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How To Hip Hinge For Ultimate Performance!

Name: Todd Bumgardner, MS, CSCS

I can’t recall how many times I’ve heard Ronnie Coleman’s classic line echo around the weight room: “Everybody wants to be a bodybuilder, but nobody wants to lift no heavy-ass weight.” I’d say the over/under is around a thousand. And the reason is because he’s pretty much right.

Ronnie shouted out the quote when he was about to step under a loaded bar for the squat, but for me, the line especially rings true for the deadlift. This is why I created my twist on Ronnie’s famous line: “Everybody wants to deadlift, but nobody wants to hip hinge correctly.” I find that saying that in my Ronnie voice helps it resonate more powerfully with clients.

Here’s the thing: The deadlift gets overanalyzed by most lifters, which leads to butchered execution. The answer isn’t to memorize every cue that ever helped a pro powerlifter and then try to remember them all when you stand on the platform. The answer, quite simply, is to master the hip hinge first, and then build your deadlift around that strength.

Spend some quality time fortifying your hip hinge—both when you’re starting out and when you’re more advanced—and you’ll spare your back and build a powerful set of hips and legs that will help you in every other lower-body movement. And you’d better believe it’ll help you lift some heavy-ass weight, too.

The Hip Hinge:

It sounds like something your grandma wears to get out of the bath tub, but the hip hinge is actually an important fundamental human movement that everyone should master. The squat may be the so-called “king of lifts,” but the hinge is perhaps more important in the long-term performance and functionality of everyone from elite athletes to physical therapy patients, elderly people seeking more functionality, and every gym-goer in between.

 

Barbell Deadlift

In actual practice, hip hinging means moving the hips through a complete flexion (closing) to extension (opening) cycle, while limiting movement at other joints. It’s a precursor to all lower-body movements, but specifically the deadlift, squat, and most Olympic lifts. Hip hinge mastery isn’t optional to move well with heavy loads—it’s necessary.

Nevertheless, while most people can picture a squat, many have trouble imagining a hip hinge in their mind. So to start, picture a door hinge. The joint in the middle rotates while the side brackets remain rigid. This, in a nutshell, is how hip hinging works. The torso is braced and held rigid on the north side of the hips. Below the border, there’s a relatively stiff lower-body guided by hamstring tension. The only dramatic movement is at the hips.

Hammering Home the Hinge

There are a number of problems that can get in the way of a good hip hinge. Some folks simply have poor hip mobility, which can be caused by a congregation of factors including poor core stability and inflexible hamstrings. Hip capsules can also suffer from excessive tightness.

Meager hip mobility reduces the ability to solidify the hinge and causes the spine and knees to compensate for the lack of movement, which is inefficient and potentially injurious. If your immobility is the real hurdle, a solution beyond the scope of this article is necessary.

However, apart from the raw material issues just mentioned, most trainees are simply never taught how to hinge and need instruction with sound cues. They fail to hinge properly because they can’t understand how to separate movement in the spine from movement in the hips. If that’s the case for you, try these drills to teach spinal awareness; send your butt in the right direction.

1 Cat-camel drill

The cat-camel drill, as taught by Dr. Andreo Spina and his Functional Range Conditioning system, is your starting point.

The key of the drill is to move each spinal segment separately, creating a strong connection between your brain and the peripheral nerves that create spatial awareness. It’s the most effective technique I use to teach the difference between the spine and hips.

Any trainee, regardless of how advanced they are, can benefit from the cat-camel drill.

Cat-Camel Drill
Watch The Video – 00:26

2 Kneeling hip hinge with PVC

After building basic spine and hip awareness, it’s time to begin building the hinge from the ground up with the kneeling hip hinge. Kneeling reduces the amount of moving parts, allowing for an increased focus on torso rigidity and hip movement. The PVC pipe teaches what a neutral spine feels like and how to maintain it.

Kneeling Hip Hinge
Watch The Video – 00:31

3 Standing hip hinge with PVC

Once you’ve got the floor version down, take the kneeling hip hinge to your feet. The wall gives you a marker to hit and measures progress. When you master driving the hips back, step away from the wall and do it in free space. When you master the hip hinge in free space, remove the PVC and maintain a neutral spine.

Standing Hip Hinge
Watch The Video – 00:25

4 Belly swing

Now it’s time to add tension. This exercise comes from legendary strength and track coach Dan John, who calls it the “Bulgarian goat belly swing,” a noble name for an honorable exercise.

You can perform it with a kettlebell, dumbbell, sandbag, or weight plate. Start by taking a deep belly breath, and follow that by bracing your abdominals tightly. When you’re tight, pull the weight firmly into your braced abs. The result is a strong upper back and lat contraction teeming with deadlift power. Then push the hips back like in the butt-to-wall.

Belly Swing
Watch The Video – 00:18

Hip Hinge Programming

All lifters, from steadfast iron devotees to people newly baptized by barbells, can benefit from remedial hinge work. An advanced lifter might not need the same proportion of drill work, but they ignore it at their peril.

This basic template will help you formulate proper hinge form and will get you moving in the right direction with solid back tension, grace, and power. Weight room vets can do well by using this as part of a warm-up or as an off-day recovery method. Newbies should use this in the place of deadlift training until their hinge is strong and confident.

Just remember: Happy hinge, happy deadlift, and happy back.

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Slay The Dragon: 3 Strength Training Myths Exposed!

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About The Author

Todd Bumgardner works as a strength and conditioning coach and manual therapist at Ranfone Training Systems in Hamden, Connecticut.

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How To Hip Hinge For Ultimate Performance!

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James Grage's Rewired 9-Week Fitness Trainer – Day 12, Shoulders, Calves, Abs

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Today’s assignment is shoulders, abs, and calves, but just like the other workouts in phase one, you’ll be doing as much ab work during the warm-up as during the weighted crunches at the end.

If you’ve never done seated overhead throws before, then it was probably a bit of a struggle to learn them last week. But don’t take that as an excuse to sleep through the plank—or even worse, to tent your hips up or let them droop down. Stay strong, clench your glutes and abs, and build the kind of tension that will have you begging for those 30 seconds to end!

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About The Author

James Grage is the Co-Founder and Vice President of BPI Sports. He started training at age 15 and built an impressive body for sports.

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James Grage's Rewired 9-Week Fitness Trainer – Day 12, Shoulders, Calves, Abs

Posted in Bodybuilding, Exercises, Nutrition, Uncategorized, Warm upComments Off on James Grage's Rewired 9-Week Fitness Trainer – Day 12, Shoulders, Calves, Abs

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James Grage's Rewired 9-Week Fitness Trainer – Day 11, Back

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Today, you’ll torch your upper back and lats with a barrage of pulls from every angle. During your warm-up set, don’t go to exhaustion. If 12 good-form pull-ups paired with inverted rows assignment seems too brutal of an assignment for you, do what you need to modify it while still keeping a full range of motion.

You could use an exercise band, for instance. Even better, have your training partner support your knees or hips during the movement. This will give you a more consistent stimulus, while staying truer to a pull-up than a machine-assisted version allows.

Exclusive Rewired Stacks

Get incredible results with these hand-picked supplement combos!

BPI Sports Rewired Foundation Stack

Train hard and recover like a pro with these essentials!*

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BPI Sports Rewired
Muscle Building Stack

Build maximum muscle with this power-packed supp combo.*

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BPI Sports Rewired
Fat Loss Stack

Burn fat and support muscle maintenance with this killer stack!*

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About The Author

James Grage is the Co-Founder and Vice President of BPI Sports. He started training at age 15 and built an impressive body for sports.

