Sunday, 30 August 2009

When it is time to increase the weight?

Without progression, the body has no reason to conform and that leads to stagnant coaching.

Which is commonly known as the scary PLEATEU. If you are not making gains with your present program, then you are not going to realize the results you would like. A gigantic mistake many of us make is finding a program and sticking with it whether or not the program isn't manufacturing results.

"If you keep on doing what you have always done, you can keep on getting what you have always got." -- W. L. Bateman a standard belief is if you just stick with the program, results are inescapable. Think about this...

If you are not seeing results on an once per month foundation in some capacity, it's time to switch the coaching custom.

99% of success comes from having a well formulated plan. A good plan includes tracking your progress. By monitoring your nourishment, body composition, and keeping a coaching book, you'll be able to find out how you are progressing or if you're not making any progress. Keeping some kind of book will permit you to make educated choices on when and if it is time to change your coaching load ( the weight you are lifting ). Arnold Squatting Frankly... If you don't set particular goals, and if you don't monitor the own progress toward those goals, then how are you able to appraise if you're making progress? Your coaching program must be targeted on progression to meet your general goals. This is where having a particular goal and timetable is important.

You do not need to just training the same way for an extended period and hope for results. But let me return to the start of your question and let's see if there's a straightforward way to work out when to extend the weight you are using in your coaching program. Graves and Baechle developed a dynamic formula to appraise when progression is required called the 2-for-2 Rule. They announced that "if you can successfully complete 2 or more repetitions in the last set in 2 successive workouts for any given exercise the load should be increased." as an example, three sets of eight repetitions might be prescribed for a selected exercise. When you can complete 2 more repetitions ( i.e. Ten reps ) on the last set for two uninterrupted sessions the weight should be increased. The Global Sports and Science organisation ( ISSA ) suggests a load increase of two percent to five percent p.c for sophisticated trainees and five pc to ten percent % for new and intermediate trainees. But first an alert : complicated sportsmen who are beyond these tenets will often need to adjust the ranges as required where an amateur might not. The cause of this is the noob has much more space from improvement than a seasoned sportsman.

Another excuse for this is a newbie has plenty of neural transformations occurring instead of muscle hypertrophy. Improved motor unit synchronization and the recruitment of new motor units account for this quicker rate of progression. This is one reason that new strength sportsmen will progress in strength quicker than muscle size.

The real guide to proper pre-workout nutrition

As the old chestnut goes, "if you fail to prepare, you are getting ready to fail", and the same is still true for every one of your workout sessions. Each session in the gymnasium should be treated as a battle, and just like every other battle in life you have to enter it with correct psychological and physical readiness.

This paper will deal with the physical side and will teach you how to prime your body before struggling the weights with correct before workout nourishment. A carefully planned before workout meal will make sure that you usually enter the gymnasium at top strength and will supply your body with the obligatory tools to fight the weights as effectively as possible. The three main goals of the pre workout meal are :

1. - Maximise your strength potential.

2. - offer a powerful stream of balanced energy for your intelligence and muscles across the workout.

3. - Minimize muscle breakdown and supply the raw tools for your body to start the recovery process once the workout is over.

The very first thing to be sure of is that you are correctly hydrated before starting your workout. Water plays a vital role in keeping strength and energy levels topped, so always make sure that you have consumed a sufficient quantity of water in the few hours before you train. Around 30-45 mins before entering the gymnasium you must consume your before workout meal. The 1st element of this meal is, you know it, protein. This protein will keep your body in an anabolic state through your workout and will help to stop muscle breakdown as you train. I'd suggest that you consume 30-40 grams of top of the range protein, ideally coming from a mixture of whey protein and casein. This may best be achieved by mixing 25-30 grams of whey protein in 300-400ml of skim milk. Whey protein implies a great before workout choice as it is naturally high in BCAA's, which help to stop muscle catabolism during your workout. Mixing your whey with milk is a smart idea because this may slow down the release of the protein and supply your body with a regular stream of amino acids through your workout.

Together with your protein shake you must also consume 1-2 portions of low-glycemic carbs. Low glycemic carbs are excellent before the workout because they're broken down and soaked up steadily in the blood vessels, providing your body with a powerful stream of energy through your workout. When you consume high glycemic carbs that are fast released into your bloodstream, your body will release a surge of insulin to try to level out your blood sugar. This will end up in a fast rise in insulin levels followed by a big drop. The decline in insulin levels will leave you feeling feeble, exhausted and lethargic. This is the very last thing you need in the middle of a high power workout, so select carbs that will not cause this fast fluctuation in insulin levels. Pre workout carbohydrate choices like oatmeal, apples or brown rice will supply your body with a regular flow of sugars across the workout and will keep your energy levels topped at any time. This before workout meal should be reasonably little to make allowance for straightforward digestion and to stop you from feeling unwell when you train.

You need to never workout without having a meal in you first. So, solely to sum up : 30-45 minutes before your workout : one. ) 25-30 grams of whey protein mixed with 300-400ml of milk two.

) 1-2 portions of slow release carbs ( i.e. Oatmeal, brown rice, apple ) I also like to chuck in a cup or 2 of coffee before my workouts as I find this increases my energy and amplifies my focus nicely.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Why cardio doesnt always work for weight loss

I was at a gigantic event last week and was reminded how crucial it is to have techniques for this season of calorie-heavy parties and tight schedules. But I am getting ticked off by the knackered old proposals you find on the web or in mags like Lady's World. Regularly the proposals are lack any substance, as the writers don't need to imply you really have to make a sacrifice to be successful. They make fat loss sound easy, as if all you had to do was park at the far end of the carpark and you'd burn all of the calories from five shortbread cookies. Well it does not work that way...So here are my politically wrong, unique Turbulence Coaching techniques to help keep off the holiday pounds. BTW, I "borrowed" some concepts from competitors in my Turbulence Coaching Evolution Contest. The Alteration is rocking with social support and success stories at the moment, even while the remainder of the world struggles with weight gain, these TT users are losing fat over the vacations.

Strategy one - Green Tea & Almonds One of the commonest tips you can hear is to "fill up" before you go to a party where there'll be plenty of goodies. Sadly , the majority I rap with have no luck with this tip. Most folk still go to a party and eat everything in sight. But lately TT users have let me know that having a cup of Green Tea and one oz.

of almonds has helped them avoid vacation longings better than anything ever before.

The fiber from the almonds decreases appetite while the little quantity of caffeine from the Green Tea appears to increase psychological application and keep you "energized" at the party. Hopefully that might work for you...

System two - do not squander your time on any fancy cardiovascular programs Listen, the final analysis over the vacation season is that your success depends virtually completely on your nutrition. You can not expect to hit the cardiovascular confessional and burn off yesterday evening's 2k calorie smorgasboard. That is a 4-hour workout. Instead, do not get into that situation in the 1st place. Here are way more nourishment tips : - concentrate on portion control ( and if you haven't any discipline, forget even making an attempt to eat only one ) - Nix all drinks mixed with calorie-containing drinks, or better yet, just stop getting drunk, period. - Write down everything you eat to spot your problem spots. Then do whatever you must do to dump your weaknesses. If you do not record your nourishment, probabilities are you can miss gigantic occasions to change your diet and lose fat.

Method three - look after yourself first. So take a big breath. Ask as you are running around to delight everybody else, "Have you put aside time for yourself" Be self-occupied.

Ensure you have had a little exercise time, some good nourishment, and some rest before overextending yourself and doing too much for people when you have not looked after yourself and your goals first.

Methodology four - Get on a roll This one comes out of a TT Alteration competitor who is too busy losing fat to get off track over the vacations. Don't waste time until Jan first. Start now. Many ladies and men are doing their Turbulence Training Transformations at this time - thru the center of the vacation season. They are not waiting for Jan. First to turn up. They're assuming control now, and getting on a roll, and not letting anything ( from work parties to peer pressure ) get in their way. Methodology five - Exercise in short bursts when you can Don't be scared to dance at your Xmas party.

Don't fret, there's certain to be 1 worse dancer than you out on the floor. Have a good time and get down! On a much more serious note, this is how to avoid falling off the fitness program in the busy vacation season. Get your butt out of bed fifteen mins early so you may have three mins to wake up and twelve mins to do the December 2007 Turbulence Coaching 12-Minute Workouts.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

More testosterone does not neccesarily mean more strength and muscle!

How frequently have we heard the higher a person's testosterone level, the stronger and more muscle-bound he can be? Well, I am here to tell you this isn't the case. How do I know? From the BioHealth 205 adrenal profiles ( which test one's levels at the cellular level-where all metabolic activity originates-and not the blood level, like a blood draw would ) that I have run on me and my clients. Listen to me ; I was terribly stunned to see that one's hormone levels don't guarantee extra strength and lean muscle mass. In Apr of 2008 I posted a 1390 raw total at a body weight of 170 pounds in the game of powerlifting.

It is the highest one I have done to date, and it was done while I was in Stage one adrenal fatigue. My testosterone level was really on the high range of "normal", and my estradiol and estriol levels were low. As I observed formerly, my Cortisol pattern showed me to be in Stage one adrenal fatigue ; except for a strength sportsman that's not so bad-all hard coaching considered.

