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About Me

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  1. This is all the bodybuilding, weightlifting and autobiography books I've collected over the last 20+ years. I also have a billion bodybuilding magazines stored away in one of my rooms. My favourite magazines were the classic mags from the pre-1970s, for example, Reg Park, Casey Viator, Arnold and Sergio Oliva. My top book which I own is "The Complete Keys to Progress" by John McCallum - outstanding book, which I highly recommend and which you can still buy for cheap on Amazon. Which weight training books do you own?
  2. * Written by Ray Nobile with assistance from his beautiful wife Marion and Magnus. * This promotional article has been edited by Strength Oldschool. NOTE by Strength Oldschool: Ray Nobile has a new ebook out which I highly recommend all serious bodybuilding and strongman fans read! As a teaser guests can read Chapter 1 and Chapter 5 below for free to get a taste of what the book entails. To purchase this eBook, at the cost of only 5 Euros, (price may be subject to change) please contact Ray Nobile directly at the following email address: raynobile@gmail.com. INTRODUCTION: Have you ever wondered what it feels like to be a worldclass powerlifter? Or a European champion bodybuilder? How about a world record breaker in strongman competition? My name is Ray Nobile and I have been there, done that and got the t-shirt as the saying goes in ALL THREE!! Join me on a journey through the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s as I lift, hold, carry and flex my way through my iron game career. Meet the super-strong highlander who gave it up for love while still in his prime! See the eccentric lifter who raised 700lbs with the help of a foot pump (or did he?)! How about the giant lifter who ran away... from an oily salad? And much more! Meet legends of lifting that became friends of mine, and experience what it was like to compete against them. Stories from my life PLUS chapters featuring Marion my wife and her record breaking success, PLUS various training routines and diets I have used over the years. More than 100 pages of drama, laughter, tragedy and entertainment awaits you within this e-book from a former topflight competitor in the iron game…enjoy! CONTENTS: Chapters / Page No. Foreword by Strength Oldschool – Page 3 1: My first 5 years in the Iron Game: 1965 -1970 – Page 6 2: 1970-1980: From powerful-looking to powerlifting champion – Page 15 3: 1976 – 1980: Power, politics and personalities on my way to the top – Page 25 4: 1977-1980 Worlds to conquer and Battles to the Finnish and Swedish – Page 37 5: 1979-1980 Winning, whingeing and record breaking strong men! – Page 51 6: 1981 to 1985: Big totals, Strongman titles and bowing out of plifting! – Page 65 7: 1986 to 1999: Bodybuilding, gym owner and fire-fighting games! – Page 76 8: Marion tells Magnus about her own career in the iron game – Page 90 9: Some of my training routines – Page 105 10: Dedications and Thanks – Page 112 CHAPTER 1: My first 5 years in the iron game: 1965-1970 Hello Iron Game brothers and sisters, I am very glad you decided to read my story and I will do my best to entertain you along the way. If you don’t know anything about the iron game and it’s all new to you welcome anyway, I will try to explain things and make it entertaining for you as well. I have been living in Bulgaria for about a decade along with my beautiful wife Marion who is a strength athlete and title winner in her own right. Even though I am now over 60 years of age we train hard 6 days a week and eat a disciplined diet, maintaining bodybuilder physiques that are pretty good, even if I do say so myself! We have come a long way from where we started and experienced great triumphs and the odd loss along life’s highway, but here and now I would like to take you back in time and tell you how it was in my early days. I started life’s journey in April 1951, living in a village in South Lanarkshire in Scotland called Bothwell which is roughly 12 miles south-east of Glasgow. The river Clyde runs through Bothwell and the remains of a castle sit on Bothwell Bank. There is a lot of history tied up in this place but when I started training I never imagined at all that one day it would be me making history myself. I was lucky to have inherited good genetics for the iron game which became evident when I was very young. In fact when I was 3 years old I was spotted by a man who was in town with the circus as I ran along the seafront in Largs with my parents. This man offered to buy me from my parents, saying that he had never seen such a well-developed child before and I would make a very good circus performer as I grew up. Luckily for me my parents decided not to take the money! At 13 years of age I started working weekends and school holidays at my father’s hairdressing salon, learning how to deal with ladies hair under the direction of my uncle Adam who managed that side of the business. At 15 years of age I left school and worked full-time hairdressing and attended Stow College of Hairdressing on a day release scheme, picking up my diplomas in tinting, perming and other hairdressing skills. While I was taking my apprenticeship I became inspired to become a bodybuilder when I was 14 years old as I watched the Hercules movies that starred the legendary Steve Reeves and Reg Park, and Gordon Scott as Tarzan. At 14 I possessed a well-proportioned but wiry physique and I thought these guys had incredible physiques. There was even a muscle control act on the talent-spotting TV programme called Opportunity Knocks. A guy called Tony Hollands performed muscle control routines to music, and I just had to build some muscle for myself after seeing all of these bodybuilders. My father bought a Weider barbell set and with little more than the instruction leaflet that came with it I trained in my bedroom for a year. Then at 15 years of age I joined a gym and finally started learning much more about how to train properly. The year was 1966 and the Koby Osaka gym was situated above a Judo studio in Glasgow which had a tremendous reputation in the Judo world due to it being owned and run by a guy called Tommy Morris who, if I remember correctly, was the first man in the UK to attain a 10th Dan grade. Training became more advanced now as I followed routines pinned to the walls of the gym and also sought advice from the more experienced guys that trained there. It was also the gym where I met Robin Love who became my training partner for five years and also became a great friend, more than once being my best man. Thinking of Robin reminds me of one occasion when we went to Blackpool for the weekend and created a bit of chaos in Woolworths while we were there. We went in and told the girl at the counter that we were making a special visit to test the hot water bottles that they were selling there. She said “what do you mean, test them? ” We explained we were checking for leaks and she proved to be a practical jokers dream as she asked if we wanted all of them. She must have been either a new member of staff or a ‘weekend girl’ because she was so gullible she accepted everything we said without question. We settled on one each and after removing the packaging took a count of three then started blowing them up. In next to no time a crowd gathered to watch us and we had the bottles about halfway there when the manager came storming into the room accompanied by a couple of staff members, shouting “what the hell is going on here? ” Robin let his bottle go and it shot up to the ceiling then bounced down onto shelving sending things flying. I was still determined to burst my bottle but was grabbed by the elbows by members of staff and they were forcing me towards the exit. Before we got there Robin dead-panned “here, unhand that man he is not finished yet, the bottle is about to burst so let him continue.” At this I burst out laughing and the bottle took off like a bat out of hell straight into the baby food shelves. We were then booted out onto the street and while we were walking away an old man who looked about 90 called after us “come back lads, you are not well, you need treatment,” but we just kept walking and laughing. Back to the gym and training moved up another notch. I then went on to follow Reg Park’s Bulk and Power routine, which was based on all the basic lifts worked for 5 sets of 5 reps each exercise. Yes young guys, there are 5 x 5 routines by Madcow, Stronglifts, Bill Starr etc. these days, some of them talk as though they invented 5 x 5, but Reg Park was training this way in the early 1950s. And Reg got so strong he set many official British weightlifting records including becoming the second man in history to bench press 500 pounds! I also followed routines from the magazines, especially those created by John McCallum in his ‘Keys to Progress’ series of articles that were published in Bob Hoffman’s Strength and Health and Muscular Development magazines. Years later Randall Strossen of Ironmind reprinted John’s entire series as a book. If you want good advice and funny entertaining articles you cannot do better than to get