength training exercises don’t require much in the way of ‘skill' to be able to perform them optimally. 'This argument is used to support the contention that you don't need much ‘practice’ - don’t need to perform many sets to perfect the skills of, say, bench pressing. l disagree. Sure, performing a bench press doesn’t reqiiire the level of motor skills of hitting a baseball which is arguably the hardest skill to master in all of sports but l surely wouldn‘t classify the bench press as a movement that requires little in the way of motor skill development. I achieved a fairly high level of success hitting a baseball, and it took at times, taking over one thousand swings of batting practice per week, So, looking at the bench press as an example, here‘s some of the things motor skills that a trainee needs to perfect to bench press optimally; feet need to be “dug" into the ground, lumbar area needs to be held in spinal extension, scapular area needs to be retracted and depressed throughout the set, a breath needs to be inspired and held during the descent and released during the ascent, the bar needs to be held motionless at the bottom position. the humerus needs to adduct during the descent, and will at some point abduct during the ascent, a strong isometric contraction of the gripping muscles of the hand must be held for the duration of the set. These are just some the basic “skills” that need to be practiced. Oops, and I almost forgot-they need to be perfected while holding a very heavy weight above your torso (while in a fatigued state at times). This doesn’t sound like a ‘simple’ activity, does it? The point; if you want to get good at benching (which will result in optimal strength and size development) you’ll need to bench for more than one set per week. You’ll definitely get better at benching performing 25 to 30 total reps per week; 5 sets of 5 reps performed one time per week, or 3 sets of 5 reps performed twice per week, versus performing 8 reps one time per week (one set of eight performed to failure).

I think optimally stimulating strength and size gains, has more to do with ‘teaching’ the nervous system what you want it to do, and then giving it time to make the necessary morphologic (tissue/muscle) changes. And the only way to teach the nervous system is by exposing it to multiple trials. You almost need to think of your strength training workouts as ‘teaching' your body to do something rather than as approaching it as a workout to subject the body to as much physical torture as it can withstand. Don't misinterpret me you need to train very hard but to achieve a specific purpose, not just for the sake of ‘training hard‘. You know the Russian strength coaches, who got much of their early (1930's to 1950's) strength training knowledge from us, have a term for what I am calling a ‘teaching’ of the nervous system--they call it developing Skill Strength.

Keep this in mind no one knows conclusively, what actually occurs on a cellular level that makes a muscle grow and get stronger. There are only theories. Theories are not facts. Some think that it is caused by supercompensation after tissue has been damaged; others think that the cause is a disruption in the pH balance of the muscle; others think that it has something to do with ATP, and another with the stimulation of ‘satellite cells’; on and on and on it goes. Whatever the scientific explanation is behind it. the truth is in the pudding, and I know that by recommending the performance of multiple sets I’ve produced the best results in the trainees Who put their trust in me to get them as big and as strong as possible.

Volume Broken Down Further

Here are the specifics for trainees whose sole desire is to get stronger and bigger. These recommendations would change dependent on a trainees’ specific life demands which can effect recovery time; an athlete who is ‘in season’, or a trainee who is holding down a physically demanding job, etc.

For Beginners to Intermediates

Perform two to three working sets on the big basic compound exercises. Some intermediate trainees may need to perform these twice per week cycling the
volume performed in each workout. Perform one or two sets on auxiliary exercises; exercises that effect smaller muscle groups, such as the arms, abs, obliques, direct low back work, and calves. Dependent on how you set up your training week. even some of these movements, if they are not performed on the same training day as the “big stuff”, can be performed for up to three sets.

Intermediates to Advanced Trainees

You need to push for at least three sets on all exercises. And to really make it to your genetic potential you must push for five working sets for at least one of you two sessions per microcycle. A microcycle for most trainees is based on a week although depending on how you set up your training it can be longer. For instance one of the templates that I recommend has the trainee performing an “A" and “B” workout alternated on a Monday (A), Wednesday (B), Friday (A), and the“ the next week on Monday (B) format. This template is a ten day microcycle.


Oh boy, I can hear many of you thinking right now; “John, I’ll overtrain with that much volume!” Wrong. It makes me sick about how many perfectly healthy trainees have been brainwashed into fearing ‘overtraining’. Hey, I know that you can overtrain no doubt about it. But, what I have recommended above, YOU CAN DO, safely and very effectively. I’m not recommending that you perform 20 sets of bicep work performing 5 different exercises three times per Week like that which is promoted in the stupid. steroid filled, mainstream muscle mags. All you get by doing that is a bunch of worthless fatigue because the weights you have to use are so low you don’t expose the muscles to any appreciable level of tension.

Keep in mind that if you’ve only been performing one or two sets of an exercise, don‘t jump right to doing five sets; that will overtrain you. Start by increasing your work sets to three, then after about three months add another. Do it gradually, give your body time to adapt. Although the volume per some of the exercises is high (five sets), the overall workout volume needs to be low to moderate by keeping the number of exercises low.

Here’s the bottom line; what I have recommended works for all the trainees that I have worked with (and re-read the second paragraph on the first page for my experience level), and the empirical evidence over many, many decades supports its validity.

In Closing

You can make progress by doing less than I recommend. But I’m confident that unless you fall on the far side of the genetic “bell curve” (genetic superiority), it’ll only get you so far, and if it can get you further, it’ll take much, much longer. Some of you may feel that you have no choice due to professional or family obligations. I understand whole-heartedly, as a family man of three young children, owner of three businesses, and a competitive powerlifter. But, with the right planning, and selection of only the absolutely necessary exercises to achieve your goals you can do it-you can get in the appropriate volume of work, and build a strong and physically impressive physique, by strength training as little as two times per week. Remember that it’s not enough just to train hard-you have to train smart. And in my opinion, using the appropriate volume is one of the smartest things you can do.

Tom K
Posts: 198
Joined: Fri Jun 02, 2017 12:17 am

Re: John Christy "lost" articles

Post by Tom K » Sat Sep 30, 2017 3:59 pm

John Christy- "Warm up sets"

Warm-up Sets aren’t supposed to ‘Warm you up’

I just recently completed a phone consultation WIth one of my trainees and he had questions concerning “warm up" sets This turned into about ten minutes

of conversation (dissertation is more accurate) and he felt that most trainees were similar to him in that he didn’t have n good understanding of what ‘warm up" sets really are supposed to do. He thought it would be a good idea if I covered this topic since there is not really any precise information available concerning this important topic.

Getting the Body “Warmed-up”

Let’s simplify this. A general warm-up is simply getting more blood from the internal organs, tissues, and “systems” of the body and moving it to the muscles. This is an absolute necessity if you expect the muscles to perform at their best and to avoid injury. This is easily accomplished but in my experience, it is rarely done properly. What you need to do is to perform a minimum of five minutes of continuous exercise. This can be a number of things such as walking, jogging. bike riding, rope jumping, general calisthenics, etc. At the conclusion of the five minutes you should be breathing fairly hard and have started to sweat and is what most trainees fail to do correctly. They simply don’t warm-up hard enough. What I have seen is that most trainees (if they warm-up at all) will walk on a treadmill or hit the stationary bike for a few minutes at a pace that would be more appropriate for a stroll through the park while holding their girlfriends hand. What the heck is that supposed to do? You have to approach your warm-up as though you are preparing for battle. It should be a serious time. You need to be focused on transitioning from your everyday world to your workout world. And you cannot “blow it off” with the excuse that you’ve been on your feet all day and you are “plenty warmed-up”. That just doesn’t cut it. If you have been involved in a manual labor Job or activity you still need to go through a general warm-up to get some of the “Waste products” out of your muscles from the days work. You must also use this time to get the "waste thoughts" out of your mind so that you can concentrate On your workout. You must also consider the time that has elapsed since you got off of work. in most cases It will be much more than an hour which means the blood has “receded" hack into the “depths" of the body.

