The Complete Keys to Progress by John McCallum

Posted on Tuesday, November 29th, 2016 by John Wood
“…Whenever a new issue of Strength and Health Arrived in The Mailbox, They Always RIPPED open the envelope and turned to John McCallum’s article first!”
Back when Jimi Hendrix and the Doors were playing concerts, John McCallum’s “Keys to Progress” series helped pack more muscle on more people than all other articles combined… and now, five decades later, McCallum’s workouts will help you pack on muscle too!
Before there was this thing called “The Internet,” anyone who was serious about building size and strength got their training information from magazines… and the very best magazine to get solid training info from was Strength and Health, directly from The York Barbell Company in York, PA.

Strength and Health magazine always had good training articles but in the early 1960’s, a strength author by the name of John McCallum began a series entitled “Keys to Progress” …and it took off like wild fire.

It didn’t take long before trainees figured out that when they followed McCallum’s advice, they started getting results… When word got around, the first thing that everyone did when a new issue of Strength and Health arrived in the mailbox was to rip open the envelope and turn to the latest McCallum article to see what was in store that month… and McCallum certainly left no stone unturned. He covered all the important topics (keep reading to see what they were all about.)

McCallum’s articles weren’t just informative, but entertaining as well… and many of them set THE standard for how a strength article should be written. It was through these articles that thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people learned how to train (and I’m among them, my story is further on down the page.)

Now you too can read all of John McCallum’s
“Keys to Progress” articles in one place

If you happen to have all of the original issues from the 60’s and 70’s which contain all of John McCallum’s “Keys” articles, then you are one very fortunate individual… it is all but impossible to find these issues any more… and even if you could find them (which is highly unlikely) it would cost you a small fortune to get every issue.

Lucky for us though, every single one of of McCallum’s classic training articles have recently been combined into one volume and reprinted for a new generation to read and enjoy.

You can skip right to the chase and order your copy right now… Other wise, keep reading to find out why “Keys” is a must have… (especially in this day and age!)

If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have one strength book to read ‘THE COMPLETE KEYS TO PROGRESS’ should be it!

Now, you might be wondering… “So why were McCallum’s articles so popular?” …there are several reasons. One of them is his unique “style” of writing. Many of the Keys to Progress articles are more like stories and he’s got a memorable cast of characters:

Among them you’ll find the old gym owner (who bears a striking similarity to John McCallum), a guy who is trying to make the world a stronger place, one bodybuilder at a time…

Then there’s Marvin, a typical ’60s teenager looking to put on some size to impress the girls. (Marvin makes many of the same knucklehead mistakes that just about everyone has, which also puts a few more grey hairs on JM’s head, and the fact that Marvin is also dating his daughter doesn’t help)… There’s Ollie, JM’s best friend and running buddy who he likes to bounce ideas off of… and who could forget good old “Uncle Harry” who puts bodybuilders half his age to shame?

You’ll get to know these folks pretty well, in fact you’ll probably see parts of yourself in them too.

The other factor that makes John McCallum’s articles so effective is the subject matter. Unlike many of today’s strength “authors,” even if it ruffled a few feathers, McCallum was not afraid to pull any punches and tell it like it is… this solid dose of real training was certainly worth it though, an untold number of trainees finally start seeing results by following the workouts and advice in these articles.

McCallum also visited and corresponded with many of the most famous weight men of the time in order to find out the real scoop about how they trained. He learned a great deal from them and wasn’t shy about including his findings in his articles. If you want to know how many of the greats trained — how they REALLY trained — then you’ll find that type information on these pages:

You Won’t Find This Training
Information Anywhere Else!
How long should your workouts last? …It’s an age-old question that you’ll finally get the answer to on page 2… You’ll also find a good, basic weight gaining program for beginners and intermediates later on in the article

McCallum understood full well that one of the “secrets” to record breaking lifts was through harnessing the power of the human mind… You’ll read tips on fractional relaxation, auto-suggestion and self-hypnosis in his three articles on Concentration (and in several other articles as well)