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James Grage's Rewired 9-Week Fitness Trainer – Day 11, Back

Posted in Bodybuilding, Exercises, Nutrition, Uncategorized, Warm upComments Off on James Grage's Rewired 9-Week Fitness Trainer – Day 11, Back

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Arnold Schwarzenegger Blueprint Trainer Day 48

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One often overlooked element of the 1960s and 70s era of bodybuilding is that it was the dawn of visible abs among the bodybuilding elite. Take a look at Bill Pearl when he was Mr. Universe in the early 1950s, and again when he was Mr. Universe in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In his later years, he had them. Take a look at Serge Nubret when he won Mr. Olympia unopposed in 1968—he had them. On the other hand, young Arnold, the powerlifter and aspiring bodybuilder, didn’t have them—not until he started training abs daily, anyway.

“Abs every day” is one of Arnold’s best-known training mantras, but it’s not his best-loved. It gets criticized by many, but for every one of these critics, another will say it works wonders. No matter where you ultimately come down on the debate, you can now speak from experience. Over the last seven weeks, you’ve experienced Arnold-style abs in the form of endless reps of decline sit-ups, leg raises, and today’s special, cable crunches. But don’t let the sheer volume lead you to neglect the most important part of the movement: the squeeze! Arnold was insistent that the peak contraction be held during each and every rep, particularly in the cable crunch.

This is the abdominal equivalent of a double biceps pose. Hit it hard enough to make you feel it tomorrow on your rest day.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger Blueprint Trainer Day 48

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<div class="article-padding-content" webReader="34.0754716981"><div class="article-author-by-line"><span class="byline">by <a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/other.htm">Bodybuilding.com</a></span><span class="article-date">Apr 11, 2014</span></div><div id="DPG" webReader="26.7187066975"><h5 class="c7"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/arnold-schwarzenegger-blueprint-trainer-day-46.html">Previous</a> | <a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/arnold-schwarzenegger-blueprint-trainer-main.html">Main</a> | <a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/arnold-schwarzenegger-blueprint-trainer-day-48.html">Next</a></h5><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/arnold-blueprint_day47_graphics-1.jpg" width="293" height="314" border="0" class="float-right c8"/><p>There's one classic Arnold technique that hasn't been mentioned so far in this blueprint program, which is isotension training. You probably know it by another name: flexing. It's not here because it's difficult to quantify the way that Arnold did it. It was simply a constant presence in his workouts. He recommended flexing during rest periods, after training, and of course, he spent plenty of time doing it during posing and competition. For him, this was performance practice, but it was also a crucial component of having mastery of his body and maintaining the mind-muscle connection.</p><p>"It isn't enough to have big muscles; you have to be able to control them as well, and that's something you have to learn," he wrote in "The Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding." "A bodybuilder who poses and flexes in the gym, watching himself in the mirror, is engaged in a very important part of his workout."</p><p>Range of motion, heavy weight, and progression are crucial. They always have been and always will be. But don't forget about the power of pure, unadulterated tension!</p><div id="meal-plan-table"><ul webReader="1.49045801527"><li class="c6" webReader="7">
<p><strong>Technique: 1-10 Method</strong><br />After 1-2 warm-up sets, choose a weight that you're only able to lift for 1 rep. After you perform that 1 rep, take just enough weight off to perform 2 reps. From there, do the same for 3 reps and 4 reps, going all the way up to 10 reps. This is brutal because you take no rest between sets. The only rest you get is when you're unloading the weights. I loved this technique, and it's a total shock to the muscle.</p>
<br /></li>
<li class="rowBgColor c9"><span class="mpt-images"><a href="javascript:pop('standing-barbell-press-behind-neck')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/381/Male/t/381_1.jpg" alt="Standing Barbell Press Behind Neck" width="53" height="53"/></a> <a href="javascript:pop('standing-barbell-press-behind-neck')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/381/Male/t/381_2.jpg" alt="Standing Barbell Press Behind Neck" width="53" height="53"/></a></span> <span class="mpt-content content"><strong><a href="javascript:pop('standing-barbell-press-behind-neck')">Standing Barbell Press Behind Neck</a></strong><br />10 sets of 4 reps</span></li>
<li class="c6">
<h6>Superset</h6>
</li>
<li class="rowBorderColor c9"><span class="mpt-images"><a href="javascript:pop('arnold-dumbbell-press')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/82/Male/t/82_1.jpg" alt="Arnold Dumbbell Press" width="53" height="53"/></a> <a href="javascript:pop('arnold-dumbbell-press')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/82/Male/t/82_2.jpg" alt="Arnold Dumbbell Press" width="53" height="53"/></a></span> <span class="mpt-content content"><strong><a href="javascript:pop('arnold-dumbbell-press')">Arnold Press</a></strong><br />5 sets of 8 reps</span></li>
<li class="rowBgColor c9"><span class="mpt-images"><a href="javascript:pop('side-lateral-raise')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/373/Male/t/373_1.jpg" alt="Side Lateral Raise" width="53" height="53"/></a> <a href="javascript:pop('side-lateral-raise')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/373/Male/t/373_2.jpg" alt="Side Lateral Raise" width="53" height="53"/></a></span> <span class="mpt-content content"><strong><a href="javascript:pop('side-lateral-raise')">Lateral Raises</a></strong><br />5 sets of 8 reps</span></li>
<li class="c6">
<h6>Superset</h6>
</li>
<li class="rowBorderColor c9"><span class="mpt-images"><a href="javascript:pop('standing-dumbbell-upright-row')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/368/Male/t/368_1.jpg" alt="Standing Dumbbell Upright Row" width="53" height="53"/></a> <a href="javascript:pop('standing-dumbbell-upright-row')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/368/Male/t/368_2.jpg" alt="Standing Dumbbell Upright Row" width="53" height="53"/></a></span> <span class="mpt-content content"><strong><a href="javascript:pop('standing-dumbbell-upright-row')">Dumbbell Upright Rows</a></strong><br />5 sets of 6 reps</span></li>
<li class="rowBgColor c9"><span class="mpt-images"><a href="javascript:pop('seated-bent-over-rear-delt-raise')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/377/Male/t/377_1.jpg" alt="Seated Bent-Over Rear Delt Raise" width="53" height="53"/></a> <a href="javascript:pop('seated-bent-over-rear-delt-raise')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/377/Male/t/377_2.jpg" alt="Seated Bent-Over Rear Delt Raise" width="53" height="53"/></a></span> <span class="mpt-content content"><strong><a href="javascript:pop('seated-bent-over-rear-delt-raise')">Bent-Over Rear Delt Flyes</a></strong><br />5 sets of 12 reps</span></li>
<li class="rowBorderColor c9"><span class="mpt-images"><a href="javascript:pop('barbell-curl')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/169/Male/t/169_1.jpg" alt="Barbell Curl" width="53" height="53"/></a> <a href="javascript:pop('barbell-curl')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/169/Male/t/169_2.jpg" alt="Barbell Curl" width="53" height="53"/></a></span> <span class="mpt-content content"><strong><a href="javascript:pop('barbell-curl')">Barbell Curls</a></strong><br />5 sets of 8 reps then 3 sets of 5 reps</span></li>
<li class="c6">
<h6>Superset</h6>
</li>
<li class="rowBgColor c9"><span class="mpt-images"><a href="javascript:pop('concentration-curls')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/136/Male/t/136_1.jpg" alt="Concentration Curls" width="53" height="53"/></a> <a href="javascript:pop('concentration-curls')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/136/Male/t/136_2.jpg" alt="Concentration Curls" width="53" height="53"/></a></span> <span class="mpt-content content"><strong><a href="javascript:pop('concentration-curls')">Concentration Curls</a></strong><br />5 sets of 6 reps</span></li>
<li class="rowBorderColor c9"><span class="mpt-images"><a href="javascript:pop('seated-dumbbell-curl')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/201/Male/t/201_1.jpg" alt="Seated Dumbbell Curl" width="53" height="53"/></a> <a href="javascript:pop('seated-dumbbell-curl')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/201/Male/t/201_2.jpg" alt="Seated Dumbbell Curl" width="53" height="53"/></a></span> <span class="mpt-content content"><strong><a href="javascript:pop('seated-dumbbell-curl')">Seated Dumbbell Curls</a></strong><br />5 sets of 6 reps</span></li>
<li class="rowBgColor c9"><span class="mpt-images"><a href="javascript:pop('close-grip-barbell-bench-press')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/23/Male/t/23_1.jpg" alt="Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press" width="53" height="53"/></a> <a href="javascript:pop('close-grip-barbell-bench-press')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/23/Male/t/23_2.jpg" alt="Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press" width="53" height="53"/></a></span> <span class="mpt-content content"><strong><a href="javascript:pop('close-grip-barbell-bench-press')">Close-Grip Bench Press</a></strong><br />Use the 1-10 method</span></li>
<li class="c6">
<h6>Superset</h6>
</li>
<li class="rowBorderColor c9"><span class="mpt-images"><a href="javascript:pop('triceps-pushdown')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/343/Male/t/343_1.jpg" alt="Triceps Pushdown" width="53" height="53"/></a> <a href="javascript:pop('triceps-pushdown')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/343/Male/t/343_2.jpg" alt="Triceps Pushdown" width="53" height="53"/></a></span> <span class="mpt-content content"><strong><a href="javascript:pop('triceps-pushdown')">Triceps Pushdowns</a></strong><br />5 sets of 15 reps</span></li>
<li class="rowBgColor c9"><span class="mpt-images"><a href="javascript:pop('body-tricep-press')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/1291/Male/t/1291_1.jpg" alt="Body Tricep Press" width="53" height="53"/></a> <a href="javascript:pop('body-tricep-press')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/1291/Male/t/1291_2.jpg" alt="Body Tricep Press" width="53" height="53"/></a></span> <span class="mpt-content content"><strong><a href="javascript:pop('body-tricep-press')">Bodyweight Skullcrushers</a></strong><br />5 sets of 15 reps</span></li>
<li class="c6">
<h6>Superset</h6>
</li>
<li class="rowBorderColor c9"><span class="mpt-images"><a href="javascript:pop('palms-up-barbell-wrist-curl-over-a-bench')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/390/Male/t/390_1.jpg" alt="Palms-Up Barbell Wrist Curl Over A Bench" width="53" height="53"/></a> <a href="javascript:pop('palms-up-barbell-wrist-curl-over-a-bench')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/390/Male/t/390_2.jpg" alt="Palms-Up Barbell Wrist Curl Over A Bench" width="53" height="53"/></a></span> <span class="mpt-content content"><strong><a href="javascript:pop('palms-up-barbell-wrist-curl-over-a-bench')">Wrist Curls</a></strong><br />5 sets of 12 reps</span></li>
<li class="rowBgColor c9"><span class="mpt-images"><a href="javascript:pop('palms-down-wrist-curl-over-a-bench')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/2/Male/t/2_1.jpg" alt="Palms-Down Wrist Curl Over A Bench" width="53" height="53"/></a> <a href="javascript:pop('palms-down-wrist-curl-over-a-bench')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/2/Male/t/2_2.jpg" alt="Palms-Down Wrist Curl Over A Bench" width="53" height="53"/></a></span> <span class="mpt-content content"><strong><a href="javascript:pop('palms-down-wrist-curl-over-a-bench')">Reverse Wrist Curls</a></strong><br />5 sets of 12 reps</span></li>
<li class="rowBorderColor c9"><span class="mpt-images"><a href="javascript:pop('sit-up')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/217/Male/t/217_1.jpg" alt="Sit-Up" width="53" height="53"/></a> <a href="javascript:pop('sit-up')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/217/Male/t/217_2.jpg" alt="Sit-Up" width="53" height="53"/></a></span> <span class="mpt-content content"><strong><a href="javascript:pop('sit-up')">Decline Sit-Ups</a> (shown regular)</strong><br />5 sets of 25 reps</span></li>
</ul></div><br /><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/arnold-schwarzenegger-series/blueprint-to-mass-stack.html"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/arnold-blueprint_stack_bannerbig-b.jpg" width="560" height="360" class="c10"/></a><h5 class="c7"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/arnold-schwarzenegger-blueprint-trainer-day-46.html">Previous</a> | <a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/arnold-schwarzenegger-blueprint-trainer-main.html">Main</a> | <a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/arnold-schwarzenegger-blueprint-trainer-day-48.html">Next</a></h5><br class="c11"/></div><div class="padded-content article-content mod-article-related-articles" id="article-related-articles"><h4 class="article-section-header">Related Articles</h4><div class="gray-gradient-box-with-border no-top-border"><ul class="related-article-list"><li class="first-related-article"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/arnold-schwarzenegger-blueprint-trainer-mass-training.html">Arnold Schwarzenegger Blueprint Trainer: Mass Training Overview</a></li>
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Arnold Schwarzenegger Blueprint Trainer Day 47

