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In Pursuit of a New Golden Era of Bodybuilding, Part 4: Adversity is Something You Overcome

One morning, years ago, my old coach was exhibiting his dark, no-nonsense business side. The forks were wheeled onto the platform for what was one of my personal favourite workouts; Split Jerks followed up by Front Squats (1 1/2).

"No-nonsense" is probably the best moniker for this session because there is nothing pretty about holding a bar, filling the lungs up and bam, exploding the weight up while you drop under in a deep lunge position. This is however, where I shone, it was completely explosive, leg driven, downright gritty and you had to really "want it" to succeed.

I wanted it.

I was a kid, who had nothing other than will and desire, but this was my outlet.

from my journal:

close eyes, see the lift. Fill lungs, tight. Lift out, walk forward two short steps. Tight, explode. 1, 2, 3, dump weight in front, control bar

Line by line these journal entries reveal my teens both through the lessons learned in the Iron Game, and from the extraordinary people who I knew, many sadly gone now. Yet, despite the almost uncomfortable aspect of reviewing the thoughts of your youth, there is a sense of obligation in retelling the salvation that experience provided.

The Iron Game, with all its dark qualities, many of which it does its best to promote, is still a great breeding ground for a young man's character.

Our daily session went on and we pressed through the well-laid-out scheme our coaches had for us that day. As was his customary style, there were always a few morsels left on the plate, little tidbits that we were not required to do unless we were "dedicated."

Naturally, the wily old veteran knew precisely what he was doing because off we went ready for additional work, the subject of the fourth installment of Galata Morente.

Just as the legs are the pillars of an athlete's strength, strong, wide shoulders are a key component in training. Here again, many present day practitioners could use a good lesson from the past. To wit, not all shoulder work is "pressing actions" and in-fact some of the best work comes from outside that realm.

In reviewing this shoulder routine, it is important to realize that it came after significant overhead presses ("split jerks") and the movements clearly were meant to avoid over action of the traps and upper back. Equally, the workout adheres to the classic vision of muscular development at the time, of balance and lines that were passed down through ancient visions of physique.

In hindsight and after years of experience, I can see the intent of this as not only mixing different muscular actions (with knowledge of the type of muscle fibre in the shoulder region) but also using compound movements as the base of training with further isolation activities.

All movements used an effectively "lighter" weight but with knowledge that the shoulder region responds better to this type of stimuli. Angles of movement, something easily forgotten in a discipline where machines have taken over were key because in every action the fine details of movement were watched.

The short workout consisted of a simple three-step regime:

Single leaning laterals
Side lateral raise (a), (b) and (c)
Front Raise

As a separate note, please be aware that in this era work volumes were significantly higher than present day norms and the general guideline of "rest" was very short with each set mind-numbing with respect to muscular fatigue. Of special mention, we used heavily weighted rings of slightly more than twelve inches in diameter for each of the movements, but naturally, basic dumbbells will suffice. Tempo is modest, under complete control, with no momentum used and the eccentric action is roughly thrice of raising the side.

Side leaning laterals
With feet against brace and outside hand holding, lean as far as possible to side. In "strong" hand, hold weight with small finger off and repeat fifteen strict side laterals. Repeat two sets.

Side lateral raise
(a) as above but without lean, one set of fifteen repetitions.
(b) hold forearm to upper arm at 90 degree angle, with small finger off weight. Raise elbow upwards to the wide, pointing thumb down, akin to the coaching point of the era or "pouring water from a jug". One set of fifteen repetitions
(c) similar to above from a seated fashion, leaning over considerably and sit upright as you simultaneously raise elbow up. One set of fifteen repetitions

Front Raises
The real meat of this workout, in my opinion, came to the use of Front Raise's, done with the strictest of forms with five total sets of fifteen repetitions each.

Commentary from my journal was both shaky and short, adjectives to the point, because the workout is exhausting. Decades later, along with the notations of being "exhausted," what was seen a long ago time was something I learned through life: Adversity is something you overcome and things worth having are worth working for. That's the iron game for you, because amongst all its faults it has this remarkably ability to teach lessons that last a lifetime.

From the era of classic iron game, this shoulder training session is an integral part of the New Golden Era of Bodybuilding.