Fast forward to June 2009. I had my adrenals re-checked and the BioHealth 205 results proved that not only was I don't in Stage one adrenal fatigue ; but my hormone levels were awfully high. My testosterone and progesterone were so high the lab had to test twice for accuracy. It is fascinating to notice that in this time when I was bolstering for my adrenal fatigue and removing obstructing factors and poisonous load that I didn't hit an individual record on any of my individual lifts or total, and I didn't gain any lean muscle mass.

I have observed the very same thing in several clients now, and that has lead me to realize that though having a favorable hormone profile is naturally always in our best interest ; it doesn't mechanically mean that we are going to get stronger or gain lean muscle.

There's clearly so much more that goes into both these things , for example coaching, discipline, believing in yourself, getting over coaching, and so on. I'll say that more than some clients who improved their adrenal profiles did actually add lean muscle and did gain strength. my point of this post is to tell you that simply because you already have high testosterone levels or have improved your hormonal profile that you're going to get bigger and stronger in the gymnasium. You still need to get in there constantly, work out what does it for you, stay consistent, remain determined, and bust your ass.

Is it possible to get fat from too much protein?

A fortnight gone I was having dinner at our local Outback, when I overheard the following in the booth behind me : "My coach claims that if you eat too much protein, it will turn to fat." Did you catch that? And if somebody posed that suggestion to you, how would you respond? This is a great exercise in logic, so let's take a look at it for a 2nd : First, is it really possible to become fat by eating too much protein? Sure, in the same way it is of course possible to die by getting hit by lightning while you are being eaten alive by a shark. 2nd , is it likely that you will get too fat from eating too much protein? Well again, it's about as likely as getting hit by lightning while you are being eaten alive by a shark. To be barely more heavy, let's do a bit of thermodynamic arithmetic : If your caloric needs are say, 2500 calories every day, and you eat a high protein diet composed from 7500 calories per day, you can definitely get fat- that is my educated guess. let's inspect the unlikely mechanics of eating this much protein for a second.

If we are saying that your 7500-calorie diet is eighty % protein, this indicates that you are getting 6000 calories from protein per day, which equates to 1500 grams of protein.

Further, if a 6-ounce chicken escallop contains 40 grams of protein, you'll have to eat 37 chicken fillets a day to hit that number. Or to use another food source, you'd need to consume about 37 protein shakes each day ( presuming each shake contained forty grams of protein ) are you able to Get Fat By Eating too much Protein? OK that is clearly ludicrous so let's tweak the first example to a somewhat rather more likely eventuality : Using stern thermodynamics, you would have to consume about 3600 calories per week ( or about 5 hundred a day ) above and outside your normal caloric necessities, to gain a pound of excess bodyfat in that very same period. So if your caloric needs are 2500 per day, we are now assuming you are eating 3k calories every day, where eighty % of those calories come from protein. Now you are eating six hundred grams of protein every day, or fifteen chicken escallops or shakes a day.

Unlikely? Well OK, not as not likely as getting hit by lightning while you are being eaten alive by a shark, but have you eaten fifteen chicken fillets in 24 hours ( or equivalent to it ) ? I never have, not even once.

Now I have eaten the same caloric equivalent in fats and / or carbohydrates - in fact many times. And I bet you have too. In truth, 3k calories in non-protein form is surprisingly simple to consume.

Here are some possible options you could consider :

* two & pints of Haagen Daz ice cream ( this would be my first choice )
* A 14-inch All Natural Pepperoni Pan Pizza
* ( six ) Starbucks Venti Caramel Frappuccino's with full milk
* Or you might mix & match. For instance :
* ( one ) Pint of Haagen Daz, ( two ) pieces of pizza, and ( two ) Starbucks

anyway, it should be clear that it's much more likely to become fat eating fats and / or carbohydrates than it is to get from eating too much protein. So with that under consideration, what is the concept for statements like the one I overheard at Outback? What incentivizes people to assert stuff like this, given how preposterously improbable they are? Is it straightforward ignorance? Or maybe many of us have some form of PETA-inspired loathing of protein? I would really like your thoughts on this, so please push the comments link below and share your experiences and insights!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

5 Biggest weight lifting myths

You may be working out in the gymnasium everyday for a considerable time, and yet have spotted no change in your body in any way. In truth you could still be that wimpy small nerd with no life. But why? I mean, you have been working out for months, or perhaps years, but you still cannot get the muscles, self worth or a life. It's either because you do anything wrong, or not working yourself hard enough.

Most likely, you do anything wrong. The majority do not work out the proper way. There are a large amount of misconceptions about bodybuilding out there. Maybe they're the fact that you are not gaining enough muscle. Here are the top 5 myths about bodybuilding :

1 - Eating more builds more muscle - This is one of the dirtiest lies out there. To the contrary, it makes you gain fat.Bodybuilders aren't the healthiest folk in the world. In truth they're in horrible health. Some have hypertension, some have heart issues, all as the eat way more than they require. You need to only eat whatever the body needs.

2 - Coaching like a body-builder makes you a bodybuilder - Another hideous lie. This is one of the most unsafe things you can do to oneself. You often likely will get wounded, or become unwell. A median person doesn't have the capacity to stuff like the pros. That is just how it is.

3 - Steroids Help - Steroids don't help. Regardless of how much you have had that feeling you need steroids, don't go there. Steroids are much too perilous to use. They have too many difficult complications such as coronary disease, stroke, unattractive features in both males and females, and steroid users are much more likely to use poisoned needles and giving themselves HIV.

4 - If you do not work out for a very long time, your muscles will change into fat- This is one of the most daft things I've heard. Muscle is made of single living cells. How would they transform into undesired organic matter? It is not possible. Rather than turning into fat, they'll simply shrink. That is all.

5 - You need steroids or additions to get lean muscle- This is one of the things the bodybuilding industry has lied to you about. If you lack some vitamins and minerals, then you do need additions, but if your body doesn't need any of this stuff, don't utilize them. You can still create muscle without any additions.

Preventing injuries when weight lifting

Beginning a new weight lifting fitness plan can be motivating for somebody looking to build strength. However, an injury will speedily stop your workout while you have got to give your muscles extra recovery time. These are some steps to follow so you can avoid wounds while lifting weights. Step one in stopping wounds during your weight lifting fitness plan is to form a stretching routine.

For some reason, stretching is regarded as a time waster to several folk working on their fitness. Stretching should be done before and after a workout as it improves your body's flexibleness and decreases your chance of having muscle tenderness. The very next step in injury prevention is to be certain you are performing the workout in the right way. It could be profitable to hire an individual tutor for some sessions to show you the easiest way to properly lift weights. In the long-run, the price will be of use because you can know what you are intended to do and what to stay away from. Just remember that doing a workout inaccurate once may cause you years of agony accompanied by hospital bills. Rather than hopping into a weight lifting routine fit for the planet's strongest man competition, slowly increase the quantity of weight you are lifting in 5 pound increments. Ensure you always have someone there to identify you if you are lifting on a bench. If you are lifting in 5 pound increments, you are less certain to add so much weight that you are unable to lift the bar ; it's still always best to have a person there to help in case too much weight is incidentally added. Don't work the same muscle grouping a couple of days in a row because muscles have to be given time to repair . After you start your weight lifting routine, you will find that muscles are sometimes sore the following day after a workout. Eat protein inside a half hour of your workout to hurry up the time needed for recovery.

By following these steps, you're reducing your chance of wounding your body so you will not delay your weight lifting fitness results.

Monday, 1 June 2009

You Aint Squat Till You SQUAT!

Simply put, squats are the most difficult, intimidating and painful exercise you could possibly have in your arsenal. They require massive amounts of discipline and willpower to perform correctly.

After you have performed a set of squats to failure, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. They are also a challenging exercise to master from a technical standpoint.

All this aside, squats are one of, if not THE most effective, growth-producing exercises you could possibly include in your workout routine. They will pack more size and strength onto your lower body than any other exercise out there, and due to their high level of difficulty, they also force your body to release higher amounts of important anabolic hormones such as testosterone and growth hormone. This increased secretion of hormones will pack muscle size onto your entire upper body as well.

In addition, squats cause what is known as a "spillover effect": a strength gain in almost all of your other exercises. When I started squatting to failure, my bench press virtually increased by 20 pounds overnight. If you're looking for serious muscle gains and you don't already squat, you'd better get started.

Quite simply, they really, really work.

Unfortunately, many people have yet to experience the benefits of heavy squatting. It seems that people will come up with just about any excuse they possibly can in order to steer clear form the squat rack.

How many times have you heard the all too common "They're too hard on my knees", or "I heard they stunt your growth." What do I say to that? Nonsense!

If you're in the gym with the goal of maximizing your total body muscle gains, squats are an absolute must.

Proper Squatting Technique

For safety reasons you should always perform your squats in a power rack or cage. This way you can adjust the height at which you clear the bar, and you can drop the bar on the safety pins if you need to bail. The safety pins should be set at just below the depth you are squatting and the J Hooks should be set at about the level of your nipples.

At all times during the squat your head should be pulled back, your chest raised and you should have a slight arch in your lower back. You should always be looking straight ahead, and at no time should you be leaning too far forward, or be looking up or down.

Step up to the bar, placing your hands at about the same width as a bench press. Before clearing the bar, make sure it is placed evenly along your traps. The bar should rest on the lower portion of your traps and across your rear delts. It should almost feel as if the bar is going to roll off your back.

