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High Reps, Low Reps? Which Rep Scheme Is Best?

“Once you’ve been training long enough, your body grows wiser and you realize that you can’t simply force it to do anything anymore.”

Bodybuilders and strength athletes stop making progress for one reason: They stop coercing their body to adapt. Note how I intentionally use the word coerce, not a connotatively weaker action verb like force. The reason is that once you’ve been in the training game long enough, your body grows wiser and you realize that you can’t simply force it to do anything anymore.

When you continue to push and grunt with no concrete strategy other than “hard work,” you get injured or beat-up. Few things devour reasonable progress faster than what we’ll call “middle ground” training. That is, always training with the same set or rep scheme and with the same intensity. If you default to training in the 8, 10, or 12 rep range, I hate to break it to you, but your growth is simply wallowing in no-gain’s land.

Fortunately, there are tools in the training toolbox that will sharpen up your training. Let’s start with a brief overview and then move on to how these can be applied to your own programming to maximize growth and development.

The Neural-Metabolic Continuum

The first order of business is to focus on a key element of training: The neural-metabolic continuum. It’s a fancy term that allows you to understand whether you actually work your muscles or central nervous system (CNS), based on key variables. For the sake of brevity, here’s a visual breakdown of what it looks like.

Before your eyes glaze over, let me explain. If you’re chasing more metabolic (i.e. hypertrophic) gains, your, say, squatting program might look something like this:

4 sets of 10 repetitions
Tempo: 3 seconds down, no pause in the bottom, 1 second up
60-90 seconds rest between sets

On the other end of the spectrum, where you might be chasing more neural (i.e. strength) gains, your program might more resemble this:

5 sets of 3 repetitions
Tempo: As fast as possible
3-5 minutes rest between sets

Are we clear on the layout of the neural-metabolic continuum? Good, now let’s look at why you need to spend time in both ends (and not the straight middle) to maximize your growth and development.

Deadlift

The Case for High Reps

By now, it’s probably ingrained in you that you need to perform high reps per set (I’m looking at you, bodybuilders). Let me clarify that I define high reps to dawdle in the 8-12 rep range but could be as low as 6 reps per set.

There shouldn’t be anything really earth-shattering here. If you train with high reps, your goal is to build a bigger muscle.

Some folks call this “structural hypertrophy” since the higher rep sets allow you to focus primarily on the muscles themselves. They also lend themselves to fewer total sets per exercise. By virtue of slowing down the movement, coupled with the sheer amount of reps you do per set, you’re going to increase time under tension, which is a necessary stimulus for hypertrophy. No doubt, gains in strength will come along for the ride, but increases in muscular growth will outpace the increases in strength.

But what happens if you spend all your time here? Quite simply, your body will adapt to your training in this rep range if you continue it for extended periods of time. Furthermore, training in that zone will ultimately limit the amount of intensity you can use as well.

Do high-rep sets (15, 20, or more reps per set) have a place in programming? Sure, but they’re probably the exception rather than the rule.

The solution here is clear: Focus on getting stronger! This brings me to my next point…

The solution here is clear: Focus on getting stronger!

The Case for Low Reps

High reps deliver big gains, right? Well, low reps have a place, too!

The low-rep zone can be defined as anything between 1 rep with near-maximal effort and 5 reps in a set. They’re often viewed as being geared more for powerlifting or Olympic lifting, but if you really want to make high-threshold motor units work, you will need to push some serious weight!

This focuses on making your nervous system more efficient. If you switch from sets of 10 to sets of 3, you coerce your body to unfamiliar, shocking stressors, especially since low rep ranges encourage the use of much heavier weights. Every movement requires more “tightness” and a more intense focus. Further, more motor units and muscle fibers are recruited, and your body gets better at turning off antagonists (or opposing muscle groups) as well.

The result is that you’ll get jacked, but in a slightly different way. Since the goal is more on strength, your body composition will greatly differ from someone who performs exclusively high-rep sets. Powerlifters are strong as hell and can move jaw-dropping weight, but probably lack a bit of the size and definition of a well-trained bodybuilder.

The Perfect Combination

So if high reps promote hypertrophy and low reps facilitate strength increases, then in theory, the marriage of both rep schemes will bring forth muscular and strength development worthy of the Greek gods.

You need to spend dedicated periods of time in both the high-rep and low-rep ranges to maximize your development. High reps build muscle and connective tissue strength, and give your body respite from the grind of low-rep sets, too. Similarly, low-rep sets build neuromuscular and CNS efficiency. When you become more efficient and then go back to your big lifts, you can use even more weight than before, because you’re just that much more efficient and effective.

As an example of what I often do with physique-focused clients, I break down their set-rep schemes into one of two categories:

  • High rep – 8-12 repetitions per set
  • Low rep – 4-8 repetitions per set

These aren’t hard-and-fast rules. There may be times when even higher reps (15-20) could be used. On the flipside, there are other times when you may want to push the weight and work in the 1-5 rep range.

The biggest benefit from switching between these two ranges is that you’ll constantly coerce (there’s that word again) your body to adapt, to grow, and to improve.

Can’t I Just Train Everything at Once?

I know some people really like undulating periodization, in which you hit different set-rep schemes on different days of the week.

“You have to dial up the focus and be the orchestrator to your symphony of muscles.”

If this is you, perhaps your training looks something like this:

  • Monday – 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Wednesday – 5 sets of 5 reps
  • Friday – 10 sets of 3 reps

With this weekly program, you hit everything in one training week, thinking it’s smart, efficient training. This is true if you’re newer to lifting or have never tried a protocol like this before. However, as you get more and more advanced, this type of scenario won’t work nearly as well since you’re sending multiple mixed messages to your body.

Monday’s workout would tell your body it’s time to get big, but then Wednesday’s workout will kick your body into a bit of strength mode. Finally, Friday’s workout will run counter to Monday’s and place the emphasis on raw strength. What is a confused body to do?! As you become more proficient, you have to dial up the focus and be the orchestrator to your symphony of muscles (and thus, training).

It’s kind of why an elite level sprinter can’t simply wake up one day, decide to run a marathon, and hope to be awesome at both distances.

While I’m saying that you need to spend time on both ends of the neural-metabolic continuum, you need to have some patience and zero-in your efforts on one at a time. The general rule is to spend at least 4-6 weeks focusing on one end before you even think about heading to the other.

The Final Step

Hopefully, you’re now alternating between periods of high-rep and low-rep training—awesome! The next step is to alternate the level of intensity over the course of the training cycle. Think of the following quote: “A peak is surrounded by two valleys.” You can’t expect to go at 110 percent intensity every time you train. You’ll only burn yourself out. Layer-in days of high intensity combined with days of low intensity.

The astute reader (you!) might inquire about whether simply wavering between high and low rep ranges might already serve this purpose. It does in a rather unrefined way. Here’s an example of how I’ll set my intensity within a training month:

  • Week 1 – 4 sets of 5 reps @70%
  • Week 2 – 5 sets of 5 reps @80%
  • Week 3 – 4 sets of 3 reps @75%
  • Week 4 – 3 sets of 5 reps @85%

As you can see, I’m not trying to move the same weights or loads on a week-to-week basis.

In week 1, I build a base and get a good weight to build my base from. In week 2, I push the limits of my volume. In week 3, I deload. Basically, that means I lower the intensity and volume to make it an “easier” work week, allowing my body to recover and supercompensate. Finally, in week 4, I go for broke with regard to my intensity. Try using this for your squat sometime—it works great!

“You can’t expect to go at 110 percent intensity every time you train. You’ll only burn yourself out.”

You could also do something far simpler, which yields amazing results when you just get started:

  • Week 1 – 3 sets of 10 reps @70%
  • Week 2 – 3 sets of 8-10 reps @75%
  • Week 3 – 3 sets of 8 reps @80%
  • Week 4 – 2 sets of 8 reps @70-75%

In this example, I use a stair-step approach to prepare you for week 3. After that, you deload and get ready to run the cycle again on week 5.

With these examples, the point I’m driving home is that you can’t go hard every single week. Instead, “wave” your intensity and build up to a series of big workouts, then back off to allow your body time to recover.

It’s All About Smarter Training

If you want to get the most out of your training, you not only need to work hard, but you need to work smart. By training on both ends of the neural-metabolic continuum and incorporating undulating waves of intensity into your training cycle, you’ll not only see better results but you’ll incur fewer bumps and bruises along the way.

 

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High Reps, Low Reps? Which Rep Scheme Is Best?

Posted in Bodybuilding, Exercises, Nutrition, Personal Fitness Training, Training Methods, Weight loss, Weight TrainingComments Off on High Reps, Low Reps? Which Rep Scheme Is Best?

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Ryan Hughes’ Power Pecs Chest Workout

 

Back when I only had 135 pounds on my 6-foot-1 frame, I had to deal with the usual labels: ectomorph, hardgainer, skinny kid. I didn’t care for those words then, and I don’t like them any better now.

I used weights to change my physique. I love to train heavy, I love to move quickly, and I love the pump I get from high volume. I put all three of these elements into each workout I do, and I couldn’t ask for better results.

Today’s chest workout is no different. It combines a fast pace to keep your heart rate up, high volume for an insane pump, and heavy weights to make you stronger.

When you put each of these pieces together, you end up with a max-effort workout that will challenge all aspects of your fitness level.

Let’s get it done!

Power Pecs
Watch The Video – 11:11

One of the toughest aspects of this workout is the mental game. Your body will always have that extra rep, or that extra set, but you have to find the mental energy to get it done. I may not be the biggest or strongest guy in the gym, but I guarantee no one can outwork me.

If you’ve never done this type of training before, you might find it difficult. If you fail, put the weight down and give yourself a little break before you finish the set. You want the shortest rest periods possible, but do whatever you need to get the work done. Never give up on a set.

A lot of guys tell me that they want to build the best physique ever. I think that’s the wrong approach. Don’t focus on being the best ever, focus on building your best physique ever.

Max out what you can do. If you constantly compare yourself to everyone else, you’ll sell yourself short. Hit this workout with all you’ve got and reap the personal rewards.

Program Notes

Incline dumbbell press

I like to do a couple warm-up sets before starting the first heavy set. Don’t go too heavy on the warm-up because you’ll wear yourself out. Eighty total reps is a lot of reps, so you have to keep an eye on muscular endurance. This is a chest marathon.

I start with 75-pound dumbbells for the first warm-up set and then go up to 85 pounds for the second. When I start my working sets, I go up to 100 pounds. Don’t worry about what I’m doing, though. Pick a weight that’s challenging for you.

This style of training is mentally draining. Dig deep and do your best on those last couple sets. If you need to rest-pause to hit the total rep count, do it, but make sure you finish every single rep.

Hammer strength chest press

You can do these with whatever grip you prefer. Challenge yourself with the weight and then increase it every set. You might feel like you’ll never get those target reps, but trust me—I’ve been doing this long enough. One way or another, the reps will come.

Hammer Strength Chest Press

 

Reverse-grip barbell bench press

Use lighter weight for this exercise and focus on the contraction—squeeze on each and every rep. You want to push until you can’t go anymore. Crush the barbell with your grip and engage your mind-muscle connection.

