Here’s what you need to know…
• Using a thumbless grip on overhead pressing allows for a better path of the bar by bringing it in closer to the centerline of the body. It’s also easier on the shoulders and wrists.
• Start with a shoulder-width grip. As a visual cue, rotate your hands back towards your delts. If your thumb grazes the outside of them, you’ve got it right.
• Contract your glutes, abs, and quads when you press. The more tension you have throughout the body, the stronger you’ll be.
• Activate the biceps on the eccentric portion of the press. When you lower the bar, think about doing a sort of hammer curl towards your face/ears.
• Press with a purpose. That means press with violence and hate. Try to think about throwing it through the ceiling.
Lots of guys these days shit on any form of seated press, but I’m not sure why. The entire purpose of pressing overhead is simply to build bigger and stronger shoulders. Whether you’re seated or standing doesn’t really matter unless you’re a competitive strongman and … (read more here)
A very good friend of mine, workmate and my original inspiration when I started training has recently published this: The Skinny Guys Guide To Building Muscle by Pete Stables. I couldn’t recommend this more to anyone looking to gain muscle, skinny or not! He also runs a site http://www.southpawpower.com and has been my go-to-guy when it comes to nutrition as far back as I can remember. For less than the price of a take-out, you will have all the knowledge you need to start packing on lean muscle and gaining strength, what are you still reading this for? click on the link! 🙂
You don’t keep a training log.
Keeping a detailed log of your progress is one of the most important things you can do to make sure you are constantly progressing and acheiving optimal results from your training. Without this, your training is just guesswork. If you keep a log you can look back and set yourself a goal/PR to beat every session, or look back and make adjustments/changes when you hit a plateau. On top of this, how will you know you’ve improved over time? Wouldn’t you like to be able to look back and say ‘I’ve added 20kg to my Bench Press in the last 6 months!’ or ‘My 1 mile run time has dropped by over 30 seconds in the last 8 weeks’?
To build muscle you should always be striving to beat PR’s (personal records) in your training. Without your training log you will be hard pressed to remember all of your PR’s so you won’t know if your progressing or just spinning wheels, and without it, everything you do is just like driving without a map and your progress will be much slower than it could be.
This basic rule should form the basis of your entire workout plan, especially if strength is your goal. To structure your training approach, this is the most important factor. Nowadays everyone is so obsessed with all of the specific principles in the gym (such as rep ranges, grip variations, speed of reps, how many sets to perform, whioch days to train, exercise selection .. the list goes on ..) they fail to see the big picture.
Whatever your goal is, the underlying principle will always be progression.
Our bodies build muscle as an adaptive response to the environment they are exposed to. When you go to the gym, you break down your muscle fibers by lifting weights. Your body senses this as a potential threat to its survival and will react by rebuilding the damaged fibers larger and stronger in order to better enable them to cope with the threat next time. So in order to make continual gains in muscle size and strength, you must focus on progressing workout to workout in order to consistently increase that stress level and so growth.
Progression is in one of two forms – An increase in weight or an increase in reps. As long as you increase one of these every session you will give your body the incentive to grow stronger. If you ignore this and train without a logbook or a planned out session you will be ignoring the principle of growth and your gains will come to a grinding halt.
Your aim is to improve on a session by session basis, how can you do this without documenting it somehow? You need to record the lift, weight used and reps acheived so that the next time you enter the gym you can sit down, review the previous session/lifts performed and aim to smash the weight or reps you’ve recorded previously. Buy yourself a cheap diary and start writing it down!
This an article written for www.muscleandbrawn.com – However I couldn’t write it any better so have posted it here!
4 WAYS TO GET FREAKING HUGE – Rock Rannick
Time To Get Swole
Man, do I have some magical, mystical, mass building advice for you today. But I know – you’re extremely skeptical. You’re waiting for the bullcrap; to be let down by some cool sounding training system with overly complicated mumbo jumbo, and exercises that suck.
Sorry, no fail for you today.
I don’t hand out fail. I’m not pushing an agenda. You want to get big fast, then do the following.
