In the back of every comic book I read as a kid they had this slogan with a set of pictures showing a bully kicking sand in the face of a scrawny lad. Then the next picture he found the miracle chest expander and in no time at all he was a muscular hunk with two girls on his arm, with the bully gobsmacked in the background; as a teenager I fell for this completely. Few people know I was born six weeks premature and had to be fed every two hours (somethings never change), and I was always skinny as a rake, this was mainly due to me running everywhere playing football and riding my bike (for the younger readers please google these activities).
As I got into my teens I was still very thin but wanted to put on muscle, even at school I used the multi gym that much that my teacher Mr Dowson asked to set up a new one. I had a pack run I would do every Sunday, once I got my pack on I would run about 3 -4 miles, and then have a bag work out, with every song on my cassette player going along with a set of techniques; for example, the training montage for Rocky IV was round kicks left and right for the whole 6-minute song. I did not know all the training would cut into my muscle building; I was very fit but still very thin. I tried weight gain products, but they always made me sick due to the high amounts of sugar in them and I still can’t drink a milkshake to this day. I tried to drink lots of milk but still no muscle.
One day in Martial Arts illustrated magazine, I saw an ad for ‘the secret of muscle gain ‘; so, I sent a cheque and waited. When my holy grail of muscle arrived, it was about eight pieces of paper stapled together. I read all the information and looked at the equipment I needed for my transformation, I needed three chairs, a towel, and a door (handle to be exact). The description of the exercises was so that you went to momentary muscular failure with each exercise then straight on to and isometric exercise to compound the set. I knew about Isometric and dynamic tension exercises as I was an avid Bruce Lee fan and had books and Videos (google it) about the subject.
The training started with door squats, where you would hold onto the door handle or wrap a towel around it, squat down as low as you can then rise bumping your hips up at the top (using the term burlesque bump). This was a term I had become familiar with while watching the film Gypsy Rose Lee many times, about a small-town girl that become a famous Burlesque striptease artist. You would do this squat until your legs pumped and you fell to the floor unable to move for a few moments.
You moved on to the chairs you would do press ups on the chairs so that your hands had a chair just above shoulder width apart, and your legs were on the third chair. I would do the press ups until I fell through to the floor, and then had to push into the floor from a boxed press up position until the shake in your arms become too much and you collapsed in a heap on the floor.
The third exercise was dips using the chairs again where your hands were on the chairs with your heels on the third one and you would let your body drop between the chairs and then push through your triceps to the start position without locking your arms out and do this until you could do no more. Then from a kneeling position press your hands into the seat and hold the push as long as you could. There was a chart telling you what body type you were by your physical appearance (underweight, overweight, or ideal). I always through this strange because if I was ideal I would not have sent for the bloody course. I worked out I was a hard gainer in muscle terms, so I cut back on the amount of workouts I was having and tried to rest more so my body could grow. A lot of my friends went down the steroids quick fix route, I did not want to go down that road (partly as I pass out at needles and partly that I know I is bad for you). My body changed I developed triceps and my legs grew but I still did not get ‘Big’ but my head improved the most in doing this course. It taught me to not stop until I could not do anymore and then push that little more at the end to get the best results.
I did not start to gain weight until I was about 27 so I was the skinniest doorman at about 11 stone, but I could fight and because of my size I got a lot of ‘free practise’, I am the heaviest I have ever been at 14 ½ stone. My workouts are when I want to do them but mostly teaching and training is what develops my muscles as I hold pads, skip around, kickbox, box, grapple and do core training always trying to work around my damaged back. I stretch a lot daily because I must, or I would be unable to function as a human being. I can always change my physique but now I don’t get sand kicked I my face anymore
Until next time
Big love from the AFC