If you fail on this exercise, don’t panic. Let the weight briefly sit on your chest, reverse your grip back to normal, and press the bar back up.

Pec deck

Make sure you don’t round your shoulders forward: Keep your chest high and maintain a good arch in your lower back. Focus entirely on the chest and squeeze.

Pec Deck

 

Incline dumbbell flye

Get as much as you can out of this exercise. Stretch nice and wide at the bottom of each rep, and squeeze at the top for a full contraction. Don’t go too heavy or you’ll round your shoulders forward. Keep the tension entirely on your upper chest.

High cable flyes

We’re doing 100 total reps, so do as many reps as you can per set and as many sets as you need to get to 100 reps. I usually do four sets of 25 reps.

High Cable Flyes

At the end of the workout, you’ll be exhausted. You may want to give up and walk out. But at the end of the day, you always have those extra reps and extra sets in you. Leave them in the gym.

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About The Author

Ryan Hughes was one of the first men to qualify as an IFBB Physique Pro. He works as a personal trainer and fitness model in New York City

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Ryan Hughes’ Power Pecs Chest Workout

Posted in Bodybuilding, Exercises, Nutrition, Uncategorized, Warm upComments Off on Ryan Hughes’ Power Pecs Chest Workout

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7 of the best fitness social media accounts to follow now

There’s no denying our Instagram feeds are a prime source of motivation. So we’ve sourced seven of the best social media accounts to help you stay motivated and inspired, grouped by your goals.For fat-loss fortitudeA Google search of ‘fat loss’ will see enough returns to bring on a migraine.

We’ve sorted the sensible from the silly so you can maximise your shred.Alexa Towersey @actionalexaWhat you get:Along with inspiring quotes and epic action shots (no squatting in a G-string here, folks), Towersey posts weekly examples of fat-burning circuits and booty-building exercises for you to try at home. And as a woman with years of experience and who trains some of Sydney’s top models, you are inclined to take her advice

Taken from:

7 of the best fitness social media accounts to follow now

Posted in Exercises, Fitness Equipment, Nutrition, Training Methods, Weight loss, Weight TrainingComments Off on 7 of the best fitness social media accounts to follow now

<div id="DPG" webReader="176.596635183"><div class="side-bar" webReader="-18"><div class="c12"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2013/abby-huot-stat-box.jpg"/></div><h3 class="article-title c13">Vital Stats</h3><a href="http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/Abster82/" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2013/bodyspace-social-icon.png" class="c14"/></a><a href="https://www.facebook.com/abbyhuot.fitness" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"></a><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2013/facebook-social-icon.png" class="c15"/><a href="https://twitter.com/AbbyHuotAthlete" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"></a><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2013/twitter-social-icon.png" class="c15"/><p><strong>Name:</strong> Abby Huot<br /><strong>Location:</strong> Minneapolis, MN<br /><strong>Education:</strong> St. Mary's University of Minnesota (2004)<br /><strong>Occupation:</strong> Athlete, writer, fitness model, bikini/figure competitor</p></div><p>Quick, do a digit check. Are all your fingers and toes accounted for, or have a few succumbed to the cold? I can tell you that this has been a brutally chilly winter for most of the upper Midwest, and my region isn't alone. Records have been shattered all across the United States for cold, ice cover, and snow totals. Right now it seems impossible to imagine warmer days.</p><p>But, make no mistake, summer is coming. Soon it will be time to crawl out of our cozy hibernation nests, peel off the polar fleece we've been donning like battle gear, and reveal our pasty, dry skin to the warm basking glow of a spring sun. Finally, Vitamin D in its glorious, non-supplement form! You can almost feel it.</p><p>So what's your game plan? Hot chocolate and blankets are just what the doctor ordered for frigid nights, but if you've gotten used to skipping the gym and hoarding comfort food, it's time to change things up. Reignite your fire for fitness and get your head back in the game.</p><p>Here are a few reminders about why you should get going with your training and diet again. After all, spring and summer are going to be here in the blink of an eye.</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c16">1 Wedding Season's Upon Us</h3>
</p><p>June is a major month of note. Not only does it signal the first day of summer, Father's Day, and the oh-so-notable Flag Day, but it's also the most popular month for weddings. If you're among those getting laced up in white, hitting a training program now will help you head down the aisle with extra confidence and, depending on your goals, an extra layer of lean muscle.</p><img src="images/2014/shape-up-for-summer-graphic-1.jpg" width="560" height="384" border="0"/><p>"Try a new lifting routine or kick up your cardio with high intensity interval training on a Stairmill."</p><p>Use that save-the-date stuck to your fridge to inspire you to push forward, even if your new fit body is not for your own wedding. Try a new lifting routine or kick up your cardio with high intensity interval training on a Stairmill. Start with one minute at level 8, or 30-45 seconds at level 10, followed by brief rest periods for a total of 20 minutes. Shock your system into growth by trying German Volume Training (GVT), which pushes you to do 10 sets of 10 reps on one exercise. The more you ramp up your training routine now, the faster you'll see results.</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c16">2 Smaller Clothes Are Coming</h3>
</p><img class="float-right" src="images/2014/shape-up-for-summer-graphic-2.jpg" width="265" height="368" border="0"/><p>"Picture yourself running in shorts and a tank top. How does that make you feel?"</p><p>I promise I'm not poking fun at your winter weight. With warm weather around the corner, it's just a matter of time until layers start coming off. Whether you're ready for it or not, the time for that teeny-weenie bikini is fast approaching.</p><p>As you look out your window at the snow-covered ground, sunbathing on the beach might sound like a far-off dream. So take a step back. Picture yourself running in shorts and a tank top. How does that make you feel? Awesome, or anxious? If you're not feeling great, remember that winter is the perfect time to get in gear. You might be more apt to don a cute new sports bra or running shorts when you're feeling fit. Be the first one in your town to hit the ground running and looking mid-summer awesome when it's only April.</p><p>Set a concrete goal. Sign up for a local event, 5K, 10K, or an obstacle race. Start training for strength and endurance now. Alternatively, have you ever thought about competing in a physique competition? Start taking a peek at local and regional competitions that are happening this year. Competitions that are 16 or 20 weeks out will give you a hard deadline while putting extra training gas in your tank.</p><p>If you've never felt comfortable wearing shorts, work hard so that this is the year to feel great in them. If you're self-conscious about your skinny arms, make this the year of the muscle shirt. Plan jogs outside or go rollerblading for the first time in years. Grab some friends to set a pace for yourself and make it a cardio get-together. The more positive people you have around you to cheer you on, the more successful you'll be.</p><p>2014 should be your year to shine, not cover up!</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c16">3 Spring Break Is Upon Us</h3>
</p><p>Got a winter getaway trip planned? Time to get your butt in gear! You don't want to have to worry about the pounds you've packed on while you pack luggage. If you're planning on site-seeing, start now with 30-minute walks on the treadmill and tinker with the incline to mimic being outside. If you're planning on snorkeling, get in the pool at your gym three days each week and push yourself for a calorie-burning, lap-swimming workout. Changing your cardio workout styles can not only lean you out, it can also prepare you for the vacation activities you've spent so much time saving up for. Don't let it go to waste, and don't forget the sunscreen!</p><img src="images/2014/shape-up-for-summer-graphic-3.jpg" width="560" height="422" border="0"/><p>"Get in the pool at your gym three days each week and push yourself for a calorie-burning, lap-swimming workout."</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c16">4 Spring Is The Season Of Love</h3>
</p><p>Are you single? Why not utilize your time now to find your best and most confident version of yourself? Nothing is more attractive than someone who is strong, confident, disciplined, and goal-oriented. Put your best foot forward by buckling down on your training and diet routine. Already got someone special? Plan couples workouts and get to the gym together. Not only can you push each other, you can get in and out of the gym in a blink by supersetting exercises. One person can do sets of squats while the other person does kettlebell swings, then you can switch. Low-rest, high-intensity workouts will strengthen your bodies and the health of your relationship.</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c16">5 Your Friends Need You</h3>
</p><p>Many people have already fallen off the wagon for their 2014 goals in your life. Why not give them a boost by leading the way?</p><p>Working in groups or having someone to keep you accountable for your goals often creates a solid emotional boost to the recommitment of goals. Be the catalyst in the lives of people around you by electrifying your social group with your enthusiasm to get back on the wagon.</p><img src="images/2014/shape-up-for-summer-graphic-4.jpg" width="560" height="310" border="0"/><p>"Working in groups or having someone to keep you accountable for your goals often creates a solid emotional boost to the recommitment of goals."</p><p>Try a hip-hop dance class with your friends if you've always been curious. Find a training program online, or hire a trainer to bring you through a group workout. Set up a circuit routine the gets everyone involved—think biceps curls, planks, step-ups, and Swiss ball hamstring curls. Follow it with 5-10 minutes of hard incline cardio. If you're a competitor, get together with a friend who shares your passion, and increase accountability by practicing posing and stage routines.</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c16">6 You Owe It To Yourself</h3>
</p><img class="float-right" src="images/2014/shape-up-for-summer-graphic-5.jpg" width="321" height="293" border="0"/><p>Yes, winter can be brutal and can make the idea of training debilitating. When it's 0-15 degrees outside, you don't care much to venture outside the house. I get it. I live in Minnesota, where 2014 brought 44 nights below zero already, twice as many as we normally get in a year! Even so, you owe it to yourself to follow through on the goals you set—no matter the weather.</p><p>Give yourself the power and momentum to push forward and start your spring and summer seasons with the body and health you've always dreamed of having. Find <a href="http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/member-search" target="_blank">inspirational members</a> on BodySpace and ask them questions about how they got to where they are. Go to a big fitness expo or competition and talk to the people in the world of fitness. How do they keep their own fire aflame?</p><p>Follow your favorite athletes through social media and read inspirational books like <a href="http://jensincero.com/" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">"You Are a Badass," by Jen Sincero</a>, which is one of my personal favorites. Education and inspiration are crucial to your success. The motivation to keep going is available everywhere when you look for it and are open to it.</p><p>You're just as worthy of your efforts now as you ever were. 2014 has barely started. It's way too soon to give up on yourself. Start now or start again and make it the best year of your life!</p><br class="c18"/><h3 class="article-title">Recommended For You</h3><div class="c21" webReader="6.32530120482"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/5-steps-to-overcoming-fear-good-bad-and-honest.html"><img src="images/2013/5-steps-to-overcoming-fear-smallbox.jpg" alt="" width="200" height="114"/></a><div class="c20" webReader="8.43373493976"><h4 class="c19"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/5-steps-to-overcoming-fear-good-bad-and-honest.html">5 STEPS TO OVERCOMING FEAR</a></h4><p style="display: inline;" class="webReader-styled">
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The grass isn't always greener on the other side. Resist the urge to let online personas define your real life worth.</p></div></div></div><div class="padded-content article-content mod-about-the-author" id="article-about-author" webReader="42.1866666667"><h4 class="article-section-header">About The Author</h4><div class="ata-left-column" webReader="6.85714285714"><div class="ata-author-name"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/abby-huot.html">Abby Huot</a></div><div class="author-gradient-button"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/abby-huot.html">VIEW AUTHOR PAGE</a></div><p class="ata-author-summary">Abby has experienced a variety of events that led her to embrace an underdog role. She hopes to offer a different perspective on health and fitness.</p></div><div class="ata-right-column"><div class="ata-author-image-frame"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/abby-huot.html"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2013/writer-abby-huot-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/abby-huot.html#articles" class="bold-type">View All Articles By This Author</a></li>
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6 Reasons To Shape Up For Summer

Quick, do a digit check. Are all your fingers and toes accounted for, or have a few succumbed to the cold? I can tell you that this has been a brutally chilly winter for most of the upper Midwest, and my region isn’t alone. Records have been shattered all across the United States for cold, ice cover, and snow totals. Right now it seems impossible to imagine warmer days.

