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3 Benefits Of Weightlifting Complexes And 3 Sample Complexes!

The hottest topic on most people’s lips is fat loss, whether they’re getting back in shape for the New Year, getting ready for spring break, or getting into that old dress or their favorite pair of jeans. This is the perfect time to recalibrate, refocus, and recommit to your fat-loss program.

One of the best training methods in my arsenal is complex or matrix-style training. These methods work extremely well after the strength-boosting component of your program, when you’ve already made a concerted effort to build some muscle.

I first learned about complexes back in the late 1990s when I was just getting started in the iron game. Istvan Javorek is widely regarded as the pioneer of complexes, and while he used them to improve the Olympic lifts, I feel as though they’re great as a workout finisher as well.

But before we dive head first into a few sample complexes or matrices, let’s first discuss why you might choose to include them in your workouts.

Complex or matrix-style training work extremely well after you’ve already made a concerted effort to build some muscle.

BENEFITS OF COMPLEXES

Complexes and matrices have quite a few benefits, but here are just a few that spring to mind:

1 They’re Fat Loss Friendly

This is an obvious benefit for long duration, low intensity cardio targets such as improved cardiovascular function and parasympathetic tone etc.—but not maximal fat loss. Anaerobic intervals in the 1:1-1:3 work:rest ratio are some of the best ways to shed body fat. You don’t want to use them all year round, but if you want an all-out assault on body fat, they’re the real deal.

2 They’re Fast

If you’re looking to get lean, more training volume isn’t always better. In fact, this is the ideal time to use faster, more high intensity methods. Complexes are fast and brutally effective, which gets you in and out of the gym quicker.

3 They Efficiently Use Space and Equipment

One of the big issues when it comes to fat loss training is equipment and/or space. Not everyone has sleds, prowlers or a hill in the backyard to train with. Complexes and matrices are not only space efficient—they can often be done in a small area—but theyrequire minimal equipment as well. With only one barbell, a sandbag or even just your bodyweight you can knock out an intense workout.

THE BASICS

When performing complexes, I typically prescribe 24 total reps. My favorite options are either four exercises with six repetitions each, or six exercises with four repetitions each. You’ll perform each exercise for the allotted number of repetitions, and then move immediately into the next exercise. Go through the entire series of exercises, and then rest for the same period of time, or at the most, twice as long as it took you to go through the series.

As your conditioning improves, work to decrease the rest period so that you adhere to a 1:1 work:rest ratio.

SAMPLE COMPLEXES AND MATRICES

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s look at a couple of sample complexes you can take to the gym and start performing today!

The Basic Barbell Complex

This is a super-efficient complex that even the most seasoned iron veteran will enjoy. All the big lifts are tied into one awesome series!

Front Squat

Week 1: 3 complexes
Week 2: 4 complexes
Week 3: 5 complexes
Week 4: 6 complexes

Complex
  • Romanian Deadlift: 4 reps
  • Bent-Over Row: 4 reps
  • Front Squat: 4 reps
  • Push Press: 4 reps
  • Good Morning: 4 reps
  • Back Squat: 4 reps

Bodyweight Leg Matrix

If you struggle with body fat in the legs, this lower-body matrix will help you blowtorch it like no other!

Lunge

Week 1: 2 matrices
Week 2: 3 matrices
Week 3: 3 matrices
Week 4: 4 matrices

Matrix
  • Vertical Jump: 6 reps
  • Squat: 6 reps
  • Step-Up: 6 reps
  • Lunge: 6 reps

Sandbag Complex

Last but not least, if you want something a bit different, give this sandbag complex a shot. It’s not only fun, but the sandbag also creates some unique challenges due to its non-conforming nature.

Overhead Press

Week 1: 3 complexes
Week 2: 4 complexes
Week 3: 5 complexes
Week 4: 6 complexes

Complex
  • Sandbag Shouldering: 6 reps
  • Bent-Over Row: 6 reps
  • Romanian Deadlift: 6 reps
  • Overhead Press: 6 reps

SUMMARY

As you can see, fat loss training doesn’t have to be complex (pun intended). Instead, basic exercises performed in series at a breakneck pace can absolutely help you achieve your goals quickly.