The last few minutes of your general warm up should have you in your mid level aerobic zone which is approximately 70 to 85% of your maximal heart rate To determine this check out the article complete Training part 1. When you achieve this heart rate level you will" be sweating and have an elevated respiratory rate (you'll be breathing fairly hard). Also. don't feel as though you need to keep the warmup time at five minutes. Lengthen It to ten if you need to just don't turn the warm up Into a full blown aerobic workout as it will then start to deplete the energy substrates that are needed for your weight Workout.

After the General Warm-up

Now that more blood is in the extremities, you need to go through a general stretching program. Now I know that some of you have read that stretching before your workout doesn’t prevent injury and may actually impair performance. All I have to say about that is that in my 32 years under the iron, and after logging over 60 000 hours training others, I have conclusively determined from the anecdotal evidence that this is a bunch of B.S! And to be honest with you I feel that most trainees will use this misinformation (there is very little against stretching and much more supporting it) as an excuse not to stretch. If you want to get as big and as strong as possible you CAN’T get hurt-getting hurt stops progress-and you need to progress steadily for many years to achieve your dream of great size and great strength. So if you really “want it” then you will do what is necessary, and if you won‘t, then you don’t really “want it” in the first place.

Your stretching program shouldn’t be complicated, and it shouldn‘t take long to do! You don't need to turn into a yoga master to get the benefits of stretching The stretching program that we use takes about seven minutes and covers all the major joints / muscle groups of the body. Refer to the article Complete Training Part II to get all the details on the stretching program. After the general warm-up and the stretching, you are now ready to go.

The “Warm-up Sets”

Again. the main purpose of the warm up sets is not to get you warmed up per say. The term “warm-up sets" is actually a misnomer. In other words the term doesn’t accurately describe its purpose. Actually, a majority of the sets that you perform before the “live" sets should be called “recruitment sets", or “motor learning sets". If you've performed the general warm-up properly, your body (and more accurately, your muscles) is already “warm". To state this better, there is more blood in your muscles and there is increased “generalized" or “whole body” nervous system activity. So. the purpose of performing multiple warm-up sets is to achieve an increase in "localized” or “specific” nervous system activity. For instance, to practice improve the specific motor skills and progressively recruit the specific muscle fibers for the various exercises that you will perform for a specific workout.

Before I describe how to do this properly, let’s take a look at how warm-up sets are generally performed and why they actually hinder performance. Let’s say a trainee is going to bench press with a working weight of 250 lbs for three sets of five reps. He’ll start off with the empty bar (45 lbs.) and do 15 reps or so. Next will come the traditional 135lbs (a 45 lb. plate on each side for convenience) for anywhere from 12 to 15 reps. Next comes 185 lbs. (also for convenience-throw a 25 lb. plate on each side) for 6 to 8 reps. At this point the trainee is feeling a thorough pump, mistakenly believing that he is getting good and warmed-up. Two hundred and twenty five pounds is now loaded (how convenient again-two 45 lb. plates on each side) and performed for 3 or 4 reps. Finally, 250 pounds is loaded for the work sets. At this point the muscles responsible for benching are fatigued. Much “fuel” has been wasted on all of those repetitions and plenty of waste products are already built-up which will hinder the performance of the nervous system. The reason I am being sarcastic about the selection of “convenient” weights is that, first of all, this is what really happens in most gyms. And second you shouldn’t base your warm-up attempts on weights that are just convenient to load (and are easy on your “barbell" math skills). If the trainee above had performed his warm-up sets properly he wouldn’t be as fatigued entering his “live” or “work” sets. Performing the warm-up sets properly he would be performing his work sets with at least 260 lbs. And this is a significant difference when it comes to stimulating size and strength increases.

Okay, let me offer a better way. Take the same trainee mentioned above. I would start out his first warm-up set with approximately 60% of his starting weight. This turns out to be 150 lbs, and I would have him perform no more than 5 reps. Next, we would jump to around 80% (200 lbs.) for another 5 reps. His final warm-up would be with 90 to 95% (225 to 235) for 1 or 2 reps. This trainee would then rest 3 to 4 minutes and go after the work sets. This proper warm-up has the trainee only performing approximately 12 reps compared to the 40 or so in the first example. Instead of prematurely putting his benching muscles and nervous system in a state of fatigue he has progressively recruited the right amount of fibers putting the body in a more efficient state so that the working weight doesn't shock (feel extremely heavy to) him while preserving his energy substrates as well as the nervous system biochemicals that Will help him to perform at his max. Also he has performed enough total reps (10) so that he was able to enhance his motor skills for this particular exercise.

This is not the only way to do it. and it doesn't have to be based on the percentages that l have given above but they are a good place to start. Everybody is different. Some trainees just don't feel ready to go without more of a pump or “feel" of the exercise than what would be achieved with the suggestion given above. In this case I would recommend an additional warm-up set before the 60% set. This set would be performed with 50% of the Work weight for the day for 10 to 12 reps. Some trainees may need an additional set or two between the 90 and 97% range. This is especially the case when it comes to handling heavier weights during the work sets. If someone is squatting with 500lbs for 5 reps then to complete the last warm-up with 90%--450lbs-will not be adequate enough to prepare the body for the working weight. It would be better to complete another set, for only 1 rep, with 95%--475lbs. This will do a better job of preparing (making more efficient) the body’s nervous and muscular systems to handle the 500 lbs.

Some trainees may find that the jump from the 60% set to the 80% set is just too much ofa shock-the 80% set feels much too heavy. If so, perform another set with 70% for 3 to 5 reps.

The bottom line here is to keep in mind the purpose of the warm-up sets. They are to help you progressively recruit more muscle fiber so that the body is in its’ most efficient state to attack the work sets with all it can. They are also to be used as a tool to help practice the specific motor skills for the exercise that you are preparing to perform. The last thing that you want to do is to wear yourself out, or at the least put your body in a less than optimal state for the working sets.

I’m confident that if you try the approach that I have recommended above, you’ll be using heavier weights for your working sets and after a few weeks you will notice 3 “jump” in your strength and muscle mass.

Tom K
Posts: 198
Joined: Fri Jun 02, 2017 12:17 am

Re: John Christy "lost" articles

Post by Tom K » Sat Sep 30, 2017 4:03 pm

John Christy "Get it right this time"

Get It Right This Time

Take a moment to reflect on your training. More specifically, reflect on if you are really making progress. Almost all serious weight trainees want either to get bigger, get stronger or both. So, are you? Be serious about this. Measure your arms, chest, and thighs – are they bigger or not? Can you squat; bench, curl more weight than you could for the same number of reps than you could 3 (6, 9, 12) months ago?

Long time readers of my material will recognize where I’m headed with this line of questioning: If you aren’t measurably bigger, measurably stronger, or both, than you were 6 months ago – then guess what? Your training time has been wasted. If you’re serious about making gains then this realization should make you sick.

 I’ll give you a moment to get over the nausea.

Now let’s do something about it and get it right this time so that after busting your butt for 6 months you are definitely bigger and stronger.  First off, you’re not going to go back to doing the same ole things because all you’ll get is the same ole results – or lack thereof. Second you need to find out where you’re messing up. Here’s a ‘to the point’ checklist:

1.      You’re following the program of some stupid steroid-using phony. If you’re not a steroid using phony then the program is not going to work. All you’ll do is overtrain and ‘under-stimulate’.