a copy and read about John’s quirky characters and his admiration for real guys such as the Canadian Hercules Maurice Jones and of course Reg Park. Anyway, I am getting a bit ahead of myself. Let’s go to the first contest I ever attended (as a spectator) which was the Mr Hercules organised by Bob Sweeney who was the owner of the Olympic Health Studios chain of chromed and carpeted health studio gyms spread throughout Britain. The winner of this contest was Bernard Bradford who went on to be runner-up in the Mr Britain contest. The junior division of this contest was won by Dave Caldwell. This would not be the last time I came across Dave at a contest! The icing on the cake was the guest poser, none other than Larry Scott (pictured above), fresh from his Mr Olympia victory! Although he seemed to be somewhat shy off stage, when he posed on stage he just exuded charisma from every pore, no wonder Ricky Wayne (pictured below) raved about him in Joe Weider’s Muscle Builder magazine. And the strange thing was in the pictures we saw of Larry he looked quite smooth, but in the flesh he was not just cut, he was ripped to shreds (cut and ripped means the muscles stand out and are highly visible). I said I was just a spectator at this contest but I did get up on stage and compete but not as a bodybuilder. The Milk Marketing Board held an audience participation contest during the break and I won it. What did I do? I had to eat a pie, drink a pint of milk and blow up a balloon until it burst. I had to take two buses to get home from Glasgow and I received some funny looks from other travellers as I carried my prize home, as I had won 12 pints of milk, 12 pies, 24 cartons of yoghurt and a packet of balloons! Not long after I entered my first competition in Glasgow in November 1966. The contest was the junior Mr Caledonia and I placed third. The winner was Dave Caldwell (photo above) who then went on to become runner-up in the junior Mr Britain that year. Later Dave turned to powerlifting like me, and he went on to become European and World champion. Also at this contest I met Rick Wayne who was both a great bodybuilder and possibly the best writer and contest reporter on the bodybuilding world ever. Ricky said I had great potential and would go far in bodybuilding, and was extremely surprised to hear that I was only 15 years old at the time as he thought I was around 17. Over the next few years I competed in bodybuilding I won the junior Mr Scotland 3 times, junior Mr Caledonia twice, the junior Mr Edina (Edinburgh) and the junior Mr Fitness and Health. I also competed in the junior Mr Britain in 1970 and was a finalist, competing against teenage phenomenon young Bertil Fox (photo below). When I turned 18 years of age one of the girls at my father’s salon decided to go it alone and set up her own business, and she asked me to work for her. I decided ‘why not’ but unfortunately she had a jealous husband and after seven months I had to leave. I fancied a change from hairdressing so I went to work the summer season at a Butlins holiday camp, but only worked there for three weeks because John and Andy who trained at the same gym as me set up a new gym in the heart of Glasgow and asked me to be an instructor there. They named it the Nordic Health Studios and were hoping to have the same success that Bob Sweeney had with his chain of Olympic Health Studios. During this period of time in my life I met many great iron game competitors and here I would like to say a few words about some of them: Frank Richards: (photo above) Mr Britain winner in 1968 who was a straightforward, down to earth character who, even when he was competing or guest posing, could always be found in the bar or pub both before and after the competition, as he liked his drink! Frank later trained with guys like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Columbu at the original Golds gym and also suffered a very bad accident in his work that almost ended his career but he made a comeback some years later and did very well. John Citrone: I first met John in 1967 at a competition where he guest posed. As well as posing he performed a strength act, part of which was to lift an anvil in one hand and an anchor in the other and hoist them overhead. The anvil had a handle welded on which made it even more awkward to lift. He challenged anyone in the audience to replicate this feat, but despite many very strong men from this era trying no one ever succeeded. John also included his wife, who was a Miss Britain winner, in this act by lifting her overhead with one arm, but unfortunately for the audience‘s strongmen he never invited anyone to try and match that feat! John’s strength was all the more impressive because he was not a huge man by any means, yet he could out-do men that were quite literally twice or even three times his size!! Paul Wynter: (pictured below) A multi NABBA Mr Universe winner who also included strength feats in his act. In those days show promoters got more value for their money as most of the physique stars were more versatile and included strength acts with their posing routines. Paul was strong but was best known for his classical shape, possessing a physique similar to Steve Reeves. Len Sell: (pictured below) Another multi Universe winner, Len was a very small man with a very unusual physique. He also promoted the Bullworker isometric training device, but despite being paid well to do this he would openly tell people that it was rubbish and weights were the one and only truly effective equipment to train with! Louis Martin: (pictured below) A star in the sport of Olympic weightlifting, between 1959 and 1965 was world champion 4 times and won a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympic games in 1964 when Russian Trofim Lomakin showed up in top form and beat Louis. I met Louis when we toured Scotland together with Precious McKenzie, Dave Prowse and David Webster. Dave Prowse stood around 6 feet 7 inches and later became the Green Cross Code man on TV then Darth Vader in Star Wars, but at this time he competed as a bodybuilder and Olympic weightlifter and was British heavyweight weightlifting champion twice. He also succeeded in lifting the famous ‘unliftable’ Inch dumbbell that had beaten all other contenders during Thomas Inch’s strongman career! Drifting off the subject there, let’s get back to Louis Martin. Louis was a genial sort of guy who liked to read poetry and possessed an amazing physique for an Olympic lifter as he had started out as a bodybuilder in Jamaica before settling in England. He told me that after every training session he would drink a pint of Guinness with a couple of raw eggs mixed in it. I asked him if this helped with his strength and muscle development and he replied that he didn’t know for sure but it certainly kept his muscles happy! Magnus tells me that years ago in Portugal they called Guinness stout beer and raw eggs a ‘drink for tired horses,’ but lots of people also drank it as a tonic. Louis was by far the most successful Olympic lifter that represented Britain internationally that we have ever had. Don Dorans: In 1968 I met Don at a competition and he took me under his wing, organising my training routines and giving me advice about contest prep, diet, posing etc. His routines were very quirky but effective, and he was way ahead of his time with regards to nutrition. We became really great friends when he moved to Scotland, and I used to visit him every couple of weeks and he would introduce me to the latest piece of training equipment that he was designing. Quite a few of the standard pieces of gym equipment that all gyms have these days came from Don’s highly eccentric but also amazingly active and inventive mind. Don was also a very good cyclist for his age at that time (60 years old). I remember one time when I went to visit him and he had just returned from a 10 miles time trial which had been accomplished in 23 minutes. When he told me he was going out again to repeat the 10 mile trial I had to ask why. He explained that he was conducting a nutritional experiment on himself to see if vitamin E would be effective for his endurance, and had just taken 4,000 IU’s of E before going out again. He told me he would be back in 23 minutes but made it in 22 minutes 30 seconds, so had knocked 30 seconds off his time despite being more fatigued on the second time trial, proving that it was effective. One of the routines Don came up with for me was very effective at adding size and strength – see the last chapter for some details about it. Anyway, going back to competitions, things were very different to today’s shows. Now we have contests with lots of classes thrown in such as Miss Figure, Miss Bikini, Mr/Miss Fitness which are nothing to do with bodybuilding and really belong in aerobics shows. Also there are many different bodybuilding federations. Compare that with the 1960s when everything was far simpler and there were only 2 organisations. In the shows there were only the men’s classes, the juniors and the Miss. Everyone was also much more friendly back then, and approachable and pleasant when asked questions. Most of the top guys felt it was their duty to help