Badass INC. #1 – Doug Young
I’m going to kick off a series of articles on the Dave’s Gym Blog dealing with people, men and women, who are just plain badass in the world of weightlifting, combat sports, fitness, baking, selling office stationary, and anything else where we see the plight of awesomeness is being upheld. This first one is about a powerlifter who honestly looks like he is descended from a cross between a bear, a gorilla, and a T-Rex more than a man – Doug Young.
Born in 1944, Doug was a powerlifter from Texas who competed at both the 242lb (110kg) and 275lb (125kg) bodyweight classes. At a fairly average height of 5’11” this guy was an absolute monster and his lifts reflected that. He was IPF World Powerlifting Champion on numerous occasions during the 70’s, but some of his best lifting took place at the US Nationals in 1977 in the 242lb (110kg) class where he got a 722lb (328kg) Squat, a 556lb (252kg) Bench, and a 738lb (335kg) Deadlift. He did this without any support equipment bar a lifting belt…..with three broken ribs. Read that again and take it in. THREE BROKEN RIBS. Thankfully you can watch this madness by invoking the power of the internet:
It’s things like that which either inspire you to be better or make you throw in the towel. I can honestly say no matter how strong i get i will never come close to the sheer power and determination of this man. Whatever sport you compete in, or even if you just train for health, the lesson here is really just never ever EVER give up because you’re infinitely more capable than other people or “common sense” would have you believe. As well as that awe-inspiring performance, Doug is credited with a 612lb (278kg) Bench Press wearing nothing but a regular cotton t-shirt. Do you ever get the feeling your ‘equipment’ isn’t big enough? Jesus.
Sadly, Doug passed away in 2005 from a massive heart attack at the age of 61 and the world lost an absolute legend of the iron game. RIP.
By now you should already want to look, lift and act like Doug Young. Personally i also want a rockin’ beard like his but fate has cruelly handed me the facial hair of a slightly old peach. Still, maybe with some work and the right program I’ll be able to bench like him.
Doug’s method of training was quite unique in that he would adjust his training weights based on his performance the previous week rather that increasing or decreasing according to a set plan. The benefits of training like this are that you should (in theory) rarely over-reach your own ability, and your training will cycle naturally according to your body. If you have a good day you can build on it next week, but if you have a bad one next week will be easier/lighter.
The way he did this for his lifts varied by what lift in particular he was training. For example, when training the bench press Doug would do four sets of six reps, after warmups, but on the fourth set he would do an “AMRAP” set (as many reps as possible). Any reps above 6 in this final set would be his indicator for next week:
3×6 @ 400lbs (180kg)
1xAMRAP @ 400lbs (180kg)
Assuming he got, say, 10 reps on that final set he would increase the weight for next week by 5lbs (2.5kg) per rep – in this case an increase of 20lbs (10kg), so next week would look like:
3×6 @ 420lbs (190kg)
1xAMRAP @ 420lbs (190kg)
Similarly, if he got less than six reps on that AMRAP set he’d reduce the weight for next week by 5lbs (2.5kg) per rep. The whole thing would repeat like this for four weeks of his training cycle, at which point he’d use the same system except the workouts would alternate between 4×6 and 5×3 for four total weeks, then only 5×3 for two weeks, and finally leading up to a contest he would do 5×2. The same system of rep indicators/AMRAP final sets applied to all these rep ranges.
For the Squat and Deadlift Doug used a similar system, but the AMRAP set would come first rather than last, then subsequent sets would build on the weight in the first set increasing by 25lbs (roughly 10-12.5kg) each set. For example:
1xAMRAP @ 550lbs (250kg)
1×4 @ 575lbs (260kg)
1×3 @ 600lbs (272kg)
1×2 @ 625lbs (285kg)
1×1 @ 650lbs (295kg)
For the AMRAP set, any rep above 5 would be a 10lb (5kg) indicator up or down for the next workout. So if Doug got 8 reps on his AMRAP in this workout that would work out as a 30lb (15kg) increase next time:
1xAMRAP @ 580lbs (264kg)
1×4 @ 605lbs (275kg)
1×3 @ 630lbs (286kg)
1×2 @ 655lbs (298kg)
1×1 @ 680lbs (310kg)
And so on and so on for the entire 12 week program. Don’t take this type of training lightly, though it cycles with your body’s performance it’s still damn heavy and you’d better have a great basis in simple basic weightlifting before even attempting this style of training. Doug was an exceptional lifter, and one of the strongest guys ever to get underneath a barbell. Just bear that in mind! Starting these programs with a moderately light weight is advisable, as is setting limits on how many reps you can count towards your weekly increases.
For accessory, surprisingly Doug used a lot of isolation/bodybuilder type movements like Flys, Front Raises, various types of Dumbell Curl, Rows, Straight Arm Pulldowns, and Tricep/JM Presses to strengthen his weak points. I see no reason why this style of training for the main powerlifts couldn’t be combined with any accessory lift protocol’s targetting your own weak areas such as in the Westside style of training. Doug also advocated the use of accessory sets for bench press using a variety of grip widths. The dude really loved his benching.
And that about wraps it up! Doug Young, we at Dave’s Gym salute your badassery!
Train hard everybody!