2.      You start out trying to follow a decent program but you keep switching to new programs every time you read a new article. Or you keep messing up a good program by trying to do too much (too many sets, too many exercises), or trying to do too little (one workout every 2 weeks), or not working hard enough, or not focusing on being progressive, or getting hurt too often because your technique stinks.

3.      You’re not consistent because you’re constantly hurt. 

4.      You think you’re eating to gain, but in actuality, your caloric consumption resembles more of what my 9-year old daughter eats. Or … you rely on worthless ‘super-supplement’ powders, ‘metabolic optimizers, and a whole host of other junk.

Be honest in your assessment. If you do this I can help you to make your training productive and you’ll be happy as a pig in poop. I know you don’t want to bust your butt for another year – let alone another workout – and not make any progress.

Now let’s knock off the list one point at a time.

1.      Get on a program that is designed to work for a real trainee with a real life – a proven program that works for trainees who don’t take steroids. A ‘real trainee’ has a serious career/job, a real family, friends, real academic responsibilities and a whole host of other ‘real’ stuff to do – and yet they want to be huge and/or strong as they can be. They want it all without sacrificing anything.

 Weight train either 2 or 3 times per week. Perform whole body routines consisting of big basic exercises (squat, rows, presses, etc.) Read the excerpt from chapter one of my book “How to Design Your Training Program” and check out the workout templates that I present there. It’s only an excerpt from the chapter but I give you enough info to set up a good program.

2.      If you are seasoned enough to know and implement a good program then be seasoned enough and disciplined enough not to be fooled by the workout ‘flavor of the month’. If you are promised to add 20 pounds of ‘rock hard’ muscle to your physique and increase your bench by 50 pounds in a month - then the purveyor of the information is a liar or a steroid user. The body can undergo a tremendous transformation in size and strength in a year or two – which is fast – but it will take a year or two. How much progress have you made in the last two years anyway?

Quit performing a whole bunch of worthless sets (going for the ‘pump’, ‘ the burn’,  ‘using multiple angles’, yada, yada, yada). A worthless set is one in which you are not being progressive in your approach; i.e. Using more weight. Maybe you’re doing a whole bunch of worthless exercises. If you are doing either of the above (worthless sets or exercises) then all that you are doing is using up fuel and not stimulating an ounce of muscle gain.

Quit adding ‘extra’ exercises for a lagging bodypart or weak link. If you are trying to bring up the size and/or strength of the triceps for example and have properly performed 3 sets of close grip bench presses what is the addition of 3 sets of pushdowns supposed to do? I’ll tell you what it’ll do. It’ll overtrain the area causing elbow problems (goodbye tricep size, hello ice bags), and simply use up fuel. These are known as ‘garbage sets’. Once you’ve hit the close grips hard and progressively, the tricep is as stimulated as it needs to be.  

If you have fallen prey to the ‘all you need is one workout every two weeks thinking’ all you’ll get is enough stimulation that will create an adaptation that will last about 4 or 5 days and in the subsequent time thereafter all you’ll do is lose what you’ve gained in those few days. Most trainees get some very limited success with this method for a short period because I think they are severely overtrained coming into it.

Another reason I believe is that they feel that they need all that time in between workouts to recover properly – because they were tired all the time when they trained 2 or 3 times per week. The truth of the matter is that these trainees are just poorly conditioned or eat terribly – most likely both reasons. Twenty-one years of training weight trainees one-on-one has taught me that all trainees can train 2 times per week and make tremendous gains.

You have to train hard to make gains – but how hard is hard enough? I can’t delve into this topic completely as it would take a book to give you my two cents. Again, experience has taught me (and empirical data from 100 years of evidence supports this) that if you train within one rep of failure or to a point where you complete the goal rep of a set with all you have – and stop without attempting the next rep in which you would fail - you will have achieved an optimal amount of stimulation. By training at this effort level you will also be able to maintain perfect lifting biomechanics (making you very efficient which allows you to lift more weight), and foster a positive mind set. Sure you can train to failure and make good gains also – I just know from my experience that ‘beating failure’; completing your last ‘hard to complete’ rep then stopping produces good gains consistently over the long haul of your training life.

I bet you haven’t heard a strength coach say this: Does it really matter how hard you train as long as you are able to consistently lift more weight? One month from now if you can bench press 10 more pounds on your 5 rep set and you didn't even get close to muscular failure  - does it matter that your intensity of effort wasn't beyond 100%? Now of course you have to work very hard to make gains - I just wanted to give you another way of judging your workout efforts based on what matters the most: PROGRESS!

You must focus your efforts on being progressive – you must lift heavier and heavier weights. So many trainees are focused on everything but that. Even well-intentioned trainees get caught up in measuring the success of a workout on how hard they’ve trained; how they had to lay on the floor for a half-hour after the workout, how ‘beat-up’ they are, or how many times they’ve cramped and thrown-up.  A successful workout is one in which you’ve lifted more weight on some if not all exercises – even if it is only a pound or two. Now if you are in the ‘lay on the floor and throw-up’ scenario above and you’ve lifted more weight that workout then you have been successful also. My point is; make sure your efforts produce measurable strength increases.

Unless you are a rank beginner, you know if your technique stinks or not. And you know how to ‘clean it up’ but you don’t want to because you’ll have to use less weight and your ego just can’t tolerate that. Well, I suggest you make the rational decision to ‘clean it up’ because that pain you’re feeling in your X (replace the X with any joint that is constantly hurting; shoulder, elbow, knee, back, etc) will become so bad that it will stop you from training if it hasn’t already. And I don’t mean that it will stop you from training for a few weeks – it may stop you from performing certain movements forever!

3.      You must minimize your risk of injury in the weight room so that you can train consistently. I have stated many times in the past that consistency is just as important as progression. You won’t be able to be progressive if you can’t be consistent. If you constantly have to ‘re-start’ exercises (using reduced weights because you’re weaker) after you’ve come off an injury all you’ll be doing is covering  ‘old’ ground. Once you start closing in on your personal records again, you get hurt again, only to have to let the injury rest and start over again. What a viscous cycle. Make sure you use weight increases that your body can really handle and get your technique in order!  See the paragraph above.

4.      Quit screwing around and eat to gain. Quit worrying about your pretty waistline. You’re fooling yourself if you think that you’re going to pack on some serious mass – and when I mean ‘serious mass’ I’m talking about gaining at least 30 pounds – and trying to get a ‘six-pack’ at the same time. Now, I don’t want you to turn into a fat unhealthy slob, gaining 30 pounds and half of it is fat. But, with the proper application of aerobic work you’ll be able to keep your fat gain to a minimum and keep/get your heart and lungs in good shape.

 Quit relying on goofy supplements. Find out how many calories you’re really consuming. Then slowly increase it by 500 calories per week, eating 5 to 6 meals per day, until you are gaining at least one pound per week. You will have to work at this. Many of my trainees have said that getting your nutrition right; eating enough, is one of the hardest parts to gaining. Because unlike the ‘training’ part in which you lift 2 to 3 times per week, you have to constantly focus on your food intake 7 days per week, every 3 hours. Sure it’s tough to do, but if you really ‘want it’ then you’ll ‘do it’.

The only supplements you should use is a good multi-vitamin and multiple mineral pill along with protein powder to augment the food you eat. Don’t use a protein powder that has a bunch of worthless junk in it. One of the best that I know of is called Just Protein. You can get it at if you are lactose intolerant then try one that is nearly lactose free like Designer Protein.