Now that you have cleared the bar, take only as many steps back as necessary. Most squat injuries occur when backing up, so make sure that you only back up as far as you need to. Your feet should be placed about shoulder width apart or slightly wider, and they should point out at a 45-degree angle.

Take a big, deep breath, and make your descent. You should not lower yourself straight down, but rather as if you were sitting in a chair behind you. At all times your knee must remain in line with your feet, and they should never bow in. Lower yourself until your thighs are at least parallel to the ground.

As soon as you have reached the bottom position, rise up immediately. Do not relax in the bottom position! Drive up with your heels and straighten your back as quickly as possible.

Once you are in the upright position again, take another deep breath, and continue the lift until you have completed the desired number of reps.

Final Thoughts

You have all the reason in the world to get into the squat rack, so go ahead and do it. Treat this lift with respect and you'll be shocked at the resulting muscle gains. I would recommend performing your squats once per week, for 2 sets of 5 to 7 reps. Focus on pushing yourself hard on this exercise and continually strive for more weight and more reps.

To learn about more highly effective, growth-producing exercises that you can include in your routine, visit my website by clicking the link below. Most trainees have no idea how to pick and choose the proper exercises and they dramatically limit their gains as a result...

Unconventional Leg Training Tactics

It's sort of a joke in natural bodybuilding circles that drug-free bodybuilders "have no legs." I hate to admit it's true, but I've been to dozens of drug tested shows where nearly all of the competitors had thick chests, huge arms, wide lats and cannonball deltoids, but almost none of them had any lower body to speak of.

In natural bodybuilding competitions, outstanding quad development can be the difference between winning and losing. Unfortunately, unless you are among the genetically gifted or you use growth-enhancing drugs, developing great quads does not come easy.

If your quads aren't growing and your training consists of nothing but conventional straight sets - you know, the usual 3 - 4 sets of 8 - 12 reps, with a minute or two between sets - then you'd better try something completely unorthodox; something "unconventional." Unconventional training means doing things differently than usual and sometimes even doing the exact opposite of what is considered "normal" training. I'd like to share with you some of my favorite unconventional training techniques that that can help you develop huge, cut, freaky quads, without performance-enhancing drugs.


Heavy - Light training

Although most fitness experts agree that the ideal repetition range for developing muscle mass is between 6 and 10, the muscles of the lower body seem to respond very well to a combination of both high and low reps. Why not just train heavy all the time? Because the heavy - light system works every type of muscle fiber to the fullest. The result is not just strong, bulky legs like a powerlifter, but the polished, chiseled legs of a bodybuilder.

Former professional bodybuilder Tom Platz, who is known for having the best leg development of all time and who is unconventional to say the least, used this approach to develop his monstrous thighs and win the Mr. Universe title. Platz has performed squats with 405 for 25 reps, 315 for 50 reps and 225 for 10 minutes nonstop! The king of quads was equally capable of pushing heavy iron as well with a max single of nearly 800 pounds.

There are a variety of ways you can incorporate the heavy-light principle into your training program. One way is to designate a separate high rep and low rep day and alternate every other workout. Another method is to use high rep and low rep training in the same workout. If you choose the latter, you can perform exclusively high reps or low reps on one exercise or you can do both high reps and low reps on the same exercise.

Don't get the mistaken idea that light day means easy day. High rep squats can be the most brutal workout you could ever subject yourself to. After a few high rep squat workouts, you'll probably even find your heavy days feel easier. After you've conquered sets of 30-40 reps in the squat with 225 lbs., then 405 lbs. for sets of 5-6 reps will seem like a piece of cake!

Ascending Sets

Ascending sets are a little known technique I learned from my trainer, former Mr. Eastern America, Richie Smyth of New Jersey. This is an incredibly effective means of quickly taking a muscle to total failure without having to use near-maximal weights. An ascending set is the opposite of a descending set (drop set). Here's how it works: Select a weight that you can perform 12 reps with on a particular exercise. Do just six reps, then add 10%-15% to the weight. Now continue with the heavier weight for six more reps. Increase the weight an additional 10%-15% and repeat for a final six reps (That's eighteen reps total.) Take as little rest as possible between the weight changes. If you've selected the amount of resistance properly, the second six will start to get difficult and the final six will take a supreme effort - you may need a spotter to assist with the last two or three. If you have a training partner, you can increase the intensity by reducing or eliminating the rest periods between weight changes completely; simply have your partner add the weight on the bar without you even racking it.

Continuous tension & partial reps

Conventional wisdom says that you must always perform your exercises through the full range of motion. If you were to cut out a third or a half of the movement that would only develop a half or two thirds of the muscle, right? Wrong! Of all the exercises in the bodybuilder's repertoire, slow, constant tension, non-locking squatting movements have got to be the most difficult - and the most result producing exercises of all

The way to best utilize continuous tension in your quad training is to emphasize the lower range of motion and avoid locking out at the top. Squatting very deeply and coming only one-half or three-quarters of the way up not only increases the amount of time the quads are kept under tension, but also generates greater recruitment of the teardrop-shaped Medialis. There are several variations of the continuous tension - partial reps technique, including bottom half reps, one and a half's, one and a quarters and the popular twenty-one method. Bottom half reps are exactly what the name implies; only do the lower half of the range of motion. One and a half's and one and a quarter's are techniques where a single repetition consists of lowering yourself to the bottom position, coming up only one-half or one-quarter, lowering yourself back down to the bottom position and then coming up all the way (but never locking out completely). Shoot for sets of 8 -10 repetitions in this fashion. Twenty-one's are another popular variation on partial reps. One set consists of seven reps in the top range of motion, seven in the bottom range of motion and then seven in the full range of motion. To increase the intensity even further, do your continuous tension reps slowly with five seconds on the eccentric movement and five seconds on the concentric movement.

High reps

We've already touched on high reps in the heavy-light system, but high rep leg training is so result-producing that it bears mention on its own. First of all, let me clarify what I mean when I say high reps. I'm not talking about only 12 or 15 reps; I'm talking a minimum of 20-30 and occasionally upwards of 40, 50 and beyond.

There are a lot of "old-school" lifters who adamantly insist that you must stay in the 4-8 rep range and that in order to develop mass and get stronger, you must always strive to increase the weight. If you are a powerlifter, football player or strength athlete then that's good advice. You'll get strong as an ox training with low reps, but if you want to look like a bodybuilder and not a lineman, then you must use different training systems that work every muscle fiber and engage every energy system: Enter high rep training. I'm not suggesting that you eliminate heavy leg training. What I'm suggesting is that you always include heavy low rep training and lighter high rep training.

There's a trick to doing high rep quad workouts: The secret to hitting reps in the 30-50 range is your breathing. Unless you pause and breathe between reps, you'll find yourself quitting due to a searing lactic acid burn in the muscle at around the 12th - 15th rep. Breathing squats are a form of rest-pause training. Do the first ten reps in a continuous fashion as you normally would. On the second ten, take a breath between each rep. On the third ten, you'll probably need two or three deep breaths at the top to recover between each rep. On the fourth and fifth ten (if you get this far) you'll be gasping for air, taking several deep breaths between every rep. Breathing in this rest-pause fashion will allow you to complete a high number of reps with poundages that you never thought attainable.

If you're used to training exclusively with low reps, you'll need to build up your endurance gradually. Start with 20 reps and work you way up to as many as 40 or even 50. When you hit 40 or 50, increase the weight, drop back to 20 reps and then start working your way up again.

Keep an accurate training journal and try to beat your previous best at every workout. If you train with a partner, make a contest out of it and challenge each other to break your rep records. This type of training is incredibly effective, but brutal. If you're done it right, expect to be lying on your back for several minutes gasping for air after each set. Towards the end of the set, it becomes more a matter of mental toughness than anything.

Regressive weight pattern

A regressive weight pattern is the exact opposite of the conventional pyramid system. Pyramiding entails increasing the weight and decreasing the reps with each set. It is a good system for developing size and strength, especially if you are starting with basic exercises like squats or deadlifts and you are working up to very heavy weights.

An unconventional system that may be even more effective is the regressive weight pattern. On your first set, begin with your heaviest weight when you are fresh and the strongest, then decrease the weight and increase the reps with each set. To use this system safely you'll need to warm up thoroughly beforehand.

The rationale behind regressive sets is that all the "build-up" sets in a pyramid are wasted and nothing more than warm-ups. By the time you get to your heaviest set in a pyramid, all the warm-up sets have fatigued you so much you can't lift as much on your heavy sets. With the regressive weight pattern you don't tire yourself out before getting to your productive heavy sets, therefore all your sets are productive. Coincidentally, the regressive system was one of Tom Platz's favorite techniques.


Post exhaust is an extension of the heavy-light principle. You select two exercises; a heavy compound movement supersetted with a lighter isolation movement. Post-exhaust allows you to take the basic compound exercise and work it heavy followed by an isolation movement to flush the muscle and produce a maximum pump. You get the benefits of training every type of muscle fiber and every energy system in the same workout. An example would be doing heavy leg presses for a 6-8 rep max followed by leg extensions for 20-30 reps.


