Call me old school, but what is it with kids these days? They come into my gym and all they want to do is get “cut” and have a “six pack.” I tell them, “The beer distributor is down the street if you want a six pack. Pick one up for me while you’re there! This here is a gym, boy, and in my book a gym is where you get bigger and stronger!”

Back in my younger days of lifting I wanted to be BIG; the bigger the better. Thick chest, tree-trunk thighs, WIDE shoulders, and a massive back were absolute musts. Nothing would stop me until I had attained hugeness. From the start I admired lifters like Doug Young, Bill Kazmaier, Pisarenko, and Rachmanov as well as bodybuilders like Arnold, Lou Ferrigno, and Pete Grymkowski. These guys could walk the walk and everybody gave them a wide berth. You really had no choice because they were all at least a yard wide.

I was pretty lucky when I first started lifting weights because my early influences came from Bob Hoffman’s Strength and Health magazine, a publication that emphasized Olympic lifting. The reason I got that magazine was because it was the only muscle magazine that was sold at the drug store near my house. My brother and I used to get it every month and I always admired the physiques of the Olympic lifters of that era. There were no articles on how to lower your bodyfat or anything about posing. Strength and Health showed you just good old fashioned basic workouts with heavy weights. Maybe if that store would have carried Muscle and Fitness I would be writing about tanning and oiling right now... who knows?

From those humble beginnings I started to grow bigger, stronger, and most of all wider. I became known in my neighborhood as the “muscle guy.” Because of the limited amount of equipment I had, I was forced me to do only very basic movements. We had a 400lb York Olympic set, a set of squat racks, a rickety bench, and a bar mounted to the basement rafters that I would use to do pullups. Fortunately, those basic movements happened to be the best lifts that a kid could do. I did tons of cleans, squats, rows, and pull-ups, which are pretty much the basics of my “get wide” program that I’ll outline in this article.

Stick to the basics and get wide like Steve.

Before I outline the program we have to talk about one thing. Some guys are lucky to be born with naturally wide shoulder girdles, and some aren't. Back in the 40’s and the 50’s, Steve Reeves used to do deadlifts with his hands grasping the edges of the 45lb plates, thinking the weight and the extreme wide grip would pull his shoulders apart and therefore giving him a wider shoulder width. Whether or not that worked, I really can’t say. I guess if breathing squats and pullovers can expand the rib cage then maybe the super-wide-grip deads worked for Reeves. I wouldn’t suggest trying it though. One thing I can say is that even if you were born with narrow shoulders you can make a huge difference by slapping on some muscle on your lats and shoulders.

Here is the plan I have come up with to really work specifically to make a person as wide as a barn door. If you give this workout time and extreme effort it will work for you. This program will take the place of your regular back and shoulder workouts.


Snatch Grip High Pulls- Pull the weight from the floor to the thighs with a grip that you would use to do a snatch. Give a little dip with your back straight and then explosively pull the bar up using the traps and some arm bend at the top. I would like to see the bar go to at least lower chest height. Keep the elbows high and always wear straps so that you can use more weight. After warm-ups I would like you to get five good sets of three reps.

Bent Over Rows- I'm talking about real bent over rows with your back flat and close to parallel to the floor. I hate these newfangled bullshit rows that I keep seeing in the gym where people stand almost straight up and drag the bar up their legs with a two-inch stroke. You should warmed up enough to go right into four good sets of ten reps. Use straps for better grip on the bar.

Pullups- Yes, just like in gym class. You don’t have to take a super wide grip; a shoulder-width grip will do fine. Do them with your palms facing away from you. Bang out four sets of as many as you can. If you're getting more than fifteen reps, start using added weight. The main key on these is to go all the way down and get that stretch in your lats.

Close Grip Pulldowns With V-Bar or Palms Towards You- This will stretch out the lats and work them at their widest part. Again, four sets of ten reps, wearing straps.

Press Behind Neck- This will directly hit the main part of the deltoid. After warm-ups, hit four heavy sets and do five to eight reps.

Dumbbell Side Raises- These isolate the side head of the deltoids and cap off the shoulders, but you already knew that. If you bust your ass on these you will look like you have bowling balls under your shirt. Four sets of ten reps will do. You don’t have to be super strict with these. It’s ok to start out with good form but don’t worry if you start swinging the weights at the end of the set.

Remember, the one key element in any workout is you. Any program (within reason) will get you bigger and stronger if you work hard enough. If you train your ass off in the gym over a long period of time it will always pay off. Having fun buying all new shirts!