Please take this article to heart. Apply what you’ve learned. Don’t settle for anything but the best results that your body is capable of. You can achieve greatness but you’re going to have to earn it. Apply what you’ve learned in this article and six months from now you’ll be in ‘PR’ territory and will have finally 'gotten it right this time'.

peter yates
Posts: 2776
Joined: Sun Oct 05, 2014 3:38 pm
Location: NEW YORK, USA

Re: John Christy "lost" articles

Post by peter yates » Sat Sep 30, 2017 4:18 pm

Hi Tom,
Many thanks for going to the trouble of doing this for us all to share. I have all the HARDGAINER mags and always enjoyed Christie's writing as the routines were tried and tested not mere theory. You have done us and Christie a service by making these hard to find articles available.
Peter Yates

Tom K
Posts: 198
Joined: Fri Jun 02, 2017 12:17 am

Re: John Christy "lost" articles

Post by Tom K » Sun Oct 01, 2017 11:45 am

John Christy- Tension and fatigue

This is a very good article. Makes me realise why people like Tommy Kono trained for strength with "bodybuilding phases" once a year. Also people like Reg Park in his youth, training mostly for strength with short sharp blocks of high volume training mostly just before shows. Myofibular hypotrophy maybe a slow way to gain muscle, but it lasts. Perhaps long, slow gaining phases are best, followed by cutting down and then using Sarcoplasmic work to "grow into the show" like the Golden era greats used to do.

Enjoy! I now have the complete book, but it will take me some time to finish typing them all in. At least my touch typing is improving :D

Tension and Fatigue:
How to manipulate these variables to get big and/or strong

I can confidently say that most of you reading this article are interested in either getting bigger. getting stronger, or both. In all actuality, to get bigger you have to get stronger. And if your focus is pure strength without putting on any bodyweight, you will still get at least a little bigger. So, strength and size go hand in hand, but you can emphasize one or the other. What I just explained is an over simplification, but it’s accurate and my goal here is to keep this simple. Let’s talk about these variables, how to achieve them, what adaptations they create in the body, and then most importantly how to put’em to use to achieve your goals.

Generating Fatigue

“OK John, you said this would be simple bit isn’t this getting a little over-simplified”. I can generate fatigue-I’ll just train hard enough to make myself tired” Yada, yada, yada, Yea, I know that I told you this stuff was simple-but it’s not that simple-not if you want to get as big or as strong as possible. Let’s talk about what ‘fatigue’ really is.

If you train an exercise for at least 10 reps, and more specifically above 15 reps, the musculature that is being worked will ‘fatigue’ and shut down (if truly a max, or very close to it) because it has basically run out of fuel. You will feel ‘tired’, and will feel a ‘pump’ in the muscles that you are working. And although you just worked ‘hard’ and if you performed a repetition max (trained to failure) you will believe that you stimulated the muscle into a growth state as much as possible. Well, this isn’t actually the case, because the actual muscle-the myofibers; the contractile elements of the muscle that you were working, still have the ability to continue to perform more reps even if you’ve reached true muscular failure because the body still has the ability to recruit more fibers-but it can’t. It can’t because the components that supply the contractile elements with the fuel mixture (fuel + oxygen), and remove the waste products can't meet the demands ol the ‘length' of the work that you are asking it to do. So, the body shuts down due to the build-up of toxic by-products as a consequence of running out of fuel-- Demand has exceeded supply. It is much more detailed than this. but this explanation in accurate. So, you haven't really done a whole lot to the actual muscle, but you have put the body in a state where It will generate more of the 'stuff’ (mitochondria capillaries, glycogen bound with water and sarcoplasmic fluid to name a few) that supports the muscle that you already have. This will make the muscle measurements increase. but again, it's not because you’ve added more muscle Fiber.

So this is what is actually happening inside the muscle when you are generating high levels of fatigue. I want you to keep in mind throughout this article that when I’m referring to fatigue, I’m referring to it specifically as defined above as the type of short-term fatigue that most trainees can associate with while actually going through a training session. There are other types of fatigue associated with the physiology of Weight training (nervous system, endocrine system to name a couple), but they are a long-term type of fatigue and aren’t something that you necessarily manipulate and apply to get a specific adaptation. As a matter of fact, you want to do everything in your power to avoid long-term fatigue.

When training in the 10 to 15 range you will feel a great pump-especially if performed for multiple sets with short (one to two minutes) rest intervals-and will feel like you are bigger due to the ‘pump’, but this is only a temporary size increase.

Later I'll discuss how generating fatigue during a workout applies to creating an actual Increase in the muscle fibers. Now let’s take a look at generating tension.

Generating Tension

You create tension in your muscles anytime you flex them. The harder you flex, or are forced to flex, the more tension you create. When you lift your arm to scratch your nose. your bicep flexes. Since you’re only lifting the weight of your arm it won’t flex very hard-you won’t create much tension. If you do this right now, even though the bicep ‘balls-up’ it'll be soft, which is the result of a low level of tension. Now if someone asks you to show them your muscle (your bicep-most aren’t going to ask to see you flex your quads), you'll flex your bicep hard-very hard if you’re trying to impress and it’ll feel harder than when scratching your nose. For the sake of simplicity let’s call the ‘showing me your muscle' scenario voluntary tension; you’re creating tension without any external resistance making it contract.

Now, grab a barbell and do a curl. Of course, the bicep flexes and tension is created even though you aren't trying to consciously 'flex' it—you're simply just focused on lifting the weight. Once again for the sake of simplicity let's call this involuntary tension; you're creating tension with an external resistance without trying to flex the muscle.
Just as there are different degrees of voluntary tension – you can flex your muscle easy, medium, or heard—there are different degrees of involuntary tension. A simple rule of thumb is that the heavier the weight lifted the more tension that is created. A weight that you can lift ten times (10RM) creates less tension than one you can lift three times (3RM). This can get much more complicated, but as I said I want to keep this simple.

Creating the Ultimate in Tension

I’ve been teaching this method longer than I can remember, and I've been using it in my training almost from the start. Let me digress for a moment.

Back when I started training (now 32 years ago), I was influenced, as many others were, by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Now, I didn’t know at the time that he was using steroids and that many of his training methods wouldn’t work unless I was taking them also. But, I learned something very, very valuable from his writings and again, when I had the opportunity to actually spend some time with him face to face as a very young boy.

He always stressed to “put your mind into your muscle that you are working you need to flex the muscles as you are working them”. Well, to make a long story short, this

statement would become a cornerstone in my training philosophy, one that I use to this day. To apply what he said, I would try to flex the muscle that I was trying to develop, instead of just trying to push or pull the barbell; for instance I would consciously flex my pecs when I would bench. I noticed right away, even as a very young very inexperienced trainee, that I felt stronger when lifting when doing this, that my technique would improve, that I felt more stable during an exercise, and I felt that I got better stimulation from the exercise that I was performing. Little did I know that what I was doing was the secret to maximizing the results of every rep that I performed. All I was doing was listening to Arnold Schwarzenegger-and creating the ultimate in tension.

Here’s what you need to do. You need to combine what I termed involuntary tension and voluntary tension. Lift a maximum weight (doesn’t mean you have to go to failure) for your desired number of reps and make sure that you are ‘flexing’ the prime mover(s) of that exercise as hard as you can. It’s also a great idea to flex the entire body as well. This creates great stability and goes a long way to injury-proof your body during an exercise.

So, what does "tension generation’ do to the body?