Pre-exhaust is also a variation of the heavy-light system. The difference from post exhaust is in the order of the exercises. Once again you select a heavy compound movement and a lighter isolation movement. This time you do the isolation movement first followed by the compound movement. Pre-exhaust is a great system if you'd like to perform heavy basic movements like squats, but have difficulty doing so due to lower back or knee problems. You can work the quads to total failure on the leg extensions, then at a point where most people quit, continue to blast the quads even further using the synergism of the powerful hip, lower back and hamstring muscles. Since you have pre-fatigued your quads you can use much lighter poundage in the squat and still receive the benefits of the exercise without subjecting yourself to injury. If you can squat 275-315 lbs. easily for reps, then 185-225 lbs. can seem just as heavy when your quads are pre-exhausted.

Changing foot positions and stance width

Here's an unconventional way to thoroughly work every section of the Quadriceps group: Change your foot position with each successive set on a particular exercise. On squatting movements you can vary your stance width from wide to medium to narrow. You can also vary the angle of the toes. For example, pointing the toes out 45 degrees and utilizing a wide stance will recruit the adductor muscles more. Using a narrow stance with toes forward will recruit the quads more while working the hips, glutes and adductors to a lesser degree. On leg presses you simply change your foot position on the platform. On leg extensions, you can point your toes in to work the lateral portion of the quad, out for the inner quad and straight ahead for overall quad.


Front squat

Left to their own devices, few people will volunteer to do front squats on their own. The reason is simple: Front squats are probably the only exercise that is harder than regular squats. Front squats are difficult to execute because they require extra balance and coordination to hold the bar on the front of the shoulders.

The rewards of front squatting are well worth the added effort. Front squats develop the quadriceps better than almost any other exercise. The reason is because placing the bar on the front of the shoulders allows you to maintain a more upright posture. This puts more emphasis on the frontal quads while at the same time reducing stress on the lower back, hips and glutes.

Back squat

Squats are unquestionably the most effective quad builder of all. For maximum quad development, do "bodybuilding" squats with the bar high on your traps and use a medium to narrow stance. Elevate your heels under a one-inch board or mat to help you maintain your balance if you lack flexibility. Most importantly, squat deep! Strength Coach Charles Poliquin is fond of saying, "squat down and don't come back up until you leave a mark on the floor."

Do not fear deep squats. According to most strength training experts, the majority of injuries from squatting come from poor form. In his book "Weight Training, a Scientific Approach" Dr. Michael Stone, one of the nation's leading experts on weight training writes, "Squatting in which the top of the thighs goes below parallel, has been erroneously associated with damage to the meniscus and ligaments. Although bouncing and other improper techniques can cause knee damage, there is little evidence that squatting is harmful to a healthy knee." To avoid injury, use impeccable form and keep your torso rigid at all times. Lower yourself slowly and always maintain control. Keep the torso erect and push through with your legs, avoiding the tendency to lean forward and use the lower back.

Hack machine squat

Full range of motion is crucial on Hack Squats. Deep hack squats without locking out will give you the greatest quad development possible. You should squat deep enough so the backs of your calves touch your hamstrings. A common mistake is using too much weight and only working the top half of the movement. Lower yourself slowly and under control and do not bounce out of the bottom position. Drive through with your heels (not off the balls of your feet). As with regular back squats, you should have no fear of injury from doing your hack squats to below parallel provided that you are fully warmed up, you use good form and you have no pre-existing knee injuries.

Leg Extensions

While not the best mass builder, leg extensions are the most effective exercise for isolating the quadriceps. Leg extensions are a great way to help define and separate the quads and they are also an excellent finishing movement. Leg extensions can be particularly effective when used together with a compound exercise. Hold every rep for two seconds at the top of the movement and squeeze for a maximum contraction. Lower the weight slowly and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.


Lunges are a good quad builder and a great way to develop the glute-hamstring tie-in and the separation between the quads and the hamstrings. Lunges are most effective as a quad builder when combined with a quad isolation movement such as the leg extension. There are many different ways to perform lunges. For the ultimate in quad development, lunge deep holding dumbbells, and step onto a block or step, emphasizing the bottom range of motion.

Sissy Squats

Why are they called sissy squats? Legendary trainer Vince Gironda once answered, "Because they make a sissy out of the strongest squatter!" When performed as described below, they are a super way to work the quad from the lower Medialis and Lateralis all the way to where the Rectus Femoris inserts into the hip area. To keep maximum isolation on the quadriceps without involving the glutes and hips, lean backward and maintain a straight line from the shoulders to the knees as you squat down (do not flex at the hips). Hold onto an upright support to maintain your balance. Sissy squats should preferably be done last in your routine when your knees are fully warmed up. Like the leg extensions, sissy squats are very effective when combined in a post-exhaust or pre-exhaust superset.


The techniques I've described can be arranged in a countless number of different combinations. Note how a different technique can be used with each successive set of the same exercise. These two samples of unconventional leg-training workouts should give you some ideas of how to incorporate unconventional training tactics into your own routine. These are high-intensity training routines designed for advanced bodybuilders. The weights listed are just used as examples.

If you're frustrated with your current level of quad development, don't resort to drugs; try these routines. You can develop amazing quads drug-free, you just have to be a little unconventional!

Unconventional quad routine #1

1. Front squats
Warm up: 2 sets X 135 X 12
Set 1: 185 lbs. X 6, 205 lbs. X 6, 225 lbs. X 6 (Ascending set: no rest between weight changes)
Set 2: 225 lbs. X 6-8 reps, 185 lbs. X 6-8reps, 135 lbs. X 6-8 reps (Descending set: no rest between weight changes)
Set 3: 185 lbs. X 12-15 reps (Slow, non locking continuous tension set, go only 3/4 of the way up; 5 second positive, 5 second negative)

2. Leg press ( regressive weight pattern)
Set 1: 720 lbs X 8-10 reps
Set 2: 630 lbs X 12-15 reps,
Set 3: 540 lbs X 20+ reps
Set 4: 540 lbs X 8-10 reps feet middle of platform
450 lbs X 8-10 reps feet bottom of platform close together
360 lbs X 8-10 reps feet middle of platform wide with toes 45 degrees
270 X as many reps as possible feet at top of platform six inches wide.
(Descending set, change foot positions after each weight reduction, no rest between weight reductions)

3. Leg extension (ascending sets)
Set1: 90 lbs X 6 reps, 110 lbs X 6 reps, 130 lbs X 6 reps (toes in)
Set 2: 90 lbs X 6 reps, 110 lbs X 6 reps, 130 lbs X 6 reps (toes out)
Set 3: 90 lbs X 6 reps, 110 lbs X 6 reps, 130 lbs X 6 reps (toes straight ahead)

Superset to:
4. Lunges with dumbbells off step
3 sets X 35 lb. dumbbells X as many reps as possible (only bottom half of range of motion)

Unconventional quad routine #2

1. Back Squats Alternate heavy - light every other week

Week 1:

Sets 1 & 2: 225 lbs. X 20-50 reps
Set 3: 185 X 10-15 reps (one and a quarter reps)

Week 2:

2 warm up sets, followed by 4 heavy sets (pyramid)
set 1: 225 X 10
set 2: 275 X 8
set 3: 315 X 6
set 4: 365 X 4-6
set 5: 185 lbs X 10-15 (one and a quarter reps)

2. Hack Machine Squats (Regressive weight pattern bottom 3/4 of the movement only; no locking out.)
Set 1: 315 lbs. X 6-8 reps
Set 2: 275lbs. X 12-15 reps
Set 3: 225lbs. X 20-25 reps

3. Smith machine Lunge (with rear foot elevated on bench bottom half of range of motion.)
2-3 sets X 115 X 12-15 reps
superset to
4. Sissy squat. 2-3 sets X bodyweight X as many reps as possible

Cardio and Muscle Mass Gains

Among the numerous never-ending debates in the field is the question of whether or not cardio/aerobic type activity should be performed when the explicit goal is maximum gains in muscle mass. And as is usually the case, there are a variety of extreme standpoints in this debate.

At one extreme is the idea that trainees should perform an hour of low intensity cardio daily during their mass gaining phase. This is usually suggested as a way of staying lean during the period of overfeeding needed to maximize muscle gain. At the other extreme is the idea that any activity outside of lifting weights, and especially cardio, will do nothing but harm gains in muscle mass (and strength).

As usual, I think that the truth lies somewhere in the middle and I’d like to look at some of the various pros and cons of keeping some form of cardio in the overall program when the explicit goal is muscle mass gains. As usual, whether cardio is good, bad or neutral depends on the situation along with how it’s performed.

For context, the main type of cardio activity I’ll be focusing on in this article is low to moderate intensity steady state cardio which is usually where the big arguments erupt. For the most part, unless dealing with an athlete who must be performing interval training for their sport, I don’t recommend interval training when the goals are maximal muscle mass gains.

Yes, you can always find someone who makes it work (and there have been various theories thrown around how sprinting might enhance muscle gain which never seem to have really panned out) but for the most part I don’t think high intensity cardio training of any sort (interval or otherwise) is optimal when the goal is maximal muscle gain. So I’ll be focusing on low- to moderate-intensity steady state type cardio here.

Benefits of Cardio During Mass Gaining Phases

Among the pros of maintaining some amount of cardio during a mass gaining phase, I’d probably include the following:

1. Improved recovery
2. Appetite
3. Maintaining some conditioning and work capacity
4. Improved Calorie Partitioning
5. Keeps the fat burning pathways active

Let’s look at each.

Improved Recovery

Done at low to moderate intensities (I’ll come back to specifics at the end of the article) cardio can act as a form of active recovery. By pumping blood through worked muscles, recovery is often hastened (and for many, active recovery actually helps more than simple passive recovery: doing nothing).