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There’s one classic Arnold technique that hasn’t been mentioned so far in this blueprint program, which is isotension training. You probably know it by another name: flexing. It’s not here because it’s difficult to quantify the way that Arnold did it. It was simply a constant presence in his workouts. He recommended flexing during rest periods, after training, and of course, he spent plenty of time doing it during posing and competition. For him, this was performance practice, but it was also a crucial component of having mastery of his body and maintaining the mind-muscle connection.

“It isn’t enough to have big muscles; you have to be able to control them as well, and that’s something you have to learn,” he wrote in “The Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding.” “A bodybuilder who poses and flexes in the gym, watching himself in the mirror, is engaged in a very important part of his workout.”

Range of motion, heavy weight, and progression are crucial. They always have been and always will be. But don’t forget about the power of pure, unadulterated tension!

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Arnold Schwarzenegger Blueprint Trainer Day 47

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3 Key Muscle Groups To Train For A Superior Physique!

3 Key Muscle Groups To Train For A Superior Physique!

What makes one bodybuilder look so much better than another? Read this article to find out about the key body parts and elements of training that it takes to craft a superior physique!

*Genetic factors such as body type and muscle belly have a lot to do with building our ideal physique. * The ‘V’ Taper is the most coveted look in all of bodybuilding. *Well developed shoulders are important for increasing your waist to hip ratio and making you appear bigger or more muscular while covered by a t-shirt.

Build Shape or Build Mass?

The main reason why many people lift recreationally is to become stronger and to gain muscle. When building muscle, many of us have an ideal or an image in our heads of what we want to look like. And if you take a look around any gym in America, you can see two major stereotypes that are on their quest for gaining muscle and their ideal physique: the “mass monster” whose sole goal is to gain as much muscle as possible regardless of their overall shape or look; and the “pseudo-bodybuilder” who is primarily concerned with shape.

A good way to think of it is the mass monster is walking around the gym in a tall t-shirt, wearing straps, throwing around heavy free weights while grunting and dripping sweat everywhere. The pseudo-bodybuilder is dressed up in under armor, or a tight t-shirt (down in Miami in my neck of the woods, they even come to the gym dressed up in jeans and a muscle shirt) and they only work chest and arms (sometimes shoulders if they’re really motivated) and then call it a day hoping these body parts will grow and give them better shape.

Of these two types of lifters on their quest for gaining muscle, which one has the right idea when it comes to looking like a perfectly proportioned bodybuilder? Answer: the mass monster.

However, there are all kinds of excuses as to why people don’t want to lift this way for gaining muscle, from myths that it widens your waist or stunts your growth, to the fact that lifts like the squat are simply too uncomfortable for many people.

The fact of the matter is that there are two universally accepted principles in bodybuilding: time under tension (duration your muscles are lifting/lowering weight) and intensity (which is increased by shorter rest intervals). However, despite this, it is true that certain body parts and certain proportions can make you appear bigger than you are and make you look more like a bodybuilder. We will discuss these and the exercises behind them.