If you perform an exercise for a one to four rep max (1RM to 4 RM) the muscle stops Working (can't lift the weight) because the body can't recruit enough fibers. Its not a matter of fuel supply meeting demand this time-- there is plenty of fuel So there is very little fatigue. and consequently, no pump that you would feel. But because there is very heavy weights involved there are very high levels of tension. It in this tension that produces widespread microcellular damage to individual myofibers. And the theory suggests that it is the recovery from this damage that causes the actual muscle Fibers to increase in cross sectional diameter. But, there is very little increase in what I referred to above as the ‘stuffing’ or the support components of the myofibers. I’ll explain how creating tension applies to getting bigger and stronger

Getting Bigger

Getting bigger is called hypertrophy. There are basically two types; Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy (SH) and Myofibular Hypertrophy (MH).

-Creating ‘Virtual’ Size: Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy (SH)

SH is where the muscle is measurably bigger because there is more ‘stuff’ inside the muscle. As mentioned above this ‘stuff’ is mostly support structures and fluid- Sarcoplasmic fluid-hence the name. All of these support structures help to supply the fuel and carry away the by-products that allow the actual contractile elements-the myofibers-to do the work. So it only makes sense that since they are giving out first-they (the support structures) will be the ‘things’ that the body makes more of so that it can get better at doing this particular task. Almost all of the measurable increase in size is from this additional stuffing. There is very little increase in any of the actual contractile elements-the muscle itself. And this is because there isn’t significant tension-the weight isn’t heavy enough to cause ‘damage’ to the actual myofibers.

To create SH you need to develop high levels of fatigue without much concern for creating high levels of tension. You need to perform sets (usually one to three can do the job) of 10 reps or higher. You also need to keep the rest intervals short; one to two minutes. Working in this rep range with such a short rest interval doesn't allow for the use of relatively (as compared to 8 reps and below) heavy weights-so there isn’t much tension generated. And if you could create enough tension with this relatively light weight your muscles would run out of gas before it can do any substantial damage to the myofibers. You’re creating a lot of fatigue, but not much tension. “But John, I can make up for this by ‘flexing’-right?" Wrong. 'Flexing’ or creating what I termed voluntary tension, actually works against the involuntary tension created by the weight itself, when working at higher rep ranges due to the fact that the additional flexing fatigues you faster than not flexing. This occurs when you pass a certain rep count-- in my experience anywhere from 5 to 7 reps. This varies with individual genetic fiber makeup. and training history. So, again you are creating even more fatigue—and less tension.

Generally. I don’t recommend training in the 10 to 15 rep range (With the exception of beginners, trainees who are recovering from injury. or a trainee who needs to develop strength endurance of this duration) due to the fact that gains are primarily from the support structures as I described above. I want my trainees size gains coming from the 'real thing' the actual contractile proteins—actual muscle tissue. Size gains from adding new muscle fiber add to someone's functional strength. And you are not going to get much in the way of functional strength carryover from increasing just the support structures inside the muscle. You’ll help increase the muscle's endurance, but again, you won’t be doing much to improve its strength capability.

So what's the bottom line? You can get much bigger by solely working on creating SH-but in my opinion, this is virtually a worthless size increase for most trainees. You become nothing more than a giant water weenie so to speak.

-Creating the ‘Real Thing’ Part I: Myofibular Hypertrophy (MH)

MH is where the muscle is measurably bigger as a result of an increase in the size and number (yes, for those who have a background in micro-anatomy; in the actual number) of fibers. For those readers who want to know the science behind muscular growth please read the text box below.

To understand the mechanisms of how skeletal muscle increases in cross-sectional diameter through the addition of new contractile proteins-new muscle fibers-one must have a little understanding of microanatomy and microbiology.
Adult skeletal muscle fibers are biologically incapable of undergoing cell division to increase their number. The number of these specific muscle fibers is set at about 24 weeks of gestation in humans. So, although these mature fibers can’t undergo cell division, there are other cells that can, to form new functional myofibers. The source of these new fibers is the satellite cells that are adjacent to the basal lamina of the mature muscle fibers. These cells are “awakened” upon a disruption (as through progressive weight training that creates high levels of tension) of the mature muscle cell membrane. Once “awakened” these cells begin a process of cell differentiation that leads to the creation of new immature fibers. As these fibers mature over time, they enlarge and eventually fuse with one another and with the mature fibers to increase the cross-sectional area.
What’s really fascinating is that these small, immature fibers express proteins, which are normally found only in embryological development. Talk about weight training reversing the aging process! Micro anatomists refer to these new fibers as type IIc.

MH training causes very little gain in the amount of the support structures of the muscle cell. To create MH you need tension—a lot of tension. The creation of peak tension has been shown to produce widespread microcellular damage to individual myofibers causing them to grow in cross-sectional diameter. And remember how you create tension- it's how hard the muscle needs to 'flex'. Well, when you're straining against a weight that you can barely lift one time- you're creating about as much tension as possible. You would have to do this over and over and over again anywhere from 8 to 15 sets of one rep to be able to get a significant hypertrophy response. I don’t recommend this as a methodology to achieve MH because although you may be able to tolerate this once in a blue moon, doing so every workout will literally tear your joints apart (as well as cause negative effects on the nervous system and endocrine system). But, it is possible to train continually in the one to four rep range (doing ‘singles’ with less than a 1RM weight) over a long period of time without the joint destruction mentioned above as long as the rep target is cycled from workout to workout. And this is exactly what Olympic lifters do. You'll notice particularly at the lighter weight classes that Olympic lifters are muscular ‘rock hard' in their appearance but not overly large as in the case of a bodybuilder. This is important because this ‘rock hard’ but ‘not bloated look is the result of pure gains in myofibular mass with little gain in the way of the support structures of the muscles. Of course, I am assuming that both models (Olympic lifter and bodybuilder) are both low enough in bodyfat percentage that you can see all the musculature. Creating pure MH is a very, very slow way to increase the measurable size of a muscle-but it also takes the longest to lose if a layoff or inconsistent training is forced upon a trainee.

-Creating the ‘Real Thing’ Part II: The Best of Both Worlds

To stimulate the maximum amount of functionally usable muscle size in the shortest amount of time you need create high levels of tension combined with high levels of fatigue. This combination will stimulate increases in the actual myofibers (real muscle tissue) along with an increase in the amount of support structures. The support structures will help support the newly acquired muscles’ function, repair, and growth. Stimulating gains in MH and SH simultaneously will make you big as fast as possible with the size gains being functional. To pull this off you need to create fatigue but not at the expense of losing a high level of tension. Perform multiple sets (generally 3 to 5) of 5 to 8 reps with moderate duration rest intervals of 3 minutes. This combination of sets, reps, and rest interval allows you to fatigue the muscle while still using a heavy enough weight for the generation of a high level of tension. To describe this in another way, you need to get a ‘pump’ while using heavy weights for low reps. It helps to create more stimulation if you generate voluntary tension with every rep that you perform. As you lift the weight, 'squeeze' the muscle that you're working. In all honesty I have seen great mass developed at the lowest end of this rep range without the "moderate duration rest intervals"; with rest intervals in the 5-minute range. This is the time honoured 5 sets of 5 reps training protocol.
I have frequently been asked throughout the now 20 years that I have been training others, why I favour my trainees working in the 5-rep range. Well, because, as explained above, I want my trainees to develop what I call "real mass"-- a size increase in the actual contractile components of the muscle- not just in the "stuffing" (support structures). This type of mass increase (myofibular) contributes to a usable strength increase whether on the lifting platform, the football field, or in life. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, this type of size increase (from MH and SH combined) as compared to SH alone, "stays around longer" if you must cut back on your training frequency for some reason; in-season athlete, injury, illness, or business or family obligations. You can develop SH faster, but it is a transient size increase, which is lost quickly.

Generating Tension without Fatigue: creating increases in absolute strength

By now, you may have figured this one out. To generate as much absolute strength (for one rep, or one rep performed multiple times) you must create as much tension as possible; and this is only possible when you create as little fatigue as possible.

