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! 🙂
A frequently asked question when it comes to chest training is ‘Are Dumbells better or worse than a Barbell?’ – There is no yes or no answer to this one, it is entirely dependant on your goals.
As you can load a barbell gradually with minor increases in weight, they are the ideal tool for building strength. To get stronger you need to progressively lift more weight over a period of time. If you can’t, something is not right – You can perform all the drop-sets/supersets/giant sets/forced reps etc etc, but if the weight is not increasing, you will not get stronger – You will plateau much quicker with Dumbbells due to the large increase in weight percentage between them. Even a well stocked gym will have the weight increases around the 2.5kg mark. This is as increase of 5kg on your lift which is going to be a challenge for most and makes progressive loading nigh impossible. If your goal is pure strength you can load significantly more onto a barbell due to its balance and stability and so is the perfect tool in this situation.
Muscular imbalance is another thing to address. Although you can try and be more aware of pushing equally or focusing on leading with the weaker side, with a Barbell imbalances can be masked. When using Dumbbells you will be much more aware of imbalances as one side will be unstable or will fatigue first, and will prevent your dominant side from growing faster than the other. Balanced body strength leads to greater performance and lowers the chance of injury.
The Barbell bench press is also harder on your joints than dumbbells. When pressing with dumbbells, your hands won’t remain completely pronated (palms forward), but will rotate slightly inwards reducing the stress on your wrists elbows and shoulders (particularly rotator cuff) and therefore reducing your chance of injury.
With regard to muscle recruitment, researchers noted that electrical activity or muscle stimulation in the arms was greatest in the triceps with a barbell, but when dumbbells are used the biceps also come into play as stabilisers. The Barbell activates more upper chest fibres and anterior deltoid due to the wide grip in the top position, however as your hands are free to move across your body with dumbbell presses there is greater lower pectoral activation. Although yes, you will use more stabilising muscles with the dumbbells, you will be limited by the weight increases as previously mentioned meaning you will plateau sooner.
In my opinion the barbell is the better option as you can handle a lot more weight doing the same exercises. More weight moved = bigger muscles. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use dumbbells, you should try and use both – Just keep the main focus on increasing the weight on the bar and use dumbbell sets to ensure you work the entire chest area, prevent imbalances and keep your joints healthy.
In a nutshell:
Should you use lifting straps? It’s yet another massive debate with people on both sides passionately arguing the case for and against them.
Having had a crossfit background, I have been guilty of judging people on using them myself. However, since strength training I’ve been bringing them in for my heavier topsets on deadlifts and I’m getting a couple more reps, so definitely see the benefits. A lot of the for arguments are that there’s better Lat isolation or they say ‘I feel it in my back more’ or even just being able to perform more reps with a weight that they can’t without them.
When performing deadlifts, rows or pulldowns, the majority of the time your grip will give out before your back will. If you use straps a lot you will need to add in some grip work on top of everything else. Grip training itself is extremely taxing to your CNS and is difficult to recover from as everything you do involves your grip to some extent. My advice? Don’t use them every set, just when grip is starting to become an issue with the weight you’re using. That way you’re not having to do additional grip training and you can reap the benefits of being able to go heavier on your lifts.
Click HERE to read a great nutrition article on EliteFTS by a good friend of mine Pete, my go-to-guy when it comes to anything to do with nutrition. Also click here if you missed his earlier article The Whole Foods Diet.
Pete Stables is a REPS accredited strength and conditioning coach from the United Kingdom, specializing in constructing nutrition plans for clients who want to lose weight, gain muscle, or excel in any given sport. For consultation inquiries, contact Pete at www.maximumuscle.com
Article from TheDeadlift.com
The Physical Benefits of Deadlifting
Why Deadlift? To us asking that is akin to asking Why Breathe? The Deadlift is one of the most ancient, fundamental and just flat out alpha lifts out there. In no other lift do you raise hundreds of pounds of weight off the ground with your bare hands. There’s really something magical about the Deadlift. You just don’t feel the same amount of confidence and joy doing Squats or Bench Pressing as you do while Deadlifting. There’s a reason so many people look forward to Deadlift day.
What Muscles Does The Deadlift Work?