But, make no mistake, summer is coming. Soon it will be time to crawl out of our cozy hibernation nests, peel off the polar fleece we’ve been donning like battle gear, and reveal our pasty, dry skin to the warm basking glow of a spring sun. Finally, Vitamin D in its glorious, non-supplement form! You can almost feel it.

So what’s your game plan? Hot chocolate and blankets are just what the doctor ordered for frigid nights, but if you’ve gotten used to skipping the gym and hoarding comfort food, it’s time to change things up. Reignite your fire for fitness and get your head back in the game.

Here are a few reminders about why you should get going with your training and diet again. After all, spring and summer are going to be here in the blink of an eye.

1 Wedding Season’s Upon Us

June is a major month of note. Not only does it signal the first day of summer, Father’s Day, and the oh-so-notable Flag Day, but it’s also the most popular month for weddings. If you’re among those getting laced up in white, hitting a training program now will help you head down the aisle with extra confidence and, depending on your goals, an extra layer of lean muscle.

“Try a new lifting routine or kick up your cardio with high intensity interval training on a Stairmill.”

Use that save-the-date stuck to your fridge to inspire you to push forward, even if your new fit body is not for your own wedding. Try a new lifting routine or kick up your cardio with high intensity interval training on a Stairmill. Start with one minute at level 8, or 30-45 seconds at level 10, followed by brief rest periods for a total of 20 minutes. Shock your system into growth by trying German Volume Training (GVT), which pushes you to do 10 sets of 10 reps on one exercise. The more you ramp up your training routine now, the faster you’ll see results.

2 Smaller Clothes Are Coming

“Picture yourself running in shorts and a tank top. How does that make you feel?”

I promise I’m not poking fun at your winter weight. With warm weather around the corner, it’s just a matter of time until layers start coming off. Whether you’re ready for it or not, the time for that teeny-weenie bikini is fast approaching.

As you look out your window at the snow-covered ground, sunbathing on the beach might sound like a far-off dream. So take a step back. Picture yourself running in shorts and a tank top. How does that make you feel? Awesome, or anxious? If you’re not feeling great, remember that winter is the perfect time to get in gear. You might be more apt to don a cute new sports bra or running shorts when you’re feeling fit. Be the first one in your town to hit the ground running and looking mid-summer awesome when it’s only April.

Set a concrete goal. Sign up for a local event, 5K, 10K, or an obstacle race. Start training for strength and endurance now. Alternatively, have you ever thought about competing in a physique competition? Start taking a peek at local and regional competitions that are happening this year. Competitions that are 16 or 20 weeks out will give you a hard deadline while putting extra training gas in your tank.

If you’ve never felt comfortable wearing shorts, work hard so that this is the year to feel great in them. If you’re self-conscious about your skinny arms, make this the year of the muscle shirt. Plan jogs outside or go rollerblading for the first time in years. Grab some friends to set a pace for yourself and make it a cardio get-together. The more positive people you have around you to cheer you on, the more successful you’ll be.

2014 should be your year to shine, not cover up!

3 Spring Break Is Upon Us

Got a winter getaway trip planned? Time to get your butt in gear! You don’t want to have to worry about the pounds you’ve packed on while you pack luggage. If you’re planning on site-seeing, start now with 30-minute walks on the treadmill and tinker with the incline to mimic being outside. If you’re planning on snorkeling, get in the pool at your gym three days each week and push yourself for a calorie-burning, lap-swimming workout. Changing your cardio workout styles can not only lean you out, it can also prepare you for the vacation activities you’ve spent so much time saving up for. Don’t let it go to waste, and don’t forget the sunscreen!

“Get in the pool at your gym three days each week and push yourself for a calorie-burning, lap-swimming workout.”

4 Spring Is The Season Of Love

Are you single? Why not utilize your time now to find your best and most confident version of yourself? Nothing is more attractive than someone who is strong, confident, disciplined, and goal-oriented. Put your best foot forward by buckling down on your training and diet routine. Already got someone special? Plan couples workouts and get to the gym together. Not only can you push each other, you can get in and out of the gym in a blink by supersetting exercises. One person can do sets of squats while the other person does kettlebell swings, then you can switch. Low-rest, high-intensity workouts will strengthen your bodies and the health of your relationship.

5 Your Friends Need You

Many people have already fallen off the wagon for their 2014 goals in your life. Why not give them a boost by leading the way?

Working in groups or having someone to keep you accountable for your goals often creates a solid emotional boost to the recommitment of goals. Be the catalyst in the lives of people around you by electrifying your social group with your enthusiasm to get back on the wagon.

“Working in groups or having someone to keep you accountable for your goals often creates a solid emotional boost to the recommitment of goals.”

Try a hip-hop dance class with your friends if you’ve always been curious. Find a training program online, or hire a trainer to bring you through a group workout. Set up a circuit routine the gets everyone involved—think biceps curls, planks, step-ups, and Swiss ball hamstring curls. Follow it with 5-10 minutes of hard incline cardio. If you’re a competitor, get together with a friend who shares your passion, and increase accountability by practicing posing and stage routines.

6 You Owe It To Yourself

Yes, winter can be brutal and can make the idea of training debilitating. When it’s 0-15 degrees outside, you don’t care much to venture outside the house. I get it. I live in Minnesota, where 2014 brought 44 nights below zero already, twice as many as we normally get in a year! Even so, you owe it to yourself to follow through on the goals you set—no matter the weather.

Give yourself the power and momentum to push forward and start your spring and summer seasons with the body and health you’ve always dreamed of having. Find inspirational members on BodySpace and ask them questions about how they got to where they are. Go to a big fitness expo or competition and talk to the people in the world of fitness. How do they keep their own fire aflame?

Follow your favorite athletes through social media and read inspirational books like “You Are a Badass,” by Jen Sincero, which is one of my personal favorites. Education and inspiration are crucial to your success. The motivation to keep going is available everywhere when you look for it and are open to it.

You’re just as worthy of your efforts now as you ever were. 2014 has barely started. It’s way too soon to give up on yourself. Start now or start again and make it the best year of your life!


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Press On: 3 Fixes To Boost Your Bench Press!

Hit the health club on any given Monday, and you might think there’s an audition in progress for a new episode of “Maury Povich” about the bench press and the men who love it. After all, what better way could there be to start the week than getting under a loaded barbell and pushing it for all you’re worth?

Well, I can think of a couple, but that’s for another article. Look, I understand the allure of the bench press. It’s the ultimate glamour movement in the gym for men, and it’s also a great movement for upper-body size and strength.

The problem is that most people gauge their success only by benching as much weight as possible, and they disregard the crucial setup process and downplay the importance of form to perform the lift correctly. This ends up creating a lot more ex-benchers than strong benchers.

Don’t let your favorite lift beat you down. Use these tried and true techniques to skyrocket your bench and blast off to new levels of mass and strength!

Lee Boyce On Proper Bench Press Technique
Watch The Video – 04:43

Fix 1

Upper back exercises are crucial for making the bench press pain-free, stable, and strong. As I mentioned in the video above, the bench press places stress on the shoulder blades and four rotator cuff muscles that originate on the scapula. Having the ability to keep the scapular muscles nice and tight is a key to stability for any pushing movement.

I program my back workouts before my chest workouts whenever I’m isolating specific body parts. This ensures that the back muscles get sore, tight, and are limited in range of motion and flexibility to help fix the shoulder blades on chest day. On a full-body workout, I pull before I push.

Make sure the following exercises are included in your back training day to really build scapular stability and strength:

Fix 2

If building big bench is important for you, you need to get scientific about it. Break down your lift and figure out where you’re weakest, and then focus on turning that weakness into a strength.

Barbell Bench Press

In most cases, a lifter going for a max-effort rep hits a wall or reaches a sticking point around the halfway point coming off the chest. If this is you, it means you lack lockout strength. Luckily, there are many great exercises to help you improve this sticking point.

Lockout Exercises

Floor press

Use a barbell or two dumbbells and lay flat on the floor with the weight in the bench press bottom position. The elbows will be on the floor and the weight around six inches off the chest.

Keep your upper back tight and shoulders retracted. Breathe in, drive the weight up to full-extension at the arm, and keep the legs held together and straight on the ground. Pause at the bottom of each rep. Perform 3 sets of 8 reps.

Pin press

Set up a bench inside a squat rack to create a bench press station. Position the safety pins 4-6 inches above your chest. Lay the bar on the pins and position your body under it. Assume your preferred bench press grip and drive the bar to the top position.

After lockout, lower the bar quickly to the pins. This exercise allows you to focus on max effort. Due to the lack of eccentric control, you’ll have more juice in the tank to lift.

Give yourself a couple seconds between reps to get tight and reset your body. Perform this exercise for 3 sets of 3-6 reps.

Chain bench press

Attaching chains to the bench press makes the load heavier as you progress through the concentric portion of a rep. It’s a great way to make your triceps do more work during lockout.

In rare circumstances, the sticking point happens at the bottom of the lift, which indicates that chest and shoulder strength is a weak link from a biomechanical perspective. Implementing starting strength exercises can help exponentially with this issue.

Bent over barbell row

Starting Strength Exercises

Pause reps

On the bench press, lower the weight slowly and pause for at least one second on the chest. Remember to stay tight during the rep without slackening your grip or exhaling. You won’t be able to lift as much weight as usual with this method, so lower the weight to 80 percent of the normal amount you can lift for reps.

This exercise cuts off the stretch reflex so you can’t use momentum at the bottom of the lift. Momentum tricks your chest into thinking that it’s performing well, when in reality, it’s nothing more than kinetic force that propels the weight out of the hole.

Pause reps are a staple in competitive powerlifting routines everywhere.

One-and-a-half reps

One and a half reps are my favorite way to improve chest activity in a bench press. Ensure that you’re set up correctly and lower the bar to your chest like normal.

Press the bar off the chest to the halfway point, where you have a 90-degree angle at the elbow. Lower the bar to the chest again and drive the bar to the top for one rep. Repeat for 3-4 sets of 6-8 reps.

The science behind this madness is simple: For every rep of 1.5s, you’re doing 2 reps with just the chest and 1 rep with the triceps at lockout. At the end of a set, your chest will have done twice as much work than your triceps.

Fix 3

Like most physical activities, if you want to improve at something, you must practice it. Building a stronger bench press happens in part from benching frequently. Make like the Bulgarians and up your weekly volume—without going overboard, of course!

