Jack King's Gym

Natural bodybuilding & Olympic lifting resource

Jack King 1983

Starting Strength: The Tarheel Connection by Bill Starr

There were many factors that contributed to the resurgence of activity at the York Barbell Club in the mid-sixties. One that is often overlooked is the influence brought to the York Gym by lifters from other parts of the country. Olympic lifters in the various geographic regions seldom trained alike. The reason for this was rather simple: each locality was governed by a coach or lifter who had proven himself. Those who trained in that area usually followed the methods prescribed by that individual.

Continue reading “Starting Strength: The Tarheel Connection by Bill Starr”

Jack King frontpose4

Content of Books

Several folks have asked about the content of the four books to be coming out.

The first will deal mainly with push-ups. Another will focus on sprinting and running– how to plan runs, how to measure them, and the frequency for optimal results. Another will be dedicated to pull-ups. Content will focus on different variations and advantages of each variation. The last will be the most extensive book I’ve ever seen on diet and supplementation. The exhaustive nature of the diet/supplementation content is one of the reasons that the overall collection was divided into a four-part series. There would be way too much content for one book and it would make the book very expensive if all information was included in one binding.

I still do not have a date from JP, but I plan to give him a call tomorrow for an update.

Thanks for your continued interest and let me know if you have further questions.


Updates and Responses to Questions

Looks like the book should be out in the Spring. It will be one of a four-part series.

As far as the differences between John’s training philosophy and my own, JP is entitled to his opinions. In my many talks with John, we’ve discussed his friends and acquaintances who have experienced injuries where they can no longer do weight work. In my own experience in twenty years of competitive Olympic lifting, I had a left elbow operation, tore a right thigh muscle, and made frequent visits to the chiropractor. Even with all the injuries, I wouldn’t trade anything for my time as an Olympic lifter. Just as football players and other athletes know, injuries are a part of the sport. You love the sport, so you take and accept that injuries are going to come along with it. If you’re trying to excel, you will have to deal with injuries. Due to injuries, we often have to improvise our training techniques in the event that we cannot use weights. You can see other posts on this blog where I have described my use of non-apparatus training to continue training body parts that I would otherwise have been unable to train with weights.

As far as the book is concerned, I am very excited. I truly believe when you read this book series that you all have all the ammunition you’ll need for the rest of your life on how to train and what to do in non-apparatus training.

You can feel comfortable in calling me at the gym with questions or concerns. I’m that interested in your success. The specific training questions you’ve asked in these blog comments will be addressed in the book or you can call me directly. The books will include pictures and demonstrations of training techniques with descriptions that are dead on.

Thank you all for your interest and I will update as much as possible.

Keep training hard,


Thanks to everyone for their interest in the upcoming book

I wanted to take a quick minute to respond to everyone who has posted to the blog and indicated interested in the upcoming book. As soon as I find out more details, I will give an update on when it is coming out. In the meantime, I plan to respond to all your comments and questions.

Thanks for checking in and I will update soon.

Keep training hard,


Video of Push-Up Technique along with Jack’s Commentary

Based on the number of comments and great interest readers have expressed in my push-up routine, I have created this video in which the proper technique is demonstrated. During the demonstration, I provide commentary around the technique and it’s benefits.

Jerry Martin, winner of the Feb. 2010 NASF-sponsored President’s Day Festival, is the demonstrator. Just for the record, Jerry completes 110 push-ups in this video. Click here to view video of Jerry’s posing routine from that contest in which he won Best Poser. Jerry has trained at my gym since 2000. He added push-ups to his training regimen in the months leading up to the NASF competition and the gains really paid off.

There is a certain mentality, which I speak of in the video, that must prevail in taking up a hardcore push-up routine. Once the routine becomes standard and the results begin to show, no one will have to beg to you incorporate push-ups into your training routine. You’ll love what you see and this will motivate you over time.

Keep training hard,


Congratulations to Jerry Martin– See Awesome Bodybuilding Posing Routine Footage!

Our very own Jerry Martin dominated in the President’s Day Festival in Hampton, VA. This was an NASF bodybuilding event which took place on Feb. 20, 2010. Jerry took the overall title as well as the best poser award. Check him out as he entertains the crowd with his robot routine.

Jerry has been training at Jack King’s Gym since 2000. He entered his first bodybuilding contest in 2006 and has competed in eight contests altogether. Jerry has placed 1st in four of his eight contests. Look for Jerry to compete again as early as April 2010.

Non-Apparatus Waist Work

In this post, I’ll share two waist exercises to complete a total body non-apparatus training routine that I’ve outlined throughout my blog. See this link for upper body and this link for lower body for the complete routine.

1)      Basic Crunch
For the basic crunch, you’ll lay flat on your back on the floor in front of a bench or chair. Your knees will be bent at a 90 degree angle with your feet propped on the bench or chair. Be sure that your lower back is perfectly flat on the floor.

When you crunch, ultimately what you’re doing is trying to jam your upper abs into lower abs and groin area. When doing your crunch, you’ll raise your shoulders off the floor about 3-4 inches. This is NOT a sit-up. The crunch is a very short movement, but if you use your fingers to feel the contraction of your abdominal muscles, you’ll understand how effective this movement is. Push your lower back into the floor as your raise your shoulders. You are aiming for control. A tip for the movement is to try to crunch toward the ceiling and not toward your knees. For a more advanced movement, you can reach with your arms and hands toward the ceiling.