I’d note that most forms of cardio tend to be lower body dominant so most of this effect will be for the lower body. Trainees who want to achieve a similar effect for the upper body would need to perform rowing or use the EFX or a machine that also involves the upper body to some degree.

Finally, it’s worth noting that, by sipping on a dilute carb/protein drink (perhaps 30 grams carbs and half as much protein per hour), the increased blood flow to the working muscles will enhance nutrient delivery; this should also help with overall muscular recovery.


The impact of exercise on appetite can be exceedingly variable. For some people, activity, and this is especially true of high-intensity activity, can blunt appetite; for others it can stimulate it. In the context of mass gaining, trainees who have trouble consuming sufficient calories often find that including moderate amounts of cardio can be beneficial in terms of improving appetite.

Maintaining Conditioning/Work Capacity

Depending on the specifics of the training, it’s not uncommon for lifters and trainees to lose a lot of their metabolic conditioning when they move into pure mass gain phases (where all they are doing is weight training). Lower repetition/long rest interval types of training tends to have the greatest impact and individuals lose vast amounts of conditioning and work capacity during this type of training.

For athletes this is clearly detrimental since it means they have to start building things back up from scratch. Even for non-athlete lifters (e.g. bodybuilders), losing work capacity can hurt overall recovery both during a workout and in-between workouts.

The good thing is that it takes far less training to maintain some conditioning than it does to develop it and keeping at least some amount of cardio in the total training program goes a long way towards this goal.

Improved Calorie Partitioning

As an additional potential benefit, aerobic activity could potentially improve results during a mass gaining phase in another way and that has to do with overall calorie partitioning. As I discuss in Calorie Partitioning Part 1 and Calorie Partitioning Part 2, partitioning has to do with where calories ‘go’ or ‘come from’ when you over- or under-eat respectively.

Probably the most potent partitioning tool we have is training. Regular activity increases nutrient uptake into skeletal muscle; practically that means less excess calories to get stored elsewhere (e.g. fat cells). While it’s debatable how much of an effect low- to moderate intensity cardio will have in this impact, it certainly won’t hurt done in reasonable amounts. And it may help in the long-term.

Staying Lean/Keeping Fat Burning Pathways Active

Finally, there is the issue of keeping fat burning pathways active and/or staying lean while mass gaining. Frankly, I’m not hugely convinced that doing cardio does a ton to keep folks lean; especially given that it’s relatively easy to eat more calories and overpower any slight caloric burn from the type of cardio that is usually advocated. Frankly, I suspect that it would be easier to just keep the caloric surplus under greater control (or time that surplus around training better).

However, there is another related reason to keep it in and that has to do with the fact that eventually folks who are gaining muscle mass will want to lean out. As I discussed in General Philosophies of Muscle Mass Gains, most will get the fastest rate of muscle growth while allowing some fat gain to occur; this necessitates eventually dieting off the extra fat.

Now, tangentially (and this is a topic I can’t discuss fully here), I think that one of the reasons that cardio has gotten a bad rap in terms of muscle loss on a diet is that people jump from doing basically zero cardio to fairly large amounts often overnight; this is often accompanied by a massive drop in calories and I suspect that it is this combination that tends to cause muscle loss.

This is a problem as during the overfeeding that is needed to generate maximum gains in muscle mass, the body often loses some of its ability to use fat as a fuel and this can take a couple of weeks to get fully ramped back up when calories are restricted (I suspect this explains some of the odd delay that seems to occur in true fat loss when people start dieting again).

And this seems to be even more pronounced if folks have been doing zero cardio while they are gaining muscle mass. By keeping in some amount of cardio during the mass gaining phase, at least some ability to use fat effectively for fuel is maintained. When the dieting phase eventually starts, the body will be a in better place to use fat for fuel.

Drawbacks of Cardio During Mass Gaining Phases

Having looked at the pros of keeping at least some cardio in during mass gaining phases, I now want to look at the two major cons, or at least the two that are usually brought up:

1. Burns up calories that could go towards muscle growth
2. Might cut into recovery/Over-training

Burning up Calories that could go to Muscle Growth

This tends to be one of the major concerns of the ‘no cardio while gaining mass’ group, that valuable calories that might go towards muscle growth will be burned off by cardio. And certainly, taken to the extreme where excessive cardio is being done, there is much truth to this.

As I mentioned above, the calorie burn of reasonable amounts of low to moderate intensity aerobic activity isn’t generally very high unless someone is exceedingly well trained (and can burn tremendous numbers of calories even at low intensities). The few hundred calories burned during activity is pretty easy to replace on a day to day basis and I’m not sure this is a huge concern in terms of preventing calories and protein from getting to the muscle to support growth.

One exception to this are the perpetually skinny (e.g. the classic ‘hardgainer’ or ectomorphic type). These are the folks who have a hard enough time putting on weight in the first place, for a wide variety of reasons (that I’ve discussed elsewhere on the site). Since they rarely have to worry about getting lean in the first place, they probably should avoid much if any cardio so that all of their energies and food intake go towards training and gaining muscle mass.

Of course, the exception to this exception relates to the appetite issue I mentioned above. The classic ectomorphic/hardgainer type often has trouble eating sufficient calories (one of the reasons they tend to stay so lean/skinny is that their appetite tends to shut off pretty readily when they overfeed). In that situation, if performing some cardio on off days helps them to eat more, then it might still be worth including.

Cutting into Recovery/Over-training

The final two issues I want to look at are extremely related so I’ll look at them together. The basic concern is that trying to combine both heavy weight training and cardio/endurance type training will impair results in the weight room. And there is certainly some truth to that idea.

A great amount of early research (and practical experience) suggested that the combination of cardiovascular and strength training tended to cause an interference in terms of results. Interestingly (and this is beyond the scope of this article), while cardiovascular training tended to impair strength performance, the opposite often wasn’t seen; heavy strength training didn’t seem to impair the adaptations to endurance training.

Now one factor to keep in mind is that most of the studies looking at this topic were using some fairly high intensity types of cardio; they were often examining the types of training that might be seen with American football or sports of that nature. Meaning that they don’t automatically have a ton of relevance to what’s being discussed in this article. The intensity is a key factor, for reasons that are beyond the scope of this article. When intensity is kept down and the volume and frequency is more moderate, the potential negative impact of cardiovascular training on adaptations in the weight room is massively reduced.

In that vein, I would still note that excessive amounts of cardio can still cut into recovery, both systemically (whole-body) and locally (specific muscle groups). The legs are what typically what can take a beating since most cardio modes are lower body dominant. Excessive amounts of even low intensity cardio can cut into the overall recovery of the legs and rotating machines to alter the stress on the musculature may be a worthwhile consideration.

So Cardio while Focusing on Mass Gains...Yes or No?

In my opinion, with the potential exception of the extremely skinny/hardgainer type (who may still benefit from appetite stimulation), there is more benefit to be had from reasonable amounts of cardio than there are negatives.

I simply feel that most of the problems with cardio training start to come into play when either the intensity or volume get excessive. As long as the amounts are kept moderate and the intensity is kept under control I think most of the concerns are mostly a non-issue.

So what defines moderate, reasonable, etc.?

At a bare minimum, 20-30 minutes of cardio performed three times per week will maintain some basic cardiovascular fitness, burn off a few calories, act as active recovery, and help to keep the fat burning pathways active so that the shift to dieting is a little bit easier; all of the good things that I mentioned. And it should do that without having any really major impact on progress in the weight room.

A higher frequency can be used but I wouldn’t see much point to more than five per week unless the intensity is kept very low (e.g. you can do brisk walking daily if desired). Going longer than the bare minimum of 20-30 minutes will burn a few more calories but there are limits to time availability (and people start to get bored) and I might set a reasonable limit of 40 minutes of moderate intensity cardio at the maximum; if the intensity is kept way down (again, think brisk walking), an hour is acceptable.

In terms of intensity, I think keeping things in the low to moderate range is going to be best. More specifically, a maximum intensity of 70% of maximum heart rate (140 beats per minute for someone with a maximum of 200 beats) or even lower should achieve some benefits without cutting into recovery or growth.

As I referred to in the first part of this article, it’s damn near a bodybuilding tradition to walk on the treadmill for an hour every morning and, while I think that amount is overkill for most, the intensity is definitely going to be low with that type of activity. That bodybuilders have done this successfully for so many years would seem to be an important lesson, especially for those folks who think that the only type of metabolic work worth a damn is high intensity stuff.

A final issue to examine is that of timing and when to perform the cardio. In an ideal universe, any cardio would probably be done completely separately from weight training. Cardio in the morning (fasted or not) and weights evening would probably be ideal but can’t always be realistically scheduled when people work full-time.

A very common approach is to perform some type of cardio on off-days from the weight room and this is certainly workable if scheduling will allow it. Of course, not everyone can make it to the gym daily and the weather or what have you may preclude doing it outdoors or at home. As well, for a short 20-30 minute session, making the trip to the gym (driving time may take longer than that) may not be realistic.

In practical terms, that means performing cardio in conjunction with the weight workout; this raises the question of whether or not it should be done before or after the workout.

As long as the intensity is kept low, doing a short cardio workout before weights shouldn’t hurt intensity in the gym (just think of it as a prolonged general warm up). Doing it afterwards has less potential to impact on the weight room session itself but, for those compulsive about post-workout nutrition, does delay eating. A reasonable compromise would be to drink your post-workout drink while doing your cardio after the workout.