How do you put on good, solid strength and size quickly? — Sure, lifting is a part of it, but so is getting in enough calories… You’ll receive the recipe and instructions for the “Get Big Drink” on page 15
What did a typical workout look like for three-time Mr. Universe contest winner Reg Park? McCallum was there and saw one with his own eyes… and it probably isn’t what you think… Read all about it in the “Training for Gaining” article starting on page 16

On Page 22, McCallum devotes an entire article to addressing one of the most important training secrets — one that just about everyone downplays or ignores

Building a bigger, stronger neck is important — especially if you play football — McCallum’s “Neck Specialization” article, which you can find starting on page 46, gives you seven basic exercises for filling out your collar

If there’s one area of training that just about every program is lacking in, it’s grip work… but the fact of the matter is that if you want to lift big weights, you’ve gotta have strong hands… Starting on page 49, you’ll find two articles devoted to increasing grip and forearm strength, along with an enlightening visit to Mac Batchelor’s pub!

Having trouble bulking up? You’ll want to try the “High-Protein, High-Set” Routine found on page 60… and don’t miss the “results” follow up article
What if you can’t squat? …there ARE other options… in fact, there’s an exercise that can do for the upper body what squats can do with the whole body and you can read all about how to work it into your program on page 68
Just because you lift weights does not mean you shouldn’t be in shape as well… A decade before before the”jogging boom” McCallum was urging strength athletes to hit the track to get their waistline in check. Find out his thoughts and recommendations on page 85
One of the most unique training programs that McCallum discussed in his articles was “P.H.A.” which was developed by 1966 Mr. American Bob Gajda… this routine is especially effective if you need more definition…you’ll read everything you need to know about PHA training starting on page 99
Looking to widen out? Try the “Back Work for Bulk” program on page 127… You’ll be in good company with this routine, these exercises were used with great success by Maurice Jones, Bill Pearl and Reg Park (among others)
If you want to build a big chest, you’ve got to enlarge your rib box…McCallum’s 4-part “For a Big Chest” series, which begins on page 131, outlines the specific exercises for making it happen
Not many people know about Hip Belt Squats but you can read all about them on pages 156-160… that includes details on setup, how to incorporate them and the other exercises that should be performed with them
Forget the store-bought stuff, if you need some more nutrients in your diet, you’ll want to read McCallum’s articles on baking muscle muffins and Vitamins… you’ll find more info starting on page 191
Training not going so great? There are some pretty predictable reasons why this may be and McCallum examines them in detail on pages 216-228
“The Case for the Breathing Squat” — one of the ALL-TIME greatest training articles — starts on page 259… the entire price of the book is worth it for this article alone

These points are, of course, just some of the items that I find of interest, there are many more that I didn’t mention… there’s a great deal of nutrition information and nearly every article also contains a workout of some kind so if you ever need a good one to try, you can flip to just about any page and find what you need.

One of the keys (pardon the pun) to successful training is having the right kind of information to guide you and keep you on point — with John McCallum’s “Keys to Progress” articles in hand, you’ll definitely get (and stay) on the right track.

If you were around when “The Keys to Progress” first hit the scene, this will be a nice trip down memory lane (and probably also serve as a reminder of some important points that may have fallen by the wayside)… but if you’ve never read any of McCallum’s stuff before, then you’re in for a real treat… You’ll enjoy reading them, learn more than you think, and most importantly, if “The Keys to Progress” articles don’t get you fired up to train, then nothing will!

Don’t waste another single second, order your copy right now to get started!

Order now!The Complete Keys to Progress by John McCallum
___________$19.99 plus s/h

More on the 5 x 5 System

Posted on Sunday, November 20th, 2016 by John Wood
More on the 5 x 5 System
Hi John,

I’ve been using the 5×5 system as my ‘base workout’ for a number of years now.
Whenever things slowed down a bit, I did one (or more) of the following variations.

1.) Reduce the frequency of the workouts. i.e. from 3 times a week to 2, or even
2 workouts one week and just 1 the following week. This was usually enough to spark
continuing progress.