1 – Stay with a Simple Routine
Listen, you have been searching for the ultimate routine for years. In fact, you spend more time reading about routines then performing routines. And each week you switch routines. I’ve found it, this week I’m making the change to blah, blah, blah and will grow!
Enough with this foolishness. I’m about to carpet bomb your fantasies, so you have been warned. Brace yourself. Here goes…it doesn’t matter what routine you use. Yes, you heard me right. Doggcrapp, Max Stim, Dogg Stim, Max Crapp…whatever. Just pick something and stick with it. And make sure the routine isn’t complicated. You don’t need complicated.
A simple routine focuses on progression of weight using basic heavy compound lifts including:
- Bench Press
- A form of the Overhead Press
E. T. C.
If you find that your routine has you doing giant sets, drop sets, or focusing on the dreaded mind-muscle connection, run like the wind. And worse yet, if it contains too many isolation movements…well…FAIL. You don’t need training techniques or isolation movements, you need to:
2 – Lift Heavy Ass Weights
Lift heavy ass weight. Heavy ass weight makes muscles grow. Heavy ass weight can be in any rep range, because it is heavy ass weight and is kicking your balls seven ways to Sunday.
What rep range should I use? FAIL! It doesn’t matter – Lift heavy ass weights!
What should my rep speed be? FAIL! It doesn’t matter – Lift heavy ass weights!
Should I do cable crossovers before or after flyes, and should incline bench be performed with a 22 degree angle, or a 24 degree angle? FAIL! It doesn’t matter – Lift heavy ass weights!
What split is the most effective for mass? FAIL! FAIL! FAIL!
GO LIFT HEAVY ASS WEIGHTS!
But I don’t want to lift heavy! So and so says that squats are bad for your knees, and my mom is afraid and wants me to take up knitting.
Both so and so, and your mom (no offense to moms) can barely lift a roll of toilet paper to wipe their own asses. If you want to look like your mom, listen to the training advice of your mom. If you want to pack on muscle, lift heavy ass weight!
3 – Stop Bitching and Get Your Ass to the Gym!
My toe hurts.
My right nut seems small today, maybe I shouldn’t train.
Want to know how to fail? I mean epic fail? Continue to make excuses, and avoid going to the gym. Want to know how to succeed? Gird up your balls, shut the hell up, and get your ass to the gym, 52 weeks a year. The end.
This isn’t complicated.
Of course your left nut hurts! You’re lifting weights. Lifting heavy ass weights will hurt from time to time. Pain is part of the equation. We aren’t collecting bottle caps here, Charles.
4 – Forget Your Damned Abs and Eat!
I want a six pack!
Bud, if you think you can pack on muscle and carve out a six pack in the same month, you need to lay off the crack pipe.
This just in…if you want muscle, you need to eat big. If you want to be a 220 mass monster, but only weigh 120, you need to start eating like you weigh 220 pounds.
How long should I bulk before I cut? FAIL! Eat until people at the gym start asking you where you get your steroids from. Then, and only then can you start cutting.
Should my bulk be dirty or clean? FAIL! Grab a shovel and get to gettin’.
Whole milk has fat! Almonds have fat! I can’t eat fat! FAIL! Listen, drinking whole milk and lifting heavy ass weights equals muscle mass.
- Lift heavy ass weight using heavy ass compound lifts.
- Eat big.
- Never miss a workout.
- Stick with a basic routine.
Follow these 4 rules for two years and you will dramatically change your body. The end.
You’re not getting enough sleep.
Sleep is a critical component in building muscle, yet is the most commonly overlooked aspect of it. Muscle tissue repairs itself and grows during rest periods, but sleep is more important than waking rest periods.
The best and most effective routines will not make up for a lack of rest, and sleep is the ultimate rest. Growth Hormone is produced and protein synthesis occurs during your sleep cycles. It also assists a lot of other important body functions i.e. The replacement of aging and dead cells and repair of muscle and tissue, lowering of energy consumption and recharging the brain.
