Ralph Cameron (1926 - 2013)
Chris ‘Sticks’ Bostick (1951 - 2019)
Hank Darnell (1919 - 1996)
Mike Mentzer (1951 - 2001)
Clarence Harrison (1929 - 2009)
Allan Nickell (1933 - 2017)
To gain maximum muscle size and strength, your workouts must center around compound movements. Compound movements require multiple large muscle groups working together in harmony. Exercises such as the squat, the deadlift, cleans, the clean and jerk, the barbell row, the bench press, dips, and the standing press fall into this category. These movements can transform you from a weakling into a strongman. These are the exercises that build champions like Doug Hepburn, John Davis, Clancy Ross, and Reg Park.
Go into any gym and look to see how the biggest and strongest members train. Most likely, you will find that compound movements with heavy weights form the core of their training routines. Then, observe the perennially skinny folks. These are the ones who struggle to make gains, even after months or years of persistent effort in the weight room. The culprit? Trainees in the latter category generally focus on isolation exercises, such as curls, triceps push-downs, dumbbell flyes, and lateral raises. These are the “easy” exercises, the movements that require the least energy and effort, and the ones that produce the least results.
In contrast, working a heavy compound exercise properly requires a super effort and much perspiration. This is why most gym members avoid them like the plague. I mean, come on; doing 10 sets of triceps press-downs is 100 times easier than doing a single set of heavy barbell squats. And, who doesn't like an easy path? But, and this is the important concept to totally grasp, performing just one set of any compound movement is over 100 times more effective than doing 10 sets of any isolation exercise.
Thus, if you want to grow big and strong quit screwing around with concentration curls and load that deadlift bar for some hard work with heavy iron. And, keep pushing those poundages up whenever you can. This approach is key to gaining strength and might.
Generally, the most effective way to utilize compound movements in your training is to implement a pyramid scheme. Doing so will warm-up the muscles involved progressively and prepare them to exert maximum force safely. One proven strategy for gaining strength, muscle, and power involves performing five progressive sets of a lift, working up in weight and reducing the number of repetitions with each succeeding set. The exception is that the weight is reduced for the final set and higher repetitions are employed.
A quantitative example of the pyramid scheme described above is shown below and can be used with any compound movement. The ‘max’ reference here refers to the one-rep maximum weight you can currently lift for a selected exercise. For illustrative purposes, 300 pounds is assumed here. Of course, for your own implementation of this pyramid scheme the numbers must be proportionately adjusted for the exercise of interest and your current ability.
Set 1: 60% of max (180 pounds), 6 to 8 reps;
Set 2: 75% of max (220 pounds), 5 to 7 reps;
Set 3: 85% of max (255 pounds), 3 to 5 reps;
Set 4: 90 to 95% of max (270 to 285 pounds), 2 to 4 reps;
Set 5: 80% of max (240 pounds), ~8 to 10 reps.
This progression scheme is particularly effective with the three power lifts (squat, deadlift, and the bench press). So, if you are struggling to gain strength and build size, you may want to give this pyramid strategy a try with these three lifts, working each one once per week. This may be just what you need to break out of your training rut and instigate a massive growing spurt. No problem, however, if your prefer to design your workouts around different compound exercises. Just make sure your routine is well balanced so that all of the your muscles get thoroughly taxed. For example, a training program built around the squat, the clean-and-jerk, the barbell press, and dips could also effect spectacular gains.
The purpose of Muscles of Iron (MOI) is to dispense an array of productive training methods for gaining muscular bulk, strength, and power. This site specializes in and endorses only drug-free training, healthy living, and ethical promotion of products. If you are looking for magic pills, an easy road to success, or the latest fad, you are at the wrong place. However, if you are seeking a rational and enduring approach to building muscles, welcome aboard!
With hard work, intense training, persistence of effort, proper recovery, and a dogged determination to succeed, almost anybody can develop an impressive physique with the right know-how. And, it is the top goal at MOI to provide the willing strength enthusiast with the knowledge and inspiration needed to reach the upper limits of their potential.
MOI is devoted to bodybuilding as it was practiced during the “Golden-Age” of Strength. The Golden Age took place from around the start of the 20th century up until the mid 1950s. During this period, the lifting world was drug-free and dominated by practitioners who followed relatively bare-boned, rugged, and highly effective training programs. The lifters of this age were strong, powerful, and health oriented. MOI carries on with this tradition.
The mission at MOI is to provide the physical culture community with reliable, helpful, and motivating resources for building muscle, health, and fitness. You are encouraged to actively participate in this mission by sharing your training experiences through comments, letters, photos, or other means. You can reach the editor via the site contact page.