the novices in the sport. Also there were no prima donnas throwing temper tantrums on stage and smashing trophies if they failed to win. Magnus asked me if I had an outstanding memory from my first 5 years in the sport that stood out from everything else that had taken place. Well yes I do, it was when I had won the Mr Fitness and Health which was staged by David Webster (photo above). I was invited to join a tour of various competitions in the company of Louis Martin, Precious McKenzie etc. (as I had mentioned earlier), and listening to the stories these guys could tell was riveting stuff to a fan like me. There was one thing that partly spoilt it, this was of course when I first found out that Webster was only really involved in it for himself as he always took advantage of us. I was promised that I would be paid for the tour as Louis, Dave etc. were being paid to be a part of it. When the tour ended and I asked for my money, Webster said the fact that expenses incurred such as food, hotel bills etc. had been paid by him, and that this was my payment and there was no cash forthcoming. This was despite numerous newspaper and TV interviews which Webster was paid for but we weren’t. This was my first experience of many with him over the years that followed where he constantly manipulated situations to suit himself. Generally though, I was very happy with my achievements and met many interesting and famous people, and really enjoyed the experience of it all. If you told me I could live my life over again, and could change anything in those 5 years, I think I would be happy to do it all again exactly the same, yes even if I had to put up with David Webster’s interfering involvement. Okay, that brings us to the end of my first 5 years in the iron game, after which life changed. I still trained but only competed occasionally as my new career as a fireman, getting married and starting a family occupied most of my time. Then in 1976 I took up powerlifting which was a new beginning that led to some of the biggest achievements in my life, and eventually took me all over the world…..and I will be telling you all about it in the chapters that are coming up! CHAPTER 5: 1979-1980 Winning, whingeing and record breaking strong men! Hello again and welcome to chapter five! With apologies to fans of spaghetti westerns you could say in this chapter I remember some guys that were good, at least one bad (although I hear he has mellowed with age! ), and occasionally the ugly happenings and behaviour of people from my career in strength. This time the action overlaps with chapter four as it is squeezed into the end of the 1970s and the start of the 1980s; a time when my powerlifting prowess kept on growing up to some of my best-ever results and other opportunities to compete in strength-based competitions appeared: I am of course talking about strongman contests. Back in the 1970s strongman contests were rare and the competitors even rarer. Unlike today with their Grand Prix events, prize money and professional competitors that train specifically for strongman contests, there were no professional strongmen (other than circus and vaudeville type performers). A TV programme called ‘World’s Strongest Man’ was created by Transworld Sports in 1977 but it wasn’t very worldwide at all as all the competitors were Americans (except for Franco Columbu who lived in America anyway). * 1977 Worlds Strongest Man contest - Franco Columbu and Paul Anderson The TV producers looked around for guys known to the public for their strength and invited them to compete. Guys like WWF (now WWE) wrestler Ken Patera who had been America’s strongest Olympic lifter and had lifted in the 1972 Olympic games in Munich; Bruce Wilhelm the current strongest lifter at the time in America; Lou Ferrigno, at that time the world’s biggest bodybuilder and newly famous on Television as green-skinned The Incredible Hulk; George Frenn a hammer thrower and record-breaking powerlifter from the original Westside Barbell club run by Bill ‘Peanuts’ West; bodybuilder and strongman Mike Dayton who was the first to sell a training course that put the focus on mind control. Using his techniques Mike used to break real police handcuffs in his escapology act! American Football player Bob Young was the big brother of world champion powerlifter Doug Young, then came Jon Cole who was well past his best (Jon had been a fantastic powerlifter and Olympic lifter), and of course Franco Columbu 1976 Mr Olympia (and later 1981 Mr Olympia). And that was it – 8 competitors only. Wilhelm won the contest and won again in 1978 then retired. Going back to the 1977 contest, Franco lost his balance running with a 420 lb (190 kg) refrigerator on his back and wrecked one of his legs. This came back to haunt him when he took the 1981 Mr Olympia title with thighs that looked untrained and (oh no! There goes Magnus on his rant against the 1981 Olympia result again! Better change the subject fast! ) caused a storm of controversy. Anyway, you get the picture – guys were invited to compete simply because they were known to the public and usually when they tackled the strongman events they had never done them before, so records back then were much lower than today but injuries were much more common because they did not know the best techniques to use when performing these events. My first invitation to compete in strongman came in January 1979, and what I am going to tell you next will probably make you think I was crazy to accept. A powerlifting meet was being organised by Gus Rethwisch who had finished in fifth place in the 1978 Worlds Strongest Man (years later Gus played ‘Buzzsaw’ in Arnold’s movie ‘The Running Man’). The meet was by invitation only and would feature world champions and world record holders from all over the world, and it was going to be held in Hawaii. ‘Fantastic’ I thought, ‘who would not want to go to Hawaii?’ I was all set to go when a completely unexpected letter from Wally Holland who was president of BAWLA dropped through my letterbox. It said that I had been selected to compete in Britain’s Strongest Man which was being organised and would be shown on TV by Transworld Sport. The contest was going to take place in Woking, Surrey at the same time as the Hawaii trip. Now let’s see – Woking or Hawaii? With apologies to Woking, I think most people would have taken the Hawaii trip but I settled on the Woking contest (the Hawaii event went ahead without me and became an annual fixture in the powerlifting calendar) instead! There was a lot of prestige involved in this strongman contest. I had been selected as a European champion powerlifter along with Andy Drzewiecki (pronounced drev-e-at-ski), British 110 kg class Olympic lifting champion. In earlier days Andy had been a regional discus and shot put champion and won a bronze medal lifting in the 1978 Commonwealth Games. He also finished in tenth place in the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games. Andy was a very strong guy, regularly clean and jerking overhead 185 kg (407 lb) in competitions. I was not sure what to expect in the contest but was ready and eager to go and do my best. I travelled down to the contest with Bill Anderson and Grant Anderson (not related despite their surnames), but both of them were Highland Games legends, especially Bill. And Bill gave me some advice about how to deal with David Webster (remember him from the first chapter in my life story? ). Bill was also involved with Webster, appearing in contests and shows for him and, as a canny Scot of more mature years than I was at the time, he told me that whenever Webster arranged anything for Bill to do Bill would insist on being paid up front. He also gave me good advice, saying “don’t do anything for nothing! You are the champion in your chosen sport you have put in the time, effort and money to get where you are, so always insist on payment off anyone you deal with.” As the contest got under way I assessed my competitors, two of them in particular standing out from the rest in size – Geoff Capes (pictured above) the 6 foot 6 inch 22 stone (140 kg) International shot put competitor, and just a fraction shorter but lighter at roughly 19 stone (121 kg) professional wrestler Pat Roach. Similar in size they may have been but as the competition progressed I found they were almost opposites personality-wise. Pat Roach (pictured above - 3rd from left) became famous for his role as Bomber in the much-loved TV series ‘Auf Wiedersehen Pet,’ and much like the character he played was a quiet, genial gentleman who worked hard to stay in shape for wrestling, not only going to the gym but also doing hundreds of bodyweight-only squats throughout the day no matter where he was. Pat also appeared in lots of movies. Ironically he usually played the bad guy heavy roles, but in real life Pat was most definitely a good guy. To read more of this chapter and the rest of the chapters on ‘Ray Nobile – My Life in the Iron Game’ contact Ray Nobile at raynobile@gmail.com to purchase this eBook, at the cost of only 5 Euros! (price subject to change). NOTE by Strength Oldschool: A fairly recent Interview with Strongman Geoff Capes can be viewed below...
