Part 4

"There doesn't seem to be any kind of limit as to what this man does!" exclaimed Jim Smith, Registrar of the British Amateur Weight Lifters' Association, when news reached him of Sri Chinmoy's 1,400-pound calf raise. He continued: "I don't understand how he can train for so long, so often. I tried to do a little bit every night and I ended up getting injured. I guess I'm an ordinary person. You have to be something special to do that amount of training. I can't lose sight of the fact that here you have a mortal man, who is apparently aging like the rest of us. But he is lifting these incredible weights with no ill effects on his physical form. Most people would suffer from worn-out joints."

Jim Smith was not alone in his amazement. Although Sri Chinmoy's entire life has been a testimony to the power of self-transcendence, it still came as something of a shock to see him apply this principle in such a graphic way. In Sri Chinmoy's presence, limitations and barriers seemed to dissolve into thin air and you found yourself accompanying him to the doors of infinity, looking out upon an endless star-studded universe.

Sri Chinmoy's longterm goal was to lift 2,000 pounds —a ton of metal. He approached it in two ways: firstly, by steadily increasing the poundage on the machine and, secondly, by dramatically increasing the total amount of weight lifted in each calf workout.

At the beginning of July, the most Sri Chinmoy had lifted in any one session was 23,500 pounds. By July 29th, however, he had increased his training workload to 50,000 pounds (25 tons). The breakdown of this was as follows:
400 lbs. x 3 reps.
600 x 2
800 x 10 x 3 sets
1000 x 7 x 2 sets
1200 x 4 x 2 sets

This was an awesome amount of work for any single muscle group to perform and yet such workouts seemed to inject Sri Chinmoy with even greater energy. The very next day, another major hurdle was crossed when he completed two successful repetitions with a weight of 1,500 pounds. It had been discovered that three earlier attempts to lift this weight were unsuccessful due to the fact that the machine had gone out of level, causing the plates at the bottom of the stack to bind together. The inherent problems of dealing with such huge weights brought home the truly pioneering nature of Sri Chinmoy's advances. The many technical obstructions that he has encountered along the way and, subsequently, solved will one day pave the way for other bodybuilders to follow.

As the first two weeks of August unfolded, Sri Chinmoy continued to make headway in his training. He settled into a pattern of rapidly ascending to the peak weight of the workout and then reducing the weight in descending sets while simultaneously increasing the number of repetitions. The pin system economised on the time between differing weights so that Sri Chinmoy was able to maintain a high intensity level. This demanding approach, where each weight was performed until "burn-out" point, also ensured that Sri Chinmoy was obtaining utmost advantage from both heavy and lighter workloads. A typical training day is August 4th. The pattern that emerges is significantly different from that of July 29th:

500 lbs. x 2 reps.
600 x 2
800 X 2
1000 X 2
1200 X 2
1400 X 1
1200 x 5
1000 x 7 x 4 sets
800 X 10 x 4 sets
600 X 10 x 2 sets
400 X 20 x 2 sets

In addition to varying the poundage, Sri Chinmoy also experimented with varying his style and range of movement. At the upper end of the weight scale, he would bend his knees slightly as he took the full weight on his shoulders. This enabled him to fully contract the soleus muscle, which is the more difficult to stimulate and develop. As Sri Chinmoy reduced the weight and accumulated more repetitions, he would lock his legs and work at getting full flexion from each repetition. Finally, with the low weights of 400 and 600 pounds, Sri Chinmoy employed a lightning series of partial raises. Arnold Schwarzenegger calls these movements "burns" and they are particularly effective towards the end of a calf workout for developing and pumping the twin muscle bellies of the gastrocnemius muscle.

Immediately after working on the standing calf raise machine, Sri Chinmoy would do several sets on the seated calf raise machine with 300 pounds. Then, in order to stretch out the muscles, he would play some games of tennis. At times, however, Sri Chinmoy's legs were so fatigued that he was unable to play his normal game. On one occasion, after an especially hard workout, he said: "Today, when I was playing tennis after lifting, I didn't have the strength in my legs to take even one further step. Both my legs were like two wooden things, absolutely numb, with no sensation at all. I played mechanically, using only my will power." Paradoxically, Sri Chinmoy won 9 games out of the 10 he played that morning!



Sri Chinmoy Calf Raises