Interview With Russell Townsend By John Rahme Part 1

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    Different methods of training or proven methods with a personal twist to them should always be considered and not overlooked. I’ve been blessed to have had an opportunity to be part of the strength and conditioning world and deal train rugby league players, boxer’s and swimmer’s. During this time and still to date I have had help from numerous people and especially by a gentleman who I regard the best in the field, Ashley Jones. One thing that I have learnt from Ashley was to never disregard a way of training or thinking as it all has its place. this led me to sit down and question a man who at his peak squatted 700 pounds, pressed behind his neck 500 pounds, bench pressed 600pounds and when he was younger and had no squat rack where he could rest a bar , load it up to press behind his neck. he would load the bar with 280pounds,power clean the weight then throw it up in the air, let it land on his shoulders and then would start pressing. He never had knowledge or the experience of such people as Louie Simmons and Dave Tate but through his own training reached the strong lifts that I just mentioned. One would only think what would have happened if a Dave Tate or Louie Simmons got there hands on him and trained him.

    I thought to myself this man must have something to offer in strength training. As it turned out Russell Townsend did have a lot to offer.

    At a young age Russell started to lift weights, read what he could in strength and muscle growth eventually competed in bodybuilding competitions and also had a few professional boxing bouts, thankfully for a lot of boxers he stopped boxing as his shear power and strength in the boxing ring was least to say destructive.

    Raised and brought up in Wollongong south of Sydney Russell entered the gym of a man called Lincoln Webb whom himself was a competitive bodybuilder. Russell was at the age of 15 years old.lincon recalls a moment in the gym where he and Russell were training legs together and Lincoln squatted a lot more than what Russell could, Russell disappointed and eager to improve looked over to Lincoln and said to him, “one day I’ll neck press what you can squat”. The end to this moment came when later in time Russell press behind the neck what Lincoln was squatting.

    I asked him the question of when it came to strength and muscle gains what was his sets, reps and methods. His answer simple, pyramid and hard and fast work.

    Russell would pick a compound movement for each body part and pyramid the exercise. He would start of a weight where 8-10reps could easily be achieved. He would do this for two or three sets, he would then add weight to his bar and pull out 5 reps, he’d stay on 5 reps and keep on adding weight to the bar until the weight became too much for 5 reps and then would work 3 reps.

    From this point the workout becomes painful, remembering that plenty of people have tried to train with him but he doesn’t just train heavy, he trains fast with little rest between sets.

    The painful journey begins when he finds a weight that he can achieve 3 reps from then ups the weight to challenge himself, then once he finds he cannot get a single rep out he slowly removes the weight and goes onto 5 reps.he said that he loved the 5 reps and that’s where he believed he grew and become stronger, same thinking as bill starr did and his 5 x 5 system where many an athlete, power and strength trainer have used.
    What startled me is when I asked him did you learn this 5 x 5 system from the Bill Starr program. He didn’t know who bill Starr was! Not suggesting anything except this man experimented a lot with his body when it came to strength and muscle gains and found what the greats found by him.

    As Russell was explaining his method of pyramiding, I was constantly trying to get my head around his reps, sets and weights. He then explained to me that when it came to his weight and how many reps and sets he did in that weight range that his biggest guide was how he felt. I guide that many a lifter should follow. Going into the gym with a training plan is most important but knowing if that plan is working for you then and there is another thing. He continues to explain that he did push his boundaries with the weight he lifted but working up to that weight was controlled by a level head and how his body felt. What did amaze me was how quick he would train, he didn’t have the 3-4minutes between each set, there was minimal rest and he just lifted heavier and heavier.

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