Genetic Factors And Muscle Building

Before we get into the body parts and proportional ideals that make a bodybuilder; we must first discuss the genetic factors that are out of our control when it comes to our ideal physique. The first major factor is our body type.

You have Ectomorphs – smaller bone structure, usually lean, have a hard time gaining weight, flat chest.

Mesomorphs – athletic, defined muscles, strong, gains fat easier than Ectomorphs.

And Endomorphs- round, gains fat/weight easy.

The second is something called the muscle belly; if you ever listen to commentary for a bodybuilding competition, this term will be used a lot when speaking about the “shape” of a bodybuilder’s muscles. The muscle belly is generally the central point of the muscle (in between its insertion points where the majority of the mass and contractile strength of the muscle is generated). Example: on your bicep, one end inserts into your shoulder (coracoid process of scapula and humerous) the other end inserts into your elbow (radial tuberosity), the “belly” of this muscle would be the “peak” of your bicep which is the part that raises the most when you flex.

Now, to have great muscle bellies means that these central parts of your muscle look rounder and fuller (they peak more). This physical trait can cause someone to appear heavier or bigger than they actually are because their muscles are more pronounced than someone of a similar weight with similar muscle mass. This is why many bodybuilders, whether they are competitive or recreational, are commonly told not to chase numbers but to have an ideal of what they want to look like and achieve it.

All too often bodybuilders chase a certain weight and they either achieve it with too much body fat, or realize that they don’t present an appealing physique at their new weight. The last genetic factor affecting our physique is overall structure; from where our muscles insert on our bodies to our bone structure.

The closer you muscle inserts at its insertion point, the greater the potential you have for larger muscle bellies. And the shorter your limbs are, the greater the potential you have to portray the appearance of fuller muscles. If you look at a bodybuilder or athlete who has huge arms, you can usually see that their bicep/triceps leads almost all the way into their elbow.

While someone who has smaller arms, it appears that their muscle begins to insert and leave a space before it reaches their elbow. This however, is just a broad generalization just to give you an idea of the genetic factors that affect muscle size.

Waist to hip ratio is another structural trait that keeps all weightlifters from being created equal. Some of the most pleasing to the eye bodybuilders have small waists and wide shoulders which creates what is called the “V-taper”, the most coveted overall shape in all of bodybuilding. Now despite our genetic limits there is one thing that is certain, we all can improve! Regardless of what traits we are born with we can all get better and take one step closer to reaching our ideal physique.

Now let’s discuss the key body parts and exercises that will give you that bodybuilder look.

SHOULDERS

Well developed shoulders are important for increasing your waist to hip ratio and making you appear bigger or more muscular while covered by a t-shirt. The lateral delts are the muscles on the outside of your shoulders that can make you appear to have broad shoulders. The lateral delts are best developed when they are balanced with the other two (rear delts and front delts). The best exercises for the lateral delts would be:

• straight elbow lateral raises- elbows straight, do not lift weight higher that your shoulders or use momentum form your hips)

• cable lateral raises – allow arm to pass in front of your body, pull starting from the opposite side of your body at the bottom until your arm is extended and even with your shoulders

• bent elbow lateral raises – posture slightly forward, chin tucked, lift weight until it is almost parallel with the ground, twist your elbows as you begin to reach the top of your lift so that your hands are parallel to the ground.

The next part of the shoulder that is important for portraying size is the trapezius muscle. It is most pronounced around the neck but it actually extends down to the middle of the back. The trapezius muscle can be compared to that of the gastrocnemius in that it is a mixture of type I (slow twitch) and type II (fast twitch) muscle fibers depending on genetics1.

This means the most effective way to elicit growth is to target both muscle fibers with appropriate exercises to see which set of exercises your body responds to best. Generally the majority of the type II muscle fibers in the traps are found on the superior portion that can be seen on either side of the neck. Here are the best ways to approach both fiber types:

Type I

• Dumbbell shrugs- arms on either side, head straight forward, 15-20 reps

• Straight bar shrugs (may require straps) – always keep the bar in front of you, concentrate on the lifting and lowering portions of the exercise, 12-20 reps

Type II

• Jump shrugs (may require straps) – the same as straight bar shrugs, however the rep range will be 4-8 reps. Posture slightly forward with a bend in the knees, lower the weight just below your waist and jump into a shrug focusing on pulling from your shoulders and traps. This is more of an advanced lift normally reserved for athletes, but if you want to have the traps of a football player, you have to lift like a football player.

TRICEPS

Although the biceps are the most popular part of the arm for pseudo-bodybuilders to workout, it’s the triceps that make up the largest portion of the arm. Increasing triceps size is the quickest way to increase the overall appearance of size in your arms. However the triceps muscles will only grow when in proper balance with the biceps. Here is a list of key exercises that work to increase the muscle bellies of the triceps.

• Skull crushers/overhead extensions – Skull crushers can be done on a flat bench, using an EZ curl bar, point elbows straight up, keep elbows tucked in, lower weight to your forehead and extend. For overhead extensions, sit up on shoulder press seat, use an EZ curl bar, lower weight slowly behind your head with elbows pointed up, allow your elbows to flair slightly out. Bring the weight to just below your head then extend.

• Single arm overhead extensions – use a dumbbell, bring the weight over your head from the side, do not allow any movement in your shoulder or allow your arm to go behind your head. Keep your arm even with your head. Allow the weight to put a stretch in your triceps as you bring it over your head, and then extend bringing the weight into the air.

• Triceps pushdowns with close handle – Here is a new one for many of you. The lateral head of your triceps (the head that is easily seen from the side and can also be seen protruding from muscular arms from the front).

Use the close grip bar from the seated cable row machine, and connect it in the same fashion you would the triceps pushdowns from the top on the cable machine. With your hands facing inward and your elbows flared out push down on the cable while trying not to lean over it and use your shoulders. This should create a great pump in the lateral heads of your triceps.

LATISSIMUS DORSI

Your lats are very important for making your waist look smaller and making you appear wider. Outside of primary back exercises like the deadlift, bent over row or lat pull down. Here are a few more that help with lat width.

• T-bar row – this is a setup where there is weight loaded on one end of a bar and the other end of the bar is fixed. You bend over the bar using handles (if you have to set up your own bar, you can use either a close grip handle or preferably the triceps handle with extra lateral grips) and lower and raise the weight working your lower lats and inner back. The lower lats are a very important and often over looked portion of the latissimus dorsi, which help with the appearance of a smaller waist.

• Standing Lat pushdowns – while standing on a lat pushdown machine, keep elbows straight and stand in close proximity to the bar, push down while focusing on using your lats, you should feel the strain on the portion of your lats right underneath your armpit. Gaining size in the upper portion of your lats will cause you to look wider, and it’s what keeps bodybuilders from being able to keep their arms down at their sides.

The rep ranges for these exercises (besides the trapezius muscles) should be between 8-12, which is the accepted rep range for hypertrophy (increasing muscle size). And it is important, as stated earlier that you stay closer to the “mass monster” mentality of lifting weights rather than becoming a “pseudo-bodybuilder” and not experiencing results.

As you may have realized while reading this article, for some of these key muscles to reach there full potential, there must be balance with its opposing muscle groups. Also remember, when it comes to your goals in physical appearance; make a mental note of what you want to look like and not what weight you want to be.

The reason for this is that everyone is built a little bit differently, and gains in muscle growth will always be slow; you will quickly run into issues with gaining too much fat and not looking the way you want if you are chasing a number. However, no matter what your genetic makeup, everyone can improve.

1. R. Lindman , A. Eriksson , Dr. L.-E. Thornell. Fiber type composition of the human male trapezius muscle: Enzyme-histochemical characteristics. American Journal of Anatomy. Volume 189 Issue 3, Pages 236 – 244.

