Bodybuilding Training Article from

Simplified System of Dumbbell Training - Part I

by Bob Hoffman -- 1966

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Dumbbell training is the oldest and many believe, the best form of physical training, Back in 1633, a book was written in which it was suggested that dumbell training, combined with practice on one's weapons, was the best form of military physical training --- dumbbell training to build strength, balance, command of muscles, endurance, recuperative powers, super health and general all-around physical excellence. Today, dumbbell training is more favored than ever. Dumbbells of moderate weight provide an ideal way to keep fit, to enjoy super health, more strength and to have a better physique.

Although good results are had with dumbell training alone, superior results are obtained if heavy barbell training alone will build great power, but not the shapeliness most bodybuilders are seeking. Dumbbell work will build shapeliness but not the limit in power, for it is necessary to handle very heavy weights to become really strong. We must remember that the world's record in the back lift is 4,300 pounds; the world's record in the harness lift 3,600 pounds. The champions of strength and development, the world's best weight lifters, use up to 500 pounds in the dead weight lift and the deep knee bend exercises. However, several times the strength of the average man can be obtained with dumbbells alone, and the will build a handsome, admiration-creating physique.

All sorts of people make up a world, they say, and all types of people with all sorts of desires and ambitions take up the practice of physical training as we teach it. But regardless of what you may desire in a physical way, you can obtain it by using dumbbells as a training medium -- merely to keep fit, which can be done with a minimum of time and effort, or to build noticeable development; and of course, dumbells serve well in producing the limit in strength and development. No doubt you are interested in using this simplified course of training with a light or moderate weight set of dumbbells, but if you desire to use heavier weights as you continue to progress, you can be sure that you are on the right track in obtaining the limit in strength and development. All the great men of the past and present -- men like Louis Cyr, the strongest man that ever lived; Arthur Saxon, the greatest one arm lifter in the history of the world, who daily lifted over 300 pounds to single arm's length; Eugene Sandow, famed for his great physique and showmanship, a man who made a million dollars standing still; famous strength and development stars of the present; men like John Grimek, who was selected as "Mr. america" in every contest he entered; Frank Leight and Jules Bacon, winners of "Best-Developed Man" titles; Tony Terlazzo; Ludwigh Schusterich: Steve Stanko Paul Como and other leaders in the world of strength and development -- spend considerable time training with heavy dumbells.

You will receive all the results you could wish for with this new Simplified System of Dumbell Training. The best dumbell exercises have included in the Simplified Dumbell System, so arranged that only a minimum of changing of collars and weights is necessary. Thus a great deal of time is saved. Time is short and every minute must be made to count. With this new system you can receive the benefits of dumbell physical training in an astonishingly short space of time.

The first thought to remember when taking up the practice of this course is that you obtain from exercise what you put into it. Exercise moderately and irregularly and you obtain moderate results: exercise progressively while constantly adding to the weights employed as your muscles become strong enough to perform the exercises with more weight and exercise regularly, and you will achieve amazing results. You'll feel as you never felt before: you'll be so improved in appearance that your friends and relatives will remark about your changed and bettered appearance. You'll be strong sand super healthy

There is a place for dumbell training in the life of every man and woman, regardless of his or her condition or physical desires. The champions of strength and development, as we have already related, have proven the merits of dumbbell training by practicing with heavy dumbells . If you are not ambitious to be famed for your strength and development, you use exactly the same system which has brought fame to them -- Bob Hoffman's system of dumbbell training; you merely practice for shorter periods and utilize less weight in all of the movements.


Particularly if you are a beginner at weight training, spend considerable time in reading this course and study carefully the description of each exercise. Make it a habit to read this course not once, but many times. Proper performance of the movements will hasten the desirable results that you obtain.

In planning your training --- depending upon your desires, time at your disposal and your ambitions -- you can train every other day, or four or five times a week. A four-day training schedule is an ideal method. The secret of gaining success with weight training is to make demands upon the muscles, then have days of rest in which nature builds strength and endurance to not only meet these demands but to provide more strength for future demands. Gains in strength are made rapidly after the short initial training period you will find the starting poundages to be easy for you and you will require additional weight. As your strength increases, you gradually increase the weight of the dumbbells until, through your progressive gains, before long there is a noticeable improvement in your strength and development. While it is not wise to work too often, as we term it, "on your nerve," handling limit poundages fn each movement and gritting your teeth and straining a bit to perform the last one or two movements., you must at times make demands upon your muscles so that they will gain as desired. It has been the accepted practice to train rather hard, certainly harder than usual, at least one training day per week. On the other training days go through a nice comfortable workout. You should select a poundage which can be handled from ten to fifteen repetitions. On your heavy day you can employ poundages which permit only seven or eight repetitions., and after a short rest perform the same movement with seven or eight again. some use a heavy weight in three series of five movements with each exercise. But, on most training days, ten to fifteen movements are best. Try to continue until at least twelve are performed, because the last few movements are particularly beneficial. An exercise should be practiced for a long enough time to bring the blood racing to the working muscles, with the materials which are required for continuation of the movement and to build and replace the broken-down tissue.

