The Complete Keys to Progress by John McCallum

by Kilo on December 3, 2010

keys to progress mccallumStrength and Health magazine was apparently the place to be in the  60s and 70s. One author I had heard so much about from Ironmind was John McCallum. Check out any list of weight lifting classics and there is a good chance that The Complete Keys to Progress is on it. This was the name of the series McCallum wrote to inspire legions of skinny little men to become “Herculean,” which I would say is McCallum’s favorite adjective.

Now I’ve got a copy. It’s a fun read. It won’t be new to anyone who actually believes that the basics work, because this book is essentially John McCallum’s manifesto on the breathing squat, the deadlift, the need to eat big and sleep big, and the lack of hard work that most weight lifters demonstrate in the gym.

So don’t read this book hoping for brand new information, although much of what is here will be brand new to you if you’re one of the people who is always looking for the next new program or product to try. There are no frills here.  No muscle building secrets. Just funny stories, wonderful writing, and advice from a man who was passionate about lifting heavy weight and helping others to do the same.

I love to read about strength training nearly as much as I like to get stronger myself. I love it. And I get fired up when I read the writing or hear the words of someone who is fired up about getting stronger themselves. That’s John McCallum. I wish I could have met the man.

One of the books charms is also that it was written during the 60s and 70s. The cultural references, the slang, and the atmosphere the writing create are so out of place today in 2010 that I laughed at something on every page.

Actually, I laughed on every page anyways, because McCallum has a great sense of humor, but he mocks himself and his obsession with lifting weights as much as he mocks the casual gym-goer who is always searching for the secret but can’t ever find a way to make progress.

Also, I get the feeling that McCallum was a fan of The Grapes of Wrath, and that certainly sways my opinion in favor of another literary man.

You’ll have fun with this book, whether or not you agree with its ideas. Good stuff.


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