3 Key Muscle Groups To Train For A Superior Physique!
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8 Moves For A Crazy-Strong Core

Many compound lifters scoff at abdominal exercises and argue that heavy squats and deadlifts work the core sufficiently. I think this is a mistake. Sure, the core gets taxed during heavy compound movements, but it’s often the hidden weak link and limiting factor that keeps lifters from reaching new PRs.

In other words, a stronger core inevitably leads to bigger lifts. If it helps, think of it this way: Squats and deadlifts work the glutes and hamstrings a hell of a lot, but most serious lifters still do supplemental posterior chain work. Why should the core be any different?

There’s a catch, though. Crunches, basic planks, and side planks aren’t going to provide the stimulus necessary for strong lifters to get stronger, because they’re simply too easy. You need to challenge yourself with difficult, high-tension core exercises to see improvement across the board.

Here are eight demanding exercises to take both your abdominal strength and your overall strength to the next level!

EXERCISE 1

Generally I’m not a big fan of combination exercises, because one exercise is typically a lot harder than the other and you end up not being able to push yourself on the harder exercise. But here, both exercises are equally difficult, thereby allowing you to blast your upper back and core simultaneously.

People often cheat the heck out of hanging leg raises, usually by leaning way back, swinging, and creating momentum. This makes for a less than effective core exercise, and also leads to some significant spinal flexion. Holding the chin-up position helps prohibit backward lean, forcing you to be strict with the leg raises, which makes it safer and more effective.

Ben Bruno
Watch The Video – 0:40

Doing these with rings is especially great for stabilizing the body and keeping from swinging, but a bar works fine if you don’t have access to rings. Don’t lower your legs all the way down; stop 1-2 inches short to keep tension on the core. If it’s too hard at first, hold the chin-up at mid-level and/or bend the legs to shorten the lever length.

Counting time can be difficult for this exercise unless you’re positioned in front of a clock, so it’s best to go for reps.

EXERCISE 2

I suck at naming exercises, so I normally just call these “spread ’ems” or “open sesames.” No matter the title, it’s a great exercise to challenge your core and upper back.

Hold the chin-up position, go into an L-sit position, and slowly open and close your legs while keeping the torso steady. Learning to resist swinging is one of the most challenge aspects of the exercise. The slower you go, the harder it is. Try to keep your legs as straight as possible.

Ben Bruno
Watch The Video – 0:31

You can also do these from the hang position if the chin-up hold is too tough. Like the chin-up iso-hold/hanging leg raise combo, it’s usually best to do these for reps. Just make sure to wear loose shorts to avoid giving your fellow gym-goers a show they don’t want.

EXERCISE 3

This movement starts at the same point as the open sesame, but moves vertically rather than horizontally. Hold the chin-up position, enter an L-sit position, and perform small flutter kicks with your legs straight out. These are harder than the dynamic L-sit combo, so master that exercise first.

The goal is to keep your legs straight, but if you’re unable to manage that initially, start with bent legs and progress to straightening them. Because the legs move quickly, it’s tough to count reps, so it works better to do these for time. Start at 5-10 seconds and build up from there. That time will go by slower than you think!

Ben Bruno
Watch The Video – 0:36

EXERCISE 4

I saved L-sit leg extensions for last because it’s the hardest L-sit variation. Start by holding the chin-up position and extend your legs into an L-sit position. Bring your legs in, extend them straight out, and keep your torso steady to avoid swinging.

Put a medicine ball or dumbbell between your feet to increase the challenge. You can do these for reps or time.

Ben Bruno
Watch The Video – 0:28

EXERCISE 5

Get in a push-up position with one foot on a Valslide or furniture slider and let the other foot hover just off the floor. From there, walk forward with your hands, keeping your arms as straight as possible, and keep your hips steady.

Walk as far as possible with one leg and switch legs on the way back. If you don’t have space to walk, use a slide board to walk forward and backward for a set number of reps, and then switch legs. In either case, this exercise works your core and shoulders and jacks up your heart rate, which makes it a great finisher to an upper-body workout, either on its own or as part of a circuit with movements like battling ropes, sled pushes, or farmer’s walks.

Ben Bruno
Watch The Video – 0:29

EXERCISE 6

The normal suspension strap fallout progression is to start with the straps around waist height and extend your body until your arms are directly overhead. As you improve, you lengthen the straps and extend out farther, progressing until the straps almost touch the floor, which resembles the starting position of a standing ab wheel rollout.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with that progression, but for people with shoulder issues it can be problematic. To make it more shoulder-friendly, set up several feet behind the anchor point of the straps. This also makes the exercise significantly harder, because you don’t have to extend your arms out nearly as far to challenge the core. The tension is more or less constant throughout the movement.

Ben Bruno
Watch The Video – 0:36

There isn’t much range of motion at the arms, but this exercise lights the core up when done correctly. The farther you walk back, the harder it becomes. On the plus side, the farther you walk back the easier it becomes on the shoulders, but only walk back to a point where you can still control the movement. If you start to feel the exercise in your lower back, you’ve gone too far.

Perform this exercise for reps, and focus on progressively moving farther backward.

EXERCISE 7

Single-leg fallouts decrease your support base, which makes the exercise harder and adds a rotary stability component. The normal fallout already does a great job at working the anterior core, so this wrinkle makes it even better at building all-around core strength. Like the shoulder-friendly fall-out, perform this exercise for reps and focus on progressively moving farther backward.

Ben Bruno
Watch The Video – 0:35

EXERCISE 8

Regular bodysaws are great, and many people are surprised by just how difficult such a tiny range of motion can be. Once you’ve got that down, though, you can take it a step further by doing single-leg bodysaws. From there, if you feel frisky, try the single-arm, single-leg version, which challenges even the most advanced lifters.

Ben Bruno
Watch The Video – 0:29

Trying to count during this exercise is nearly impossible due to the intense strain throughout your body. Go for reps, and enjoy all the benefits your newfound core strength brings!


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Your core consists of dozens of muscles that perform multiple tasks, including holding you upright and protecting your vital organs. Strengthen your core with these 3 workouts!

Abdominal Axioms: The Truth Beneath That 6-Pack

The world of ab training is full of gimmicks and quick-fixes. Learn the truth about getting that coveted 6-pack, even if it’s not what you want to hear!

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Ben Bruno graduated Summa Cum Laude from Columbia University. He lives in West Hollywood, California, and trains clients at Rise Movement…

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8 Moves For A Crazy-Strong Core

Posted in Bodybuilding, Exercises, Nutrition, UncategorizedComments Off on 8 Moves For A Crazy-Strong Core

