'Basic Body Power'

From Doug Hepburn and Charles A. Smith

“I thought there were ‘secret’ methods that would enable me to take a shortcut to strength. I found out that the only strength secret is . . . HARD WORK. Fortunately for me, I stumbled blindly into the right path and used a series of exercises that strengthened my body in every way . . . I soon found out that Basic Body Power is one of the main reasons for a man’s pressing power. The hips, thighs and lower back are just as important as the muscles of the shoulders and arms. So far as I am concerned, I can quit working entirely on the press and concentrate solely on leg and back exercises, and my press will suffer but little. By using squats and deadlifts I can maintain my pressing power.”

The focus on getting stronger in the squat and pulling more off the ground aka “base building”. I still think barbell pressing should be done once a week, with supplementary work coming from db pressing, chins, dips, rows, curls, ab wheel on the nol-press days.

Other articles by Charles A. Smith state the low back needs isolated work, not just squats and deadlifts as the thighs and hips are worked hardest in these movements. I’m thinking back raises/hyperextensions for reps would fit the mold.

Thoughts on being as efficient as a beginner? which is really why squats and deadlifts are prioritized because of overall body power, carry over to strength in other lifts, mass gain, etc…

Deadlift 1-2 times per week
Squat 2-3 times per week
Bench Press 2 times per week
Military Press 2 times per week
Pull ups 2-3 times per week
Dips 2 times per week

  • 2-3 supplementary exercises ( calves , arms , just pick one exercise for each muscle group)

This was the routine I did to gain 10 kgs in a matter of six months as a newbie. You don’t need that much variety at first and would largely benefit from building a baseline of strength with these staples.

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Nothing revolutionary here. If you want to get strong, work full-body lifts like squats, pulls, and presses. Isolation work has its place in a good training program but a beginner who wants to take his bench from 200 to 250 is better off developing full body power than training his shoulders and pecs individually.


I have to disagree a bit. I think the lower back could be and should be trained separately . That does not mean you shouldn’t deadlift or squat. You just use weights at the beginning of learning curve and you will still make good gains.

Deadlifts and cleans as main movements, any suggestion on the best way to train it separately?

I am not really qualified to give advice ,so take it with a pinch of salt. What’s training age? What’s are those lifts relative to bw?
Generally don’t train deadlifts much at all. If you are a complete beginner 30/40% of your max to train the movement. Also practise with PVC pipe or maybe a pair of 5kgs on a bar.
Definitely bw and slow and controlled for the back extensions. Perhaps slow and controlled reverse hypers with bw too. (I wouldn’t bother adding weight to the reverse hypers , as they are potentially bad for you).

You can use bw progressions on the back raise such as holding your arms out in front of you and or holding your hands behind your head .

I would use a sled to push or pull and some belt squats for a long time. Hopefully other will chip in , as they don’t seem to agree.
Fred Hatfield is also a big proponent of training the back separately. You could look up his programs. They didn’t suit me as they are complicated.