For the next month, finish at least one, if not two, of your workouts with one of the complexes or matrices outlined above. I guarantee it’s going to fast track your fat loss progress, and get you on your way to the lean, sculpted physique you’ve been looking for!


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Power Pairings: Effective Supersets For Strength And Size

As nice as it would be to have unlimited training time, it’s simply not in the cards for most people. The gym is great, but a little thing called life often throws a wrench in your best-laid plans. Realistically, even the most dedicated people can only attend the gym 3-5 days per week for an hour per day, and that’s with a little luck.

The good news is that one hour per session is plenty of time, if you use your time wisely! You just have to be smart with your exercise selection and workout program. Enter “power pairings,” which are specific superset-style exercise pairs I created to help you get the most out of your precious training time.

As with any superset, you perform power pairings without resting between the paired exercises. Take a bench press and chin-up pair, for example. You perform one set of bench press followed immediately by a set of chin-ups. You won’t rest until after you complete both exercises.

Pairing Power

“Full-body workouts are my go-to method when life gets hectic.”

Power pairings can be useful within full-body routines or body-part splits, but for this article I’ll explain how to use them in full-body routines. Full-body workouts are my go-to method when life gets hectic. In a full-body routine, you’d use a power pairing after your primary lift. This allows you to give your first lift maximum attention and strength.

Start your workout with a big-bang strength movement and devote your full energy and attention to it. When you finish your main lift, implement a power pairing as your finisher. Power pairings use one piece of equipment and require little to no setup, which makes them easy to use even in crowded gyms.

Here are four power pairings that you can add to your own training program to cut down on your overall workout time and still get a great training effect!

1 Ring Dip And Chin-Up/Hip Thrust Combo

Pair ring dips with a chin-up/hip thrust combination exercise I created to blast the back, glutes, and hamstrings simultaneously. Rather than confusing you by trying to explain the exercise, here’s a video of what it looks like in action:

From a strength and muscle-building standpoint, this pairing works well because the exercises focus on different body parts, so they won’t negatively impact each other or impair your strength. From a logistical standpoint, it’s a great pair because the ring height is the same for each exercise, which means no necessary adjustments between sets.

To up the ante, try the pairing in a countdown format, as demonstrated in the video. Rather than doing straight sets of each exercise, start by doing decreasing sets of 10, 8, 6, 4, and 2 reps of each exercise with little to no rest between sets. Be warned: This is not for the faint of heart.

Use it: This pair works as a brutal finisher to cap off a great heavy, knee-dominant exercise like the front squat, back squat, split squat, or lunge.

2 “Bottoms Up” Front Squats And Inverted Rows

Instead of starting in the standing position, “bottoms up” squats call for you to start at the bottom of the rep and lift from the squat rack’s safety pins. Pause after each rep! This is a great front squat variation to hammer your quads and core, and help you build strength out of the hole.

After you finish the front squats, leave the bar on the pins and use it to perform a set of inverted rows. The bar will be at a perfect height to allow for full range of motion with no adjustments. It works great from a logistical standpoint.

In the video below, I use chains on the front squats, which is great if you have chains at your disposal, but they’re not essential.

Use it: This pairing is an ideal finisher after a heavy bench press or overhead press variation.

3 Rack RDL And Split-Stance Row Combo

I recommend doing RDLs and barbell rows from the safety pins of a squat rack. Reset after each rep to take stress off your lower back and encourage proper form. I also recommend doing barbell rows with a split stance to take stress off the lower back, because the split stance helps prevent against lower-back rounding.

Fortunately, the proper pin height is the same for each exercise, so it works well as a pairing. You’ll almost undoubtedly be able to use more weight on RDLs than barbell rows, so you’ll need to change the weight, which is a breeze because the bar is raised off the floor. This video below shows how the pair looks in action. I use an oversized trap bar, which is great if you have one, but you can just as easily use a standard barbell.

If you use a barbell, here is how the rows look.

Use it: This pair goes well after a heavy pressing day.

4 Overhead Press And Front Squats

Pairing overhead presses with front squats works well because you don’t need to waste time adjusting the bar in the rack. It’s set to the same height for each exercise, making this a killer combo.

I recommend doing the overhead press before the front squats, because after much experimentation, I found that the overhead press doesn’t negatively impact the subsequent front squats. Alternatively, if you do the front squats first, the overhead press suffers.