Boyce Post-Workout Burnout! Bench Press 225×15
Watch The Video – 01:11

Post-workout burnout sets are money when it comes to adding benching volume. At the end of every isolation workout, do a couple quick warm-up bench press sets and then perform a burnout set with 60 percent of your max. Rep it out until failure for one big set.

Here’s a video of me doing a post-workout burnout set after a long Olympic lifting workout. My max is around 345 pounds, so 225 pounds is about 65 percent of my max.

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Press On: 3 Fixes To Boost Your Bench Press!

Posted in Bodybuilding, Exercises, Nutrition, Uncategorized, Warm upComments Off on Press On: 3 Fixes To Boost Your Bench Press!

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Build Mass With Class: Hunter Labrada's Guide To Adding Muscle

Growing up, bodybuilding wasn’t pushed on me at all. This might sound strange to some people, seeing as my dad is Lee Labrada, the IFBB Hall of Fame bodybuilder, but it’s completely true. I consumed a healthy diet as a child, but I never ate that much. As a result, I was always skinny.

More than anything, I loved sports. I played hockey from the time I was 5 years old until I was 12, and I never felt like I was at a disadvantage due to my lack of size. I could skate fast and was pretty strong—what else did I need?

In seventh grade, I became interested in football, and from the first practice I was hooked. I quickly realized that unlike hockey, I was at a distinct disadvantage. I had fun and did well enough in my first season, but my growing passion for football made me start looking for ways to put on size so I could become a better player. I’ve learned this is a common story among bodybuilders. Many, including my dad and Shawn Ray, got their feet wet in bodybuilding in order to get better at high school football.

I immersed myself in the afternoon and summer strength and conditioning camps my school had to offer, and while I made some progress initially, it wasn’t as much as I had hoped for, or expected. Following my eighth-grade season, I weighed a whopping 100 pounds, and I knew things had to change big time if I ever wanted to see playing time in high school.

Grow Like Dad

I consulted with—who else?—my dad, who made it clear that if I wanted to gain weight, I had to dramatically increase my caloric intake. Sure, I was training hard, but I had to eat more! That offseason, with his help, I started eating like a horse, and it made a world of difference. I gained 25 pounds that year alone.

As I kept working out and getting bigger, I began looked forward to training for football almost as much as I enjoyed playing football. By my senior season, I had built myself into a 5-foot-8, 210-pound running back and strong safety, and I signed a letter of intent to play football for a Division-II university in Boston. My senior season was a major letdown, however; I tore my hamstring on the first day of regular practice.

Hunter Labrada was part of the bodybuilding community long before he ever decided to become a bodybuilder.

After rehabilitating, I returned and played just four games before hurting myself again. This time, I suffered an avulsion fracture when my quadriceps tendon pulled a piece of bone off my hip at the growth plate, which was still soft because I was so young. Essentially, my legs had become so strong that the tendon had overpowered the connection to the bone, resulting in the fracture.

Football was looking less and less like my future, but as an upside, these injuries gave me an opportunity to train on a strict bodybuilding split routine. I found I had to split up the work for my upper body into multiple sessions so I could still be at the gym as much as I wanted to be. I made incredible progress, and by the time I was cleared to begin running, my athletic dreams had transformed along with my musculature.

Soon enough, I found I wasn’t enjoying all the things I used to enjoy about football. The highlight of any day became getting into the weight room. I decided that fall that I was done with football, and I was going to become a competitive bodybuilder.

Do The Caloric Math

That was three years ago, and since then, I have been able to transform my body even more, adding layers of muscle and quality size. I now weigh 237 pounds and am holding sub-8 percent body fat. More importantly, however, I’ve learned through trial and error, and hours upon hours of research, what works for me in terms of training, diet, and supplementation, and what doesn’t.

Remember that bodybuilding is a marathon, not a sprint!

Do you know what doesn’t work? The old method of walking up to the biggest guys in the gym and asking them what their splits looks like, what they do for certain body parts, or my favorite, what supplements they take.

Nine times out of ten, the people asking these questions do it with the best of intentions, and they just can’t figure out what the big guys’ secrets are. All they see are beasts crushing heavy weights in their workouts and drinking concoctions afterward that look questionable for human consumption.

The real secret is what those guys do during the other 22 hours of the day. What sets them apart from the people who are not growing is nutrition. Many people might think they know what I mean by that statement, but even they could be way off the mark. If you are truly trying to put on muscle mass, your traditional breakfast, lunch, and dinner simply won’t suffice, no matter how hearty they are.

The basics of growth are simple: Consume more calories than you expend. In some ways, it’s that easy. But figuring how many calories you need to maximize quality growth, well, that’s not as simple. Here’s how you burn calories during your day:

  1. Resting metabolic rate: These are the calories burned by your body just so it can function, which accounts for approximately 60 percent of your daily caloric consumption.
  2. Daily activities: You burn plenty of calories just doing your daily tasks like walking, talking, working, and every other way you pass time outside of the gym.
  3. Training: These are the calories burned by your workout and cardio.

There are a number of different ways to calculate these numbers, but no matter how you look at it, that’s a lot of calories!

The amount of surplus that you’ll need varies based by your goals and how your body individually responds. One person might only need a 300-500 calorie daily surplus to make incredible gains, while another might require closer to an extra 1,000 calories. And the bigger you get, the more you will need to eat. This is a result of the increased metabolic rate caused by the added muscle mass and, most likely, your heightened training intensity.

The New Macros: Lean, Complex, Healthy

As you know, figuring out how many calories you need is only one part of the battle. Choosing which foods are the best to fuel your body and achieve your daily required caloric surplus is the other.

There are several schools of thought on this, but the one that I am most partial to, and have had the most success with, is simply eating large amounts of clean food. And no, I’m not talking about how you wash your vegetables.

I’ve never been one to go on the pizza-and-ice-cream bulking diet, because while you’ll probably put on weight, you will also be left with a lot of empty calories and unwanted body fat that you’ll have to burn off later.

Remember that bodybuilding is a marathon, not a sprint! So why put on large amounts of unnecessary body fat when you can achieve the same end goal of building dense muscle, while looking and feeling much healthier, by doing it the right way? It’s simple: You can’t go wrong by eating lean proteins, complex carbs, and healthy fats.

These clean-food options aren’t complete lists, but they are guidelines. Why “ultra-lean” ground beef? Food marketers in our country have done a great job of capitalizing on consumer ignorance, so when the average person picks up a package of ground beef and sees a big “93 percent fat free” sticker, they think they are making a great choice. This beef, at 93 percent fat free, is actually approximately 33 percent fat per serving.

How is this possible, you ask? Because the beef is 93 percent fat free by weight, not by calories! A gram of protein has 4 calories, and one gram of fat is 9 calories, so you can see where it can get tough to stay on top of the numbers. This is why I look for 98 percent fat-free lean meats for my diet; these work out to approximately 10 percent fat per serving, by calories. I keep my proteins lean, and make up for it by eating fats from the “healthy fats” list.

The bigger you get, the more you will need to eat.

Supplementation

Before we dive into training, it’s important to touch on the supplements I use to augment my nutrition plan. As any smart athlete or coach will tell you, supplements can’t replace hard work and quality nutrition.

They can, however, round out your diet, introduce performance-boosting nutrients, and make getting adequate amounts of specific macronutrient easier.

Protein

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Protein is usually the first thing that comes to mind when you talk to someone about supplements, and for good reason. Protein is essential for muscle growth and post-workout repair.

Whey is digested much faster than any other protein source available, which makes it ideal after training. Try to drink your whey within 30 minutes of your workout, targeting roughly 40 grams of protein.

When searching for a good whey protein, look for servings per container, protein per serving, and the presence of any “filler” nutrients like fats and added sugars.

You obviously want to maximize your money spent and give your muscles the best possible quality of protein for optimal results.

Creatine

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Creatine monohydrate is simple, safe, effective, extremely well-tested, and cheap. You will experience size, strength, and performance gains while taking it because creatine increases phosphocreatine stores inside your muscles and also causes them to hold more water.

I don’t like to mega-dose creatine, so I stick with five grams per day. When shopping, look for a pharmaceutical-grade creatine like Crealean.

Glutamine

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Glutamine is the most prevalent amino acid in your muscle tissue, and it’s one of the key shuttles for nitrogen into your muscles.

Beyond the muscle-building and recovery benefits of glutamine, it’s helpful for immune support and gut health, making it an essential supp in my book.

Take 5-10 grams per day.

Pre-workout

Yes, the stimulant present in nearly every pre-workout is a plus, but you shouldn’t purchase a pre-workout product just for caffeine. You should purchase it because of other physiological boosts.

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A good pre-workout will increase blood flow to your working muscles, which increases your strength and endurance by delivering more oxygen and nutrients. This, in turn, increases your performance and supports growth.

Look for a pre-workout powder that contains a full dose of creatine, beta-alanine, glutamine, and other performance ingredients.

Stay away from products that feature proprietary blends. That’s usually where manufacturers hide useless pixie dust amounts of exotic sounding ingredients that don’t help you much.

Fast-Acting Carbohydrates

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I don’t normally advocate fast carbs, but they can be helpful around your workouts. Since your body rapidly processes simple carbs, they allow you to replenish the glycogen in your muscles that you deplete during training.

This helps you recover faster and train harder. After a workout, fast carbs spike your insulin and help dliver nutrients to your fatigued muscles.

You can get simple carbs from fruits, sugary sports beverages, dextrose, or any number of extremely simple carbohydrates. I personally use Labrada’s PowerCarb product; it contains a special carbohydrate molecule designed to serve the exact function I described above, but better than any of the previous options listed. I enjoy sipping one scoop throughout my workout; it helps me sustain a full pump.

BCAAs

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When you consume proteins, your body breaks them down into amino acids. There are three essential amino acids called branched chain amino acids, or BCAAs, which are leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These amino acids are some of the most important for muscle growth, repair, and recovery.

I like to supplement with BCAAs before, during, and after my workouts to prevent catabolism (or breakdown) of my hard-earned muscle tissue and provide the fuel necessary for additional growth and energy during the intense stress of my training.

HUNTER’S MEAL PLAN AND SUPPLEMENTS

Here’s how a week of nutrition and supplementation looks for me on the system described above:

Training for Mass

Training regimens are a dime a dozen, and they’re almost all impressive in their own way. You have to listen to your body and find the one that works for you, or alter an existing one to better suit yourself. In the end, I believe it comes down to optimizing what I like to call your “training intensity equation.” Here’s what that looks like:

Training Intensity = (Volume x Weight used)/Rest time

This isn’t an equation that will spit you out a number. Instead, it’s meant to portray the relationship between the variables, so you can change them according to what works best for your body. You can increase or decrease your training intensity by either changing the volume, the weight you use on each set, your rest time, or all three.

I’ve been training on a push/pull-style split almost since I started, with all of the trial-and-error experimentation happening in the variables making up the training intensity. Initially, I pounded my larger body parts with upward of 25 sets. While I initially got great gains, my progress quickly slowed despite my good nutrition, supplementation, and rest.

What I didn’t realize at the time is that you don’t grow in the gym—it’s the opposite! You incur tears and trauma on a microscopic level, breaking down those precious muscles you have spent so much time and money to build. If the tears and trauma are too great, or they’re not given adequate time to recover, you’re not doing yourself any favors.