Rest is one of the most important principles of exercise and the most commonly overlooked. Whilst sleeping, your body goes into a state of suspended animation and is doing exactly what you’ve been striving for – Builds muscle! Why would you cut this short by not getting enough sleep? All mammals, birds and fish observe a regular state of natural rest. The role of sleep in health and wellness has been intensively studied and still is to this day, restorative theories of sleep describe it as a time of healing and growth for all organisms.
Animal studies have shown that sleep is essential for survival. Animals deprived of sleep in studies, died after a matter of weeks! In humans, metabolic activity in the brain declines considerably after 24 hours of sustained wakefulness. Sleep is required for our nervous systems to work correctly and deep sleep is necessary for the release of growth hormone in children and young adults.
Though a lot of us think we can get by with 4-6 hours sleep, the reality is that although sleep is entirely individualized, the overwhelming majority of us need 7-8 hours to function normally. The quality of this sleep diminishes with age, but the need for it does not. Rest is also extremely important if you’re trying to gain muscle. Sleep is the best training partner you’ll have and depriving yourself of it not only limits your capacity to build, it also stunts your mental focus and co-ordination so your workouts are then less effective.
Our sleep is divided into cycles which consist of non-REM and REM phases. It’s during our non-REM deep sleep phase that we get the biggest human growth hormone spike. In short, HGH is an anabolic agent that promotes muscle recovery and growth among other things. In order to gain muscle, you need to make sure you get the biggest possible release of HGH every night .. how can this be achieved?
Since our HGH is released during the deep sleep phase and the deepest sleep occurs mid-cycle (usually around 2am) – try to make sure you go to bed in the early hours of the night. Their is a greater amount of deep sleep earlier in the cycle, whilst the proportion of REM sleep increases later in the cycle and just before wakening. During our restorative deep sleep phase, our blood pressure drops and breathing becomes deeper and slower. With our brain taking a time-out, there’s more blood to flow into our muscles. Increased nutrient rich blood flow and high HGH levels will drastically improve your ability to build muscle.
Lack of sleep however can quickly decrease the amount of growth hormone that your pituitary gland secretes during your deep sleep and growth hormone deficiency is associated with increased obesity, loss of muscle and reduced exercise capacity.
It is recommended you get 7-9 hours sleep a night. Sleep less than this and your seriously reducing your chances of growth and/or progression in the gym. If muscle gain is your goal, start going to bed earlier!
Your workout routine isn’t effective.
Most beginners or even some experienced lifters get their routines from magazines and publications written by professional bodybuilders – these are not designed for people new to lifting or natural lifters, rather for the ‘enhanced’ trainee due to the huge amounts of volume for specific bodyparts. Others follow the routine their ‘friend’ is doing as he’s had great results, however everyone is different and just because your friend has had decent gains, it does not follow that you necessarily will. Following these examples will generally only leave you frustrated, sore and with minimal improvement.
A good routine needs to be well structured; workout days to be arranged to allow for adequate rest, muscle groups arranged well in order to avoid overtraining a specific bodypart, muscle groups arranged in order for each muscle to be worked for maximum effect, a good selection of compound and isolation exercises and good warm-up and cool-down.
A compound exercise is one where the body moves through more than one joint (i.e. Squat moves the Hip, Knee and Ankle) and isolation exercises move through only one joint (i.e. Leg Extension moves only the Knee). To provide complete stimulation of a muscle, you should take advantage of both of these types of exercise. However if mass is your main goal, compound exercises should make up the majority of your training with a few isolation exercises thrown in to supplement the main lifts.
Compound movements allow you to lift more weight and work through more muscle groups at the same time than isolation, this will not only save you time in the gym, but provides more stimulation for the muscles and in response your body will release more anabolic hormones (such as testosterone and growth hormone) in response to the stress.
3-4 days a week of training is adequate for any natural lifter, any more than this and you’ll struggle to recover enough between workouts to keep the right level of intensity when training. Don’t forget the importance of warming up and cooling down – These will not only increase blood flow and loosen muscles prior to training, but also reduce the chance of injury during your workout and enhance recovery afterwards.