It’s also important to note that most people will be much stronger on front squats than overhead press. This gives you two options: add weight for each set of front squats, or simply do more reps. I usually choose the latter and do twice as many front squats as overhead presses, as I do in this video.

Use it: This pairing works perfectly as a finisher after doing a heavy chin-up or row variation. It’s also ideal as a standalone workout when you’re really pinched for time and still want to get a good training effect.

Putting It All Together

Here’s an example of how to utilize these power pairings within a full-body workout program to keep your workouts brief but effective. Shoot to train 2-4 days per week and rotate the workouts as necessary.

Workout 1:
A1. Front Squats: 5 sets of 6 reps
B1. Ring Dips: 5 sets of 10, 8, 6, 4, and 2 reps
B2. Chin-Up/Hip Thrust Combo: 5 sets of 10, 8, 6, 4, and 2 reps

Workout 2:
A1. Incline Bench Press: 5 sets of 6 reps
B1. “Bottoms Up” Front Squats: 4 sets of 10 reps
B2. Inverted Rows: 4 sets of 10 reps

Workout 3:
A1. Dumbbell Bench Press: 5 sets of 8 reps
B1. Rack RDL: 4 sets of 8 reps
B2. Split-Stance Rack Row: 4 sets of 8 reps

Workout 4:
A1. Chin-ups: 5 sets of 6 reps
B1. Overhead Press: 4 sets of 6 reps
B2. Front Squats: 4 sets of 12 reps


About The Author

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

Triangle Push-Ups

Triangle Push-Ups Target and strengthen your arms with triangle push-ups.The Move:Triangle Push-UpsWhy: The triangle push-up gets its name from the position of your hands. Mastering this movement with a modified position of knees on the ground is recommended to keep proper form. The triangle push-up is an excellent total body and core exercise with emphasis on triceps.How: Begin the move by positioning hands on the mat directly under chest with fingers spread and thumbs and forefingers touching, making a triangle shape. Straighten legs in a plank position (harder) or knees on ground (easier).

Body Transformation: Catherine Biery Busted Into A Figure Physique!

Why I decided to transform

My weight skyrocketed during my 20s due to lifestyle choices, low self-esteem, and poor relationships. Even though I earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise science, I couldn’t get my weight under control. At one point, I got up to 175 pounds on my 5-foot-3 frame.

I started dating my husband in my early 30s, regained some of my lost self-esteem, and became more serious about exercise and nutrition. I became a cardio queen and steered clear of the weight room. I ran on the treadmill for hours and wondered why I didn’t lose weight. My husband later introduced me to weightlifting and I loved it. I developed a passion for strength training, slowly lost weight and eventually hit 135 pounds, which felt amazing. Rather than focusing on being skinny, I wanted to be strong.

I became pregnant at age 33 and gained weight again, but weighed less than I did in my 20s. I lost all of my pregnancy weight with continued training. I also paid attention to portion sizes by measuring food in a food journal. I was mostly fit again but wanted to take it to the next level.

Before

After

AGE 37 / HEIGHT 5’3″ / BODY FAT 25%

AGE 37 / HEIGHT 5’3″ / BODY FAT 10%

Post To Fitboard

My ultimate goal was to compete in a figure. I learned about figure competitions years before, but always assumed I wouldn’t make it to that level. The physical and mental strength required to accomplish my goal seemed inspiring and appealing.

Before my daughter turned 3 years old, something clicked. I realized I could accomplish my goal if I set my mind to do it. I wanted to set a good example for my daughter who could watch me follow through with something important. A fire was ignited inside me at age 37. I was ready to see what I was made of, so I cleaned up my diet, increased my training, and watched myself transform.

On November 16, 2013, with support from my family and friends, I competed in my first figure competition. My confidence and inner strength are through the roof. I feel better mentally and physically now than at any time in my life. I’m excited to see what the future has in store for me and am excited to compete again.

How I accomplished my goals

Accomplishing my goals felt like a rollercoaster ride with many ups and downs. When I made the commitment to compete, I was determined to follow through. I wasn’t going to let myself down.

“Rather than focusing on being skinny, I wanted to be strong.”

