Jack King's Gym

Natural bodybuilding & Olympic lifting resource


December 2009

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.



What It’s Like to Train at Jack King’s Gym

I have people asking all the time what it is like to train at my gym. I always say that my gym provides a serious atmosphere for people who are serious about training.

What you’ll find is an environment where people are supportive of one another and will push each other to their limits, helping them reach the maximum potential. You’ll find people who know what they are doing and who are willing to share what they know with others who are eager to learn more. We have many members who are currently training for competitions and who are active on the scene. However, that does not mean that if you don’t want to compete that you should not consider Jack King’s as your home gym. Regardless of where you are physicially or where you want to be, if you want an environment where people are focused, supportive, and striving to be the best, check us out. Whether you’re looking for how-to’s or others who can challenge you to the next level, we encourage you to stop in.

Jack Featured in Sept. 2009 Issue of MILO: A Journal for Serious Strength Athletes

I received a phone call today from an old friend asking what I’d been up to. I used to train him starting back when he was 19 years old or so. He usually checks in around the holidays. Anyway, I was filling him in on the latest happenings in my life, one of which was me being featured in the Septemeber issue of MILO. Cover for the issue in which I was featured

This was a big thrill for me since I was the first-ever bodybuilder featured in the journal. My friend suggested that I put a link on my blog site so that readers could find the journal if they wanted to. You can access a website to order the journal here:

The full journal issue is September 2009, Volume 17, Number 2.

I hope you do check it out. I had a lot of fun providing the details for the article which is basically a brief account of my career beginning with Olympic lifting and then my transition into physique competitions. It also includes some training and nutrition advice and gives some insight into my psyche and highlights of my career.

Hope you enjoy. Until next time, keep training hard.

Jack King

Power of the Lunge: Various Techniques

Over the course of my career, I have refused to let injuries keep me down. When a body part is injured, I’ve always found novel ways to continue to exercise the injured body part. The key is to find a way to exercise it without putting it under the same kind of stress that led to the injury. This approach has worked in all my fifty-some years of training. It was through this approach that I realized the power of lunges for leg development. After I suffered an injury to my right sartorious muscle, I was unable to do squats, so I implemented a training regimen consisting of lunges. This was back when no one was doing lunges, but I knew that to continue to get the kind of leg development desired, I would need to adopt a new strategy. The results were so outstanding that I have continued to work lunges into my training and I consistently recommend them for both men and women who train at my gym. 

I recommend any one of three lunge variations. Do one of the three variations twice per week. Rotate the variation used over time to add diversity and challenge your muscles. With all of these variations, you will start out doing a number of reps that you can reasonably perform, maybe 10 per leg. Try to work up to 20 per leg.

Variation #1- Static Lunge

In this lunge, you will work one leg at a time. You will begin with one leg forward and one leg extended backward. Your back leg will be positioned far enough back so that when you go down, you will go straight down rather than going forward over your front foot. You will lower yourself straight down by bending the front knee. This will place most of your bodyweight on your front leg. If you go too far forward, it is bad for your knee and it won’t do what you want for your muscle. Drop straight down until your back knee nearly touches the ground. Then push up with the main emphasis being on the heel of your forward foot. This movement is best performed in front of a mirror so that you can view the mechanics of the movement.

Concentrating on one leg at a time is much better for development than trying to alternate legs with each rep. By remaining in a static position, you ensure that you are in perfect position for each rep.

Variation #2- Backward Lunge

The backward lunge emphasizes the glutes. From a standing position, step back with one leg and lower your body into a lunge position. Recover using your front leg. You will rise on your front leg exactly as you would do in a standard lunge. For the next rep, step back again. Each rep is a controlled step back. Once you become consistent with the movement, you can do one leg then alternate to the other.

Variation #3- Forward Lunge with Movement

This lunge is preferably done outside due to the amount of space needed to lunge forward multiple times. In this lunge, you will step forward in a controlled manner and then drop down by bending your front knee. Lower until your thigh becomes nearly parallel to the ground. You will then raise straight up, NOT forward. Then step forward with the other leg.

This lunge can be done on pavement, but be careful of surfaces on which you could easily lose your footing. To increase the difficulty of this lunge, you can do this movement up a steep hill or up a staircase.

If you lunge up a staircase, you will skip over one step with each lunge. You will only want to consider these variations once you are very adept at the movement.

You may choose to increase the difficulty of any of the lunge variations by holding dumbbells for added resistance. However, you’ll find that these movements are challenging enough that you won’t really need weights. I don’t recommend trying to balance a barbell while doing these movements.

I often performed forward lunges all the way across a large parking lot that was located behind the gym where I trained. At first, I started with alternating lunges across the parking lot. When I became proficient at that, I would lunge across the entire lot using only one leg at a time. After my parking lot routine, my legs would absolutely buckle beneath me. These techniques are tried and true. Give them a try, you’ll love the results.

Until next time, keep training hard.

Jack King

Non-Apparatus Training Routine for Lower Body

Last time, I shared a non-apparatus training routine for upper body. In this post, we’ll concentrate on lower body.


Sprinting uphill is a great hamstring, quad, and calf builder. You’ll always want to warm up prior to sprinting with a light jog. You’ll do a series of sprints, increasing your speed with each consecutive sprint until you eventually get to the point where you are running as fast as you can up the hill. Be sure that you find a steep hill. A slight hill will not build the desired level of muscle. You’ll increase the number of sprints you do over time in each session. You might start with 10 sprints per session, then work to 12, then to 15. Aim to do sprints at least twice per week.

An alternate to uphill sprints are step or stair lunges. In this technique, you will lunge up stairs or steps. You will begin at the bottom of a set of stairs and as you lunge, you will lunge over one step. This means that you skip a step with each lunge. Be sure that you are moving slowly and controlled. Aim to find steps which will allow you to complete 20-22 lunges. When you reach the top, your heart will be beating almost out of your chest, but by the time you walk back to the bottom of the stairs, you should feel ready to go again.

I’ve used non-apparatus techniques in my own career and found that they’ve made a huge difference. I’ve used them for periods of 6-8 months at a time, relying mostly on hill sprints for leg work. At a contest following use of non-apparatus techniques in training, someone came up to me and asked what I had been doing differently—that I must have been doing something special to be in that kind of shape. Needless to say, they were very impressed and I think you will be too when you implement these techniques in your own training.

You’ll have to be willing to do these techniques by yourself, as you won’t find many people who will be willing to run uphill sprints with you. These techniques are brutal, but in the end, they will definitely pay off. I’ve seen my leg press increase by 50 lbs. by doing nothing but lunges. I discovered this by accident when due to an injury I was unable to do squats. I decided to do lunges one-leg-at-a-time across a parking lot. I did this for about 8-9 weeks. When I came back from my injury and saw the dramatic gains in my leg press strength, I realized for the first time what a powerful tool lunges are.

I am eager to share more with you about lunges and how they can take the look of your legs to the next level. In my next blog post, I’ll have more info about different kinds of lunge techniques to mix up your training and keep your leg muscles challenged.

Until then, keep training hard.

Jack King

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