This article, first published in Health and Strength Magazine in 1956 is a great reminder that we don’t need to spend hours in the gym to maintain our fitness. In fact, the writers of this programme believed it could be done in half an hour or less. Ideal for those struggling to make time to workout.
So sorry folks, not having an hour to workout is no longer an excuse! Check out the routine below.
Muscle magazines are constantly filled with yummy pics of gents with 19-inch biceps demonstrating how to get muscles one size larger than an elephant, and with exercise programs geared to achieve such results. This is fine, except that frequently we get letters from hardworking guys who complain that whenever they try to keep up with these two-hour workout schedules they get smaller and weaker instead of bigger and stronger. They just don’t have the necessary energy, or the time, to spare.
“What I would like to see in Strength & Health,” writes one reader, “is an exercise program for a working man. One I can go through in about 30 minutes and one that will leave me feeling strong enough to sit up for an hour or two and watch the fights on television. I don’t want to be Mr. America or win a lifting medal, I just want to look good and feel good and get just a little more strength to carry me through a hard day’s work and a day’s play.”
Okay, pal – you got it. Here’s a Workout for Working Men guaranteed to take less than 30 minutes, and what’s more, to leave you feeling energetic, and actually keep building up muscle and strength.
There are just SIX exercises in the program, and if you really hurry by shortening the rests to a bare minimum, you can do them in ten minutes as a conditioner too. We recommend, however, that you do it the “easy” way most days. Do an exercise, then rest until breathing returns to normal, then do the next movement. Certainly you can do all the exercises within 30 minutes. Do this three times a week and you will be doing enough to gain in size and strength.
The first exercise is the Continuous Clean & Press. You clean the weight, press it to arms’ length, lower it to the shoulders, then to the floor again. Immediately clean the bar again and press it overhead. You should try to get at least 8 clean & presses. When you can do 12 with a weight, increase the poundage next workout.
Second exercise is the Deep Knee Bend or Squat. Breathe in deep on this one – consciously. Squat on full lungs, and blow out all the air through your mouth as you rise to the full erect position. Take in another big breath and squat again. After 10 reps you should be puffing, and at this point it is wise to pause at the top and take two or three deep breaths before each squat. Do no less than 15 reps and increase the poundage when you can do 20-25 reps with a weight. After doing the squats, it’s a good idea to lie down on a bench and do a set of 15-20 light straight-arm breathing pullovers. This will not only return your breathing and heart action to normal faster than plain resting, but it will serve to stretch out your rib cage. This is not counted as an exercise in the program, just think of it as part of your squats.
Exercise three is the high-pull to chin, a very good arm, shoulder and trapezius movement, and one that builds lifting power. Stand erect, heels together, pull the barbell from a position in front of the thighs slowly and steadily until it touches the chin. Lower and repeat. Do at least 8 reps, and when you can do 12, add weight to the bar.
Exercise four is the standard bentover barbell row. Bend to right-angle position and pull the bar up to touch just below the chest. Do 8 reps, and when you can do 12, add weight to the bar.
Exercises five and six are dumbell exercises designed to give strength and size to the arms and shoulders. Do the alternate (see-saw) dumbell press first – repeat for 8-12 reps – then do a set of seated dumbell curls until you’re blue in the face, you’ll know when to stop and hit the showers.