Posted on 20 Jan 2019
5 min read
Hitting a plateau is one of the most frustrating experiences that can befall any lifter.
It’s up there with getting injured, waiting 30 minutes for the squat rack to become free and your great aunt Marjorie trying to convince you that a banana contains just as much protein as a joint of beef.
As any seasoned lifter will tell you, the moment you stop adding weight to that bar is the moment your muscles start to sag, your testosterone levels plummet and your penis shrivels up like an erupted fish arse.
But what to do?
Slit a chicken’s throat over the dumbbell rack?
Write to your local MP?
Forget the iron for good, take up cycling, grow an inflated sense of self-worth and enrage every other road user by flouting traffic laws and just generally acting like a flowering geyser of piss?
Fortunately, the answer is none of the above.
In fact it’s pretty simple.
If you want to get bigger and stronger, then, to quote Greg Nuckols, the most reliable way (though not the only way) is, quite simply, to do more.
Increasing volume to increase gains is certainly not a new concept – it was taken as gospel by the ‘golden era’ crowd, and was preached from the pulpit of gains by one of bodybuilding’s most-loved personalities.
Along with Steve Reeves, John Grimek and Reg Park, Colbert was a legend of 1950s bodybuilding.
Although he didn’t win any Mr Universe titles, his many appearances in ‘Your Physique’ and ‘Muscle Power’ magazines eared him wide renown.
Leroy Colbert’s magazine cover shots were striking to behold, looking like something dreamt up by Lysippos after a few too many bottles of cabernet sauvignon.
Although it was his arms that secured Colbert a place in history (he was the first man in history to grow 21-inch biceps), his chest was equally magnificent, combining dense major pectorals, a clearly etched serratus and upper pectorals which flared flawlessly outwards, dwarfing those of his peers.
Colbert was a lifelong proponent of the full-body approach to building muscle and his routines involved high volume, typically calling for six sets of 6-10 reps per body part.
In addition to this day-on, day-off foundation, Colbert prescribed a series of volume-spiking ‘blitzes’ to maintain constant progress.
Writing in the January 1959 edition of ‘Muscle Power magazine, Colbert introduced this routine in an article entitled ‘Compel your chest to grow with a seasonal super set blitz!’.
Much like Colbert’s ‘Full Body Blitz’, which we covered previously on the blog, the routine is designed to force continued muscle growth after a period of stagnation, but, this time, with a focus solely on the chest.
Colbert, whose own chest measured in at a bulging 52 inches, cited this particular routine as his tried-and-tested answer to flagging gains.
Built around super sets and drawing on the Joe Weider ‘flushing principle’, this routine amps up the volume of chest work to “holy-jesus-I-can’t-feel-my-arms” levels in order to manipulate progress.
|Straight arm lateral raise||3||8|
|Parallel bar dip||3||8|
|Push-ups between benches||3||10|
|‘Round-the-world’ or ‘flying’ exercise||3||15|
Thanks for sharing!
Incorporate the blitz into a standard three-day-per-week full body workout for a period of three weeks (nine workouts in total).
Repeat every three months.
The blitz should take an hour to complete, so if your typical full body workout takes an hour, set aside two.
Place the blitz at the beginning of your workout when your energy levels are high in order to get the most from it.
Both exercises in each ‘group’ should be supersetted.
For example, in group one, perform one set of eight reps on bench press and then immediately – without pause – perform one set of eight reps on straight arm lateral raise.
Take a quick 30 second breather (no more) and repeat.
Then take another 30 second pause and perform the final super set.
On completion of each group take five minutes rest (you’ll need it) before starting the next one.
For all exercises, select a weight which will allow you to perform all prescribed reps without hitting failure.
To perform this exercise, hold two dumbbells over your thighs while you lie supine on a bench.
Raise the dumbbells (they should touch over the thighs) upward and backward until they are directly at the back of the head and in a horizontal position to the floor.
At this point the arms are separated, each coming down its own side until both again meet over the thighs.
It’s really just a giant fan-like movement.
How many times have you seen frustrated gym-goers perform the same sets and reps, month after month, and make no progress?
Assuming there are no fundamental errors with the routine itself (i.e. absence of main compound lifts) and technique is good, not increasing volume is usually the culprit.
Bottom line: if your chest has stopped growing then increasing training volume will increase gains.
A word of caution, however.
Leroy Colbert’s Super Set Chest Blitz is not something to be entered into lightly.
If your typical workout is essentially an hour of checking Instagram with a few bicep curls and flys thrown in when the hot receptionist looks your way, then you’re in for a shock.
Nine workouts of this and you’ll have proof enough that a sadistic god presides over the weight room.
And, as with any workout that places high stress on the body, it’s important to reiterate that lifting weights does not make you big and strong; recovering from lifting weights makes you big and strong.
Make sure you’re getting enough calories, protein and essential nutrients to fuel growth, and make sure you’re getting at least eight hours of interrupted sleep every night.
If these two factors aren’t in place it doesn’t how much volume you’re working through, you won’t make any sustained progress.
Thinking of giving Leroy’s chest blitz a whirl?
Any comments or questions about this routine?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!
Great article good to see you are still putting out content.
Love the old school stuff!
Thanks, still trying to write, but it gets harder and harder as life gets in the way.
I’ve got about 5 articles in various stages of completion – hopefully will finish them all at some point!
Even one article a year will make most of your readers happy.
Also want to point out Leroy was big on the collar to collar bench press, dead stop at the chest, working up in weight.
It puts the majority of the stress directly on the pecs and takes out a lot of front delt and tricep!
Love looking at the old ‘Muscle Power’ articles.
Echoing what Joe has said, happy to see a new articles out here and there.
Keep it up!
The methods given here for an effective chest workout is very useful.
Just found this blog.
Wow, this is amazing.
Though I got into bodybuilding at high school during the eighties, I used to love reading the old magazines from the 60s which I picked up at a second-hand bookshop near my school.
Leroy Colbert was one of my favorites along with Freddy Ortiz and Larry Scot.
The golden era of bodybuilding.
I always come back to red Leroy’s article here.
We don’t have good old school guys like this around anymore.
A wealth of knowledge.
You were a good man Leroy.
Rest In Peace.
I know it’s a lot of work, but can we ever expect another review of a classic routine?
These have been working for me over the past two years, would love to ty-out another one in the future.
I’ll do my best, life has taken over of late.
Is there any lifter or routine you’re particularly interested in?
Any classic full body routine from The 50s or early 60s seems interesting to me.
Lifters that were champions in those days all look amazing.
Bodybuilding legend Leroy Colbert was very adamant about full-body training and said he never trained productively any other way.
Vince Gironda’s full-body routines used a novel progression – instead of simply adding more weight to the bar, you reduce rest times.