I vocalized my goal to my friends and family who became my support team. Having their support motivated me when times got tough. It would’ve been easy to quit if I hadn’t let those I care about join my journey. The month before my contest was tough physically and mentally. I reached out to my support team on tough days and asked them to send me their favorite motivational quotes, stories, and experiences, which helped a lot.

On tough days, I’d look to individuals I admire. I visited Erin Stern’s Facebook page often and read transformation stories on Bodybuilding.com. I also read fitness magazines for new workout tips and clean-eating ideas. Most of all, I thought about who I wanted to be for myself and my daughter. I want her to know that it’s important to chase and complete your goals, even when it’s hard and you’re afraid.

I’ve been told countless times by friends, family, and random strangers at the gym that I inspire them. If I told my 20-year-old self that one day people would say that I inspire them, I would’ve never believed it. It’s those moments that keep me motivated to push toward my future goals.

Apply Here To Be A Transformation Of The Week!

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Bodybuilding.com honors people across all transformation categories for their hard work and dedication. Learn how our featured transformers overcame obstacles and hit their goals!

Supplements that helped me through the journey

Diet plan that guided my transformation

I drink at least one gallon of water per day and increase that to two gallons per day three weeks before competition. This is my maintenance diet that keeps me running like a well-fueled machine.

  • Salad
  • Spring Greens Spring Greens

    2 cups

  • Mixed Veggies Mixed Veggies

    1 serving

  • Light Asian Sesame Dressing Light Asian Sesame Dressing

    2 tbsp

  • chicken Chicken

    5 oz

  • cottage cheese Cottage Cheese

    1/2 cup

  • Unsweetened Almond Milk Unsweetened Almond Milk

    1 cup

Training regimen that kept me on track

I strength train six days per week and work each muscle group twice per week. I also do 3-4 hours of cardio per week on the stairmaster.

What aspect challenged me the most

The most challenging part of my transformation was three weeks out from my contest date. I increased my cardio from four to seven days per week and depleted additional calories from my diet.

The combination left me with low energy and an energetic 3-year-old to keep up with. Knowing it was temporary kept me going. I leaned on my husband and support team for motivation and visualized myself on stage completing my goal.

“Don’t obsess about the number on the scale!”

My future fitness plans

I learned a lot from my first figure competition. I met many wonderful people and had fun. I’m excited to get back on stage and do it again. I have specific improvements that I want to make for my next show and will give myself a few months before I step on stage again.

Even though I have a bachelor’s degree in exercise science, I was too embarrassed to pursue my dreams and help others meet their fitness goals because I hadn’t completed mine. I now have the confidence to pursue it and plan to become a certified personal trainer when my daughter is in preschool.

Suggestions for aspiring transformers

  • Believe in yourself and make long-term changes.
  • Surround yourself with positive people to lean on when you need help.
  • Seek inspiration from others who have been there to ignite your inner fire.
  • Take progress photos.
  • Keep a food log and measure your food.
  • Don’t obsess about the number on the scale!
  • Reach for the stars!

How Bodybuilding.com helped me reach my goals

My husband and I use Bodybuilding.com for our supplementation needs because it has the best prices and fastest shipping. Bodybuilding.com keeps us happily stocked with supplements and motivates us with articles and transformation stories.

Catherine’s Top 5 Gym Tracks

  1. “Shut It Down” by Pitbull (Feat. Akon)
  2. “Shake It” by Metro Station
  3. “Remember The Name” by Fort Minor (Feat. Styles Of Beyond)
  4. “Berzerk” by Eminem
  5. “Hella Good” by No Doubt

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Back support + front support + pike

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The Leg-Day Circuit to End Your Workout Right

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High Intensity Power Training Workouts for Fat Loss, Strength and Fitness

For most guys, when they think of conditioning for fat loss, it means either nausea-inducing sprints or churning away on a treadmill for hours like a hamster. Fortunately there’s an alternative style of training that’s as time-efficient as sprints and doesn’t require you to stray away from the weights. Furthermore, because this style of training actually places an emphasis on high-volume technical exercises, you’ll be able to get more skillful repetitions for different lifts that many guys struggle with. What this means for you is that this program will help you get stronger at technical lifts while also improving your body composition

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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