Thank you for visiting, and I look forward to growing this important website with you.
Muscles of Iron is based on broad vision that was built upon the insights, contributions, and assistance from many people. At its core, the ideas that circulate on MOI are linked to various dedicated strength practioneers, both from the past and in the present. This site would not be possible without such a collective gathering of personalities, knowledge, ideas, and philosophies. With this understood, the primary staff at MOI is as follows:
Site Founder, Technical Director, and Editor
Rob Drucker grew up in Louisville, Kentucky (USA) and got his start in weight training at the age of 13. His early training was greatly influenced by Ralph Cameron, father of a friend and third-place finisher in the 1949 Mr. Louisville physique contest. Mr. Cameron became Rob's mentor and taught the young lifter a great deal about old-time physical culture. This led to Rob becoming highly influenced by many past champions, including John Grimek, Doug Hepburn, and Reg Park.
While a Junior in high school, Rob studied the works of Arthur Jones and Mike Mentzer, both advocates of the HIT style of weight training. Rob credits his winning of the 1979 Teenage Mr. Kentuckiana (Kentucky and Indiana) to both Cameron and Mentzer.
After graduating from Youngstown State University with a degree in Chemical Engineering, Rob met a super-strong fellow named Brooks Kubik in an old dungeon-like gym in Louisville. From that day forward, Rob has been a big fan of Brooks and Dinosaur Training, his brand of old-time lifting.
Recently, Rob retired from the chemical industry after working nearly 30 years as an engineer and manager. At the age of 57, he is now focusing on a new career as a full-stack website developer. Rob is also resuming a heavy body-building program after a seven-year layoff from the gym. His comeback is being fueled by High Voltage Training, his own formula with strong ties to his weight-lifting roots. Currently, Rob and his family reside in Charleston, South Carolina.
Director of Martial Arts and Physical Culture
Peter Yates is a fitness expert, a teacher of the martial arts, and an established writer of physical culture. Peter began his training at the age of 10 lifting rocks and branches in the local countryside of Darwen, England. After joining the Darwen Weightlifting Club at age twelve, he came under the guidance of Maurice Ainsworth who taught him weight training and martial arts.
In his adult years, Peter spent around fifteen years living in the Far East where he sought out masters of various martial disciplines and also learned acupuncture. Among his teachers was Sifu Share K. Lew, a grandmaster who was revered for his skill in meditation, the healing arts, Qigong, and Kung Fu.
In addition to being a writer for MOI, Peter is Editor in Chief for the History of Physical Culture website, a contributing writer to the Dinosaur Files, and a former contributing writer for the now defunct Health and Strength magazine. He has also written one book and several articles about Chinese medicine and martial arts.
Peter now lives in Long Island, New York with his wife, MaDong, and his son, Robert. Peter runs an acupuncture clinic, trains in his garage gym, and he has a small group of dedicated martial arts students.
The Late Chris ‘Sticks’ Bostick
MOI Contributor and Supporter
Chris ‘Sticks’ Bostick contributed many works of art and articles to MOI before his untimely death in 2019. He showed an uncanny artistic talent for drawing beginning at an early age. During his lifetime, Chris created more than 2,000 drawings, many which were cartoon humor with a muscles theme.
In addition to humor art, Chris was well known for drawing, illustrating, cartooning, and designing his own strength equipment. This was a passion of his. Rob Drucker, an engineer and the founder of MOI, indicated that Sticks's equipment designs were “nothing short of ingenious.”
Chris was a regional powerlifting competitor in the early 1970s. He trained almost entirely in his home gym using self-built training equipment. This formula allowed him to work up to a 400-pound bench, a 500-pound squat, and a 275-pound press. Eventually, Chris stopped competing in powerlifting because he did not like the direction the sport was heading. He noted, “competition meant committing to supersuits and pharmacology”. The big man was a strong advocate of training drug-free and without the use of artificial training aids.
Professionally, Chris spent 50 years in the electronic manufacturing business in East Syracuse, New York. After retiring from the electronics field, he became co-owner of and an artist for Syrapro LLC, a sportswear and marketing firm. In the years prior to his death, Chris also served as Art Director for the History of Physical Culture website.
Not only was ‘Sticks’ a super talent, he was a kind and gentle soul who was eager to help whoever he could. And, although Chris has moved on to a better place, his memory and given works still continue to shape the direction of MOI and the lives of the people who were fortunate enough to know him.