<div class="article-padding-content" webReader="36.5314730694"><div class="article-author-by-line"><span class="byline">by <a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/other.htm">Bodybuilding.com</a></span><span class="article-date">Apr 02, 2014</span></div><div id="DPG" webReader="32.0491345617"><h5 class="c7"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/arnold-schwarzenegger-blueprint-trainer-day-37.html">Previous</a> | <a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/arnold-schwarzenegger-blueprint-trainer-main.html">Main</a> | <a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/arnold-schwarzenegger-blueprint-trainer-day-39.html">Next</a></h5><p>"I think the calf is the most beautiful muscle in the body," Arnold writes in "The Education of a Bodybuilder." This might seem surprising, since Arnold's own calves were a sore subject when he was an up-and-coming bodybuilder. "I even went so far as to cut off the pant legs on my training sweats so that my calves were constantly visible and under scrutiny—a constant reminder to me that my weaknesses deserved greater attention," he famously recalls in "The Encyclopedia."</p><p>But shame alone wasn't enough to make a change. Arnold needed a plan. He got one from his early idol Reg Park, when he went to train with Park in South Africa in 1967. Arnold felt that Park had the best calves he had ever seen, but was surprised when his mentor explained that he was once like Arnold. "He said he'd had the same problem, but he had overcome it," Arnold recalls in "The Education." "I soon learned why. I watched him do his calf workouts, and he put me to shame. I was putting small weights on the machine. He stepped over, ran it up to 800 pounds, and did 12 reps. I knew then that as relentlessly as I'd trained, I needed to work even harder if I wanted to reach the plateau he was on."</p><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/arnold-blueprint_day38_graphics-1.jpg" width="560" height="271" border="0" class="c8"/><p>The calf is a notoriously difficult muscle group to make grow, but by training it heavy and often, Arnold made his a point of pride. "It is stubborn and slow to respond," he wrote. "You should be just as stubborn." If yours haven't taken a step up in the last six weeks, consider stepping up the weight.</p><div id="meal-plan-table"><ul><li class="rowBgColor c9"><span class="mpt-images"><a href="javascript:pop('barbell-squat')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/31/Male/t/31_1.jpg" alt="Barbell Squat" width="53" height="53"/></a> <a href="javascript:pop('barbell-squat')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/31/Male/t/31_2.jpg" alt="Barbell Squat" width="53" height="53"/></a></span> <span class="mpt-content content"><strong><a href="javascript:pop('barbell-squat')">Back Squats</a></strong><br />8 sets of 8 reps</span></li>
<li class="rowBorderColor c9"><span class="mpt-images"><a href="javascript:pop('stiff-legged-barbell-deadlift')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/21/Male/t/21_1.jpg" alt="Stiff-Legged Barbell Deadlift" width="53" height="53"/></a> <a href="javascript:pop('stiff-legged-barbell-deadlift')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/21/Male/t/21_2.jpg" alt="Stiff-Legged Barbell Deadlift" width="53" height="53"/></a></span> <span class="mpt-content content"><strong><a href="javascript:pop('stiff-legged-barbell-deadlift')">Stiff-Legged Deadlifts</a></strong><br />6 sets of 6 reps</span></li>
<li class="rowBgColor c9"><span class="mpt-images"><a href="javascript:pop('barbell-lunge')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/41/Male/t/41_1.jpg" alt="Barbell Lunge" width="53" height="53"/></a> <a href="javascript:pop('barbell-lunge')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/41/Male/t/41_2.jpg" alt="Barbell Lunge" width="53" height="53"/></a></span> <span class="mpt-content content"><strong><a href="javascript:pop('barbell-lunge')">Barbell Lunges</a></strong><br />4 sets of 4 reps</span></li>
<li class="c6">
<h6>Superset</h6>
</li>
<li class="rowBorderColor c9"><span class="mpt-images"><a href="javascript:pop('leg-extensions')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/53/Male/t/53_1.jpg" alt="Leg Extensions" width="53" height="53"/></a> <a href="javascript:pop('leg-extensions')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/53/Male/t/53_2.jpg" alt="Leg Extensions" width="53" height="53"/></a></span> <span class="mpt-content content"><strong><a href="javascript:pop('leg-extensions')">Leg Extensions</a></strong><br />5 sets of 20 reps</span></li>
<li class="rowBgColor c9"><span class="mpt-images"><a href="javascript:pop('lying-leg-curls')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/52/Male/t/52_1.jpg" alt="Lying Leg Curls" width="53" height="53"/></a> <a href="javascript:pop('lying-leg-curls')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/52/Male/t/52_2.jpg" alt="Lying Leg Curls" width="53" height="53"/></a></span> <span class="mpt-content content"><strong><a href="javascript:pop('lying-leg-curls')">Lying Leg Curls</a></strong><br />5 sets of 20 reps</span></li>
<li class="rowBorderColor c9"><span class="mpt-images"><a href="javascript:pop('standing-calf-raises')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/48/Male/t/48_1.jpg" alt="Standing Calf Raises" width="53" height="53"/></a> <a href="javascript:pop('standing-calf-raises')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/48/Male/t/48_2.jpg" alt="Standing Calf Raises" width="53" height="53"/></a></span> <span class="mpt-content content"><strong><a href="javascript:pop('standing-calf-raises')">Standing Calf Raises</a></strong><br />10 sets of 10 reps</span></li>
<li class="rowBgColor c9"><span class="mpt-images"><a href="javascript:pop('cable-crunch')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/163/Male/t/163_1.jpg" alt="Cable Crunch" width="53" height="53"/></a> <a href="javascript:pop('cable-crunch')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/163/Male/t/163_2.jpg" alt="Cable Crunch" width="53" height="53"/></a></span> <span class="mpt-content content"><strong><a href="javascript:pop('cable-crunch')">Kneeling Cable Crunches</a></strong><br />4 sets of 25 reps</span></li>
</ul></div><br /><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/arnold-schwarzenegger-series/blueprint-to-mass-stack.html"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/arnold-blueprint_stack_bannerbig-b.jpg" width="560" height="360" class="c10"/></a><h5 class="c7"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/arnold-schwarzenegger-blueprint-trainer-day-37.html">Previous</a> | <a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/arnold-schwarzenegger-blueprint-trainer-main.html">Main</a> | <a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/arnold-schwarzenegger-blueprint-trainer-day-39.html">Next</a></h5><br class="c11"/></div><div class="padded-content article-content mod-article-related-articles" id="article-related-articles"><h4 class="article-section-header">Related Articles</h4><div class="gray-gradient-box-with-border no-top-border"><ul class="related-article-list"><li class="first-related-article"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/jim-stoppani-six-week-shortcut-to-shred-training-overview.html">Jim Stoppani's Shortcut To Shred: Training Overview</a></li>
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</ul></div><div class="article-related-view-all"><ul class="bb-chevron-list bold-type"><li><a class="bold-type" href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/bbinfo.php?page=WorkoutPrograms">View All Workout Programs Articles</a></li>
</ul></div></div><div class="padded-content article-content mod-about-the-author" id="article-about-author" webReader="33.1219512195"><h4 class="article-section-header">About The Author</h4><div class="ata-left-column" webReader="4.85087719298"><div class="ata-author-name"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/other.htm">Contributing Writer</a></div><div class="author-gradient-button"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/other.htm">VIEW AUTHOR PAGE</a></div><p class="ata-author-summary">Check out these awesome articles by some of the best writers in the industry.</p></div><div class="ata-right-column"><div class="ata-author-image-frame"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/other.htm"><img src="images/2013/writer-contributing-writers-sig-new.jpg" alt=""/></a></div><div class="ata-view-all-articles-link"><ul class="bb-chevron-list bold-type"><li><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/other.htm#articles" class="bold-type">View All Articles By This Author</a></li>
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Arnold Schwarzenegger Blueprint Trainer Day 38

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“I think the calf is the most beautiful muscle in the body,” Arnold writes in “The Education of a Bodybuilder.” This might seem surprising, since Arnold’s own calves were a sore subject when he was an up-and-coming bodybuilder. “I even went so far as to cut off the pant legs on my training sweats so that my calves were constantly visible and under scrutiny—a constant reminder to me that my weaknesses deserved greater attention,” he famously recalls in “The Encyclopedia.”

But shame alone wasn’t enough to make a change. Arnold needed a plan. He got one from his early idol Reg Park, when he went to train with Park in South Africa in 1967. Arnold felt that Park had the best calves he had ever seen, but was surprised when his mentor explained that he was once like Arnold. “He said he’d had the same problem, but he had overcome it,” Arnold recalls in “The Education.” “I soon learned why. I watched him do his calf workouts, and he put me to shame. I was putting small weights on the machine. He stepped over, ran it up to 800 pounds, and did 12 reps. I knew then that as relentlessly as I’d trained, I needed to work even harder if I wanted to reach the plateau he was on.”

