by Mike Mahler
“Training is like life, you get your ups and downs, but if you think about your problems hard enough and logically enough, you’ll either solve them or reach a compromise.”
— Reg Park
If your goal is to develop a powerful physique that is every bit as strong as it looks, you can’t do much better than to follow the example of three time Mr. Universe, Reg Park. Arnold Schwarzenegger often refers to Reg Park as his childhood idol and the greatest inspiration and influence on his own bodybuilding and life successes.
In this article we’ll take a closer look at Reg’s training philosophy and cover his very popular and highly effective 5×5 program as well. Even if you don’t care about getting bigger, if you want to develop a lean and strong physique, Reg is the man to emulate.
Rule #1: If you want to get bigger, then get stronger
Many people training today separate hypertrophy training from strength training. They think that when focusing on getting bigger, one should focus on the muscle not how much weight one is using. This explains why today’s bodybuilders are nowhere near as strong as the old school bodybuilders like Reg Park.
Reg didn’t separate strength training from bodybuilding. He believed that in order to get bigger, you must get stronger. Heavy weight training equals more recruited muscle fibers, which equals more muscular growth. The only difference, says Reg, is that the pure strength trainer shouldn’t increase caloric intake to avoid putting on size, while the bodybuilder should ramp up high quality nutrition in order to pack on more size.
Rule #2: Focus on compound movements
Reg believed in spending time on exercises that produce the maximum return. The cornerstone of his training was a healthy diet of squats, deadlifts, and bench presses, which he called the primary strength exercises. Secondary or supplementary exercises were cleans, high pulls, and clean and presses.
Personally, I’d replace the bench press with the standing military press, and throw in some pull-ups or bent over rows to balance the upper body. Regardless, Reg knew what he was doing, and had the results to back it up. Most trainees won’t go wrong with a focus on the three primary lifts. Once you get your bench up to 300 pounds, and your squat and deadlift up to 400 pounds, you’ll notice a big difference in how your physique looks.