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Before the days of anabolic steroids, the right combination of training, nutrition recovery and drive formed the basis of success. These principles were espoused by legends such as the strongman Doug Hepburn. The club-footed and cross-eyed Canadian had a rough childhood, fuelling him with the ambition to be one of the strongest men. He took up weight training at the age of 15 and by the age of 18 could bench press 260 pounds, among his repertoire of great lifts. He’s even argued to have been one of the strongest men of all time. Hepburn was the first man to bench press 500 pounds. No wonder he is now referred to as the “Grandfather of Modern Powerlifting.” Hepburn could even hang 90 pounds form his little finger, extended at an arm’s length for 10 seconds. This was in an era well before the use of steroids and supportive equipment became widespread. Had Paul Anderson, not appeared on the lifting scene a few years after Hepburn retired, Hepburn’s achievements would not have been overshadowed.

Tips from Doug Hepburn’s Strongman Style Training

  • Focus on 2 Lifts a Day. The bottom line is that if you gain strength on two lifts a workout, these gains will translate to strength gains with smaller muscles too. The gains achieved form this can be optimised by pairing exercises of antagonistic muscle groups, such as pull-ups and overhead presses.

  • Perform Lots of Sets For Maximal Strength. Doug Hepburn’s methodology to increase maximal strength is based on doing lots of basic work. The basic principle of strength training is to do only a few things, but to do them very well.

  • Focus on The Nervous System First, Then Functional Hypertrophy. By exciting high-threshold motor units first, then doing functional hypertrophy work you will achieve better results.

  • Use Split Routines. Total body workouts are so draining that they don’t permit full recovery. Executing only two lifts a day with multiple training sessions a week can be an effective way to achieve this. Don’t forget to use standardised rest intervals and appropriate tempo of each rep for optimal results.

  • Don’t Rush It. Ideally use a weight whereby you can only add a rep at a time for each workout.  Once you can complete 8 x 3, it’s then time to increase the weight.

There's No Shortcuts to Muscle Gains

Hepburn proved that there’s nothing like hard work to achieve progress both in and out of the gym. There are no shortcuts. Consider Hepburn your mentor and use his methodology to help you improve your gains steadily over time.

[left, Legend Doug Hepburn “Grandfather of Modern Powerlifting"]
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