Reg park is renowned as one of the best natural bodybuilders of all time. He was a mentor to the great Arnold Schwarzenegger and is the first bodybuilder on record to bench 500 pounds (you can see the video here). Although he is primarily known as a bodybuilder his training principles and lifts would rival many powerlifters today, so I feel it is important to educate fellow weightlifters on the one formally known as Hercules.
“training is like life, you get your ups your downs, but if you think about your problems hard enough and logically enough, you’ll either solve them or reach a compromise.”
Reg Parks philosophy behind bodybuilding was really simple, if you want to get bigger you have to get stronger. Heavy strength training leads to more recruited muscle fibers, which in turn leads to more growth. Reg was quoted as saying the only difference between a strength trainer and a bodybuilder is the amount of food they eat. The bodybuilder should increase caloric intake to add more muscle mass while the strength trainer, or powerlifter, shouldn’t eat so much to avoid unnecessary weight.
Confidence is another one of reg parks tools for increasing both strength and size, but frankly, it’s underrated in todays world of training principles. A training program should include this principle as much as should include lifting weights. After a workout you should feel like a force to be reckoned with, confidence should be oozing out of your ears and have you counting down until your next gym session. Unfortunately most programs have you dreading the days workout, most likely because you failed a set that you where suppose to complete last workout. Reg is a believer in progressing gradually to keep your confidence up and also warns to avoid training to failure to often. Training to failure to often can lead into a vicious circle of failing lifts. which leads to depression, no confidence, and worst of all, no progress. Remember, weightlifting should relieve some stress of your daily life, not add fuel to the fire. Another key principle is adequate recovery which is a part of every program, but you should not only take a break physically but mentally as well. Weights are just as much mental as physical if not more. Don’t even think about lifting when you’re taking time off just enjoy some other activities and return to the gym 100% and mentally focused.
“Far too many bodybuilders spend too much time exercising the smaller muscle groups such as the biceps at the expense of the larger muscle groups such as the thighs, and then they wonder why it is that they never make gains in overall size and strength. I believe that from a bodybuilding point of view only physiques which have been developed by strength principles will bear the true characteristics of a champion physique, these characteristics in my opinion being maximum muscular size with definition and strength in proportion to one’s size as, for example, possessed by Grimek, Eder, Dellinger, Brenner, Robert, Peals and McShane, all of whom are not only champion bodybuilders but also extremely powerful men”.
Reg Park used a 5×5 program but it differs from typical 5×5 programs in a few ways, one being all five sets are not working sets. The first two sets are warm-up sets, or confidence builders, while the last three sets are working sets. For example if you’re using 250 pounds for working sets on the bench press it would look something like this: 210×5, 230×5, 250x3x5. When you can do all the reps on the last three sets you are ready to up the weight five pounds on each set, so it would look like: 215×5, 235×5, 255x3x5. Reg also recommends to take anywhere from three to five minute resting periods between each set to ensure you recover fully and can use maximum poundage.
Add these principles to your training regimen and see how it does for you. It’s a nice break from high volume routines like Smolov and can help pack on some muscle mass if that’s what you’re looking for, all you need to do is tweak your diet. For beginners below is reg parks split that he and Arnold both used and had great success with in terms of building strength, power, and mass.
|Chin-Ups or Pull-Ups||5||5|
Note:(For deadlifts do 2 warm-up sets and 1 “stabilizer set”.)
You should rotate the workouts every time and only lift three times a week. The beginners programming is very similar to that of starting strength. You can workout whichever days of the week you want as long as two days of workouts are never back to back.
Week 2: B, A, B
Week 3: A, B, etc
Power Training Split: Schedule 1
Note:(Perform 3x/week for 5 weeks before continuing onto Schedule 2.)
After the three sets of strict curls add 20-30lbs on and do two sets of five reps with cheat curls. Also the deadlift is not five sets of your max, it’s working up to a top weight and is for more experienced lifters. Also note it is only done on day 3 or once a week. Beginners should stick to one set of five repetitions for the deadlift.
Note:(To be performed 3x/week for 5 weeks.)
|Clean and Press||5||2|
Keep the same methods with the deadlift as schedule one. Also for clean and press warm up with two sets of two and then after the work sets you have the option to perform two more sets of three push jerks. After the five weeks are up you can choose a different program or repeat it by starting over with schedule one.
Remember that weightlifting is about learning what works for you. Try new things and see how they work out for you. These methods may not work as well as other routines, but you have to try them out to know for sure. Weightlifting is like an all you can eat buffet with all these routines and principles just waiting to be sampled. Add a slice of reg parks routine to your plate and see how well you like it, if not; there are plenty of other routines at your disposal.