Finally try to have a days rest between each workout, for many of the reasons above but also to be able to perform at maximum intensity every session. If you follow up a heavy squat session with deadlifts the next day, you’ll no doubt have tired legs and won’t be able to lift the same amount of weight/reps as you could with a days rest between sessions. Building strength and muscle is a long term goal and trying to rush it will only hinder your progress.
You’re not drinking enough water
Sounds daft I know, but it is probably the biggest reason most people are failing to gain weight. Water makes up around 60% of our bodies and lean muscle itself is around 70%. We can survive for weeks without food, but only days without water – It is second only to oxygen as being essential for life.
Research has shown that even a small decrease in hydration can lead to a significant drop in strength. If your hydration drops by 3-4% it can lead to a decrease in strength of 10-20%!! Not only that but it also plays a significant part in injury prevention – Lifting weights or resistance training at high intensity for long periods of time puts enormous strain on the joints and connective tissues. Being well hydrated helps to lubricate these joints and provides a protective layer or cushion around them, reducing the chance of injury. Dehydration can also lead to muscle catabolism (wastage), which is definitely worth avoiding!
Drinking a lot of water will also make you healthier and help to flush waste products from your body. When you are healthy you recover and grow faster, not to mention reducing sickness which will only impede your training.
Finally, drinking plenty of water helps to speed digestion and move nutrients around the body more efficiently. It helps you to store carbohydrates as muscle glycogen giving you more energy in your workouts. Building muscle also requires a high protein diet, however protein cannot straightaway be absorbed by the bodies cells, it needs to be broken down into its component amino acids, to do this you need guess what? Water.
How much water should you drink? I personally aim for a gallon a day! I don’t often get there but even if I don’t, I at least end up with the same or more than the ‘recommended guide’ as follows:
Take your body weight in pounds and multiply by the following – If you’re training 3 times a week use 0.6, 4 times a week 0.7, 5 times or more 0.8 – this will tell you how many fluid ounces to consume a day. For example 190lb multiplied by 0.6 = 114 fluid ounces or around 3.5 litres.
Avoid drinking large amounts in one go, this is the only time that excessive water drinking can be bad for you – See water intoxication – Instead aim to drink 1-2 glasses with every meal, sip throughout the day and especially when training or when you’re perspiring.
‘What supplements should I take?’ is a common question in gyms worldwide, our dependence on them is shocking! How many people do you know taking supplements? what percentage of gym goers would you say is hitting them regularly? I don’t know either, but I know it’s a lot. Why is this..? Clever marketing!
The definition of a supplement is: Something that completes or enhances something else when added to it.
Supplements are just that, they are supposed to go with good training and nutrition, not replace them. Too many people (young guys especially) put supplements first and training second. They are never going to succeed with that attitude. No supplement takes the place of hard work in the gym and good nutrition, not one.
If there really was a good supplement that worked really well on the market, don’t you think we’d all know about it? And don’t you think the top-level bodybuilder’s would be using it instead of pumping full of dangerous and illegal steroids?
Again, to supplement means ‘in addition to’, but that’s just the point, most people think they can stack a load of horrendously overpriced supplements and they’ll pack on muscle. Unfortunately they forget that food is the number one most anabolic substance out there, and hard work in the gym second. Get those two absolutely spot on first, then ask yourself – Are you getting enough rest and hydration? – Then and only then could you start to think about supplements, and if you are, do some proper research! don’t follow what some forum guy advises or because some top-level pro advertises it. They didn’t get that way from the supplement, I can guarantee it!
Do I supplement? Yes, I do. However, I like to think I have the above points covered, and I also know that they are just a tool to aid my progress and may get me there a little quicker. The training I do is and always should be the number one priority. I only take a few time proven supplements that have been used for many years by all levels – currently protein and creatine. That’s it! – All the other ones are unnecessary if you stick to a balanced healthy diet, which also means you’re not taking unknown quantities of whatever might be included, even if the dosage is high enough to warrant taking it. (do you really know what half of the ingredients even are, never mind what the long-term effects might be?) Half of the supplements out there have such a low amount of the active ingredient you may as well not bother. The rest of the hype is marketing and advertising. Don’t fall for it!