The calf is a notoriously difficult muscle group to make grow, but by training it heavy and often, Arnold made his a point of pride. “It is stubborn and slow to respond,” he wrote. “You should be just as stubborn.” If yours haven’t taken a step up in the last six weeks, consider stepping up the weight.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger Blueprint Trainer Day 38

Posted in Bodybuilding, Exercises, Nutrition, UncategorizedComments Off on Arnold Schwarzenegger Blueprint Trainer Day 38

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Gains Of A Lifetime: How To Pack On 40 Pounds In A Year

I spent most of the first half of my life as a skinny guy, convinced I was genetically unfortunate when it came to building muscle. Since then, I’ve made a career of not only building my own physique, but helping thousands of other skinny guys do the same thing. You could say it’s the part I was born to play.

Skinny guys are often referred to as “hardgainers” because it’s assumed that we have to work out much harder and longer in order to see acceptable gains. However, what I’ve learned from my own experience, and from coaching and mentoring other former skinny guys, is that you don’t necessarily have to work out harder. You just have to work out differently and strategically.

When Bodybuilding.com asked me to write an article that would help other skinny guys, especially guys who have been working out for less than a year, I knew right away that a simple workout plan wouldn’t be enough. If it a simple plan was good enough, then everyone who Googled “mass-building workout” would succeed. And we all know that’s not the case. Most skinny guys who have been working out for a year or less don’t know how to pick or create a plan that will net them the best results.

This is why I decided to go a bit more in-depth with this article; to get past the “do this movement for X sets of X reps” hype and explain all of the key factors that will make the difference between an OK year with moderate gains, and an exceptional year that ends with 20, 30, or even 40 pounds of added muscle.

That’s right, I said 40. It’s possible! Understand, that by added muscle I mean lean muscle, not overall weight gain. I’m talking about 40 pounds of fat-free mass, made up of dry muscle, glycogen and water. I’ve seen it happen. Please send all your steroid jokes directly to the round file.

Experiencing the kind of gains that take other people 3-5 years of hard work isn’t easy, though. You need the discipline of a soldier and the focus of a hawk. But follow these five steps, and you’ll have what you need to blow the doors off of your wardrobe.

Step 1

Gaining muscle is possible for hardgainers, but you must follow the details!

You have no chance of adding 40 pounds of muscle in a year if you don’t take the time to create a long-term plan. I’m not saying you need to have every month mapped out down to each rep and each meal—although, to be sure, that level of precision works wonders for some people. I’m saying that you have to have a list of attainable, track-able goals and a set of guidelines and variables that you plan to use to reach them. It’s all about expectations and strategy beyond the next workout or the next month.

Think of it this way: If you’re planning a cross-country road trip, you need to know where you are and where you want to end up before you start planning all the stops along the way. The same is true of bodybuilding.

To start, you need to know what your current body fat ratio is and what your measurements are. I would add that you also need to you know what your 1RM is with various big-money movements like the squat, deadlift, bench, and overhead press.

A coach or trainer can help you figure those out, if you’re not sure how to do it on your own. Tracking your progress is essential, and to do that, knowing where you are right now is just as essential as where you’re headed.

Speaking of coaches, I fully recommend you employ one in the beginning stages of your year. It could be a professional, either in person or online, or it could be just someone you know and trust who is willing to mentor you. And it doesn’t have to be full year. Just a few weeks or months of qualified personalized instruction on things like form, training variables, and how to tweak your macros can be game-changing for beginners and advanced lifters alike.

I know that money can seem hard to shell out, given that there’s such a profusion of free information out there. But just a little good instruction can help you get far more out of a free online program than you’d get by muddling through it on your own. And speaking from experience, the best gains of my life have always come when I worked alongside a coach; my slowest gains have always come when I went at it alone.

Step 2

Your overall goal is to gain 40 pounds of lean mass in a year—great! But be warned: Focus is absolutely essential to this kind of goal. You can’t achieve anything this dramatic by going at it haphazardly or by jumping from one thing to another. Having the financial and social accountability of paying a coach or mentor can help with keeping you on track, but ultimately, you also need to learn to focus—really focus.

Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing in the weight room. Focus on your body, your goals, then put in the years of work it takes to achieve them.

Focus on you

One of the worst things you can do as a new bodybuilder, and as a skinny guy, is to focus on the guys around you instead of on yourself. There’s nothing wrong with admiring another guy’s progress or physique, but when you start thinking you should be doing what he’s doing or lifting what he’s lifting, you’re done. Trust your plan!

Focus on your priorities

Adding dozens of pounds of new flesh to your frame takes absolute commitment. It doesn’t have to take over your life, but it does need to be a central focus. Sure, you might miss a workout because of a special event like a wedding and you might blow your diet a little at the wedding too. But after the big three of work, family commitments, and school, your plan should take priority.

That might mean giving up some of your favorite things to do, like hanging out with your friends every night, drinking beer, and eating pizza. It might mean going out one night each month instead of two times every week, or waking up at 6 a.m. instead of 8 a.m.

It may suck, and you may not see the point at first. But stay focused on the year. Fifty-two consecutive weeks that each has a few extra well-spent hours and a couple fewer bad decisions could make a big difference.

Focus on one goal at a time

Have you ever heard the expression, “Don’t try to chase two rabbits at once?” It’s one of my favorites when it comes to setting and reaching goals. You probably want several things at once. You want to lose 15 pounds of body fat, add six inches to your biceps, get a six-pack, and bench press 200 pounds.

Unfortunately bodybuilding isn’t a buffet. You can’t just have everything all at once. Take each goal as its own, and conquer them one at a time.

Those are all decent goals, but you can’t necessarily chase all of them at once. They all require different methods and different strategies. Chase all of them or even two of them at once and you’ll end with none of them. Chase one rabbit at a time and get it in the cage before you turn to the next one.

Of course it’s OK to have supplemental goals. They’re fantastic at helping you mark each leg of your journey to big gains. Just make sure that your supplemental goals don’t compete with your primary goal. Focus on one goal at a time which dovetails with the project of mass-building, and don’t move on until you achieve it.

Step 3

If there’s one word that I think is the most valuable when it comes to your actual workouts, it’s variation. It’s hands-down the most powerful tool for growth that you will ever utilize. Variation keeps your metabolism and your central nervous system on their respective toes and allows you to take advantage of the transition period between one thing and another, which is when you will see the most gains in strength and growth.

However, when I say variation, I don’t mean changing from one plan to another without knowing why, or because you’re bored, or because you heard that Plan X is the best thing ever. When I say variation, I mean something far more systematic. Here are some examples:

Spark Your Muscles Into Growth

Some people will tell you growth is all about volume, volume, volume. But if that’s not working for you, increase the intensity and do more with less!

Earn your volume

One thing I firmly believe is that new bodybuilders need to earn increased volume as they go. Here is an example of how you could map out the structure of your program for the next 12 months:

  • Months 0-3: Full-body workouts
  • Months 4-6: 2-day splits (ex: upper body/lower body)
  • Months 7-9: 3-day splits (ex: push/pull/legs, or the high-intensity skinny guy workout)
  • Months 10-12: 4-day splits (ex: chest and calves/legs/shoulders and tris/back and bis)

Bulk in cycles

I’m a longtime advocate of cyclical bulking, in periods lasting as short as just a few weeks. It’s become something of a trademark of my programs for skinny guys, like the 21-day Mass-Building System. The thing about cyclical bulking is that when you use shorter bulking and cutting phases, you’re able to take advantage of that transitional phase between bulking and cutting, when your metabolism and anabolic hormones are completely revved up, and then switch it out again before your body adapts and you hit a plateau.

When you go from bulking to cutting, you’re able to take advantage of improved insulin sensitivity but then you switch back to bulking and take advantage of all those anabolic hormones that were stimulated by your reduced calorie intake. You go back and forth before your body has a chance to adapt to either phase.

One of the many advantages of this is that you don’t have all the fat gain that comes with traditional, longer bulking phases of 4-6 months, and you don’t have all the misery and muscle catabolism that comes with longer cutting phases.