Of course it’s normal to be sore or feel like you did something taxing the day after you train, but you shouldn’t feel like you got hit by a truck for three days after every workout, either!

The Intensity Sweet Spot

Once I started tweaking my training intensity equation, I found that I experience my best gains doing 12-15 sets per large body part (chest, back, legs) and 8-10 sets per small body part (shoulders, biceps, triceps) using a moderate 8-12 reps. This level of volume allowed me to keep my training intensity high by decreasing my rest time between sets and by performing each set to failure using techniques such as forced reps and negatives.

Staying mindful of these variables allows me to be more efficient in the gym, as well. My weekly chest and triceps workout takes me 1 hour and 10 minutes, but if I did the same routine in 1 hour and 45 minutes, I will feel like I did significantly less work. And for all intents and purposes, I did!

I challenge you to increase your intensity in some way during your next workout. That increased intensity, as many greats like my father have shown, makes muscles grow. Just stay mindful of the equation to avoid getting hit by the intensity freightliner!

Increase or decrease your training intensity by changing the volume, the weight you use on each set, your rest time, or all three.

My Sample Bodybuilding Workout

Abs and cardio

Abs and cardio

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Build Mass With Class: Hunter Labrada's Guide To Adding Muscle

Posted in Bodybuilding, Exercises, Nutrition, UncategorizedComments Off on Build Mass With Class: Hunter Labrada's Guide To Adding Muscle

<div id="DPG" webReader="321.12285927"><div class="side-bar" webReader="-16.044198895"><div class="c10"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2013/jacob-wilson-vital-stats-box.jpg"/></div><h3 class="article-title c11">Vital Stats</h3><p><strong>Name:</strong> Jacob Wilson<br /><strong>Education:</strong> PhD in Skeletal Muscle Physiology from Florida State<br /><strong>Occupation:</strong> Founder <a href="http://abcbodybuilding.com/" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">ABCbodybuilding.com</a><br /><strong>Website:</strong> <a href="http://www.jacobwilsonphd.com/" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">jacobwilsonphd.com</a><br /><strong>Facebook:</strong> <a href="https://www.facebook.com/people/Jacob-Wilson/616781070" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Jacob-Wilson</a></p></div><p>By day, I'm a skeletal muscle physiologist in a laboratory at the University of Tampa. But I also have a secret—OK, it's no secret. I absolutely love bodybuilding and lifting weights. Ever since I was a kid, I knew I wanted to be a scientist studying sports performance, and bodybuilding in particular.</p><p>To me, bodybuilding is fascinating because it's based on the ultimate dichotomy: gaining size and getting shredded <em>at the same time</em>. These shouldn't mix, right? But they do, as we see in our lab on a regular basis.</p><p>At any given time, we're doing approximately six experiments on bodybuilding. We can look at muscle from the bone to the skin; we can scan your whole body and tell you the most accurate ways to look at fat. You name it, we can analyze it.</p><p>I want to bring this sport to a new level with the latest science has to offer, and I want you to ride along with me.</p><p>Pull up a chair and get out your notebook. Mass Class is about to begin.</p><h3 class="article-title">Jacob Wilson Training<br /><span class="exercise-note">Watch The Video - 12:10</span></h3><br /><h3 class="article-title">Question 1 </h3><p>If you look at all the scientific literature, you'll see we've narrowed down how muscle grows to at least 3-4 different mechanisms. You'll hear people say, "Oh, so-and-so is the best training method," but that method might only maximize one of those mechanisms. When you're training for maximum growth, periodize your training so you can optimize each of these mechanisms.</p><p>Luckily, there are many different techniques you can use to do this.</p><p>Different researchers have different ways of categorizing them, but here's what I consider the primary mechanisms of muscle growth:</p><p>
<h4 class="c12">1 Cell Swelling</h4>
</p><p>You've probably heard guys who are about to go to the gym say things like, "I'm gonna go get my swole on." There is actually something to what they're saying. We call it the cell swelling theory.</p><img src="images/2014/welcome-to-mass-class_dymatize-graphics-1.jpg" width="560" height="367"/><p>Working in the 8-12 rep range (hypertrophy range) can increase cell swelling.</p><p>When you train and you get a pump, kind of like Arnold famously talked about in "Pumping Iron," your muscle cells sense that swelling as a threat. They basically say, "OK, I have to grow or die." So they restructure themselves and get larger.</p><p>What are the methods to increase that edema, or that blood to the muscle? Working in the hypertrophy range of 8-12 repetitions is one, especially with short rest period lengths.</p><p>Overload techniques like <a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/reading_workout_logs.htm#8">stripsets</a>, <a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/reading_workout_logs.htm#5">supersets</a>, and working to <a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/reading_workout_logs.htm#6">failure</a> are also ideal, if you use them properly.</p><p>
<h4 class="c12">2 Mechanical Tension</h4>
</p><div class="side-ad" webReader="-15.3668341709"><div class="c10"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/ask-the-muscle-prof-fast-twitch-muscle-small.jpg" width="170" height="97"/></div><h3 class="article-title c14"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/ask-the-muscle-prof-how-do-i-target-fast-twitch-muscle-fibers.html">How Do I Target Fast-Twitch Muscle Fibers?</a></h3><p>Fast-twitch muscle fibers aren't just important for sprinters and competitive weightlifters. Here's what they have to offer bodybuilders!</p><div class="c16"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/ask-the-muscle-prof-how-do-i-target-fast-twitch-muscle-fibers.html" class="bbButton primaryAction c15">Fast-Twitch Blitz!</a></div><br /></div><p>If you're looking to build muscle that's as strong as it looks, focusing on cell swelling isn't enough. You also need to amplify the tension, which is how you recruit the larger and more powerful muscle fibers.</p><p>You may have heard that we have slow-twitch muscle fibers, which are good for endurance, and then we have the larger <a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/ask-the-muscle-prof-how-do-i-target-fast-twitch-muscle-fibers.html">fast-twitch muscle fibers</a>. Those get recruited with heavier lifting, like during sets of 6-8 repetitions or less. When you recruit them, they turn on protein synthesis and you grow.</p><p>Of course, if you are lifting with short rest periods, you can't lift as heavy, so the mechanical stress is less. So during your heavy days, rest 3-5 minutes in order to maximize the mechanical load.</p><p>That repetition range could still be around 6-8 reps—I'm not talking about power lifting, after all—but you'll rest longer so that you can lift heavy every set.</p><p>
<h4 class="c12">3 Mechanical Trauma</h4>
</p><p>Mechanical trauma, also known as muscle damage, occurs when you lower a weight or hit the eccentric portion of the lift hard. It can happen when you do things like forced reps or negative reps, as well as during heavy lifting—think the bottom of a squat. This is when you focus in on destroying the muscle.</p><p>You've probably heard about how when you train for hypertrophy, you create "micro tears" and tiny abrasions in your muscles, and that the recovery from these small injuries is how muscle grows. This is true, but it's not the only way to train for growth.</p><p>Training with an emphasis on muscle damage and working to failure is definitely effective, but like anything, it can also be <a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/ask-the-muscle-prof-training-to-failure-helping-or-hurting-me.html">overdone</a>. Use it as one of several tools in a balanced program, and you'll maximize the benefit you receive from it.</p><p>
<h4 class="c12">4 Metabolic Stress</h4>
</p><img src="images/2014/welcome-to-mass-class_dymatize-graphics-2.jpg" width="262" height="364" border="0" class="right-image c17"/><p>Do you "feel the burn" when you train? You should! Metabolic stress can actually make muscle grow.</p><p>Everyone knows that burning sensation you get when you're training. That is metabolic stress, which is another name for acid building up in the muscle.</p><p>One of my colleagues, Dr. David Gundermann, took the novel step of isolating muscle cells putting them in lactic acid. Guess what? They grew! The mechanism that causes that burning sensation can actually make muscle grow. This is one reason to keep your rest periods short on a hypertrophy day.</p><p>If you rest for five minutes, talking about what you did over the weekend, that clears all out that metabolic stress.</p><p>This is part of the reasoning behind keeping rest periods short, like 60 seconds or less, or occasionally removing them altogether and doing supersets or strip sets.</p><h3 class="article-title">Question 2 </h3><p>I think the biggest mistake people make is underestimating their capabilities. They limit themselves mentally, and that leads to limiting themselves physically.</p><p>For example, I can't tell you how many times I hear or read things like, "Oh my God, I'm going to overtrain, so I can only train everything once a week." However, <a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/ask-the-muscle-prof-the-truth-about-overtraining.html">studies are showing</a> that the more frequently you train, the better your gains will be. Sometimes when you have an overload on the muscle every day your performance is not going to be the best, but you are beating the muscle up so much, it has no choice but to grow.</p><p>There are new studies coming out by some of my colleagues in Finland and Norway where they show incredible gains from weightlifters who change from three days per week of training to <em>six</em> days per week of training per body part.</p><p>That's an advanced technique that isn't appropriate for everyone, but the larger point is this: Don't limit yourself. The human body can withstand a lot more than you think, so long as your nutrition and sleep are in place.</p><h3 class="article-title">Question 3 </h3><div class="side-bar"><p class="c19"><strong>Compound Movements</strong></p><ul class="dpg-list c20"><li>Squat variations</li>
<li>Deadlift variations</li>
<li>Lunges</li>
<li>Leg press</li>
<li>Bench presses</li>
<li>Overhead presses</li>
<li>Pull-ups and pull-downs</li>
<li>Dips</li>
<li>Push-ups</li>
<li>Rowing variations</li>
</ul><p><strong>Isolation Movements</strong></p><ul class="dpg-list c20"><li>Triceps kickbacks</li>
<li>Biceps curl variations</li>
<li>Cable cross</li>
<li>Skull crushers</li>
<li>Leg extensions</li>
<li>Leg curls</li>
<li>Most machine exercises</li>
<li>Calf raises</li>
<li>Shoulder raises</li>
</ul></div><p>When the goal is mass and creating the most anabolism (protein synthesis), compound movements that hit muscle groups should always be the center of a bodybuilding program. That's going to be things like squats, bench presses, and leg presses.</p><p>But make no mistake; there is a difference between bodybuilding and powerlifting. Namely, bodybuilding is about making exercises <em>harder</em>. You're trying to beat your muscles up. If you're doing a bench press and you're bodybuilding, your back might be flat, you'll focus on the muscle, and on every aspect of the lift. If you are a powerlifter, you're going to get an arch in your back, shorten the range of motion, and use more leg drive.</p><p>The same thing applies with squatting. In powerlifting, your goal is to get the weight up, and you can take steps to make that easier: changing your stance, or using the belt for support, for instance. But in bodybuilding you're focusing on destroying the muscle. So you'll see lifters use dropsets, pre-exhaustion, and other overload techniques.</p><p>Once you have your compound movements in place, however, bodybuilding is also a sport of symmetry. This is where isolation movements come in. Use them as tools, but not as the foundation.</p><p>A lifter who does all isolation and no compound movements is going to be light years behind one with a more balanced program.</p><h3 class="article-title">Question 4 </h3><p>As I mentioned earlier, one of the fundamental dichotomies of bodybuilding is to gain size and lose fat <em>at the same time</em>. To gain size you lift weights, and to lose fat you do cardio. Simple enough, right? Yes, except that plenty of bodybuilders do hours of cardio every day, an amount on par with high-level endurance athletes.</p><p>But look at a marathon runner. Is that something a bodybuilder aspires to be? Clearly not. What we found in our laboratory is that the longer you do cardio, <em>the more muscle you lose</em>. Why would you spend all this time in the off-season gaining muscle, if you're only going to lose a lot of it with long-duration cardio? This is exactly the problem we've been trying to solve.</p><p>The answer is <a href="%20http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/ask-the-muscle-prof-best-cardio-for-preserving-mass.html">high-intensity interval training</a>, or HIIT, as it's often known. When I say high intensity, I'm talking about 10-30 seconds of all-out, balls-to-the-wall sprinting. If you do it for 10 seconds, you should have nothing left at the end. After 30 seconds of work, you should feel like you're going to die.</p><img src="images/2014/welcome-to-mass-class_dymatize-graphics-3.jpg" width="560" height="393"/><p>To lose fat while you're building muscle, supplement your weight training with high-intensity interval training! It's the best type of cardio for bodybuilders.</p><p>Sounds miserable, right? But you'd better believe it's effective. We found that in just 10 seconds of this type of training, you can deplete your muscle energy stores by approximately 15 percent. That might take 60 minutes to achieve with traditional cardio. What that does is send a massive signal to your body saying, "Oh my God, I have to increase my fat burning machinery." When you do that, you burn fat the rest of the day.</p><p>The results are truly remarkable. We've found that with 10-30 seconds of all-out sprints, you can actually lose more fat in just a few minutes than with the long duration 30-60 minute cardio—and you maintain your size. We did a study in our lab where we compared low-intensity cardio to high-intensity cardio side by side, and not only did the sprinters lose more fat, they even gained muscle in their quads. So sprinting can even be anabolic!</p><h3 class="article-title">Question 5 </h3><p>Say you're someone who responds well to heavy training. Every time you to go the gym, all you do is lift with eight or fewer repetitions per set, heavy weights, and with long rest periods. You're constantly loading the muscle, and that's where it can take a toll on your joints and ligaments. Eventually, you feel the strain, and you get an injury.</p><div class="side-bar"><h4 class="c21">Sample Periodization for Muscle Growth</h4><ul class="dpg-list c20"><li><strong>Workout 1:</strong> Hypertrophy, 8-12 reps per set, < 60 sec. rest</li>
</li><li><strong>Workout 2:</strong> Heavy lifting, 6-8 reps per set, > 3 min. rest</li>
<li><strong>Workout 3:</strong> Hypertrophy, 8-12 reps per set, focus on supersets and dropsets</li>
<li><strong>Workout 4:</strong> Occlusion training, 15-30 reps per set, < 30 sec. rest</li>
</li></ul></div><p>For a competitive bodybuilder, this is the worst thing ever. If you're out for a month, you lose muscle, and then it takes you a month to recover. You just lost two months—and that's being conservative.</p><p>Periodization is programmed change, and it's one of the keys to avoiding injuries in the gym. Here's how it works: One day each week, you could perform traditional hypertrophy training, which can be 8-12 reps, 30-60 second rests. One day you might train heavy, in a 6-8 repetition range, with longer rests. Another day, you could do a hypertrophy superset day. Then, if you feel like your joints are hurting, you could try a new technique known as <a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/ask-the-muscle-prof-occlusion-training.html">blood flow restriction training</a>, or occlusion training.</p><p>This technique, what happens is if you restrict blood flow to a limb, you only have to lift at like 30-40 percent of your maximum weight and you actually can grow.</p><p>Simply put: Focus on the goal, and balance your training styles. Give your joints and muscles programmed rest periods, and you recover—and keep growing.</p><h3 class="article-title">Question 6 </h3><p>Bodybuilding is like any other sport. To improve at it, you have to master your trade, which is lifting weights.</p><p>Get everything you can out of every single lift. If you are doing a set of 12, every single rep should count. We know from plenty of studies that when people focus on the muscle, they activate more of it. Going through the motions, on the other hand, is only going to give you pedestrian results.</p><p>Success in this sport is all about focus. Make everything count. Make every meal count, make your sleep count, make every rep count, make every set count. Be meticulous. Write down how you felt in the gym. Write down what you are going to do, and what you want to be.</p><p>Set goals that are attainable, and stay abreast of the latest research into those goals, and you'll keep moving toward your ideal physique.</p><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/dym/dym.htm"><img src="images/2013/dymatize-nutrition-banner-2.jpg" width="560" height="144"/></a><br /><h4>Recommended For You</h4><div class="c24" webReader="5.625"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/ask-the-muscle-prof-training-to-failure-helping-or-hurting-me.html"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2013/ask-the-muscle-prof-smallbox2.jpg" alt="" width="200" height="114"/></a><div class="c23" webReader="7.5"><h4 class="c22"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/ask-the-muscle-prof-training-to-failure-helping-or-hurting-me.html">Ask The Muscle Prof: Is Training To Failure Helping Or Hurting Me?</a></h4><p style="display: inline;" class="webReader-styled">
There's failure and then there's </p><em>failure</em><p style="display: inline;" class="webReader-styled">. One is a time-proven technique for anabolic growth; the other is a surefire way to compromise your gains. Learn the difference and the science behind them!</p></div></div><div class="c24" webReader="5.78007518797"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/ask-the-muscle-prof-occlusion-training.html"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2013/ask-the-muscle-prof-smallbox2.jpg" alt="" width="200" height="114"/></a><div class="c23" webReader="7.70676691729"><h4 class="c22"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/ask-the-muscle-prof-occlusion-training.html">Ask The Muscle Prof: What's The Deal With Occlusion Training?</a></h4><p style="display: inline;" class="webReader-styled">
Restricting blood flow to the arms or legs during training may sound crazy, but the Muscle Prof has been front and center on the latest research into what is actually a cutting-edge hypertrophy technique!</p></div></div><div class="c24" webReader="4.53773584906"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/ask-the-muscle-prof-what-are-the-ideal-macros-for-my-breakfast.html"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2013/ask-the-muscle-prof-smallbox2.jpg" alt="" width="200" height="114"/></a><div class="c23" webReader="5.58490566038"><h4 class="c22"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/ask-the-muscle-prof-what-are-the-ideal-macros-for-my-breakfast.html">Ask The Muscle Prof: What Are The Ideal Macros For My Breakfast?</a></h4><p style="display: inline;" class="webReader-styled">
The first meal of the day is a free-for-all for some and an afterthought for others. Here's your guide to making the perfect bodybuilder breakfast.</p></div></div><br class="c25"/></div>