In summary, get your training right, eat properly, drink plenty of water, get enough sleep and rest adequately between workouts. If you’re doing all this, then you could consider taking supplements, but don’t expect miracles!
In a world gone mad for the latest greatest machine or new fangled exercise that every newly qualified Personal Trainer ‘thinks’ they’ve invented, we are sadly overlooking what has always worked. For great upper body strength and development look no further than the chin up and the dip and they’re weighted progressions. If you’re not sure look at a professional gymnast – I think you’ll agree that they’re pretty Hench! And do you think they do curls/pushdowns or use machines? Nope, the overwhelming majority of their training is dominated by chins and dips in some variation.
We all know by now that the squat is the king of the lower body exercises, and if you don’t you badly need to read up! I’m not going to rant about that right now, there is more than enough that’s been said on that front. Well, the chin-up and dip are most definitely in the running for the upper body crown. The most frustrating thing is that most commercial gyms don’t even have a chin-up bar and less still have a dipping station, preferring instead the grossly overpriced suspension bands or some variant, where all manner of interesting movements can be done and so make them more ‘functional’ … man, am I getting sick of hearing that word! Guess what? Gymnastic rings were first used in the mid 1800’s, and have been used in gymnastics since the early 1900’s. They are still used today in virtually the same form (rings at the end of a rope). So what exactly is so revolutionary about suspension bands? Oh wait, they have a different attachment point so they can be used at different angles and are unstable so require more ‘core’ stability when performing standard exercises like rows and bicep curls on them .. oh dear! Check out that person doing the exercises and tell me their core is stable – they’re usually not strong enough for it anyway and are wriggling around and swinging their hips with dreadful posture whilst doing the exercises, thus negating any ‘stability’ in the first place!
Anyway, back to chin ups and dips, how many have seen the guy doing gut wrenching, back swinging lat pulldowns with the whole stack? He probably can’t even do strict chins for the same amount of reps. The same goes for the guy who can smash out 10 reps at 100kg on the bench press, can he do 10 strict dips? Probably not. Not to mention the stability involved in the shoulder joint, and the subsequent strengthening of the rotator cuff.
Some of the best physiques in bodybuilding were built back in the day with a staple diet of chins and dips, I’ve already mentioned gymnasts but again, check out the upper body development of Kristian Thomas as an example.
Basically, the reason most avoid these is that they’re too damn hard! especially the weighted versions. But since when has the easiest version of something given the greatest gains? It’s about time you went back to basics put these two great exercises back into your routine. If you need further clarification see what Charles Poliquin has to say about them here: weighted chins, weighted dips. That’s it, rant over 😉
According to bodybuilding standards, the calves should be the same width as the arms. Are yours? Do you give them the same amount of training? probably not! As they tend to remain hidden most of the time it is easy to forget them, but who remembers when Arnold steps out of the car in the movie ‘Twins’? .. Before you’d seen any more you knew this guy was going to be Hench! Having powerful looking calves makes a statement, whereas nothing looks less Hench than skinny little ankles and calves poking out of shorts!
The calves are notoriously hard to develop, most people hit them with a ton of volume to little or no avail. Yet again, it seems little to no results don’t seem to count for anything and people keep on plugging away .. Well, I can certainly advocate the Doggcrapp method, I’ve used it myself and it works. If you want to bring your calves up to standard try these out once to twice a week at the end of a session.
Single set of calf raises 12-15 reps (on a leg press, standing smith machine calf raise or any variation that gives a full stretch at the bottom. Aim for a 10-20 second negative (lowering) and a 10-20 second hold in the full stretched bottom position, then explode as quickly as possible back to the top. Be prepared to have your pain threshold tested!!