There has been an endeavor to arrange the exercises in groups so that one poundage will serve for a number of movements. You will notice that the exercise in which less weight is employed are grouped first, and the more vigorous exercises which involve the larger muscles of the legs and back, or all the muscles, are in the latter group. Men vary in strength of certain muscle groups. You may prefer, after using the course for a time, to mold the exercises a bit, the object being to classify groups of exercises which you can best perform with identical weights.

If you are not very strong or have not exercised at all, or for a long period, it will be wise to start the movements of series one with as little as five pounds. Unused muscles will stiffen up slightly after the first session of exercises. You will feel them a bit the day after your exercise period and the second day too, but usually the stiffness will leave after that never to return as long as you practice your exercises at least occasionally.

The average man should be able to make his start with ten pounds for the exercises of group one. After you have loaded the dumbbells to a weight which will permit the correct performance of the movement for from ten to fifteen repetitions, you are ready to proceed. The movements should be practiced with moderate slowness, so that you can feel the weight every inch of the way. Inhale as the weights go up or as you exert force; exhale as the weights are lowered, breathing as deeply as possible. If you start with ten pounds in the first series, it should not be too difficult for you to use double this amount, or twenty pounds, in the last series of six. When you advance to the point of using twenty pounds in the first exercise, you should be able to use forty pounds in the more advanced exercises. Remember, to begin, use a moderate weight in the first six exercises, increase the weight and perform the last six exercises with a greater weight.

After you have trained for a time, you will find yourself capable of handling more weight in the two arm press, the rowing motion and the side bend than will ever be possible in the forward and lateral raise and the punching movements. At this time, change your system a bit. Use a moderate weight in the first three exercises. Later you will progress to a point tin the two hands curl which is far in advance of the weights you should use in Exercises No. 1 and No.2, so you can include this movement with a group of heavier exercises. But, in the beginning, you can use one poundage with the first six exercises, then add to the weight and practice the remaining six. Later you can use one poundage in the first three movements, add to the weight and practice the next five and then still more weight to practice Exercises Nos.. 9, 10, 11 and 12.

The courses have been so arranged that a wide variation of training procedure can be followed. When time is ample you can practice each individual exercise for the desired number of repetitions. If time is very limited you can follow the movements in a series of compound exercises. for instance, the series should consist of three or four exercises. Your first series could be Exercises Nos. 1, 2 and 3 of Course No. 1, then the next five, which should be easy enough for you, for, after two exercises the one dumbell swing, with which you can use but a single dumbell, if you prefer. By practicing the Simplified System with compound movements it is possible to complete the full course, ten repetitions in each exercise, in five minutes.

But seldom is time so short that you must hurry in this manner. It is more fun and more comfortable to take your time, rest between movements and walk around the room, maintaining good posture and breathing deeply.

The courses have been arranged so that all the major muscles of the body receive a full share of exercise. For instance, Exercise No. 1 is best for developing the points of the shoulders or the deltoids, as well as the chest; Exercise No. 2, the arms, chest, upper back and shoulders; the dumbbell curl, the front of the arms or biceps; two arm press, particularly the back of the arm, the triceps, but the entire shoulder girdle as well; rowing exercise, the deep-lying muscles of the arm and the upper back; No. 6 -- the side bend, as the name implies -- the muscles of the side; No. 7 strengthens, the feet and develops the calf; No. 8, the back and shoulders, while teaching the muscles to coordinate properly; No. 9, the shoulder girdles, notably the trapezius muscles, which improve the slope to the shoulders; No. 10, the muscles of the lower back, the vital section of the body, also providing a stimulating effect, a massaging action, to all the organs, glands and nerves which are located in he mid-section of the body. The movements which bring all the muscles into play are most beneficial as they speed up respiration and circulation, cause a bit of perspiration, and build all desirable physical qualities. The last movement, consisting as it does of a series of good exercises, is especially beneficial.

You will see from this brief description that most of the muscles of the body have had their turn at action, certainly all the principal groups, but it is advantageous after completing the twelve exercises. of one course, if you have time to practice three other exercises -- a special neck exercise, a form of breathing pull-over and an abdominal raise. There are many abdominal exercises. You can vary them as you like, but, in any event, special movements for these important parts should be included in your course. On the charts you will find three good movements which may be added to the usual course.

If you are particularly ambitious any day, you can use both courses and have a really good workout. Your endurance and recuperative powers will increase rapidly if you follow the simple rules of health -- sufficient sleep, rest or relaxation, the maintenance of a tranquil mind, good food at mealtimes only if you eat plenty of good fresh meat, milk, eggs, fruit and vegetables, you will not have a need for food concentrates or vitamins) and of course, the other major essential for good health -- the proper kind of exercise. By following these simple rules your progression is assured.

It is best to exercise at least an hour or two before meals or an hour or two after meals. This might mean right after coming home from work if you do not have dinner immediately or it could mean any time during the evening. A great many men and women practice their exercises an hour or so before retiring. Too soon before retiring is not best, as the exercises may cause wakefulness. But an hour or two before bedtime will permit you to use the dumbells to the point of perspiration. If you don't breath heavily and perspire you are not exercising strenuously enough); then take a lukewarm bath -- not hot or cold -- then rest, read or study for an hour and you'll enjoy a perfect night's sleep.

You will obtain from exercise what you put into it. We wish you the fullest measure of success. My you always be strong, healthy and happy. Read Part 2...

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