Mass Class Training: The Fundamentals Of Muscle Growth

By day, I’m a skeletal muscle physiologist in a laboratory at the University of Tampa. But I also have a secret—OK, it’s no secret. I absolutely love bodybuilding and lifting weights. Ever since I was a kid, I knew I wanted to be a scientist studying sports performance, and bodybuilding in particular.

To me, bodybuilding is fascinating because it’s based on the ultimate dichotomy: gaining size and getting shredded at the same time. These shouldn’t mix, right? But they do, as we see in our lab on a regular basis.

At any given time, we’re doing approximately six experiments on bodybuilding. We can look at muscle from the bone to the skin; we can scan your whole body and tell you the most accurate ways to look at fat. You name it, we can analyze it.

I want to bring this sport to a new level with the latest science has to offer, and I want you to ride along with me.

Pull up a chair and get out your notebook. Mass Class is about to begin.

Jacob Wilson Training
Watch The Video – 12:10

Question 1

If you look at all the scientific literature, you’ll see we’ve narrowed down how muscle grows to at least 3-4 different mechanisms. You’ll hear people say, “Oh, so-and-so is the best training method,” but that method might only maximize one of those mechanisms. When you’re training for maximum growth, periodize your training so you can optimize each of these mechanisms.

Luckily, there are many different techniques you can use to do this.

Different researchers have different ways of categorizing them, but here’s what I consider the primary mechanisms of muscle growth:

1 Cell Swelling

You’ve probably heard guys who are about to go to the gym say things like, “I’m gonna go get my swole on.” There is actually something to what they’re saying. We call it the cell swelling theory.

Working in the 8-12 rep range (hypertrophy range) can increase cell swelling.

When you train and you get a pump, kind of like Arnold famously talked about in “Pumping Iron,” your muscle cells sense that swelling as a threat. They basically say, “OK, I have to grow or die.” So they restructure themselves and get larger.

What are the methods to increase that edema, or that blood to the muscle? Working in the hypertrophy range of 8-12 repetitions is one, especially with short rest period lengths.

Overload techniques like stripsets, supersets, and working to failure are also ideal, if you use them properly.

2 Mechanical Tension

How Do I Target Fast-Twitch Muscle Fibers?

Fast-twitch muscle fibers aren’t just important for sprinters and competitive weightlifters. Here’s what they have to offer bodybuilders!

If you’re looking to build muscle that’s as strong as it looks, focusing on cell swelling isn’t enough. You also need to amplify the tension, which is how you recruit the larger and more powerful muscle fibers.

You may have heard that we have slow-twitch muscle fibers, which are good for endurance, and then we have the larger fast-twitch muscle fibers. Those get recruited with heavier lifting, like during sets of 6-8 repetitions or less. When you recruit them, they turn on protein synthesis and you grow.

Of course, if you are lifting with short rest periods, you can’t lift as heavy, so the mechanical stress is less. So during your heavy days, rest 3-5 minutes in order to maximize the mechanical load.

That repetition range could still be around 6-8 reps—I’m not talking about power lifting, after all—but you’ll rest longer so that you can lift heavy every set.

3 Mechanical Trauma

Mechanical trauma, also known as muscle damage, occurs when you lower a weight or hit the eccentric portion of the lift hard. It can happen when you do things like forced reps or negative reps, as well as during heavy lifting—think the bottom of a squat. This is when you focus in on destroying the muscle.

You’ve probably heard about how when you train for hypertrophy, you create “micro tears” and tiny abrasions in your muscles, and that the recovery from these small injuries is how muscle grows. This is true, but it’s not the only way to train for growth.

Training with an emphasis on muscle damage and working to failure is definitely effective, but like anything, it can also be overdone. Use it as one of several tools in a balanced program, and you’ll maximize the benefit you receive from it.

4 Metabolic Stress

Do you “feel the burn” when you train? You should! Metabolic stress can actually make muscle grow.

Everyone knows that burning sensation you get when you’re training. That is metabolic stress, which is another name for acid building up in the muscle.

One of my colleagues, Dr. David Gundermann, took the novel step of isolating muscle cells putting them in lactic acid. Guess what? They grew! The mechanism that causes that burning sensation can actually make muscle grow. This is one reason to keep your rest periods short on a hypertrophy day.

If you rest for five minutes, talking about what you did over the weekend, that clears all out that metabolic stress.

This is part of the reasoning behind keeping rest periods short, like 60 seconds or less, or occasionally removing them altogether and doing supersets or strip sets.