  3. MONEY... MONEY... MONEY... Nothing but consistently empty pockets and doom, gloom breaking news on daily tv. In the land of regular, daily living for us ordinary hard working folk, the daily costs of just getting by in everyday life, can be financially tough. Finding a balance to save, pay bills, buy essential things like food and water (and beer lol) can be extremely challenging. This is where Visa cards become your new best friend (not recommended). I should be happy with what I've got in life but unfortunately one important thing is annoying me... I CAN'T BUILD THE HOME GARAGE GYM I DESPERATELY WANT!! Eight years ago, back in 2012 I moved into a new home. What caught my eye was the outdoor garage which formed part of the back garden (see photo above). It wasn't a large garage by any means but it had potential to be transformed into the "ultimate" home garage gym lol! If you're curious to know the dimensions of the garage, here they are. I've used the units feet (ft), metres (m) and centimetres (cm). (L) 17ft 2 / 5m 20 / 524 cm (H) 7ft 1 / 2m / 216 cm (W) 8ft 10 / 2m 78 / 246 cm LIMITED TRAINING SPACE / BASIC GYM EQUIPMENT To put the above garage dimensions into perspective, prior to buying my new home, since my teenage years back in the 90's right up to my early 30's (2010 onwards), I had either been using my bedroom to train in or a spare room when I used to rent. Gym Equipment I used back then was very basic... Living at home with my parents involved the use of a weight bench, 1" loadable dumbbell handles with large, bulky, plastic weight plates made by either Weider, York or Marcy, can't quite recall sorry (see above) and a 4ft or 5ft standard 1" barbell. Years later when renting and I had the luxury of having a spare room, so I purchased a 250 kg Olympic Weight Set which included a 7ft Olympic barbell. To go with this, I also treated myself to a set of adjustable squat stands which could be used for shoulder pressing, squats and bench presses (similar to photo below). For some reason I never had a weight bench so spent one year basically training all body parts directly with the exception of chest (and calves too - calf training bores me!). That was strange at first because I always loved benching. However after a year, my overhead pressing power was the strongest it had ever been due to solely focusing on only one pressing movement. I should point out that before I became a home gym trainer, i used to train at commercial gyms and a really good "Hardcore Hell-Hole Dungeon" which used to be owned by the Scottish bodybuilder, Steve Creighton. However, being the introvert I am, I much preferred training at home. One of my earliest memories of training at the 'Hell Hole' gym was being asked to lift a 70 kg (154 lb) dumbbell up to my shoulder in order to pass to Steve to do seated two arm dumbbell shoulder presses with. His training partner was lifting the other 70 kg dumbbell to pass to Steve, which he managed to lift just fine. Me on the other hand, I could barely budge the dumbbell which was embarrassing lol. That was my first time seeing a real professional bodybuilder in the flesh and working out! COMPACT GYM EQUIPMENT FOR SMALL TRAINING AREA Anyway, back to the story....Due to financial reasons I would later need to move back home (around 2010) and live with my parents again. Say goodbye to the Olympic weights, squat stands etc (never had the space to keep these) - Sold on the cheap to make some quick money which had to be done at the time. At that point I decided to save and "invest" in some compact adjustable dumbbells which could easily be used in a small bedroom. After researching online I came across "Ironmaster" (been around since the 70's). An established "Home Gym" company with a strong reputation for producing heavy duty, compact, home training equipment. This is what I purchased..."Quick-Lock Dumbbell Set - 75 lbs (34kg)... For a more in depth, honest, no bullsh*t review of these adjustable dumbbells, you can read my thoughts on these Ironmaster dumbbells by clicking here. And if you wish to purchase them... (UK): If you are based in the UK click here. (USA): If you live in the USA click here. Granted the equipment from Ironmaster is expensive, I'm not going to lie, you will definitely need some money in your pocket to afford these. That's why I said "investment", because it is. I don't want to turn this article into a product advertisement but Ironmaster products are "LEGIT". They will last you years and no-doubt a life-time, and I highly recommend them. The adjustable dumbbells are solid, and the weight plates are thin and stackable due to their unique design, and the storage rack is small enough to keep in a fairly small bedroom or as I do now, keep it in my livingroom (see photo below). The black, stylish, minimalist storage rack by Ironmaster looks good in my livingroom. Blends in nicely with the furniture ha ha. I would later give the Ironmaster equipment to my brother to try out and use as he was after some training equipment for a spare room in his own house. The photo above actually shows my "SECOND" purchase of the adjustable Ironmaster dumbbells. That shows how much I like them! I would later move out from my parents house to a rented ground floor flat, one bedroom. It was open plan so felt quite spacious. Back to the drawing board again in regards to buying equipment. I would eventually get the urge to buy Olympic weights again, which is what I did. I went back to an Olympic barbell, Olympic weight plates, and squat stands. Everything could be lifted out the road and stored to the side of my flat and when getting used, could easily be lifted into place. Now this wasn't a major hassle to do but it did become annoying after a while and it actually sapped my enthusiasm for training at times because I became lazy to move my gym apparatus about daily. Thankfully I only stayed in the flat for a year or two which would take me up to 2012, where I would step on to the property ladder and actually buy my own house! As I previously said at the beginning of this article, the outdoor garage grabbed my attention. Below is a video of what the inside of my garage looked like when I first moved in and the training equipment I was using at the time. Very basic and typical of what beginners would buy. Now, as the title of this article refers to 'Home Gym Problems', let's begin focusing on that.... CHEAP GARAGE GYM RENOVATION From around 2013 onwards I began renovating the gym (on the cheap). Want to see my training log showing my first ever workout session within my garage gym? Click here! I simply painted the single brick walls, replaced the garage door and ripped out some stuff to clear some extra floor space (with the help of my brother, cheers bro!). I then proceeded to build my gym by adding the following equipment (not cheap!! ) Large 6ft wide Mirror (£100 - UK British Pounds) Treadmill (£1000 - £1500 - Which I used maybe only 5 times! - Just recently gave this to my brother) Multi-Press and Squat Rack i.e. half rack (around £400) - 'Bodysolid' brand. **Now only £300 online - as of 21 July 2021** Foldable Wall Dipping bar (£160) - Purchased from 'The Gym Revolution' website Hex Rubber Dumbbells (1kg up to 30kg) and storage Rack (£1000+) More heavier Hex Dumbbells (35kg up to 70kg) and another storage Rack (£1000+) Cheap Gym Rubber Flooring (black jig-saw square panels) (do not buy!) [LINK] - Amazon purchase Various Barbells i.e. Ez-Curl bar, Cambered bar, 5ft Straight bar etc Thick Grip accessories i.e. Fat Gripz, Ironbull Grips etc. Gym equipment is not cheap, especially during these covid times. Hell, you'll be lucky to even buy brand new equipment as its likely to be sold out! However if you shop around you may get lucky with second hand equipment. Or just build your own if you're a DIY expert. Unfortunately I'm not. One of the most important gym pieces to buy I think, is a good, strong, heavy duty Power Rack which can support a