To do this train in the 1 to 4 rep range for many sets. How many? Most of the time you should shoot for 5, but there may be times when you could increase this for a short period-if you are trying to specialize on a particular lift. And, you must avoid fatigue like the plague by taking long rest intervals-at least 5 minutes-and possibly even longer dependent on your particular fiber composition and training experience. The 1 to 4 rep range allows for the use of very heavy weights creating maximum involuntary tension. And you must flex as hard as possible on each rep that you perform to create as much voluntary tension as possible. You won’t believe what employing this ‘tension combination’ does in this rep range to your one rep max until you actually try it for awhile. I mentioned above how the creation of tension helps to stimulate the actual myofibers to hypertrophy, but at the lowest rep ranges its greatest effect is neurological; it teaches the body to recruit-or activate-more of the fibers that it already has. And if you want to lift the heaviest weight that you possibly can, you must learn to recruit as many myofibers as possible.

Fatigue is the 'the enemy' for absolute strength gains because it can rob you of using perfect motor skill. Stated another way, when you're tired it's hard to maintain good technique at anything—tennis, baseball, gymnastics, etc—let alone handling a very heavy weight off the floor, or over your face. Also, great motor skills are needed if you are to maximise your strength because you will move the bar in a 'path' that is optimally efficient. This increased efficiency creates less wear and tear on your joints while producing the maximum amount of force—just like in any mechanical engine.

In Summary

Creating as much fatigue as possible during a training session by performing high reps and relatively light weights; getting a great pump with light weights, can make you big, but the size gain will be mostly from an increase in the amount of support structures of the muscle Cells, instead of an increase in muscle fibers. This type of size gain won’t contribute significantly to functional strength, and you’ll lose the size quickly if training gets even somewhat inconsistent.

Creating the combination of as much fatigue and tension as possible by training in the 5 to 8 rep range; getting a good pump with heavy weights, will make you bigger, and functionally stronger. This is the way to go for the fastest gains in “real” size.

Creating as much tension as possible by working in the 1 to 4 rep range and by eliminating fatigue by using long rest intervals; lift as heavy as possible and avoid the pump, will make you much stronger without much increase in size.

Learning how to manipulate the variables of tension and fatigue will go a long way in making workout design less confusing, and will make your training more efficient; you’ll save time by stimulating your body in a specific way to create the specific changes you desire.

peter yates
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Location: NEW YORK, USA

Re: John Christy "lost" articles

Post by peter yates » Mon Oct 02, 2017 4:10 pm

Thanks again Tom for going to the trouble of doing this an sharing these very informative articles with us. You are a star.
Peter Yates

Tom K
Posts: 198
Joined: Fri Jun 02, 2017 12:17 am

Re: John Christy "lost" articles

Post by Tom K » Sat Apr 07, 2018 12:53 pm

The Basic Keys to Success Part 2

In the first part of this series, I covered why any trainee needs to train for strength, no matter what their goal, and the science of resistance training. In this part I'm going to cover : The basics of Progressive resistance, the right exercises and the right routine

The Basics of progressive resistance

“Progressive resistance” is the most used, abused, and misunderstood phrase in the strength training world. Anyone who lifts weights (or lifts anything for that matter) is using resistance, but what about the “progressive” part? Believe it or not very few trainees employ any system of progression, And its not because its a complex procedure, as a matter of fact it is, and should be for a majority of trainees one of the simplest parts of a weight training program. And one of the major players that turns what should be a simple procedure, into a complex matter, are the self named experts out there who are no more than very good marketers (con men is better). As usual, in order to suck the money right out of you, and take advantage of your dreams, these people want you to think that it is a highly complicated “top secret” procedure. They're willing to sell you a “system” that will make you bigger and stronger (and faster and better looking and give you the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound) virtually over night. I can tell you from experience that 99% of the “systems” out there are utterly useless. You will not improve your strength or size, more than likely you will get hurt, and most importantly- you will waste valuable training time. You are too intelligent to be fooled by these people. Make decisions based on your own intellect not your emotions.

A harsh lesson in reality

Here is a little story- --unfortunately a common one – to illustrate the point made above. You've been squatting consistently for the past six months, adding 2 ½ pounds to the bar for your once a week squat workout. You've added 60 pounds to the bar, and are now squatting with 250lbs for 6 reps- you're on a roll, stronger on this lift then you've ever been. But due to the input of a former lifting buddy who thinks your progress is too slow, along with the convincing advertisement he shows you with the picture of the steroid phony benching 700 lbs, you're convinced to try the new “wonder program”. So, you purchase the **Russian Volume Training- Program" which has you squatting, benching, and dead-lifting three times per week and doing nothing else. For the first couple of weeks you are able to handle this, and you feel that you are progressing due to the fact that the lifts feel easier (due to performing the lifts three times per week for many, many sets your motor skills will improve only to be shut down by what will happen next), by the fourth week your low back, shoulders, elbows and knees are starting to scream due to excessive volume, frequency, and an imbalanced training program. It's imbalanced because it doesn't promote strength between agonists and antagonists. By week six your body has had it and you're probably spending most of your non-working day like a big ice cube due to the number of ice bags on your joints. You end up spending (if you're lucky) another four to six weeks as the "human ice cube" getting the inflammation down without the ability to even touch a weight. By week 13, you're able to do some very, very light weight training most of which is rehabilitation. Well, this goes on for another four weeks. By week 17 you're able to squat. with 175 lbs. for six reps pain free. You're ecstatic that it doesn't hurt and then immediately angered beyond belief because you were squatting 250 pounds for six reps before you started that stupid new "wonder program". By week 25, you're up to 215 lbs, still 351bs pounds from where you were. So, 25 weeks after starting the "wonder program" which was supposed to bring the powerlifting world to its knees for you, have you much weaker than when you started, And the most disgusting part is that you are much, much, weaker then where YOU could have been in 25 weeks on the simple program utilizing Micro-loading that you started with. During those 25 weeks you would have increased your squat to at least 310 lbs. for six repetitions! What a waste of time!

My only hope that after this one lesson this trainee is a lot smarter and doesn't attempt any programs that promise things that the body can't accomplish. Unfortunately, most trainees will not learn their lesson and have to make this mistake multiple times. The biggest travesty is that by this time many years of valuable training is lost in which the trainees goals would have already been achieved. If you're lucky or smart---I'm not sure which-when you come to realize that you need to stick to the basics and not some advertised “wonder program” that your joints will still be in good enough condition to continue on your quest for size and strength

Back to the basics of Progressive Resistance

My bottom-line definition of progressive resistance is to add resistance to the bar (machine, sandbag, rock etc.) at a rate that the human body is capable of adapting to. What is this rate? It depends. Take a trainee who has several years of training experience, who is not in the build-up phase of a cycle, and is trying to gain as much bodyweight as possible by consuming a diet that is creating a caloric overload, he should be able to sustain for a period of 12 months the following rate of progression on the big basic exercises while working in the 5 to 6 rep range:

Exercise Rate of progression
Squat 2.5lbs per week
Deadlift (bent knee) 2.5lbs per week
Power clean 2.5lbs per week
Stiff leg deadlift 1-2lbs per week
Bench press, dips 1-2lbs per week
Row,pulldown, chin 1-2lbs per week
Shoulder press 0.5 to 1lb per week
Barbell curl 0.5 to 1lb per week
Pushdown 0.5 to 1lb per week
CGBP 0.5 to 1lb per week
Grip, forearm work 0.5 to 1lb per week
Crunch, sit-up, leg raises 0.5 to 1lb per week
Rotator cuff work 0.25lbs every four weeks
Neck flexion 0.5lbs per week
Standing calf work 1-2lbs per week
Single leg calf work 0.5 to 1lb per week
Back extension 0.5 to 1lb per week
Side-bend 1lb per week

Note: If you choose to use dumbbell varieties of the exercises listed the progression would be cut in half and applied to both dumbbells

It is stunning what big numbers this rate of progression adds up to. For example, in one year a trainee who can squat 300lbs for 5 hard reps (repetition 6 would fail) would be able to squat 420lbs for five reps. This rate of progression is not some theory of what is possible. It is something that I have personally coached many a trainee to do (and personally watched them do). These achievements are based on real world examples, not something concocted in a fantasy land in order to play on your emotions and sell you something. I know what you're thinking: “John, you can't keep progressing at this rate indefinitely”. You're right, but there are ways to prolong this rate until the time would come (when you are so big and strong that no one recognises you) when you will have to settle for a slower rate of progression. Let me take this example further to show you what happens next.