Question 2

I think the biggest mistake people make is underestimating their capabilities. They limit themselves mentally, and that leads to limiting themselves physically.

For example, I can’t tell you how many times I hear or read things like, “Oh my God, I’m going to overtrain, so I can only train everything once a week.” However, studies are showing that the more frequently you train, the better your gains will be. Sometimes when you have an overload on the muscle every day your performance is not going to be the best, but you are beating the muscle up so much, it has no choice but to grow.

There are new studies coming out by some of my colleagues in Finland and Norway where they show incredible gains from weightlifters who change from three days per week of training to six days per week of training per body part.

That’s an advanced technique that isn’t appropriate for everyone, but the larger point is this: Don’t limit yourself. The human body can withstand a lot more than you think, so long as your nutrition and sleep are in place.

Question 3

When the goal is mass and creating the most anabolism (protein synthesis), compound movements that hit muscle groups should always be the center of a bodybuilding program. That’s going to be things like squats, bench presses, and leg presses.

But make no mistake; there is a difference between bodybuilding and powerlifting. Namely, bodybuilding is about making exercises harder. You’re trying to beat your muscles up. If you’re doing a bench press and you’re bodybuilding, your back might be flat, you’ll focus on the muscle, and on every aspect of the lift. If you are a powerlifter, you’re going to get an arch in your back, shorten the range of motion, and use more leg drive.

The same thing applies with squatting. In powerlifting, your goal is to get the weight up, and you can take steps to make that easier: changing your stance, or using the belt for support, for instance. But in bodybuilding you’re focusing on destroying the muscle. So you’ll see lifters use dropsets, pre-exhaustion, and other overload techniques.

Once you have your compound movements in place, however, bodybuilding is also a sport of symmetry. This is where isolation movements come in. Use them as tools, but not as the foundation.

A lifter who does all isolation and no compound movements is going to be light years behind one with a more balanced program.

Question 4

As I mentioned earlier, one of the fundamental dichotomies of bodybuilding is to gain size and lose fat at the same time. To gain size you lift weights, and to lose fat you do cardio. Simple enough, right? Yes, except that plenty of bodybuilders do hours of cardio every day, an amount on par with high-level endurance athletes.

But look at a marathon runner. Is that something a bodybuilder aspires to be? Clearly not. What we found in our laboratory is that the longer you do cardio, the more muscle you lose. Why would you spend all this time in the off-season gaining muscle, if you’re only going to lose a lot of it with long-duration cardio? This is exactly the problem we’ve been trying to solve.

The answer is high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, as it’s often known. When I say high intensity, I’m talking about 10-30 seconds of all-out, balls-to-the-wall sprinting. If you do it for 10 seconds, you should have nothing left at the end. After 30 seconds of work, you should feel like you’re going to die.

To lose fat while you’re building muscle, supplement your weight training with high-intensity interval training! It’s the best type of cardio for bodybuilders.

Sounds miserable, right? But you’d better believe it’s effective. We found that in just 10 seconds of this type of training, you can deplete your muscle energy stores by approximately 15 percent. That might take 60 minutes to achieve with traditional cardio. What that does is send a massive signal to your body saying, “Oh my God, I have to increase my fat burning machinery.” When you do that, you burn fat the rest of the day.

The results are truly remarkable. We’ve found that with 10-30 seconds of all-out sprints, you can actually lose more fat in just a few minutes than with the long duration 30-60 minute cardio—and you maintain your size. We did a study in our lab where we compared low-intensity cardio to high-intensity cardio side by side, and not only did the sprinters lose more fat, they even gained muscle in their quads. So sprinting can even be anabolic!

Question 5

Say you’re someone who responds well to heavy training. Every time you to go the gym, all you do is lift with eight or fewer repetitions per set, heavy weights, and with long rest periods. You’re constantly loading the muscle, and that’s where it can take a toll on your joints and ligaments. Eventually, you feel the strain, and you get an injury.

For a competitive bodybuilder, this is the worst thing ever. If you’re out for a month, you lose muscle, and then it takes you a month to recover. You just lost two months—and that’s being conservative.

Periodization is programmed change, and it’s one of the keys to avoiding injuries in the gym. Here’s how it works: One day each week, you could perform traditional hypertrophy training, which can be 8-12 reps, 30-60 second rests. One day you might train heavy, in a 6-8 repetition range, with longer rests. Another day, you could do a hypertrophy superset day. Then, if you feel like your joints are hurting, you could try a new technique known as blood flow restriction training, or occlusion training.

This technique, what happens is if you restrict blood flow to a limb, you only have to lift at like 30-40 percent of your maximum weight and you actually can grow.

Simply put: Focus on the goal, and balance your training styles. Give your joints and muscles programmed rest periods, and you recover—and keep growing.

Question 6

Bodybuilding is like any other sport. To improve at it, you have to master your trade, which is lifting weights.

Get everything you can out of every single lift. If you are doing a set of 12, every single rep should count. We know from plenty of studies that when people focus on the muscle, they activate more of it. Going through the motions, on the other hand, is only going to give you pedestrian results.

Success in this sport is all about focus. Make everything count. Make every meal count, make your sleep count, make every rep count, make every set count. Be meticulous. Write down how you felt in the gym. Write down what you are going to do, and what you want to be.

Set goals that are attainable, and stay abreast of the latest research into those goals, and you’ll keep moving toward your ideal physique.

Recommended For You

Ask The Muscle Prof: Is Training To Failure Helping Or Hurting Me?

There’s failure and then there’s

failure

. One is a time-proven technique for anabolic growth; the other is a surefire way to compromise your gains. Learn the difference and the science behind them!

Ask The Muscle Prof: What’s The Deal With Occlusion Training?

Restricting blood flow to the arms or legs during training may sound crazy, but the Muscle Prof has been front and center on the latest research into what is actually a cutting-edge hypertrophy technique!

Ask The Muscle Prof: What Are The Ideal Macros For My Breakfast?

The first meal of the day is a free-for-all for some and an afterthought for others. Here’s your guide to making the perfect bodybuilder breakfast.


Read the article:  

Mass Class Training: The Fundamentals Of Muscle Growth

Posted in Bodybuilding, Exercises, Nutrition, Sports nutrition, Uncategorized, Weight TrainingComments Off on Mass Class Training: The Fundamentals Of Muscle Growth

<div id="DPG" webReader="207.606350745"><div class="side-bar" webReader="-12.6258064516"><div class="c10"><img src="images/2014/nick-tumminello-vitalstats.jpg"/></div><h3 class="article-title c11">Vital Stats</h3><a href="http://www.facebook.com/nicktumminello?ref=profile" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2013/facebook-social-icon.png" class="c12"/></a><a href="https://twitter.com/#!/CoachNickT" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"></a><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2013/twitter-social-icon.png" class="c13"/><a href="http://www.youtube.com/user/PerformanceU" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"></a><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2013/youtube-social-icon.png" class="c13"/><p><strong>Name:</strong> Nick Tuminello<br /><strong>Occupation:</strong> Trainer, owner of <a href="http://nicktumminello.com/" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Performance University</a>, author of <a href="http://www.humankinetics.com/products/all-products/strength-training-for-fat-loss-7475058" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Strength Training for Fat Loss</a>.<br /><strong>Location:</strong> Ft. Lauderdale, FL</p></div><p>Effective training is all about getting the most out of using the equipment you have. You can dream all you want about the specialized gear you see lifters and athletes using in online videos, but until you strike it rich, they're about as real as light sabers.</p><p>So are you out of luck? Hardly! The weight room is an ideal laboratory for crafting "hacks," which are clever, non-obvious ways to solve problems and increase efficiency. In action, they can easily mean the difference between an airtight 45-minute workout and an inefficient hour or more. They can also help you stay uninjured, work around an injury you have, or get stronger in a way you thought was beyond your options.</p><p>Sure, you may already know about some of these hacks, but keep in mind that many people haven't heard of or tried them. So instead of commenting "I've known this for years" or "every serious lifter should already be doing this," share some of your own hacks and tricks that can help the community!</p><p>Think of it this way: There's nothing more frustrating than waiting while someone else uses the equipment you need, so when you share your knowledge, the time you save may be your own!</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c14">1 How to Strip Plates Off the Bar After Heavy Lifting</h3>
</p><img src="images/2014/7-gym-hacks-image-1.jpg" width="314" height="443" border="0" class="right-image"/><p>Slipping a 5-pound plate between your 45-pounders gives you space to get your fingers under the big plates.</p><p>Our first hack comes from my man <a href="http://www.bretcontreras.com/" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Bret "The Rear Admiral" Contreras</a>. It involves a simple and easy way to drag plates off the bar after doing heavy deadlifts or hip thrusts, a cumbersome task that often requires lots of extra time and energy. Take a minute to watch the life-changing video below.</p><p>Did I just hear the sound of your palm hitting your forehead? Maybe it was a glute-smack. In either case, this technique may be common knowledge to many serious weightlifters, but here's a newsflash: Serious lifters aren't the only people doing deads and hip thrusts anymore. That's a good thing—a great thing, in fact.</p><p>Iron game legend Richard Sorin told me, "Athletes are not in the gym to be weightlifters. They're there to be athletes made stronger." This applies to people with physique and general fitness goals, as well.</p><p>All of us can benefit from building stronger posterior chains, and now we can shave off a few precious seconds when we do it.</p><h4>How to Strip Plates Off the Bar<br /><span class="exercise-note">Watch The Video - 00:50</span></h4><iframe width="560" height="420" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/_DHD_yNl19I" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>
<h3 class="article-title c14">2 How to Rack Weight Plates</h3>
</p><p>I've been all over the world and seen hundreds of weight rooms and fitness facilities. Unfortunately, the way almost all of them have their weights plates set up simply doesn't make sense. And when I say, "doesn't make sense," I mean that it puts all of their clients, athletes, coaches, and members at a higher risk of injury.</p><p>If you're a gym owner, work at a training facility, or just want to rack weights in the safest and most considerate way possible, try this method. If you've ever tweaked your back before even setting up under a barbell, you know how important simple solutions like this can be!</p><h4>Your weight room is set up wrong!<br /><span class="exercise-note">Watch The Video - 01:18</span></h4><iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/qaM5K_tE28o" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>
<h3 class="article-title c14">3 How to Stack Plates on a Sled or Prowler</h3>
</p><p>If you use a sled, you know it can be a real pain in the butt pulling the plates off the vertical weight-retaining bars. If you're not careful, it can be an even bigger pain in the finger. It doesn't have to be!</p><p>All you have to do is load a 5-pound plate first, then alternate 45-pound plates with 5-pound plates afterward. Not only does this make it easier to grab and pull off the 45s, it also gives you nice and simple 50-pound increments to monitor your resistance.</p><p>Feel like you've seen this technique before somewhere? As some physique training enthusiasts know, this sandwich technique is also great for loading and unloading the <a href="javascript:pop('seated-calf-raise')">seated calf-raise</a> apparatus.</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c14">4 Use Ab Straps for More Than Just Hanging Leg Raises</h3>
</p><p>If an injury affects your grip, it doesn't have to mean the end of your upper-body training. You can use ab straps as a handle option even if you're unable to hold anything in your hands.</p><p>For example, you can use them to perform bent-over rows at the cable stack. Sure, it's not the full range of motion you'd get with a dumbbell or cable handle, but it's far better than doing nothing at all. You can also keep up your rotational power by using the same straps for a rotary cable pull.</p><img src="images/2014/7-gym-hacks-image-2.jpg" width="560" height="367" border="0" class="c16"/><h6 class="altH6 c17">Bent-over cable rows</h6><p>Give either of these moves a try, and you'll start to see what a versatile tool these can be. Let me know in the comments if you have success using them for anything else.</p><p>The bigger lesson here is that an injury, joint pain, or limitation doesn't have to cancel your workout. This was the focus of my <a href="http://nicktumminello.com/2010/08/the-new-joint-friendly-strength-training-2-dvd-set-is-on-sale-now-at-a-reduced-price/" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Joint Friendly Strength Training DVD</a> set, which includes more than 100 innovative exercises for building muscle and strength while sparing your joints and working around wounded knees, shell-shocked shoulders, hand and wrist limitations, and a bad back.</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c14">5 Use Barbells As a Personalized Dips Station</h3>
</p><p>A common knock against strength training machines is that they don't allow us to follow our "natural" path of movement. Every user has to set up the same way, with the same hand width, foot placement, and so on. But the same people making this complaint happily head over to the dip station, where—you guessed it—they put their hand placement at the same width, regardless of their respective shape and size.</p><p>You may think there's no way to adjust the width of your hands on a parallel bar dip station, since the handles are already preset at a specific width—and you're right! Even the adjustable parallel bar dip stations only have one adjustment, where you rotate the handles either farther apart or closer together. This still leaves out plenty of people whose ideal placement would be in the middle or outside those two positions.</p><img src="images/2014/7-gym-hacks-image-3.jpg" width="560" height="337" border="0" class="c18"/><h6 class="altH6 c17">Parallel bar dip</h6><p>Don't try to fit yourself to a movement. Make the movement fit you by abandoning the dip station and performing dips in a way that's fully adjustable to every individual. All you need is a squat rack and two empty barbells. Set the safety pins a little higher than waist height, set up between the barbells, and start dipping.</p><p>If you're worried about the barbells rolling when you perform the dips, don't be. They won't budge once you put your weight on them. That said, as with every other exercise, there is always some idiot factor involved, so don't do anything you know may push your luck.</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c14">6 Wrist-Wrap Front Squats</h3>
</p><p>Just when I think that using <a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/straps-wraps-grips.html">wrist straps</a> to perform <a href="javascript:pop('front-barbell-squat')">front squats</a> is a hack that everyone knows, I find someone who has never seen this technique before. So it's definitely worth sharing—especially if it eliminates your best excuse not to do front squats!</p><p>This trick is simplicity itself. If you feel like front squats bother your wrists, or you are simply unable to get your wrists into the proper position, loop the wrist straps around the bar (as shown in the photo below) and hold on tight as you squat.</p><img src="images/2014/7-gym-hacks-image-4.jpg" width="560" height="380" border="0" class="c19"/><h6 class="altH6 c17">Wrist-Wrap Front Squats</h6><p>When using wrist straps to perform front squats, keep upward tension on the straps by pulling them vertically throughout the exercise. Keep your elbows at a roughly 90-degree angle to your torso in order to maintain the bar in proper "racked" position. Otherwise, the same cues that apply to regular front squats apply.</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c14">7 Use a Trap Bar as A Four-Way Neck Machine</h3>
</p><p>I'm a big fan of neck-strengthening exercises, especially for athletes competing in impact sports such as rugby, football, grappling, boxing, Muay Thai, and MMA. An effective tool for strengthening the neck is a four-way neck machine, but it's rare to see one outside of specialized training centers. Even such centers struggle to find the space and budget for this machine.</p><p>No neck machine? No problem! In this video, Richard Sorin shows you how to turn a trap bar into a four-way neck machine:</p><h4>DIY Neck Machine and Shoulder Press<br /><span class="exercise-note">Watch The Video - 02:39</span></h4><iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/BP3Lipgfv0M" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>As you can see in the video, this technique works best with a trap bar that's long enough to be placed in a rack, like the Sorinex Diamond Bar. If you've got a good one, you'll find that, like <a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/abstrap.htm">ab straps</a>, it's a great tool that can be put to many uses in the gym.</p><br class="c20"/></div>