2.) Keep the weight the same on the final working 5th set, but focus on adding reps.
When able to add 2 or 3 more reps with that weight, return to 5×5 and continue
with advancing the weight on that last 5th set.


3.) Take a week off and begin a 5,4,3,2,1 rep scheme with the higher weights this
would allow. Start with 3 workouts per week. When progress slows, I would apply
one (or both) of the above strategies, or return to a straight 5×5 program and
go on from there as before.

These very simple adjustments have kept my progress steadily chugging
along. Using this method I accomplished two main goals that I had set a year ago
in hopes of achieving them by my 65th birthday. One of them was to get my working
set on deadlifts to double bodyweight (360), and my squats over 300 on my 5th set.
I managed to achieve both ahead of schedule by 6 weeks.


I know these poundages don’t mean much compared to younger
and bigger men, but having reachable goals that can be measured from
workout to workout keeps me encouraged and reaping the related benefits.
What I find especially interesting is continuing to make improvements in
performance at an age where I’m also collecting my old age pension.
Geez, whoda thought?


All the Best,


Michael Dumas

Really excellent stuff, Michael. One of the keys to successful training is to always have plenty of options. In this case, when one program goes stale, just switch to the next and keep moving forward, but clearly you are already doing that. Keep it up!

Train hard,
John Wood

P.S. The 5×5 system is the “go to” for a number of strength champions through the years.
Reg Park, for example, used it to win the Mr. Universe title multiple times. You can read more about Reg’s training in his great course Strength and Bulk Training. You’ll also find the 5×5 program discussed in greater detail in several of Brooks Kubik’s books, including “Gray Hair and Black Iron” and “Strength, Muscle and Power.”

All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc., Not to be reproduced without permission, All Rights Reserved
Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc. Not to be reproduced without permission. All rights reserved. We will most likely grant permission but please contact us if you would like to repost. IMPORTANT: Equipment and books, courses etc. pictured in blog posts are generally not available for sale unless specifically noted.

The Reg Park Muscle Builder

Posted on Wednesday, August 17th, 2016 by John Wood

The Reg Park Muscle Builder! You got a 10-strand cable outfit … a wall pulley attachment … a headstrap … foot stirrups … two hand grips … a mighty chest exercises … a rowing machine … and some free courses which gave instructions on how to uses it all. All in all, a pretty sweet deal. Who knows how many youngsters got started on the road to health and strength with this setup? Quite a few, I bet.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc., Not to be reproduced without permission, All Rights Reserved
Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc. Not to be reproduced without permission. All rights reserved. We will most likely grant permission but please contact us if you would like to repost. IMPORTANT: Equipment and books, courses etc. pictured in blog posts are generally not available for sale unless specifically noted.

The Reg Park Muscle Builder Ad

Posted on Wednesday, January 6th, 2016 by John Wood

You used to be able to find ads for ‘The Reg Park Muscle Builder Set’ on the back of Reg’s magazine “The Reg Park Journal.” If you saved up your allowance for one of these sets, you got quite a haul: a 10-strand cable exerciser, a wall pulley attachment, a head strap, foot stirrups, two hand grips (for a mighty, he-man grip) a cable exercise and rowing machine and, of course, several free courses to show you how to use it all.

Strength & Bulk Training for Weight Lifters & Body Builders by Reg Park

Posted on Thursday, April 17th, 2014 by John Wood

A look at an original circa 1960 copy of Strength & Bulk Training for Weight Lifters & Body Builders by Reg Park. You’d have better luck winning the lottery AND getting struck by lightning on the same day than getting your hands on an original copy like this one. Thanks to Bill Hinbern, you CAN get a modern reprint copy though and Reg’s training advice is worth every penny.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc., Not to be reproduced without permission, All Rights Reserved
Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc. Not to be reproduced without permission. All rights reserved. We will most likely grant permission but please contact us if you would like to repost. IMPORTANT: Equipment and books, courses etc. pictured in blog posts are generally not available for sale unless specifically noted.