lot of weight, not just the rack itself but more importantly, the safety bars. If the safety bars can't support sh*t, then don't buy! If something goes horribly wrong i.e. you fail a lift or you tear a muscle, you definitely want safety bars setup to protect you. This is all relative though, at the end of the day, it really depends on your style of training, for example... are you preparing to be a strongman and build herculean strength? If yes, get a really strong, heavy duty power rack. If no, you can settle for a cheaper, more slim-line style that still offers 'somewhat' peace of mind in regards to safety, in case of a failed lift. I was unfortunate and wasn't able to buy my "dream power rack" due to the very low ceiling height of my garage (which was a major pain in the a**!), this stopped me from buying a full power cage, so I had to settle for something in between. Despite limited space restrictions, overall, the garage became a really nice training area where I could zone out, forget my troubles, listen to "my" music and just simply train by myself without any distractions. Below are some photos displaying the 'step by step' transitional progress of my garage gym renovation... Between 2013 up to the present date (Dec 2020), the garage gym has changed and is currently not in use. Some equipment has been sold off to hungry strongmen (50 kg Hex dumbbells up to 70 kg!!, 50 kg olympic weight plates - that's kg not lbs, and some other stuff). And the reason why I sold off a lot of my equipment you wonder, AND why I no longer train in the garage.... ALL MY EQUIPMENT WAS RUSTING AWAY!!!! PREVENTING RUSTY GYM EQUIPMENT A little tip for you should you consider setting up your own garage gym... MAKE SURE your garage is INSULATED and has heating and ventilation, especially if you plan on buying EXPENSIVE gym equipment - This will help prevent / minimize rusting. Looking back, I should have insulated my garage from the start before buying any equipment. A rough estimate of the total cost involved in renovating my garage at the time (on the cheap - no insulation measures) was around £4000+ which included buying the gym equipment, painting the brick walls and other materials such as covering the ceiling with plastic white sheets etc - this was purely for aesthetic reasons. Without knocking down my garage and building it again from scratch I figure the costs involved in properly insulating my garage at the time would have been around £3000 to £4000 extra, which isn't too bad to be fair. Some recent photos of my garage gym can be seen below... The first photo actually looks inviting as the light contrasts with the darkness outside, producing a warm seductive glow....until you step into the gym and are unpleasantly greeted by a billion insects crawling the walls, along with leaves, some rubbish and stones everywhere after being blown in under the main metal garage door. My exceptional photography skills (lol) really don't do justice as to what I've described and probably for the better. I'm not a spider fan so walking into my garage covered in spiders and cob-webs doesn't appeal to me. So I removed as much equipment as I could which I have now stored in my house. Some remaining items had been sold off as I previously mentioned and other stuff which I was planning on keeping, I am now selling. My days of heavy lifting are not over but at this point in time, heavy lifting isn't my main focus. If I had kept everything in the gym till this day, I would have pi**ed away so much money for nothing. Spending so much money on gym equipment to just let it rust is stupid in my book. Granted, you might be thinking I could just clean up the dumbbells and equipment every year but when you have so many dumbbells, it becomes a major chore. See photo below: If you happen to have rust on any of your gym equipment watch what I did to remove the rust in the video below... PROTECTIVE GYM FLOORING You have probably looked at some of the previous photos and wondered what type of large mats were in my garden? If not, I'm going to tell you anyway..."Horse Mats". These mats were purchased back in 2018 with the intention of replacing my current, cheaper quality jig-saw mats. Each large mat measures 6ft X 4ft, is 18 mm (1.8 cm) thick and weigh 40 kg (88 lbs). So each mat is pretty damn heavy to move around. At the time of purchasing the 'Horse Mats' I honestly thought they were a great idea and still kinda do. The plan was to renovate my garage for a second time but get it done right, professionally insulated, proper heating, plastered walls etc and then bin the old gym mats and roll in the brand new ones. However this didn't happen. You can see from the photos below how bulky of a purchase the new Horse Gym Mats were. I had ordered six large Horse Mats. The quality was high, the mats were thick and solid and definitely looked heavy duty enough to protect my concrete garage gym floor but there were problems. [A] DIFFICULT TO KEEP CLEAN No-matter how many times I took a mop to these mats, the bucket of bleach turned a muddy black every time. I assumed it was dirt but maybe it was just the rubber material, I'm not sure. [B] SMELL Upon delivery I stored the mats in my house as you can see from the photos above. As previously stated, the plan was to keep the mats in the house until my garage got renovated. However, after a few days, there was a STRONG rubber smell that grew worse as the days went on and began spreading throughout my house. I'd wake up in the mornings and go to bed at night smelling that intense odor. It would actually give me headaches. I needed to keep the windows open all day to get some fresh air in. IT WAS THAT BAD!! After several days it was just too over-powering to the point where I complained to the company whom I purchased the mats from and seeked help on getting rid of the smell. I was told to clean the mats using "White Vinegar" I believe (can't quite remember), which did help. After cleaning the mats, I left them outside to dry for close to a week to try get rid of the rubber smell for good. I later decided to store them flat in the garage instead of taking them back in the house. I figured that since the garage isn't insulated, the rubber smell would eventually go away after a period of time, which it has done. FROM GARAGE GYM TO HOME GYM Fast forward to present times, and as I've already stated, that lovely outdoor garage photo at the beginning of this article no longer gets used as a gym. Due to work commitments these last few years, I wasn't able to devote time to training (finding a work/life balance has been tricky for me for several years now) and up to this present date, training in general has been pretty much non-existent (kind of). It's not for a lack of motivation, just simply life has unfortunately got in the way these last few years, and not for a good reason. Stress is a killer, that's all I'll say. Training can help with stress, that I know, but when you haven't got time or really the energy to even train an hour a day, due to work commitments, training slowly but surely comes to a halt. Starts off being only a day or two, then progresses to weeks, months, a year, etc. Sure, every now and then, like the common New Year resolution made by millions of people around the world to get in shape, you decide to start training again which lasts one or two gym sessions, then STOPS! On a positive note, for the last month or so, I've taken personal time to get my frame of mind sorted out which has been good as I've focused on training again and reading old magazine articles to kick-start my motivation - I recommend "Keys to Progress" by John McCallum who was a famous writer for Ironman back in the 70's, his stories on training were absolutely brilliant and will have you in stitches of laughter. So each day, I read a little, go online and watch bodybuilding Youtube videos, check out gym equipment companies to see what's the latest design in dumbbells, racks etc - this