Having said that, don’t be afraid to bulk up during this first year. You’re skinny and you can take a little extra fat. You’ll torch it off soon enough, so it’s OK to overshoot your weight gain goals by about 20 percent before you move on to a cutting phase.

Manipulate the variables

Learn to use all of the variables in your workout. Play with shorter rest periods, longer time under tension, and other small-scale changes. Changing these can help you increase the intensity and effectiveness of your workouts, so that you don’t end up dumping a routine altogether before it’s had time to do its job.

Step 4

Nutrition is more than half the game when it comes to building muscle. You won’t gain much muscle on even the best program if your calories and macros are off, you’re deficient in crucial vitamins and minerals, and your digestive system is out of whack.

Here are the simplest, most effective ways I’ve found to get your nutritional life in order.

Know and adjust your macros

Too many people take “bulking” as an excuse to get sloppy in their eating. On the contrary, this is an opportunity to learn and apply the fundamentals of good nutrition. Educate yourself on how to calculate your current macronutrient intake, and remember that they’ll change as you grow and depending on whether you’re bulking or cutting. If your progress begins to slow, your macros are the first place to look for an answer.

Plain fact: your food becomes you. Eat better and your body will respond.

Clean up your diet

You can’t build solid muscle out of garbage. Sorry, that’s just the truth. It doesn’t matter how hard you work in the gym; if you still eat a nutrient-poor diet, your body will reflect it. Get all of the processed foods out of the house and watch your intake of flours, sugars, and unhealthy fats ruthlessly. If your insulin and blood sugar levels are completely out of balance it will make it virtually impossible to gain anything other than fat.

Start juicing

One of the best things I’ve done nutritionally in recent years was to start making juices at home with fresh fruits and vegetables. Juicing loads your body up with micronutrients in seconds, speeds up your metabolism, cleans out your digestive system, and boosts your immunity.

Over time, these nutritional blasts can help reduce inflammation and get your hormones back on track. They also offer more acute benefits, like helping relieve muscle soreness and improving recovery after hard training.

Juicing to Relieve Muscle Soreness
Watch The Video – 10:25

Cook

I recently spent time learning how to cook from a professional chef, and the experience was a game-changer for me. I learned how to make my food taste better and waste less of what I buy, all while saving loads of time. Now I prepare a whole day’s worth of meals at once, so I have healthy meals and snacks ready whenever I need them.

This not only keeps me from eating unhealthy food but also ensures that I get a wide variety of whole foods that I actually look forward to eating. This made such an impact on my gains and my energy levels that I’ve devoted the whole current season of my online series Live Large TV to preparing meals in bulk.

Step 5

If you asked me what one factor of gaining muscle is most underrated, I would say rest. This is especially true of skinny guys who are so anxious to see change that they try to pack two years of work into one. A lack of rest will stomp the brakes on gains faster than you can believe—and I’m talking about both sleep and physical rest, or deloading. Here’s what you need to keep in mind about both.

Daily Rest

“Giving your body a break from intense training is just as important as getting adequate sleep each night.”

If you’re not getting at least seven—preferably eight—hours of sleep every night, you’re almost assuredly not going to reach your goal of 40 pounds in 12 months. There are a couple of reasons for this.

First, nearly all muscle recovery takes place while you sleep, and it happens primarily during rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep. REM normally doesn’t begin until six hours after you fall asleep, so if you only sleep six hours per night, you’re not going to see the muscle growth that you should. Without adequate recovery time, you’ll break muscle down faster than you repair it.

Second, sleeping less than eight hours per night has been shown to raise cortisol levels and also throw levels of the appetite-regulating hormones leptin and ghrelin out of balance.

This means your body will be stimulated to store calories as fat instead of turning them into glycogen and sending them to your muscles.

Periodic Rest or Deloading

Giving your body a break from intense training is just as important as getting adequate sleep each night. If you don’t step back periodically, you’ll burn out your central nervous system and throw your hormones out of whack.

For many skinny guys on a long-term gaining plan, I advocate four months of bulking, followed by one week of cutting, and then a solid week off before repeating the cycle. This resets your hormones, particularly your insulin levels, so that when you go back to your workouts your body is absolutely primed for gains in both strength and size. Even if you skip cutting, take that week of rest at least every 12 weeks.

You don’t necessarily have to lie on the couch for a week. Some guys—including myself—take the week off altogether. Other guys are happier if they spend the week doing a much less intense workout, or just cut the volume in half for each workout but maintain their normal weights.

Other guys work out twice per week during a deload instead of every day. The point is to give your muscles and your CNS a break from what you have been doing. I promise that when you get back to your regular routine or start a new one, you will see serious results.

Take Aim At Gains!

Now that I’ve shared some of the key principles to seeing 40 pound gains in one year, I want to leave you with the best advice I know for reaching and surpassing your goals: Use rifle bullets, not shotgun shells.

Specifics are important when it comes to training, nutrition, and certainly supplementation. If you can get it all right, you’ll win the day.

When tracking your progress and tweaking your program, think like a sharpshooter picking his weapon. With a shotgun, you aim in a general direction and hope to hit something. With a rifle, you’ve got your eye focused right on the target and you take careful aim. Guess which one gets more consistent results?

For instance, if your gains are slowing or you feel hungry all the time, don’t say “I need to increase my protein, so I’ll try to eat more chicken and see how that goes.” How do you measure the success or failure of that? Instead, say “I’m going to go from 1g of protein per pound of body weight to 1.5g per pound, and see what that does over two weeks time.”

Every goal, every change, and every new idea should have measurable data in terms of pounds lost, carbs eaten, kilos curled, days worked, seconds rested. If you don’t measure it, you can’t track and evaluate it, and you can’t strategically plan your next move.

Setting goals, following the plan, and paying attention to every step along the way is essential to reaching your goal of adding 40 pounds of lean muscle over the next 12 months. I know what it takes to transform a skinny guy into a muscle machine, so let’s do this!

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Gains Of A Lifetime: How To Pack On 40 Pounds In A Year

Posted in Bodybuilding, Exercises, Nutrition, UncategorizedComments Off on Gains Of A Lifetime: How To Pack On 40 Pounds In A Year

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Train With Dana Linn Bailey Contest: Winning Back Workout

Sam Wells is one lucky girl. The aspiring women’s physique competitor not only met the first-ever women’s physique Olympia winner, Dana Linn Bailey, she trained with her too. Sam won MHP’s 2013 “Train With Dana” contest, and her prize was spending the day at City Athletic Club in Las Vegas trading reps with her idol.

“When I got the call that I had won, I honestly didn’t know what to do—I just ran around the house crying like a total spaz,” recalls Sam. The day after DLB won the Olympia, Sam was there to meet her. Among flashing cameras and surprise visits from other notable Olympia athletes, such as Kai Greene, the two women got right down to business by crushing a back workout. “Getting to do what I love to do most alongside the person I most look up to was a remarkable experience,” says Sam.

Train With Dana
Watch The Video – 11:09

Although she was depleted and tired from the day before, DLB challenged Sam to do her best. “The thing about Dana is that she is so inspiring,” says Sam. “She makes you feel like you can do it too. There are some people who are discouraging and have a cocky attitude. She’s not like that at all. She’s really uplifting, inspiring, and motivating.”

“I was speechless the whole day—I just tried to take it all in. This day changed my life.”

Follow the workout these two inspiring ladies did together!

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We all need a little kick to the behind once in a while. Here are 23 ways to increase the fun and intensity of your workouts so you feel more motivated to do them!


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Train With Dana Linn Bailey Contest: Winning Back Workout

Posted in Bodybuilding, Exercises, Nutrition, Uncategorized, Warm upComments Off on Train With Dana Linn Bailey Contest: Winning Back Workout

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