The primary of deadlifting are increased strength and muscle mass. Since the deadlift is a compound movement it utilizes nearly every major muscle of your body:
• Spinal Erectors
• Lower Back
• Middle and Upper Trapezius
• Abdominals and Obliques
So doing one deadlift is almost like doing In a leg presses, aback extension, lying leg curls, an abdominal crunch, a gripping exercise, a straight-arm pull down and a shrug all at the same time. Yep, its one hell of a compound lift.
Another great reason for deadlifting is testosterone and growth hormone release. Studies have shown that compound lifts like the deadlift use the most muscle groups and thus release the most of these 2 crucial chemical compounds.
Still not fully convinced by the glory of the Deadlift? Listen to Johnnie Jackson, IFBB Pro and one of the strongest bodybuilders in the world.
Other Deadlifting Benefits
• Deadlifting helps to increase stability control. While using machines to train muscles will isolate and target only a specific few muscle groups, the deadlift also involves supplementary and minor muscles called stabilizer muscles that are usually ignored by the mainstream. The lack of training of these stabilizer muscles will lead to imbalances and can lead a person to be more susceptible to injury and unsymmetrical physique.
• Another huge benefit from deadlifting is increased grip strength. Since the deadlift is one of the few exercises where you must manually hold hundreds of pounds of weight, it is one of the best exercises for increasing grip strength and strengthening the forearms. Increased grip strength will then aid to improve other lifts like the bench press.
• Deadlifting is also one the few exercises out there with real world application. Pickup weights off the ground is something we’ve been doing for millennia and is exactly what the deadlift trains the body to do.
• If performed correctly the deadlift also strengthens the spine and can lead to better posture. People with lordosis or excessive curving of the spine can benefit from the deadlift as it will help fix their posture by strengthening their lower back muscles, as well as the core, and by ironing out any lower back imbalances.
• Cardio. The only two exercises to really make someone light headed are Deadlifts and Squats. Deadlifting really taxes your cardiovascular system, as you already know, or will soon find out. (Pro tip: Make sure you have somewhere to sit down after deadlifting).
Some uneducated people and crappy gyms (AKA Planet Fitness) will try and tell you the Deadlift is not a good exercise, and that it’s dangerous, and that you shouldn’t do it. That’s not true at all. Driving a car is dangerous, yet we still do it. Why? Because we learn how to do it first. So read up on Deadlifting Form before you go out there and do a clean set of 5.
Article from TheDeadlift.com
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!
A great article by Mark Rippetoe. Worth a read by all, but especially beginner/intermediate lifters.
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.
Your not training your legs as hard as the rest of your body
Our ability to increase muscle is a direct result of our ability to increase our natural anabolic hormone levels. You’ve heard of these before – Growth Hormone, Testosterone, IGF-1 to name a few – You’ve heard of these probably because you’ve heard of steroids. Steroids are just natural chemicals our bodies produce, the reason bodybuilders get so freakishly huge is they take far more of these hormones than their bodies can develop for themselves. You however, can increase your bodies natural levels of these hormones by the right training and nutrition. As our bodies operate on a ‘supply and demand’ basis, to boost these hormones you must train as intensely as possible and recruit as many muscle fibers as you can during training.
Now some basic anatomy! Our legs make up almost two thirds of our entire muscle mass! (Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Gluteals and Calves) So by training your legs as intensely as your upper body (or more), you target far more muscle fibers and so force your endocrine (hormone release) system to release all these anabolic goodies into your system. As these hormones are not just isolated to build muscle in your lower body, they also help increase size on your chest, back, shoulders, arms .. in fact, your whole body!
The Squat (In particular the Barbell Back Squat) has long been proven to be the ultimate in mass gaining exercises. It’s estimated to involve hundreds of muscles, acting as prime movers or stabilisers in the upper and lower body. The squat recruits so many muscle fibers, it releases more GH (Growth Hormone) than any other exercise – period. More GH, more muscle.
The Deadlift is number two as far as I’m concerned in the mass building arsenal. It is the ultimate strength exercise – What is more satisfying that bending down and picking up some seriously heavy weight off the ground? Again, as the squat, to deadlift requires your whole body to work ,so encourages the hormones to be released as mentioned previously.