helps fire me up for a workout. Doing this everyday has also motivated me to get back into making Youtube Bodybuilding Motivational videos. It's also sparked an interest in writing my thoughts down, hence why I'm writing this article (thank you John McCallum). I plan to write more articles on a weekly / monthly basis (if possible) - I'm not the best writer but If I help inspire or motivate just one person, that's all that matters. Before Getting back to 'Home Gym Problems', firstly a quick tip on moving heavy Horse mats around, should you decide to buy any. Buy this tool... It's called a Grabbitt Mat Moving Tool which is used for moving heavy Horse Mats. I wish I discovered this tool over two years ago when I first purchased the Horse mats. I was lifting all six mats through sheer macho brute strength when I could have been using this little device. It cost's around £35 for one (you only need one), there are more expensive ones on the market but no need, this cheaper "Grabbitt" tool above will work perfectly and make lifting and moving Horse Mats a piece of cake! You can thank me later. So what's happening with my lack of gym?...Well, I do still have a gym but all equipment is now within my house as i previously said. I basically train in my livingroom. See the photos below: It's not exactly ideal. I don't live in a huge house, its relatively small (two bedrooms), has low ceilings (although a tad higher than my garage) and because I'm not solely using compact equipment, space in my livingroom is pretty limited. Plans were in action several years ago to professionally renovate my garage which I almost went ahead with. However I then decided that my garage required extending in size and this proved problematic and very costly. The garage for me would definitely need extending in size, both height and length but due to building regulations, I'm not sure if I would be able to alter the height of the garage and that really annoys me. I could move house but I'm not interested in the hassle at this moment in time plus I do actually like the house. I also just recently inquired about extending my house (not the garage) as an alternative solution to creating extra space for a home gym. In theory, it sounded great because it would also allow me to extend my kitchen. Again, I'm viewing the extension as an investment in the hopes that it would add value to my overall property. However... the cost involved is astronomical, £40,000+ !! So there's no way that's happening. Maybe if I win the lottery! So the short-term solution is to simply use my livingroom as a training area. Space will be tight but I'll make it work. The funny thing is I've just ordered a new piece of custom gym kit for my livingroom from UK gym manufacturing company called Watson . It's a heavy duty, Lat Pulldown Machine customised to accommodate the use of bands. Very expensive!! I'm crazy I know! I'll post another article and review this new piece of equipment in the coming months. As it's custom made it will take about six weeks to manufacture and be delivered. Should arrive early 2021. I'm pretty pumped to see it live. I just hope it fits in my livingroom, otherwise I'm fu**ed! NEW HOME GYM EQUIPMENT? I've already mentioned the new piece that will arrive in the next couple of months, but I'm also considering a new Rack to replace my old Bodysolid Multi-Press / Squat Rack. (see photo below). There's nothing wrong with the rack I currently use (photo above), however, I do feel I need a change and my current rack lacks certain features I wish to have. For example, I'd like a pull-up bar at the top of my rack, not just for performing pull-ups, but to enable myself to do extra band exercises like tricep pushdowns or weighted hangs to tax and strengthen my grip - the top cross bar can prove really useful for more creative training. I do strongly believe that the Power Rack should be the most or one of the most expensive piece of equipment in anyone's gym. Companies today offer so much choice with racks now from adding band pegs, thick bar pull up attachments, cable machines, jammer arms, you name it, if you can think it, it's likely it can be designed and manufactured. After researching many different rack designs, I'm still struggling to select one I really like. At the end of the day It's likely I'll opt to contact the company "Watson" again and choose one of their Power Racks but have it customised to suit my own specifications. Gym equipment today is definitely revolutionary, some of the designs online are incredible, which allows lifters to train so many exercises but within a compact, limited space. I plan to write more about this in the near future. The two most important things stopping me from purchasing my "Dream Rack" is my current lack of training space and MONEY! I always told myself I wouldn't buy expensive gym equipment until I had my garage renovated but the reality is, that renovation could take years to happen but its highly likely it may never happen due to the associate costs involved. For both those reasons I'll likely choose to buy a reasonably priced rack in the mean time, which caters to my extra requirements but at a much lower, affordable price. I probably won't sell my old rack but instead stick it in the garage just in case I wish to switch back at a later date. One rack which I am considering buying is the Ironmaster IM1500 Half Rack. (Photo below). This rack has most of the extra features I'm currently looking for: Lower Band Pegs - This would allow me to use cables for benching, deadlifts etc. Barbell Storage - I have a couple of barbells on my livingroom floor so this would help. Top Cross Bar - I can do chins, inverted rows, cable exercises etc. A dipping attachment can also be purchased for this rack. The Half Rack is priced at around £800 and given its compact design, it's certainly a contender. SUMMING UP To conclude this article, my advice to others including myself (and I keep having to tell myself) is to take your time when looking to purchase new gym equipment. Do your research and shop around for prices. Some companies will actually give you discounts if you ask nicely, especially if you are ordering more than one product from the same company. Browsing gym equipment is fun to do but you can easily get carried away if you see something you like and desperately want. It's not until you actually buy the product, have it delivered and proceed to build it and discover the thing doesn't bloody fit in your gym! So make sure you get the measurements of equipment right and measure your training area to double check. Its not just the size of the equipment, you also need to leave room for moving around your equipment and have space for actually using it! You really need to know what type of lifter you are i.e. light weights (pumper), strength athlete, maybe both, whether you prefer cable machines, free weights, everyone is different. Free weights tend to affect the joints more, so if you are prone to injuries or you wish to err on the side of caution, you may be better off looking into using more cable based equipment than free weights, or a combination of both, for example, Ironmaster's IM2000 rack offers a built in cable system which you may find more appealing? Always think before you buy, and even when you believe you are sure on something, take another few days to think about it. As far as planning my own Home Gym setup, I have a while to go yet. In the meantime, I'll settle for training in my livingroom and continue the hunt for a brand new rack! Keep training hard folks, All the best, Strength Oldschool * Please note: Text and Photos are copyrighted and may not be used on another website! Readers do have permission to share this article (greatly appreciated) across social media by clicking the "share" button link. *