I would note that, after heavy leg training, most probably won’t want to do much in the way of cardio. Keeping the session to the bare minimums (e.g. 20 minutes of pretty low intensity work) is probably best. Cardio done after upper body workouts can be a bit longer and/or more intensive if desired (within the guidelines I gave above).

Summing Up

So summing up, under most circumstances, I think keeping a reasonable amount of moderate intensity cardio in the training program, even when the goal is explicitly mass gaining can be beneficial for most trainees (the major exception being the extreme hardgainer types).

Potential pros include improved recovery, improved work capacity, better calorie partitioning, improved appetite (sometimes), perhaps staying leaner and an easier time shifting back into dieting when the mass gaining phase is over. The cons, including hampered recovery and systematic overtraining only really become an issue when too much volume or too high of an intensity is performed.

A minimum of three sessions per week (up to perhaps a maximum of 5) of reasonable duration (20-30 minutes minimum up to perhaps 40 minutes maximum) at a low to moderate intensity (70% of maximum heart rate or less) should achieve the benefits I talked about above without causing any of the problems that I also discussed.

No Pain No Gain: Fitness Myth or Ultimate Fitness Truth?

No Pain, No Gain. Is this aphorism just a fitness myth and downright bad advice? A lot of people seem to think so. As a bodybuilder with 25 years of training experience and more than two dozen trophies on my shelf, I have another perspective to offer you..

The Ultimate Truth?

Success with your body and in every area of your life is all about stepping outside of your comfort zone and that means embracing pain.

To reach high levels of physical and personal success you must approach your training, and your entire life, as an endeavor in constant growth. The ultimate truth is, you are either moving forward or moving backward; growing or dying. There's no such thing as comfortably maintaining. To grow, you must step above past achievements; beyond your perceived boundaries and limits. That means stepping out of the known, into the unknown; out of the familiar and into the unfamiliar; out of the comfortable into the uncomfortable. You must get out of your comfort zone.

The Late Cavett Robert, who was founder of the National Speakers Association, said something I'll never forget:

"Most people are running around their whole lives with their umbilical cords in their hands and they're looking for some place to plug it back in."

Most people are scared of the new, unknown and unfamiliar. They prefer to stay in that womb of comfort. When the going gets tough; when the effort gets painful, when the work gets hard, they always pull back into safety. But the extraordinary people do the opposite. They know they have to get out of the comfort zone, and into new territory or they'll stagnate and die.

Walt Disney once said that he never wanted to repeat a past success. He was always creating something new. They called it "Imagineering." Disney's mission was to continuously dream up and create things they had never done before, and look at what Disney has become today.

Here's a little quote that you should post on your bulletin board, your computer desktop or somewhere you will always see it:

"Do what you always did, get what you always got."

You can't grow or change by doing what you've already done. You've got to train just to prevent yourself from going backwards. Maintenance doesn't occur when you do nothing, maintenance is working to fight entropy (the tendency for things to naturally deteriorate).

Still, most people won't leave their comfort zones. They won't do it in business, they won't do it in their personal lives. They won't do it in their sport. They won't do it for personal health and fitness. Why? The answer is simple… It hurts.

By definition, what's it like outside the comfort zone? It's UN-COMFORTABLE, right? Change is uncomfortable. Sometimes it's physically painful, but it's always mentally and emotionally painful, in the form of discipline, sacrifice, uncertainty and fear.

The maxim, "no pain no gain" gets knocked all the time as if it were bad advice. The fact of life is that you don't grow unless you are constantly stepping outside the comfort zone, and outside the comfort zone is discomfort and pain.

How Champions and Winners Think

I find that it's mostly the non-achievers who make out "no pain, no gain" to be a bad thing. But the winners get it. The champions understand stepping outside the comfort zone in a healthy context, so they embrace it.

When you're talking about the Olympics, or pro bodybuilding or the Super Bowl or a world championship, you'd better believe it's physical pain, it's discipline, it's sacrifice, it's blood, sweat, and tears - literally. But for most people who simply want to go from unfit to fit, from overweight to ideal weight, it's not so much about physical "pain"; it's more like stretching yourself.

How do you develop flexibility? What does your trainer tell you? You stretch to the point of discomfort, but not to the point of pain, right? You get into a position of slight discomfort and you hold it just long enough, then what happens? The discomfort goes away, because the muscle becomes more pliable, and the range of motion is increased.

Each time, you stretch a little further, just barely into the range you've never been in before, and eventually, you're doing the splits. And why do you approach it like that? Because you don't want to injure yourself. Stretch too far, too fast and your muscle tears.

The elite athletes and high achievers really have to push themselves; they're going to push their boundaries and test their limits. But if you're not an elite athlete or seasoned bodybuilder, and you take the advice, "no pain, no gain" too literally, you're going to end up getting injured.

I always say to my training partner when I watch him cringing during a set and he finishes up with that pained look on his face, "Are you injured, or just hurt?" He knows what I'm talking about. If he says he's hurt, I say, "OK, good. As long as you're not injured. Let's get on with it. Next set."

Good Pain vs Bad Pain

It's not about injury. That is bad pain. Pushing yourself through that is stupidity. But do stretch yourself. You can't improve unless you stretch yourself. If someone just wants too "stay fit" – OK fine. It actually doesn't take that much to stay fit, once you've already achieved it.

But what if you want to improve? What if you want a new body? What if you want to change? If that's what you want, you've got to push yourself a little. You've got to break comfort zones. And if your body is not changing, then I don't care how hard you think you're working, whatever you're doing right now is inside your comfort zone.

The statement "no pain, no gain" has been misinterpreted, criticized and labeled a fallacy by many. However, the people doing the criticizing are almost always comfort zoners who haven't achieved much. Don't listen to them. Instead, follow the small percentage of people who step out and achieve great things. If you don't like the sound of it, then say, "No effort, no gain." We're still talking about the same thing.

Embrace the "good pain" of growth like the champions do. Soon it subsides, you enjoy the benefits of the change and the pain is forgotten. You've reached a new, higher plateau of achievement. Enjoy the view for a short while. But be on guard because it's not long before that higher level becomes your new comfort zone and then its time to press on again.

The Real Secret To Achieving Your Bodybuilding & Fitness Goals

Everyday my inbox gets filled with countless e-mail from bodybuilding and fitness enthusiasts from all over the world. Most of the e-mail questions ask things such as what are the best workouts to follow, what are the best foods to eat, and what are the best supplements to take. While there is nothing wrong with these questions, they are not necessarily going to move you closer to reaching your ultimate bodybuilding and physique goals. The real key to fitness success involves zooming out and looking at things from a higher level.

If you could do a survey of the people who have the best built bodies across the globe you would find that they all have different theories and approaches with regards to their actual workouts, diets, and supplements. Some prefer higher volume workouts, some prefer higher intensity workouts, some prefer low carb diets, some prefer high carb diets, some are supplement "junkies", while others don't take any supplements at all.

The actual techniques and strategies will vary from person to person. As the old saying goes there is more then one way to skin a cat. (Note: why anyone would want to skin a cat is beyond me.)

But there is one thing that all successful people have in common and that is they set up the conditions of their life in such a way to ensure their success is inevitable over the long term. Inevitability thinking is a way of putting things in place so that what you want to achieve happens automatically.

Before we can move forward and make progress in any area, we have to first accept the fact that everything in our life is at some level the way it is today because of conditions that were set up in our past. Whether these conditions where set up consciously, or unconsciously, by us directly, or by our environment.

For example, if John is now working as an auto-mechanic then things happened in his life that made this career choice inevitable. Most likely there were people and situations in his past that peaked his interest in cars. Which then made John want to go to school and study auto-mechanics, and then this eventually lead him to working in that field. Bottom line, he didn't just some how magically become a mechanic. The conditions were set in his life, either consciously or unconsciously, that made it inevitable.

The same thing applies to someone who is lean, athletic, and muscular. They just didn't get that way by accident. The conditions of their life were set in such a way as to make the outcome of a strong muscular body inevitable. In virtually all cases people who are in great shape have individuals in their life who they looked up to that are also in great shape. They are members of a gym that provides them with the tools they need to build their body. They spend time studying books, courses, and videos so they can learn how to maximize their results. They most likely participate in some form of sports or activities that give them extra drive and motivation to get in top physical shape, such as bodybuilding, powerlifting, fitness modeling, team sports or something that provides an outside competitive drive to succeed.

We all live in set conditions that are affecting our daily lives whether we realize it or not. So if you are not happy with the results you have achieved thus far, then you need to change your conditions in order to change the results you are getting.

Ask yourself what conditions do you need to put in place so the outcomes you want happen automatically? How do you make getting your desired goals a sure thing that is eventually going to happen no matter what?

One of the most important conditions that you can set that will determine your level of success in any area of your life is choosing the people you associate with. If you look at the 5 people you associate with the most you will find that you are the average of those 5 people.

For example, if you took the average income of the 5 people you associate with the most, chances are it would be very close to your income. If you took the average level of health and fitness of those 5 people, chances are it would be very close to your own level of health and fitness. Now of course there will be some rare exceptions to this rule. But for the most part any measurable area of your life can be related back to the average of the 5 people you associate with the most.

