Pin Last month I presented a workout aimed primarily at beginners and those who want to include some quick lifts in their routines, a program I learned from Sid Henry of Dallas. You must establish a solid base before this routine will bear fruit. This program came from one of the greatest lifters in the history of the iron game, Doug Hepburn of Vancouver, British Columbia. His story is an inspiration to anyone who thinks he or she has had to overcome some physical problem. At 15 he began lifting to build up his not-so-impressive body.
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Pin Last month I presented a workout aimed primarily at beginners and those who want to include some quick lifts in their routines, a program I learned from Sid Henry of Dallas. You must establish a solid base before this routine will bear fruit. This program came from one of the greatest lifters in the history of the iron game, Doug Hepburn of Vancouver, British Columbia. His story is an inspiration to anyone who thinks he or she has had to overcome some physical problem.
At 15 he began lifting to build up his not-so-impressive body. At first he lifted on crude equipment in his basement. Then later he moved to an old store that had more space, where he slept on sacks and ate the cheapest food available. Cheap food is also often also nutritious, though, and Hepburn thrived, building himself into a world-class weightlifter.
He came up with his own training methods, as many in that era did, and made improvements without the benefit of any coach. Charles Smith, a highly regarded fitness writer, found out about him, brought him to New York and taught him how to do the three Olympic lifts that were contested at the time: the press, snatch and clean and jerk.
Up to that point Doug had been doing what we would now call a powerlifting routine. Then in , in Stockholm, he defeated the great John Davis and became the Heavyweight champion of the world at age He was the strongest man in the world.
It allowed him to understand his body better than most and also enabled him to create some unique training methods. In Bob Bednarski and I were invited to lift in a contest in Vancouver. Naturally, we jumped at the chance, since it was a great opportunity to visit one of the most beautiful cities in the world, party with the Canadian lifters, particularly Aldo Roy, and also to meet Doug Hepburn.
Before I left York, Pennsylvania, where I was living, I contacted Hepburn by mail, got his phone number and called him when we arrived in Vancouver. Barski was as excited as I was about meeting the living legend. He came over to our hotel, and we had an enjoyable visit. At 42 he was in marvelous shape and told us he kept busy writing poetry, singing in clubs and inventing.
It was portable, could be set up in 15 minutes, worked on friction and was most functional. Too bad he was far ahead of his time. If that machine were marketed on television now, it would sell like hotcakes. He was curious about how the York lifters were training, and Barski and I wanted to know how he gained such phenomenal strength with simple equipment, no coaching and no pharmaceutical help.
Those who can use it and recover, however, make marvelous progress. In some cases athletes will choose to use the Hepburn routine on only one lift, and that usually works out nicely. For the sake of simplicity, I will only go over the procedure for the bench press, but the idea applies to deadlifts and squats as well. Start by doing a series of warmup sets. Three or four sets are usually enough. After you finish that, drop back 50 pounds and do five sets of five.
The routine for one exercise will take about an hour and 15 minutes to complete. You can do your warmup sets and the first couple of singles quickly, but then you have to slow your pace for the final singles and the sets of five.
They help expand your base and push the singles higher. You can determine that by trial and error. Why not just go ahead and use for the singles? If you try this for the first time and fail on any of your singles or any of your fives, you need to pull back. The key to making this routine work is to always make all of your reps, and I mean every one of them. Should you fail on any of your sets, you must stay with those same numbers the next time you do the routine.
Notice that the numbers on both the singles and fives move up only five pounds. Even worse, you may start to regress. Obviously, recovery is fundamental to making this work. That means you have to plan ahead. Get some extra rest the night before and stoke the furnace with lots of nutritious foods and supplements.
What if you want to use the program on all three powerlifts? The most notable was George Hechter, who trained with me when he was still in high school and lifted weights to improve his wrestling prowess. For a period all he did in his weekly program was Hepburns. Since he was handling ponderous poundages, all the other trainees at the gym tried their best to work out at a different time because he used up all the big weights. He maintained a slow pace and often took more than two hours to complete all his sets.
I can even recall watching him eat his lunch during breaks in his training. George was a rare individual, and I doubt if there are more than a dozen or so men in the country who could handle such a weekly workload or have the time to train as he did. Most are content to do Hepburns for just one lift for a month, then switch to another lift. My imaginary lifter from the earlier example was able to stay with the routine, using Hepburns on the bench press once a week for six weeks.
By then he had progressed to using for his singles and for his fives. With adequate rest he should be able to translate his new strength to a or more bench.
How long is long enough to stay on the routine? As long as your numbers keep climbing, you can stay with the Hepburns, but if you start feeling flat and stale, pull back and switch to another, less strenuous routine. Unless athletes are advanced, I usually start them out with a modified version of the routine.
You use the same format, but instead of five singles and five sets of five, you do three singles and three sets of five. It also fits well for those who cannot get warmed up properly with just four sets. Some find that they progress better when they do Hepburns only every other week, and others like to do them as a novelty once a month.
Whatever works for you. Never do Hepburns more than once a week for any bodypart. If you do them for your bench on Monday and want to bench again during that week, keep your reps relatively high at the second session; for example, five sets of eight. The Hepburn routine works because it attacks the tendons and ligaments with the singles, then provides lots of base work for the muscles. Download the Latest Issues.
Bill Starr Original 5 x 5 Training Routine
Starr are far and wide. For the readers of this that may be of a younger generation, Coach Starr was a throwback — someone that challenged his athletes to perform using power and Olympic movements. He was more about work and effort than the bells and whistles. The results often spoke for themselves. Effort mattered to him more than talent. Reclusive — absolutely. Stubborn — an understatement.
The Strongest Shall Survive
Start your review of The Strongest Shall Survive Write a review Mar 12, Meredith rated it liked it This is an exuberant, rather funny book on the classic 5 x 5 strength building method. Following this scheme will make you strong. The focus here is on training for football, but any athlete would benefit from this good hard work. Basically, if you have time for only three exercises, learn to back squat, power clean and bench press. Cardio is just lifting weights faster.
Honoring a Legend: Remembering Bill Starr
Pin The strength you can build with overhead exercises is extremely useful for all athletic endeavors, even more so than what you get from other upper-body movements such as bench presses and inclines. Overhead lifts work the deltoids, triceps and many parts of the back, groups that are involved in every sport. The delts, triceps and back, however, are extremely important to success in weightlifting. The same holds true for other athletes who would much rather have cannonball delts and horseshoe triceps than a huge chest. Another point in favor of overhead movements is that trainees who strive to develop large chests often discover that they have a tiger by the tail.