  4. Maurice Jones The Canadian Hercules By Walt Baptiste (1941) Photo above of Maurice Jones. While touring England as a professional wrestler two years back (1939), Maurice Jones was publicly proclaimed by the former Scotch Hercules, William Bankier (1870 - 1949 ), as being physically superior to both the immortal Eugen Sandow and the mighty George Hackenschmidt (1877 - 1968 ). In my opinion there are only three others who have ever ranked in the same class as the Herculean Maurice Jones. These being John Grimek (1910 - 1998 ), a powerful and amazing specimen of physical perfection; Sam Loprinzi (1913 - 1996 ), who is strong and possesses a marvelously developed physique; the third, and only other, to rank in this class of superior supermen is the immortal Eugen Sandow (1867 - 1925 ) who, though having left this world, continues to be the inspiration of millions throughout the world. Any man who is classed as an equal to or better than Sandow is indeed in a class by himself and deserves praise. Thus Maurice Jones deserves the title “The Canadian Hercules” bestowed upon him. For outright Herculean proportions Maurice has no equal. The author has seen Maurice take a 100 pound (45 kg) solid iron dumbbell with his left hand and with no apparent side bend, press it ten times to arms’ length. He did it so easily there is no doubt that he could have done ten more. Maurice Jones (pictured below) has never included weightlifting proper in his program but used barbells only as a means of body building and strength building as he firmly believed, as do all bodybuilding authorities, that weightlifting motions tend to take all beauty out of a physique. There has never been anyone who ever developed an outstanding powerful body without doing plenty of squats and doing them heavy! In every case heavy squats are one of the main reasons for their super-physiques. Maurice Jones has done plenty of heavy squats. His brother Ken Jones, who has a terrific build himself, notified me that Maurice uses 415 pounds (188 kg) in his routine, doing it 15 times. He does two or three of these sets in each workout. One day after a heavy three-hour workout he took 450 lbs (204 kg) and did it 10 times. This, after he had already performed three sets of 15 reps with 415 pounds (188 kg)! Just to show you how really terrific the Canadian Hercules is let me give you an idea of some of the weights he uses in his exercises. A stiff-legged dead lift standing on a bench using 425 pounds (193 kg), 15 reps. A two arm press using 215 pounds (98 kg), 12 reps. A regular curl, 135 pounds (61 kg), 12 reps. Reverse curl, 120 pounds (55 kg), 12 reps. These are just a few but you can get an idea of his power from the exercises mentioned. Some of his records are as follows. Military Press: 260 pounds (118 kg). Regular Curl: 175 pounds (80 kg). Reverse Curl: 145 pounds (66 kg). Without any scientific ability or training he clean & jerked 325 lbs (148 kg). In all feats of strength he is incomparable. Maurice ranks with the world’s best for abdominal strength and does an abdominal rise with 125 pounds (57 kg) behind his head. He includes apparatus work and hand-balancing in his bodybuilding routines, and for a man of his proportions he handles his body with grace and ease. Maurice can vary his weight almost at will between 195 to 237 pounds. At his most shapely and best condition weighing 210 pounds (95.5 kg) his measurements are: Neck – 18. Chest – 49 ½. Waist – 32. Hips – 39 ½. Thigh – 26 ½. Calf – 17 ½. Bicep – 17 ¾. Forearm – 14 ½. Wrist – 7 ½. Ankle – 9 ½. His largest and most spectacular measurements are at a bodyweight of 237 lbs (108 kg) and are as follows: Height – 5’ 8 ½”. Neck – 18. Normal Chest – 52. Waist – 34 ½. Thigh – 28. Calf – 18. Bicep – 18 ½. Forearm – 14 ½. Wrist – 7 ¾. Ankle – 9 ½. On one occasion Maurice trained down to 195 and his upper arm, beautifully shaped, measured cold on a proven tape, slightly over 18 inches. Imagine. An arm this size on a man weighing under 200 pounds with a wrist of only 7½”. Maurice Jones has certainly disproven the theory of wrist size controlling the upper arm measurement. After his return from England he laid off training for one year. He resumed bodybuilding after this lay off period, and although his strength had ebbed somewhat his physical power recuperated with rapid acceleration. In less than six weeks he performed 3 reps with 245 lbs (111 kg) in the military press, and his biceps once more stretched the tape to 18 inches. Thus proving that great strength and a shapely body once acquired the bar bell way will remain with you through the many years of a lifetime. * Let's now go from 1941 and jump to 1997 when Maurice Jones was 85 years old discussing his life & training - click here. * Maurice Jones is mentioned throughout the classic book "The Complete Keys To Progress". This book contains original articles on weight training written by John McCallum, which first appeared in "Strength & Health" magazine, which ran from June 1965 through to November 1972. An absolute brilliant read and highly recommended.
  5. 1997 Interview with Maurice Jones From Keys To Progress By Randall Strossen (Editor of "The Complete Keys To Progress" book and owner of Milo Magazine) * If you haven't already read an article from 1941 about Maurice Jones, click here. This book contains John McCallum's (photo of John McCallum pictured above) original articles which first appeared in "Strength & Health" magazine, which ran from June 1965 through to November 1972. Some of these articles referred to the mysterious muscle character, Maurice Jones. From the book... Chapter: The Time Factor Page: 2 Quote from book: From the book... Chapter: Power Training Page: 30 Quote from book: First of...Who was John McCallum (1912 - 1993)? John lived in New Westminster, B.C. and worked for the Fire Department. * The following article is from 1997 when Maurice Jones was 85 years old * Any self-respecting student of John McCallum emerged with a number of basic principles, which ranged from squatting until your eyes bulged to achieving an overall balance in your life. The true ‘McCallumite’ knew that he certainly better not be a mirror athlete, nor should he limit himself to just being strong, flexible and having loads of endurance coupled with brimming good health. No, he should recognize that he had a brain, and he should put it to use, cultivating additional interest and activities. So the great paradox was that the McCallumite was out to chase and capture pounds and inches with unparalleled zeal and success, but this was only the beginning – he would also end up becoming a well-rounded person in more than the literal sense. Maurice Jones (pictured below - 1945) was one of the principal characters in McCallum’s articles, and it’s no accident that he stands as a model of this whole-man concept. Since Maurice Jones never sought the spotlight, articles on him were few, and largely confined to rare issues of older muscle magazines. In fact, were it not for John McCallum’s writing the larger world might never have had a chance to benefit from Maurice Jones’s example. Being a rabid McCallum fan back in the 1960's, and never reluctant to seek out someone of interest, I managed to reach Maurice Jones on the telephone, and he patiently answered all the questions a teenaged lifting nut could think to present. I’d also had the advantage then of buying a handful of photos of Maurice Jones from the venerable collector Angelo Luspa. Recently, nearly 30 years later, I had the great fortune and privilege to once again talk at length with Maurice Jones. Maurice Jones started lifting weights when he was about 17 years old. “As a kid I was sickly. I can remember the awful colds I used to have. I wasn’t that healthy, so that’s what made me embark on some kind of training regimen, and one thing led to another.” What it led to was the emergence of a true Hercules – a massively muscled man who was unquestionably among the strongest in the world, and whose muscular and cardio-vascular endurance could sustain labors of heroic proportions. If we turn back the clock to