So knowing that we are the average of the 5 people we hang around with the most. The quickest way to set the conditions of your life to help you move towards your desired outcomes is to get around people who are living life at a higher level. We imitate people around us whether we know it or not. So if you want to have a strong, lean, and athletic body, then you must associate with other people who are strong, lean, and athletic so their positive energy will help pull you up to that level.

In my case some of the conditions from my past that helped set me on the path to bodybuilding success was the fact that my dad worked out himself and had an old weight set in our basement and I played around with it as a kid. I also remember watching the "Conan The Barbarian movies" and seeing Arnold in his prime with a big muscular physique. And at this time there was a show that came on TV called "Body Shaping" where they taught weight training workouts, and I used to watch every episode. All these things helped plant the seeds of bodybuilding success in my mind.

Then when I was 17 years old I competed in my first bodybuilding competition and started hanging around and associating with other local bodybuilders. This created a huge burning desire for me to improve my physique just so I could "fit in" with these guys. Then with each bodybuilding competition I entered I was on a mission to show everyone how much improved since my previous show.

During this time I also had a very supportive environment at home. My dad and I built our own home gym in our basement where we worked out together. My mom and dad would attend all of my bodybuilding competitions and cheer me on. They would proudly display all of my trophies and medals in our home. This made for great conversation starters when company visited and they were always there as constant visual reminders.

All these things helped set the conditions for bodybuilding success in my life. Not only did I have internal drive and dream of building a muscular physique in my mind. But I also had the external driving factors of regularly competing in bodybuilding competitions and being judged on stage in front of hundreds of spectators. There was the "peer pressure" to keep up with the other local bodybuilders. And I had the support of my family and a good home environment that was conducive to bodybuilding success.

Inevitability thinking is a habit used by successful people in all fields. Be it in business, academics, or bodybuilding. Consciously setting your life conditions will take the process of goal setting to a higher level. When you keep stacking the odds in your favor then success is inevitable. It is just a matter of time.

So with that being said:

What are the conditions that you need to put in place in your life so that the goals you want to achieve become inevitable and will happen automatically?

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

4 Simple Keys To Developing A Wide & Muscular Back

It never ceases to amaze me how incredibly misguided the vast majority of the population is in the gym. Everyone is desperate for that wide, powerful and muscular physique, yet very few understand how to properly channel their efforts to get there.

For most aspiring lifters, it's all about building a huge chest and arms. Week after week they slave away on endless sets of bench presses and barbell curls in search of the rippling muscle gains they want so badly.

Not surprisingly, those gains never appear in any significant form.

While a well developed chest and arms is clearly an important part of any complete physique, the truth is that these muscles only play a small role when compared to a much larger, much more intricate muscle group that most people severely neglect in their training programs.

I am, of course, talking about the major muscles of the back: the lats, traps, spinal erectors, rhomboids and lower back.

It's obvious why most lifters neglect these all-too-important muscles…

1) The back is not a “showy” muscle and you can't see it in the mirror.
2) Back training is far more stressful and taxing to the body than chest or arm training.
3) Most lifters are simply unaware of how important the development of these muscles really is.

Allow me to let you in on a little secret…

If you want to appear as wide, thick and powerful as you possibly can, nothing will allow you to achieve this goal faster than a well developed back.

In fact, 70% of your upper body muscle mass resides in this area!

Nothing can replace the upper body thickening effect of big, bulging lats and a set of wide, tall trapezius muscles.

Please, get up off that bench press and put down that EZ-curl bar for just a moment and let me share a simple, step-by-step workout that you can use to build the muscular back you so desperately need.

There are 4 major movements that you must perform to properly develop your back…

1) Deadlifts – I cannot possibly stress the importance of this lift enough. There is not a single exercise out there that can even come close to matching the effectiveness of a basic, bent-legged barbell deadlift.

The deadlift will work you from finger to neck to toe and is irreplaceable in developing strong, thick back muscles. The deadlift will stimulate growth throughout the entire back complex and should be the cornerstone of your routine.

2) A vertical pulling movement – These exercises mainly target the lat muscles and will help you to attain that wide, v-tapered look from behind. Examples of vertical pulling movements are chin-ups (overhand or underhand), lat pulldowns and v-bar pulldowns.

To get the most bang for your buck I recommend a basic overhand chin-up. This is the bread and butter of vertical pulling movements and will stimulate growth in the lats like no other exercise.

3) A horizontal pulling movement – Otherwise referred to as “rows”, horizontal pulling movements place their emphasis on the upper/middle portion of the back and also stimulate the lats. There are a ton of different rowing movements to choose from: bent over barbell rows, dumbbell rows, seated machine rows and cable rows just to name a few.

For maximum results, stick to a basic freeweight rowing movement. I usually recommend bent over barbell rows, but bent over dumbbell rows are an acceptable choice as well.

4) A shrugging movement – While not quite as important as the above mentioned lifts, a shrugging movement should still be performed at the end of the workout to target the upper traps and develop that mountainous, diamond-shaped look from behind. A basic barbell or dumbbell shrug will do the trick.

Okay, let's put it all together…

Deadlifts – 2 sets of 5 to 7 reps
Overhand Chin-Ups – 2 sets of 5 to 7 reps
Bent Over Barbell Rows – 2 sets of 5 to 7 reps
Barbell Shrugs – 2 Sets of 10 to 12 reps

For optimal gains in back size and strength, the above routine is ideal.

It may not seem like a lot, but as long as you take every set to muscular failure and focus on quality rather than quantity, this routine provides more than enough stimulation for maximum back growth. I've used this same routine for many years and continue to see steady progress in both back size and strength.

Make sure to keep a written record of every workout that you perform, and focus each week on increasing either the weight that you lift or the number of reps that you perform within the given rep range.

Perform this workout once per week with full effort and I guarantee that your upper body will appear thicker, wider and more muscular than ever before.

What about specific routines for the chest? What about the biceps, triceps and shoulders? How about the thighs, calves and abs?

For specific training information on each of these body parts make sure to visit my webpage below and find out how you can finally get the rock-solid muscle gains you deserve without spending endless hours in the gym.

The 12 Steps to a Bigger Bench

1 ­ Train the Triceps Years ago, if you had asked Larry Pacifico how to get a big bench, he'd have told you to train the triceps. This same advice applies today. This doesn't mean doing set after set of pushdowns, kickbacks, and other so-called "shaping" exercises. Training your triceps for a big bench has to involve heavy extensions and close-grip pressing movements such as close-grip flat and incline bench presses, close-grip board presses, and JM presses.

Various barbell and dumbbell extensions should also be staples of your training program. Don't let anyone try to tell you the bench press is about pec strength. These people don't know the correct way to bench and are setting

you up for a short pressing career with sub-par weights. I just read an article in one of the major muscle magazines by one of these authors on how to increase your bench press. The advice given was to train your pecs with crossovers and flies and your bench will go up! This, along with many other points, made me wonder how this article ever got published or better yet, how much the author himself could bench.

I believe articles should go under a peer review board before they get printed. I'd like many of my peers to review these authors in the gym or better yet on the bench to see how much they really know. Bottom line: Train the triceps!

2 ­ Keep your shoulder blades pulled together and tight. This is a very important and often overlooked aspect of great bench pressing. While pressing you have to create the most stable environment possible. This can't be done if most of your shoulder blades are off the bench. The bench is only so wide and we can't change this, but we can change how we position ourselves on the bench.

When you pull your shoulder blades together you're creating a tighter, more stable surface from which to press. This is because more of your body is in contact with the bench. The tightness of your upper back also contributes. These techniques also change the distance the bar will have to travel. The key to pressing big weight is to press the shortest distance possible.

3 ­ Keep the pressure on your upper back and traps. This is another misunderstood aspect of pressing. You want the pressure around the supporting muscles. This is accomplished by driving your feet into the floor, thereby driving your body into the bench. Try this: Lie on the bench and line up so your eyes are four inches in front of the bar (toward your feet). Now using your legs, drive yourself into the bench to put pressure on the upper back and traps. Your eyes should now be even with the bar. This is the same pressure that needs to be applied while pushing the barbell.

4 ­ Push the bar in a straight line. Try to push the bar toward your feet. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, right? Then why in the world would some coaches advocate pressing in a "J" line toward the rack? If I were to bench the way most trainers are advocating (with my elbows out, bringing the bar down to the chest and pressing toward the rack) my barbell travel distance would be 16 inches. Now, if I pull my shoulder blades together, tuck my chin and elbows, and bring the bar to my upper abdominals or lower chest, then my pressing distance is only 6.5 inches. Now which would you prefer? If you want to push up a bar-bending load of plates, you'd choose the shorter distance.

Here's another important aspect of pressing in this style. By keeping your shoulder blades together and your chin and elbows tucked, you'll have less shoulder rotation when compared to the J-line method of pressing. This is easy to see by watching how low the elbows drop in the bottom part of the press when the barbell is on the chest. With the elbows out, most everyone's elbows are far lower than the bench. This creates a tremendous amount of shoulder rotation and strain.

Now try the same thing with the elbows tucked and shoulder blades together while bringing the barbell to your upper abdominals. For most people, the elbows are usually no lower than the bench. Less shoulder rotation equals less strain on the shoulder joint. This means pressing bigger weights for many more years. I've always been amazed at trainers that suggest only doing the top half of the bench press, i.e. stopping when the upper arms are parallel to the floor. This is done to avoid the excess shoulder rotation. All they have to do is teach their clients the proper way to bench in the first place!