A real life scenario

Lets say that at the 12 month mark the trainee above starts to plateau. In other words he completes three workouts (whilst keeping all the out of gym factors the same- nutrition, rest ect) and cannot make his five reps at 422.5lbs- he fails at rep 4. At that point I'll drop his rep goal to 3 reps and continue at 2.5lbs per week which he should be able to sustain for another 3 months. Lets be conservative and say he makes it 12 workouts until he plateaus again. At this point he is now squatting 450lbs for 3 reps. At this point I'll usually do one of two things. I'll drop his progression to 1lb per week and keep his rep goal at 3 reps. (and add a back off set of 8 to stimulate more gains in the actual contractile elements- as explained in the first part of this series)/ This trainee would be able to sustain this rate of progression for at least another three to six months bringing his squat to somewhere between 464 to 476.5lbs for three reps. My other option is to drop his rep goal to one rep (working singles) for three to five sets (with a back off set of 8) and keep the progression at 2.5lbs per week. He will be able to sustain this for about 10 weeks bringing his squat to around 480lbs for a perfect single repetition.

Here is the tally. In less than two years of training this trainee can now squat near 500lbs (and I'm confident that he could easily squat 400lbs for 8 to 10 reps). Anyone who hasn't seen this trainee during this time won't recognise him as he now resembles a gorilla.

It makes me wonder why any trainee wouldn't want to follow this simple regimen, and I always come back to the simple reason that most trainees lack patience- they don't want to wait two years to get the aforementioned results. So, instead they play around with five or six different routines and end up two years later exactly as they were when they started- its really pathetic.

If a trainee is new to lifting. or really trying to pack on the mass by consuming a large amount of calories, the rates presented above will be higher. if a trainee is not trying to gain any bodyweight., just pure strength; the rate could be lower depending on the rep goal of the program they are using. But this is also dependant, on fibre type and workout rep range. I don't want to make this more complicated than it has to be. The point is adding resistance is not complicated. Once a trainee starts a program based on single progression they will learn through experience what rate they can progress at. The human body can only get so big so fast. How fast? If you do things correctly right from the start and have average genetics. three years will make your friends accuse you of steroid use. Trainees under my guidance have gained 40 to 80 pounds of bodyweight in a couple of years. That's going from a 14 inch arm to a 17 inch arm (many to 18+), that's building up to a 50 inch chest. and 30 inch legs. What about strength in this time? It's routine for me to have trainees squat or deadlift double their bodyweight for multiple reps, and bench press one and a half times their :body weight for multiple reps in that time period.

Systems of Progression

There really are only several good systems of progression. They are single progression, double progression and periodization based on percentages of a one rep max. These systems can take on a variety of forms.

Single progression is simply Micro-loading for a fixed number of repetitions. For instance. adding two pounds to the bar every workout while performing two to five sets of five reps for the squat. Micro-loading can also be used when a trainee is a Program in which they train to failure. For instance if a trainee is performing one Set of squats to failure, and achieve the goal of ten reps, the trainee would simply. Ad 2.5 pounds to the bar and train to failure again the next workout trying to make ten reps again. For this system to work effectively, Micro-loading at the proper rate (as detailed above) is essential. Double progression is where you add weight after achieving the "top end" of a predetermined rep range. Since the trainee is trying to get as many reps as possible so that they can achieve their rep goal (so that they can add weight) the sets are usually performed to failure. For instance, after successfully completing two sets of 8 reps utilizing the squat, the trainee adds (depending on the actual weight lifted) anywhere from two to five percent to the bar and starts over at five reps again.

Periodisation programs (based on % of a one rep max) can also be effective if implemented properly. The problem here is that most of the “marketers” of this type of program recommend an inordinate amount of volume and frequency. If you choose to go this route, just make sure that you weight train two to three times per week. Much of the material that has been written about periodization has the trainee lifting four or more times per week, with many of the exercises performed three times per week. Performing any exercise at advanced levels of volume, more than twice a week really tears up the joints quickly.

I prefer a single progression system utilizing micro-loading. This method of progression really brings home the bacon. It epitomises one of the basic premises to success in anything- making consistent “small” achievable accomplishments. It's amazing that when you keep things this simple, many of the variables of resistance training that can get complicated take care of themselves. Micro-loading promotes a positive mind-set. While using this approach, the trainees' goal of any non-warm-up set is to complete a desired number of reps "beating" failure-verses a goal of going to failure. This is not to say that double progression systems or systems that promote "going to failure" don't work. Many have proven that they do. After working with both systems I just feel that over the long haul single progression utilizing Micro-loading has many more advantages, and less risk. One of these advantages is that it promotes a tremendous amount of confidence that you will succeed in making your rep goal. For instance, after a trainee has been successfully completing three sets of five reps for five months while adding two pounds to the bar every squat workout, he knows that he will make it again the next workout. To many of you, this rate of progression seems impossible with a "system" that is SO simple—but I, and many, many of my trainees can testify that it works just as described above, This system focuses on the "meat and potatoes" of success, not the frills. The”meat and potatoes" being extreme effort directed at achieving realistic workout to workout weight increases over the long haul.

The Right Exercises and the Right Routine

The right exercises are the ones that work the most muscle tissue for the desired strength function and / or body area (part) that you want to work. They also require the body to use biomechanical "motions" that promote maximum leverage and reduce risk. Here is a list of functions and their corresponding exercises. These exercises should comprise nearly 95% of all routines that you use.

Function Exercise
Pushing with the arms, horizontal plane Bench press, close grip bench press
Pushing with the arms, vertical plane Overhead press, behind neck press, dips, pushdowns
Pulling with the arms, horizontal plane Rowing
Pulling with the arms, vertical plane Pulldowns, shrugs, curls
Pushing with the legs Squats, bent leg deadlifts, leg press, lunges, step ups, power cleans. Snatches
Pulling with the legs Glute hamstring raises, leg curls, SLDL
Bending at the waist, forward Supported crunches, sit ups
Bending at the waist, rearward Back extensions, SLDL
Bending at the waist, lateral Side bends, 45 degree sidebends
Pushing with the toes Calf raises
Bending the wrist Wrist curls
Squeezing the hands Barbell and DB static holds, gripping devices

The right routine

The right routine is one that allows you to stimulate the body to change to its maximum capacity each workout, while allowing time for it to recover before stimulating it again. Doesn't sound too complicated, does it? Its amazing how people can complicate such simple things. And what usually creates this are unrealistic expectations. I'm not talking about unrealistic “long term” expectations, because most trainees are unrealistic about what can be accomplished in the short-term. The outlook that most trainees have, is one of achieving incredible strength and size developments in the short term and at the same time undermining what can be accomplished in the long term. Unfortunately this is more the rule than the exception in many areas of life. The fact of the matter exists that as long as people want something in an unreasonable capacity or time frame there will be shrewd “marketers” out there that will sell you (lie to you) on the fact that “it” indeed can happen for the right price