the 1930's, we see a 5’9” 150-pound Maurice Jones beginning to lift weights. Although his eventual success might not have been predicted by any, his tenacity should have signaled that good things, amazing things, were to follow: If you want to understand what it means to train consistently, just remember that in his first 5 ½ years of training, Maurice Jones never missed a single workout. In the intervening decades, this dedication has never wavered. “I wasn’t away from them (the weights) for very lengthy periods. I valued it greatly. I always felt so much better when I would have a good workout. I stayed with it,” explains Jones. “I held a certain amount of self-pride, I was going to stick with it till the end. You know, that attitude, and I’m still doing that. I do lots of situps and press-ups between two chairs at times when weights aren’t available.” As we go to press (1997), Maurice is about to turn 85, and he reports, “I’m training. I’m very active physically.” And while he laughs at the weights he uses, consider this: He still does presses and curls with 50-lb. dumbells! “That’s nothing compared to what I once handled,” he says apologetically, but if those weights don’t speak to his fortitude, consider that Maurice Jones also continues with his “outdoor activities – cycling and trail hiking.” Mountains have long been his passion so it shouldn’t be surprising to hear that there have been some accidents along the way, which have led to a string of surgeries on his back, neck, and both knees. “I’m an avid alpinist, and that’s when most of the injuries occurred,” explains Jones. “I can’t blame it on the weights,” he says with a laugh. Currently weighing “a stable 185,” Jones says the most he ever weighed was 225, although he generally weighed 200. “I didn’t stay up at that heavy weight for a great length of time. I was quite comfortable at 200 pounds.” Once when I was talking to Doug Hepburn, I told him that when people asked me about Maurice Jones, I’d say, “Well, picture a cross between Doug Hepburn and John Grimek.” Doug thought about that for a minute and then said, “That’s not a bad description.” Considering that he emerged as such a formidable physical specimen, Maurice Jones’ training program should be of great interest. “I’d work out for sometimes two hours – that was when I was younger, up until probably 40 or 45 or something. That would be three times [per week], two hours,” said Jones, and when asked for an authentic workout, here’s what Jones said: “I’d do a bit of a warmup at the beginning, before I’d start: calisthenics, bending, arm waving, that sort of thing. I’d always start with situps on the steep board. Then I’d do my presses: Press, curl, press, curl. Rest a minute and then do another press and another curl. Three sets altogether. That was the military press. I didn’t do those leaning back presses. They called them military presses at that time. Then I’d do three sets of rowing motions; I’d do my bench presses in between (row, bench press, row, bench press, row, bench press). Three sets of bench presses." “Now the squat. One set of heavy squats up around 400 pounds – about a dozen repetitions. At that time I was still doing hiking on weekends so I got plenty of legwork there, and I’d have 30 or 40 pounds on my back in my rucksack. 400 pounds sometimes and if I’d drop the weight, I’d increase the reps." “In between sets, I’d rest a minute – I wouldn’t sit down. I know some fellows who used to train a gym I worked at a couple of times would sit down and read a magazine in between exercises,” Jones said with a smile. A cardinal principle in Maurice Jones training was strict style: “I always tried to adhere to good form. I couldn’t stand these guys that would come in and be curling and it would be a back exercise as well. That didn’t go over well with me at all. I wanted to see a straight body, and the arms working as they should.” Considering his immaculate form, it was remarkable that Maurice Jones used to do presses behind the neck with 200 pounds for 12 reps and dumbell curls 70 lbs. x 12 well before World War II (1939 - 1945) – figure what that’s worth in today’s terms, and your jaw should hit the floor. Asked about his squatting, Maurice Jones said “I got up into the very heavy stuff – it used to frighten me before the act. How it all came about was with Milo Steinborn: I read that he had created a world record in the deep knee bend, which I was bound and determined to break, but nobody knew anything about it. And I did get up there over 500. My memory doesn’t serve me as well as it used to, but it was around 525 pounds.” Not one to brag, Maury doesn’t bother to mention that this lift put him among the foremost squatters of the day. Perhaps even more prodigious were his performances in the stiff legged deadlift, where he did 425 for 15 repetitions in ultra-strict style: standing on a bench, lowering each rep to the tops of his feet. If the 425 x 15 isn’t already impressive enough, consider that Jones allows that “it [the poundage] may have wandered a little higher from time to time.” While running was not as central to his training program as was weight training, it wasn’t uncommon for him to include running a couple of times a week.” Maurice attributes his high level of muscular and cardiovascular endurance to a combination of his weight training, running and his mountain hiking. Asked if the stories of him putting rocks in his rucksack before taking off up a mountain were true, he said they were. “I used to be crazy,” he laughed. “I still do that, as a matter of fact. I put in at least 30 pounds, just to get a little additional benefit.” It’s tempting to think that this dedication to training means that somehow training hard came easy to Maurice Jones, but that’s not the case. “I’ve put up with a lot of pain over the years, years I suffered, but I never avoided my training. You can’t do it for the best part of your life and just forget it. The way I’m built, I have to continue, obviously not as strenuously as before, but I never forget it. I guess there are a lot of weight trainers and people who have done over a period of years and are still doing it.” Asked about his diet, Maurice said it “was just very plain. I’m afraid that I just qualify as a meat and potatoes man.” It has been reported that Maury disliked Olympic-style weightlifting, but he said that isn’t true. “I never went in for weightlifting myself because I didn’t have the time, mainly.” Nonetheless, the first time he tried a clean and jerk it was with 300 pounds on an exercise bar, and Jones says, “It was easy for me. I couldn’t believe it, you know, once I got those legs in action. That was when they did a split, not a squat. One chap came up from California, and that was the first time I saw a squat clean, and the snatch the same way. I couldn’t figure out why he didn’t fall over when he did a snatch!” Although Maurice worked as a graphic artist and retired as a director of the YMCA, earlier in his life he wrestled professionally in England and on the Continent. Even though this was quite a while ago, some things never change because when asked about it, Jones said, with distaste, it was “as phony as anything could be.” Pro-wrestling seems out of character for Jones, but he explained, “It was a means to an end for me. I wanted to continue with my schooling, and my father was very ill at the time. I had to keep the household going.” Asked what he’d say if a young kid came up to him and said, “Mr. Jones, do you think I should take drugs to get bigger muscles or to get stronger?”: “I would say, don’t become a fanatic, although I must have appeared that way to a lot of people. If you get fanatical about something, it spoils it. You have to recognize the line – that’s the trouble.” To read more stories about Maurice Jones, Reg Park, Basic Training, etc get the book "The Complete Keys To progress" by John McCallum.
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