5 ­ Keep the elbows tucked and the bar directly over the wrists and elbows. This is probably the most important aspect of great pressing technique. The elbows must remain tucked to keep the bar in a straight line as explained above. Keeping the elbows tucked will also allow lifters to use their lats to drive the bar off the chest. Football players are taught to drive their opponents with their elbows tucked, then explode through. This is the same for bench pressing. Bench pressing is all about generating force. You can generate far more force with your elbows in a tucked position compared to an "elbows out" position.

The most important aspect of this is to keep the barbell in a direct line with the elbow. If the barbell is behind the elbow toward the head, then the arm position becomes similar to an extension, not a press.

6 ­ Bring the bar low on your chest or upper abdominals. This is the only way you can maintain the "barbell to elbow" position as described above. You may have heard the advice, "Bring it low" at almost every powerlifting competition. This is the reason why. Once again, the barbell must travel in a straight line.

7 ­ Fill your belly with air and hold it. For maximum attempts and sets under three reps, you must try to hold your air. Everyone must learn to breathe from their bellies and not their chests. If you stand in front of the mirror and take a deep breath, your shoulders shouldn't rise. If they do you're breathing the air into your chest, not your belly. Greater stability can be achieved in all the lifts when you learn how to pull air into the belly. Try to expand and fill the belly with as much air as possible and hold it. If you breathe out during a maximum attempt, the body structure will change slightly, thus changing the groove in which the barbell is traveling.

8 ­ Train with compensatory acceleration. Push the bar with maximal force. Whatever weight you're trying to push, be it 40% or 100% of your max, you must learn to apply 100% of the force to the barbell. If you can bench 500 pounds and are training with 300 pounds, you must then apply 500 pounds of force to the 300-pound barbell. This is known as compensatory acceleration and it can help you break through sticking points.

These sticking points are known as your "mini maxes," or the points at which you miss the lift or the barbell begins to slip out of the groove. Many times I'm asked what to do if the barbell gets stuck four to five inches off the chest. Everybody wants to know what exercise will help them strengthen this area or what body part is holding them back. Many times it isn't what you do to strengthen the area where it sticks, but what you can do to build more acceleration in the area before the mini max. If you can get the bar moving with more force then there won't be a sticking point. Instead, you'll blast right through it. Compensatory acceleration will help you do this.

9 ­ Squeeze the barbell and try to pull the bar apart! Regardless of the lift, you have to keep your body as tight as Monica Brant's behind. You'll never lift big weights if you're in a relaxed physical state while under the barbell. The best way to get the body tight is by squeezing the bar. We've also found that if you try to pull the bar apart or "break the bar," the triceps seem to become more activated.

10 ­ Devote one day per week to dynamic-effort training. According to Vladimir Zatsiorsinsky in his text Science and Practice of Strength Training, there are three ways to increase muscle tension. These three methods include the dynamic-effort method, the maximal-effort method, and the repetition method. Most training programs being practiced in the US today only utilize one or two of these methods. It's important, however, to use all three.

The bench press should be trained using the dynamic-effort method. This method is best defined as training with sub-maximal weights (45 to 60%) at maximal velocities. The key to this method is bar speed. Percentage training can be very deceiving. The reason for this is because lifters at higher levels have better motor control and recruit more muscle than a less experienced lifter.

For example, the maximal amount of muscle you could possibility recruit is 100%. Now, the advanced lifter - after years of teaching his nervous system to be efficient - may be able to recruit 70 to 80% of muscle fibers, while the intermediate might be able to recruit only 50%. Thus, the advanced lifter would need less percent weight than the intermediate. This is one of the reasons why an advanced lifter squatting 80% of his max for 10 reps would kill himself while a beginner could do it all day long.

If you base the training on bar speed, then the percentages are no longer an issue, only a guideline. So how do you know where to start? If you're an intermediate lifter, I suggest you start at 50% of maximal and see how fast you can make it move for three reps. If you can move 20 more pounds with the same speed then use the heavier weight.

Based on years of experience and Primlin's charts for optimal percent training, we've found the best range to be eight sets of three reps. Based on Primlin's research, the optimal range for 70% and less is 12 to 24 repetitions.

We've also found it very beneficial to train the bench using three different grips, all of which are performed within the rings. This may break down into two sets with the pinky fingers on the rings, three sets with three fingers from the smooth area of the bar and three sets with one finger from the smooth area.

11 ­ Devote one day per week to maximal-effort training. For the second bench day of the week (72 hours after the dynamic day) you should concentrate on the maximal-effort method. This is best defined as lifting maximal weights (90% to 100%) for one to three reps. This is one of the best methods to develop maximal strength. The key here is to strain. The downfall is you can't train above 90% for longer than three weeks without having adverse effects.

Try performing a max bench press every week for four or five weeks. You'll see you may progress for the first two, maybe three weeks, then your progress will halt and begin to work its way backward. We've combated this by switching up the maximal-effort exercises. We rotate maximal-effort movements such as the close-grip incline press, board press, floor press, and close-grip flat press. These exercises are all specific to bench pressing and all have a very high carryover value.

12 ­ Train the lats on the same plane as the bench. I'm talking about the horizontal plane here. In other words, you must perform rows, rows, and more rows. "If you want to bench big then you need to train the lats." I've heard both George Hilbert and Kenny Patterson say this for years when asked about increasing the bench press. When you bench you're on a horizontal plane. So would it make sense from a balance perspective to train the lats with pull downs, which are on a vertical plane? Nope. Stick to the barbell row if you want a big bench.

So you want big arms?

I get tired of seeing training articles every month in the muscle mags. I read some of them to keep up on what is happening in the weight world - not for the training articles. Iron man is almost all training articles; I don't read it anymore. Why? Because once you learn the exercises, these training articles aren't anything new because the authors just rehash and repackage the same exercises. The new thing these authors do that really pisses me off is to try and make training something complicated and one

author in one of the more popular muscle mags recently said "There is a science to training the arms, a science that will help you achieve the gains you want and should expect from your training". Bull puke! I suppose the guy has to make a living by writing articles. He even copyrighted tables of exercises in the article! HAH! I think I am going to try and patent the air we breath! I am going to give it to you straight and I am going to start with the most important aspects of arm training first.

Let's start with genetics. You have to face facts, the size of your arms are going to be limited by the genes your ancestors blessed you with. You can't build peak if you don't have the genetics. Boyer Coe is an example. He has a split in his bicep. People actually ask him how he got it! The answer is that he got it from his dad who has the same split and doesn't even train! Look at Boyer's abs - he never had abs...and never will. Just like 7UP...Never Had It...Never Will!!

Next on the list is overall body size. You can't have 19 inch arms and have a bodyweight of 160 pounds. IF YOU WANT TO GET SIGNIFICANTLY BIGGER ARMS YOU MUST INCREASE YOUR OVERALL MUSCLE MASS. Notice I said muscle mass. Anyone could eat themselves into oblivion and get big arms - but they would be all fat! How do you gain more overall muscle mass? Squat, bench press, and deadlift are three good ways to more muscle mass. Do these exercises once a week and consistently hard, take in enough good food, and get at least 8 hours sleep a night, and I'll bet you that your arm size increases.

So what exercises should you do for biceps? Well there are tons of curl variations for biceps. Don't expect me to list them in a table and try and copyright it! One of the bicep favorites is barbell curls. I personally did these for years and I think....they basically suck. Why? One big reason is that it is too easy to use other muscle groups to cheat. Plus you don't need any extra low back strain and most people end up doing curls that look more like power cleans. It wasn't until I made the preacher bench my biceps friend that I really got full development. You can do them either with a dumbbell or barbell or even use a cable. Full range should be used and you need to concentrate on squeezing the muscle at the top - do your reps like you are pumping up a tire - your biceps tire. Also, concentrate on using the biceps only and not use your upper back to assist the rep. How many sets? I say 2 to 3 sets and vary the reps schemes. You need to carry each set to positive failure. I can hear some people all ready..."What, only 3 sets!!!, but Mr. Joe Universe does 15 sets!". Forget the "other training articles" to; the ones by champion bodybuilders. You should question whether they even do the routines in the mags and remember that 99% of these bodybuilders are chemically assisted. Work your biceps and your back on different days. The biceps should get HIT pretty well on back days as well. Most of the "gurus" of training articles fail to mention the importance of doing heavy back exercises in biceps development. But, I won't - doing heavy back exercises will contribute greatly to your biceps development. So in essence, you will be Hitting your biceps twice a week.

What about the triceps? If I read another training article that says - "The triceps are 2/3 of the muscle mass of the arm, don't neglect tricep training" I am going to puke! The fact is that the triceps get HIT in all your pressing movements. If you are working your chest hard with pressing movements, you can bet your weight belt that you don't need much direct triceps work. First off, stay away from elbow busters like lying triceps extensions a.k.a. skull crushers. Most people can't do these for years and not suffer some elbow pain. I like the close grip bench press for an overall tricep movement. How many sets? One or two is what I recommend. Vary your rep scheme. Concentrate on squeezing the triceps. The second exercise to finish with would be tricep pushdowns. Don't hump yourself over and turn it into a bench press! Stand erect and work the triceps! There is no need to let the weight come up to your forehead either!!!

Happy training!