The key to crunches is controlled movement. Don’t worry about how fast you’re doing the reps. Once you get the feeling of your back pressing into the floor, you’ll become aware of how your abs are supposed to feel when performing this movement. Don’t let go of that feeling. You’ll be surprised by how such a short movement will end up providing the best contraction.

2)      Leg Raises
For leg raises, you will lay flat on your back on the floor or a bench. You’ll begin by raising your legs until they are perpendicular to the ceiling. Be sure to keep your legs together and straight throughout the movement. If your lower back comes off the floor or bench, you’ve gone too far. Lower your legs back down slowly in a controlled movement. Again, be sure your legs are straight. Don’t allow your legs to touch the ground on the downward movement. Instead, raise your legs again until they are perpendicular to the ceiling. If you need support, you can hold onto a sturdy object to keep your body grounded. Otherwise, simply leave your arms straight down by your sides.

For both ab movements, work toward being able to complete 20-25 reps across multiple sets. Ideally, you’d want to alternate between the two ab exercises performing 20-25 reps for each. For maximum results with these exercises, the key will be CONTROL, CONTROL, CONTROL. Concentrate on the movement and the muscles that are being worked. Build up reps over time and add sets as you progress. If you do, you’ll love the results.

Until next time, keep training hard.


Building Upper Body without Lifting Weights

In this post, I’ll talk a bit more about two techniques you can use to build your upper body without lifting weights. I want to preface this post by saying that I am an advocate of training with weights. There is nothing better. But, if you can’t get to a gym or don’t have weights at home, there are still ways that you can improve your physique. So, I wanted to share some techniques that will help you do just that. If you follow these routines for six weeks, you’ll be able to see the results in the mirror.  


I developed a chest routine based primarily around push-ups after an injury prevented me from being able to use most apparatus-based training methods for chest. I used the push-up routine in preparation for the Mr. America contest and it, along with other techniques, was successful in getting me where I wanted to be. From this experience, I learned that push-ups truly are invaluable. So, here are a couple of push-up routines that will be sure to challenge your muscles.

Push-up Variation #1
First, you’ll get into the push-up position with your hands positioned just outside your shoulders. Do one controlled push-up using perfect form. You want to go slow enough so that you feel what you’re working. Then, stand straight up. Go back down into push-up position and do two perfect push-ups. Then, stand straight up. Continue this process while increasing the number of push-up reps you do by one with each set. Continue until you are doing at least 10 or more push-ups and go until you start losing reps in the process. This routine is based on one that Marines did many years ago. This drill is a fun way to challenge yourself and add variety to your workout. You won’t be able to do as many as you think you can.

Push-up Variation #2
For more advanced trainees, try this push-up variation. First, you’ll do as many push-ups as you can do on your first set. Rest for a couple of minutes. Then for the second set, try to repeat the number of push-ups you did in the first set. If you can’t quite get the same number of reps as you did in the first set, it is ok.

Be sure to record your reps for each set so you can track your improvement over time.

Just record the number of reps you were able to perform in each set. Continue this process for about five more sets. Be sure to make note of the number of reps performed in each set. You’re always trying to repeat the number of reps you performed in the preceding set. A day or two later, you’ll do the routine again. This time, you’re trying to exceed the number of reps you performed in each set from the previous day’s workout.

For either of these push-up variations, perform the routine twice per week. Cycle through these exercises just like you would exercises for any body part. In other words, you don’t want to perform these exercises on two consecutive days. You’ll want to allow for a day of rest in between.

Shoulders, Back, & Arms

To develop shoulders, back, and arms, you’ll need to do chins or pull-ups.

You can improvise a chin/pull-up bar if you don't have one. Be creative.

Remember, you can always improvise a chin/pull-up bar. One of the best places to look is at playground at a local park or school. You can use monkey bars, swing sets, and other equipment to do your chins/pull-ups.

Chins are performed with an underhand grip, whereas pull-ups have an overhand grip with palms facing away. If you want to work mainly arms on a given day, do all chins. If you’re trying to stress back and shoulders on a given day, do all pull-ups.

Chins/Pull-ups Routine
Chins/pull-ups are more difficult than push-ups, but you’ll still want to set rep standards with the following routine just as you did with the push-up routines outlined above. On the first set, do as many chins/pull-ups as you can. Rest for a couple of minutes. Then, try to repeat the number of reps on the second set. Repeat this process through the next 4-5 sets. Losing reps is no sin in this routine. The key is to keep a written record of how many reps you’re able to perform in each set. This provides a measure of comparison over time so you can work to improve.

Cycle this routine into your workout schedule allowing for rest in between days where you work the same body part. Again, you can use chins for an arm day and pull-ups for a back/shoulder day. 


If you do these two movements, push-ups and chins/pull-ups, with no missed days for six weeks, you will definitely see results in the mirror and feel it in your clothes. The uphill sprints and lunges detailed in previous posts will take care of your lower body development if you push it.

If you have drive and ambition, the rewards will be there.

I’d love to hear any questions/comments you have about these or any of the other routines I’ve posted on the blog. Next time, I’ll talk more about recommendations for waist work.

Until next time, keep training hard.


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