Well at least that’s his internet nickname! It is also known as DC Training to most – Dante Trudel has trained many bodybuilders and has a distinct knack for getting people into the 300lb category. His methods are extreme and sometimes controversial, but they work! Now I’m not saying I want to be 300lb, or a bodybuilder, but his basic principles can be applied to anyone – genetic potential and steroids aside, if you want to be the biggest you can naturally be, his methodology still stands. Here are just two of his excerpts:
“Training is all about adaptation. In simple terms you lift a weight and your muscle has one of 2 choices, either tear completely under the load (which is incredibly rare and what we don’t want) or the muscle lifts the weight and protects itself by remodeling and getting bigger to protect itself against the load (next time). If the weight gets heavier, the muscle has to again remodel and get bigger again to handle it. You can superset, superslow, giant set, pre exhaust all day long but the infinite adaption is load—meaning heavier and heavier weights is the only infinite thing you can do in your training. Intensity is finite. Volume is finite (or infinite if you want to do 9000 sets per bodypart)…everything else is finite. The Load is infinite and heavier and heavier weights used (I DON’T GIVE A CRAP WHAT SOME BUCK 58 POUND WRITER FROM FLEX MAGAZINE SAYS) will make the biggest bodybuilder (add high protein, glutamine and drugs to the mix and you have one large person).”
“No matter what the method someone uses to gain super strength gains-it’s imperative they do so. Again if you put someone out on a deserted island with 135LBS of weights he can superset, giant set, high rep, superslow etc etc squats, deadlifts and benches to his hearts delight…the sad story is his gains will quickly come to a halt because his limiting factor is the amount of strength he will gain. He has 135LBS to work with. You take that same guy on a deserted island and give him squats deadlifts, and benches and an unlimited weight supply that he constantly pushes, in 5 years I’ll show you a big Gilligan” – Dante Trudel
Notice I haven’t mentioned his actual programming, (I’ve tried it myself and it’s savage) I just wanted to illustrate the idea that it doesn’t matter what the programming is, it’s the progression that counts. If you want to be stronger, you need to need to add weight/reps every workout and give your body a reason to be! Whether you want to be a powerlifter, a bodybuilder or just a beast, the general principle remains. Get stronger to get bigger!
You wouldn’t believe how much mis-information there is on this! Just a simple search on google will give you thousands of differing opinions on whether it is a good or bad movement, some will claim it’s no good at all! I would say take a look at Dorian Yates and ask yourself, does this man look like he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to a big back? I really like this lift, it feels like it’s really hitting the lats hard performed properly, and unlike standard barbell rows or Pendlay rows, there is far less stress on the lower back. The biggest problem most have is executing the lift properly. Dorian used to use an underhand grip, but as the weights used were getting huge, he ended up doing the inevitable and injuring his bicep tendon and now uses a narrow overhand grip instead. The main two mistakes most people make are flaring out the elbows, and pausing at the top of the movement. This is a power movement and should be treated so. Use the heaviest weight you can and keep the body still! For a more in depth definition here’s the man himself.
Some of you may have heard of Kroc rows, some may even have used them in a back program. I personally have a real love/hate relationship with them as when performed correctly they are brutal! – Here’s the ‘Kroc’ himself on how to perform them correctly.
As for crunches, never has a particular exercise been more villainised than these! When addressing lordosis or anterior pelvic tilt (or even just plain abdominal training), a full sit-up is far more damaging as it engages the hip flexors which take over the movement once the lower back leaves the floor/bench. The very muscle needing to be stretched/loosened in all but the majority of people, not strengthened or tightened! Crunches can help to shorten the rectus abdomnis and ‘pull the pelvis forward but far better are reverse crunches – Not only can they help alleviate Lordosis as the pelvis tilts posteriorly to initiate the movement, but also do not aggravate Kyphosis like crunches do as the upper back stays on the ground, shoulders can be kept retracted and the head/neck relaxed. Of course this would be in conjunction with lengthening aforementioned hip flexors and quads and strengthening glutes and hamstrings. As these are a relatively easy exercise for anyone with a strong core from lifting, i.e. if you can perform 10 or more easily, try using a decline bench (head at highest level), hanging knee raises to chest (avoid straight leg raises as these will make you arch your lower back) or hanging knees-to-elbows (without swinging or using momentum).