Natural Training Methods by John Kuc

John Kuc is a great powerlifting legend from the 70’s. Here’s John’s opinion about using drugs in powerlifting – Mr. Berg!

“I have previously discussed my overall philosophy of drug free training, however, in this article I would like to delve into actual drug free training methods. Over the last few years I have found that adjustments have had to be made to my training programs.

These adjustments are not mind shattering revelations, but they have proven to be very important and have to be made if you are to be successful. I feel steroids are like an unfair “equalizer”. They can take an individual who has inconsistencies or flaws in his training routines and allow him to make progress in spite of these flaws.

That same individual without the aid of steroids would not be able to do this. I have found that without the use of drugs much more attention has to be paid to the intangibles. The small things that at one time did not seem too important are now proving to be very important. Perhaps important is not a strong enough word.

They will make the difference between success and failure. My general training philosophies remain the same. I have always trained in the same manner. I believe in heavy weights and low rep training for all three lifts. All training is done under contest conditions.

This I feel is extremely important whether you use drugs or not. When I am squatting I wear suit, wraps and belt. I am currently using Dyna Wraps, Super Suit 2 and a power belt of my own design. The heavy sets in the bench are all done with a pause.

All deadlifting is done off the floor without the use of straps or any other type of assistance. I feel training should duplicate contest conditions as closely as possible. It is foolish to train in one manner and attempt to compete in another.

One of the biggest adjustments that has to be made when training without steroids is NOT TO OVERTRAIN. Over and over I would find myself in an overtrained condition, because I was attempting to train at previous intensity levels.

This year’s Drug Free Nationals was a perfect example. Two weeks prior to the contest I pulled a 828 deadlift along with 3×3 of work sets. This was basically the same time table I used when my training was drug aided.

The problem was I did not fully recover by meet time. This overworked condition caused me to be red lighted for stopping on what should have been a fairly easy weight. Altering my schedule to allow for extra recovery time is seemingly minor adjustment, but in this example it turned out to be the difference between success and failure.

I made this adjustment prior to the Bedford Open in late October and pulled a fairly easy 830. If I can keep from overtraining I feel I will exceed the existing World Record withing a year. Whether you use drugs or not, the moral of this story is that we should learn from our mistakes.

Your recovery rate without drugs is much slower. When I took steroids it seemed liked I could hit the heavy weights week after week. Without steroids you must allow for a longer recovery period. This is probably the single biggest benefit from drugs, the ability to train at high intensity levels for long periods of time.

Without steroids your training intensity must be cut back. If you continue to attempt to train with the same intensity as you did with drugs or at the level of an individual using steroids, you will quickly reach overworked condition. Each individual must find their own intensity level. As a non-steroid user you must use caution when analyzing different routines.

Remember that you probably will not be able to train at the intensity level of a steroid aided lifter. I have recently been using a heavy and light system that has been working well. On Monday I squat, Tuesday bench, Thursday squat, deadlift and bench.

Week 1 would be heavy squats and lighter deadlifts, week 2 would be lighter squats and heavy deadlifts. This would then be repeated over and over. On the bench, since smaller muscle groups are involved, an overworked condition is not so easily reached. Two or three heavy weeks in a row can be taken before a light week is needed.

Whatever the case, the drug free powerlifter’s Golden Rule should be “Thou shall not overtrain”.

Almost all lifters today are into cycling. When I first began competing this term was unheard of. Cycling actually became popular concurrent with the increased use of megadose of steroids by many athletes.

Many cycles are designed to coincide with steroid intake. A drug free lifter has to be very careful not to fall into a ‘cycling’ trap. A drugs free lifter can’t afford to be so strict in adherence to a cycle. I know of some lifters who, if they miss one rep in the latter part of their cycle, will pass up a competition.

This is absurd. When training drug free you are going to experience much wider variations in your strength level. There will be days when you are going to miss some reps. On the other side of the coin, there will be days when your strength level is high. Because of this you can be tied too tightly to a cycle. You must be intelligent enough to recognize these fluctuations and adjust accordingly.

When your strength level is up take advantage of it, don’t back off just because your cycle calls for only a certain performance level. Flexibility is the key.

Assistance work is another area that will vary between the steroid aided athlete and the drug free athlete. I feel assistance work to be very important to both. Assistance work is designed to overcome weak points.

I feel that assistance work may be more important to the non-steroid user, but this is only true if the assistance work is done correctly. As with all of your training you must be very careful not to overdo the assistance work.

With steroids it seems to be like you can do endless amounts of assistance work and bodybuilding. Without the steroids you will not have this luxury. Too much assistance work or bodybuilding will quickly lead to an overworked state.

You must be more selective with your assistance work. I would not recommend more than one heavy assistance exercises you must be objective and pick the exercise best suited for you.

I have recently added close grip bench presses to my routine. My bench has begun to move and they appear to be working. If I had added another assistance exercise such as incline presses or dumbbell presses, it would have been too much.

What I am saying is determine your weak points and add an assistance exercise that is tailored to correct that problem.

My training articles are not meant to condemn or ridicule those who use drugs. The use of steroids is a personal decision.

Whether you choose to use them or not to use them or not to use them does not make one person morally superior to another. All I am attempting to do is share with the readers the similarities and differences I have encountered in training with and without the use of steroids.

To recap, the following points should be considered:

1. Heavy weights and low reps
2. Do not overtrain
3. Have flexible training cycles
4. Use assistance work wisely”

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