Thicken the Waist for Power

October 20, 2003 03:27 PM

The statue of David, Hercules, and numerous other works of art out of antiquity display powerful physiques with thick spinal erectors, shoulder girdles, and corded forearms, and most of all thick, powerful waists. Bulging biceps, sagging pecs, and waspish waists are nowhere in sight. In fact, the musculature of these men is practically identical to the strongmen of old. Saxon, Sandow, Hackenschmidt, Aston, Cyr, Jowett, Apollon, and many more display truly strong physiques built by heavy lifting. Put a photo of any old-time strongman next to today's fitness models or even many athletes (!) and you'll see shocking differences. Enough lamenting the good ol' days. Its time to change things around. Here's the how you can build a powerful trunk:

One-Handed Lifting: There's one thing the aforementioned strongmen had in common: heavy lifting with one hand. Bent presses, side presses, windmills, snatches, clean & jerks, one- and two-hand anyhows, deadlifts, farmer walks; all lifts that were staples of these powerful men's training. If you already practice these movements with regularity, pat yourself on the back. You're ahead of the game. If not, add them in and go heavy. You won't build the thick obliques, abdominals, erectors, and other muscles of the trunk if you lift baby weights.

Heavy Waist Work: From the literature, most strongmen weren't devotees of endless amounts of direct "ab" work. The above lifts built thick trunks because that's what heavy lifting demands. This isn't to disparage the use of direct work for the trunk muscles. Weighted sit-ups, hanging leg raises, Saxon side bends, Roman chair sit-ups, "evil wheels" (to quote Mr. Tsatsouline), and similar movements should be added in at least twice a week. Again, go heavy. Forget endless reps. Add some weight and stay within the 3-5 rep range.

Plain, Heavy Lifting: You can't perform heavy deadlifts, squats, overhead presses, Olympic lifts, stone lifting, or any other heavy lifts without training the trunk. The obliques, rectus abdominis, transversus abdominis, and other muscles of the trunk must stabilize you. Try to perform a heavy squat without flexing and bracing your waist. You'll fold like a limp noodle.

You don't have to institute a diet of chips and beer to obtain a thick, powerful trunk. A thick waist isn't a corpulent one, but don't pursue endless hours of mere "ab" work with rep after rep of useless crunches with the intention of "trimming" and "toning". Forget the senseless belief that a waif-like waist is attractive because it isn't. A muscular waist IS attractive and functional. Your lifts will become easier and you'll display new levels of strength. I promise. If you don't believe me, take a look at the enormous poundages lifted by the strongmen of old.

Daniel is a student at the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho. At this time, he is nearing completion of his fourth year in the Coordinated Program of Dietetics with a fifth year of supervised practice to go before completing the program. He is an actively competing Olympic lifter.