Here is a great analogy
Most college students realize and accept the fact that it is going to take four years to get a bachelors degree. If they sacrifice much (summer breaks and no social hie) and are extremely dedicated, they could possibly finish it in two and a half years. But are they going to get that degree in a year? No way. So, why would the development of strength and size be looked at any differently? Almost anyone can build a physique, and the strength to match that would turn heads anywhere, in a four year period. Some, who are willing to sacrifice greatly, practice dedication beyond the norm, will be able to attain this development in two and a half years. Let me clarify. In four years will you be bigger and stronger than anyone who walks the planet? No. Will you be as big. or even bigger and stronger than all your friends who train? Yes. If you train properly for eight to ten years you will have a level of development and strength as compared to someone of your same bone structure that will be in the top one percent. Unfortunately, this rarely happens because most are fooled to think it can happen overnight. And this is as ridiculous as thinking that you can get a four year degree in one year. This "overnight" thinking, is what causes you to make mistakes (train and eat incorrectly) and really slows your results to the point that what should have taken four years will take you eight to ten (or more if you don't learn the lesson soon enough).

You should only hit the weights two to three times per week. Yes, only "two or three" times per week. Yea, I can hear you now, "this champ or that champ trains much more than that". Well, those so-called "champs" are so full of drugs (steroids and others) they have no idea how to train themselves or anyone else who isn't taking them. It takes a drug-free body two to three days to recover from a properly conducted workout. And I'm not just talking about the replenishment of muscle glycogen or the repairing of muscle tissue. It takes a minimum of two days for your body to replenish/ repair two other systems of the body that are much more important to your ability to perform at your maximum at your next workout. These are your nervous system and your endocrine system. These "systems" can take up to three to four days to recover. And without them working at their peak it doesn't mean diddly it you have replenished your glycogen stores or not.
Put your program together as follows:

Day one:
Crunch 1x5-20
Squat 2x5-15
SLDL 1x10-15
Bench press 2-5 x 5-15
Pulldown, chin or row 2-5 x 5-15
Calf raises 1x5-20
Static grip 1x 60- 90 seconds

Day two

Sidebend 1x5-15
Deadlift 2-5 x 5-15
Military press 2-5 x 5-15
Barbell curl 2-5 x 5-15
CGBP 1-3 x5-15
Wrist curl 1x 15-20
Reverse wrist curl 1x 15-20

Here are two effective templates for training 3 times per week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Recommended sets and reps are the same as the two times per week template

Day 1
Bench press
Pulldown,chin or row

Day two
Barbell curl
Military press
Calf raise

Day three
Side bend
Static grip

This template spreads the “big” exercises, the squat, bench and pulldown,chin or row over 2 days. Some trainees feel they cant do the bench or a pulldown, chin or row justice after squatting hard

Day 1
Barbell curl

Day 2
Bench Press
Pulldown, chin or row
Calf raise

Day 3
Military press
Static grip

You will notice that I gave you a broad rep range to choose from. Your rep goal, or rep target, depends on what stage of training you're at and what your goals are. General guidelines are that if you are a beginner you should start out with a rep target somewhere between 8 and 12 reps for 2 to 3 work sets on the big exercises and one to two sets on the smaller. A work set is simply a set that is not a warm up set. This set and rep range is good for beginners because it requires many “total” reps per exercise which allows the trainee to practise and learn good technique. For instance two sets of twelve is a total of 24 reps, whereas if the trainee starter their program at two sets of five they would only be performing 10 total reps.

For the trainee that has a good foundation of training (intermediate level) who has developed good technique and wants to increase their absolute strength along with their size I would recommend utilizing three to five sets of five reps on the big exercises and one to three on the smaller.

For the trainee who is interested in powerlifting competition. I would recommend a three week cycle in which the rep goal is changed every week for three weeks. It looks like this:

Week 1: five rep goal
Week 2: Three rep goal
Week 3: One rep goal

On week four the is back to performing sets of five reps with the goal of adding the proper increment (Micro-loading) to those work sets. Each of the major exercises is performed for two to five "live" sets (non warm-up). This routine really helps prepare the trainee to demonstrate their maximal strength. There are many variations to this routine which are dependent on the trainees goals.

Many trainees have had tremendous success with the routines presented above. It's
certainly not fancy, but it brings home the bacon. As a trainee becomes more advanced, or as their goals change, or as their sport specific needs dictate, the routine can be altered in an inordinate amount of ways, I'll discuss this later when I get into advanced training routines.

The application of Micro loading into a single progression program

Now that you know how to put a routine together, lets apply the simplest method of increasing the resistance.

If you are new to weight training, or are in the beginner stages, you must start a Program with some 'reserve reps.' left in you. What I mean by this is that when a set is completed you would have been able to complete two to three more reps dependent on the rep goal chosen. What many start thinking and this is what usually is the first thing that stops trainees from achieving what could be tremendous gains. in their first several vears of training is that they are selling themselves short in the gains department if they don't push a set right up to their limit by training to failure. This is incorrect. The reason is that as a relatively new trainee the body wont require the same level of stimulation to set off the mechanisms to make it stronger and bigger as it would a trainee who has been hitting the iron for a while. So, although they're not pushing to the limit, as long as there is more weight on the bar (and their technique is perfect) than at the previous workout they will be making gains. And most importantly, as new trainees, if they expect to achieve their strength and size goals its going to take a number of years training consistently, and they wont be able to train consistently if they are hurt as a result of poor technique. The effort required to push into the two or three “rep reserve” (approaching failure) will compromise the trainees concentration on on maintaining perfect biomechanics- which as a new trainee, have not become automatic yet. What happens is that the trainee completes these “reserve reps” with poor technique. They rely on aggression alone- and the heck with good technique. What develop over time then are poor motor skills, resulting in an inefficient use of ones levers, resulting in having to use less weight for a prescribed number of reps. That is actually the least that happens. Usually an injury develops and training has to be stopped until the injury heals. And it is obvious that if a trainee cant train then they aren't going to make any progress. The truth of the matter is that this initial period (of keeping reps in reserve till perfect motor skills develop) is very short, usually no more than four to six weeks. At this point in time, a trainee should be able to push right up to their limit with the most efficient technique that their body is capable of.

The bottom line is that the technique one develops by slowly closing in on their limit as described above is unique to their own length of levers. What I mean by this is that although there are biomechanical basics of each exercise that can be taught, the body must develop its own “fingerprint” of micro techniques that are specific to each trainees particular make-up (i.e., length of bones, connective tissue etc.) This may be the most important factor to ensure a trainee will reach their strength and size potential. There is no better way to allow the body to develop these “micro techniques” then properly utilizing micro loading through a program of single progression.

Like anything else, the 'basics' always bring home the bacon, but you have to know what the “basics” are first. If you've understood the material presented in this two part series, you now know what the basics are, but they wont do you a bit of good if you don't put them into practise. Put them to work for you today- you wont be disappointed.

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Re: John Christy "lost" articles

Post by sticksb » Sat Apr 07, 2018 6:03 pm

Nice upload . Vacation to fingers . Christy great writer/researcher . Saw this first in
Hardgainer Magazine . Basic compound templates were sources I never strayed too far
from . A table of contents mate of John's in the HG was Steve Wedan . Steve's articles
"The Cubist Chronicles" were also a wonderful series . Wedan also a superb artist .

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