7 Gym Hacks You Need To Know

Effective training is all about getting the most out of using the equipment you have. You can dream all you want about the specialized gear you see lifters and athletes using in online videos, but until you strike it rich, they’re about as real as light sabers.

So are you out of luck? Hardly! The weight room is an ideal laboratory for crafting “hacks,” which are clever, non-obvious ways to solve problems and increase efficiency. In action, they can easily mean the difference between an airtight 45-minute workout and an inefficient hour or more. They can also help you stay uninjured, work around an injury you have, or get stronger in a way you thought was beyond your options.

Sure, you may already know about some of these hacks, but keep in mind that many people haven’t heard of or tried them. So instead of commenting “I’ve known this for years” or “every serious lifter should already be doing this,” share some of your own hacks and tricks that can help the community!

Think of it this way: There’s nothing more frustrating than waiting while someone else uses the equipment you need, so when you share your knowledge, the time you save may be your own!

1 How to Strip Plates Off the Bar After Heavy Lifting

Slipping a 5-pound plate between your 45-pounders gives you space to get your fingers under the big plates.

Our first hack comes from my man Bret “The Rear Admiral” Contreras. It involves a simple and easy way to drag plates off the bar after doing heavy deadlifts or hip thrusts, a cumbersome task that often requires lots of extra time and energy. Take a minute to watch the life-changing video below.

Did I just hear the sound of your palm hitting your forehead? Maybe it was a glute-smack. In either case, this technique may be common knowledge to many serious weightlifters, but here’s a newsflash: Serious lifters aren’t the only people doing deads and hip thrusts anymore. That’s a good thing—a great thing, in fact.

Iron game legend Richard Sorin told me, “Athletes are not in the gym to be weightlifters. They’re there to be athletes made stronger.” This applies to people with physique and general fitness goals, as well.

All of us can benefit from building stronger posterior chains, and now we can shave off a few precious seconds when we do it.

How to Strip Plates Off the Bar
Watch The Video – 00:50

2 How to Rack Weight Plates

I’ve been all over the world and seen hundreds of weight rooms and fitness facilities. Unfortunately, the way almost all of them have their weights plates set up simply doesn’t make sense. And when I say, “doesn’t make sense,” I mean that it puts all of their clients, athletes, coaches, and members at a higher risk of injury.

If you’re a gym owner, work at a training facility, or just want to rack weights in the safest and most considerate way possible, try this method. If you’ve ever tweaked your back before even setting up under a barbell, you know how important simple solutions like this can be!

Your weight room is set up wrong!
Watch The Video – 01:18

3 How to Stack Plates on a Sled or Prowler

If you use a sled, you know it can be a real pain in the butt pulling the plates off the vertical weight-retaining bars. If you’re not careful, it can be an even bigger pain in the finger. It doesn’t have to be!

All you have to do is load a 5-pound plate first, then alternate 45-pound plates with 5-pound plates afterward. Not only does this make it easier to grab and pull off the 45s, it also gives you nice and simple 50-pound increments to monitor your resistance.

Feel like you’ve seen this technique before somewhere? As some physique training enthusiasts know, this sandwich technique is also great for loading and unloading the seated calf-raise apparatus.

4 Use Ab Straps for More Than Just Hanging Leg Raises

If an injury affects your grip, it doesn’t have to mean the end of your upper-body training. You can use ab straps as a handle option even if you’re unable to hold anything in your hands.

For example, you can use them to perform bent-over rows at the cable stack. Sure, it’s not the full range of motion you’d get with a dumbbell or cable handle, but it’s far better than doing nothing at all. You can also keep up your rotational power by using the same straps for a rotary cable pull.

Bent-over cable rows

Give either of these moves a try, and you’ll start to see what a versatile tool these can be. Let me know in the comments if you have success using them for anything else.

The bigger lesson here is that an injury, joint pain, or limitation doesn’t have to cancel your workout. This was the focus of my Joint Friendly Strength Training DVD set, which includes more than 100 innovative exercises for building muscle and strength while sparing your joints and working around wounded knees, shell-shocked shoulders, hand and wrist limitations, and a bad back.

5 Use Barbells As a Personalized Dips Station

A common knock against strength training machines is that they don’t allow us to follow our “natural” path of movement. Every user has to set up the same way, with the same hand width, foot placement, and so on. But the same people making this complaint happily head over to the dip station, where—you guessed it—they put their hand placement at the same width, regardless of their respective shape and size.

You may think there’s no way to adjust the width of your hands on a parallel bar dip station, since the handles are already preset at a specific width—and you’re right! Even the adjustable parallel bar dip stations only have one adjustment, where you rotate the handles either farther apart or closer together. This still leaves out plenty of people whose ideal placement would be in the middle or outside those two positions.

Parallel bar dip

Don’t try to fit yourself to a movement. Make the movement fit you by abandoning the dip station and performing dips in a way that’s fully adjustable to every individual. All you need is a squat rack and two empty barbells. Set the safety pins a little higher than waist height, set up between the barbells, and start dipping.

If you’re worried about the barbells rolling when you perform the dips, don’t be. They won’t budge once you put your weight on them. That said, as with every other exercise, there is always some idiot factor involved, so don’t do anything you know may push your luck.

6 Wrist-Wrap Front Squats

Just when I think that using wrist straps to perform front squats is a hack that everyone knows, I find someone who has never seen this technique before. So it’s definitely worth sharing—especially if it eliminates your best excuse not to do front squats!

This trick is simplicity itself. If you feel like front squats bother your wrists, or you are simply unable to get your wrists into the proper position, loop the wrist straps around the bar (as shown in the photo below) and hold on tight as you squat.

Wrist-Wrap Front Squats

When using wrist straps to perform front squats, keep upward tension on the straps by pulling them vertically throughout the exercise. Keep your elbows at a roughly 90-degree angle to your torso in order to maintain the bar in proper “racked” position. Otherwise, the same cues that apply to regular front squats apply.

7 Use a Trap Bar as A Four-Way Neck Machine

I’m a big fan of neck-strengthening exercises, especially for athletes competing in impact sports such as rugby, football, grappling, boxing, Muay Thai, and MMA. An effective tool for strengthening the neck is a four-way neck machine, but it’s rare to see one outside of specialized training centers. Even such centers struggle to find the space and budget for this machine.

No neck machine? No problem! In this video, Richard Sorin shows you how to turn a trap bar into a four-way neck machine:

DIY Neck Machine and Shoulder Press
Watch The Video – 02:39

As you can see in the video, this technique works best with a trap bar that’s long enough to be placed in a rack, like the Sorinex Diamond Bar. If you’ve got a good one, you’ll find that, like ab straps, it’s a great tool that can be put to many uses in the gym.


Link: 

7 Gym Hacks You Need To Know

Posted in Bodybuilding, Exercises, Nutrition, UncategorizedComments Off on 7 Gym Hacks You Need To Know


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