The reason we don’t see everyone doing these exercises? (Squat & Deadlift) Mainly because they’re so hard – Most people would rather push 250kg on a leg press for 10 reps, than do 100kg back squat for 10 reps. Somehow they think this is a more impressive feat as more weight is being used. Anyone who has done a nice heavy rock bottom squat knows damn well that it is far harder (thus requires more strength) to drive up out of the bottom of a squat, than to slide a sledge a few inches along it’s track, whatever the weight involved. Either that or they don’t know how to squat or deadlift correctly so choose not to do them instead of finding out or being shown.
The DC workout split is as follows:
Day 1 – Chect, Shoulders, Triceps, Back Width, Back thickness
Day 2 – Biceps, Forearms, Calves, Hamstrings, Quadriceps
I will be doing this split in a A/B fashion, training 3 times a week so every 2 weeks, I’ll do 3 of each session.
The idea is to pick your top 3 (or most effective) exercise for each bodypart and rotate through them over the sessions, thus giving 6 different workouts, but still adhering to the split above. Once you can no longer increase the weight/reps on a given exercise – change it out for a new one, then return to it again at the next plateau.
Rep numbers vary by exercise and their speed is generally a controlled eccentric or negative (lowering) followed by an explosive concentric (or 2-0-0). Most exercises are rest-paused with the exception of back thickness and quads (Calves are done as a 10 second negative, 20 second hold at full stretch and then explosive concentric or 10-20-0). After 3 rest pause sets, the exercise is followed up with a static hold of up to a minute, then extreme stretching of the worked muscle.
I took my intial measurements at the start which are:
Chest – 43″, Bicep (flexed) – 15″, Quad – 23.5″, Calf – 15″, Abdomen – 35″, and Hips 41″
After the 3 month period I’ll measure again to see what difference, if any, DC training has made.
So far after a week, I’m enjoying the change of workout and different exercises this type of split has bought. The rest-pause sets are harder than traditional strength training, but I like the change in intensity. I’m struggling with the static holds at the moment – after a rest pause set, I’m only managing to hold for maybe 20 seconds or more – The same goes for the extreme stretching! I’m hoping I’ll be able to improve on this as the sessions go on.
Not for the faint hearted, rest-pause training can help you through sticking points or simply offer something to break through boredom!
The basic principle is to extend the number of reps you perform with a given weight by taking very small breaks between sets.
There are a few different ways to use this technique, Mike Mahler for example talks of using singles with close to your one rep max and taking around 10-15 secs between reps. This way you can do 6 or more reps with what is normally your 1 rep max. Dante Trudel AKA Doggcrapp or DC, advocates higher reps for a single set (although different rep ranges for each bodypart) and then two rest-pause sets afterwards (approx 30s rest between sets).
However they’re done, they are brutal and only to be attempted if your headstrong about your training. Don’t bother with any isometric training for them, you can’t really increase the weight on a lat raise in the same way you can a military press for example, so won’t get anywhere near the benfit of this type of training.
I personally tried DC training some time ago, but at the time I didn’t feel I was giving it enough effort, so changed to something else. However I do prefer his take on RP (rest-pause) training. For example, on an incline bench press you would be aiming for 11-15RP – Which would look something like a set of 8, 10-15 breaths (approx 30 secs), another 3 reps, 10-15 breaths and finally, another 2 reps – Totalling 13 reps RP. In DC training this is then followed up by a static hold in a mid-point of the given lift to further stress the muscle, then extreme stretching (another long discussion on this one, so not going into it!). If you have the willpower, this is a great way to train to increase both strength and mass, you are aiming to add weight to the bar every workout. If you fall in the lower end of the reps (in this case 11), you would just try to increase reps, if you get higher into the range go for the weight increase.
You’re not increasing weight or repetitions
Otherwise known as the progressive overload principle, which is basically; Strength and all other components of fitness increase if the training becomes more demanding.
It is commonly explained by the ancient Greek story of Milo (You’ve probably heard this before!), who lifted a calf every day and so, as it grew, he was eventually lifting a fully grown bull. This however, is actually referring to linear periodisation, which is followed by most serious athletes, and the majority of lifters will benefit greatly from it initially – (simply increasing the weight on the bar, by small increments, every workout) – but, to continue making progress past these initial gains, some further variation is necessary. For progressive overload to continue past hitting plateaus in linear periodisation we can look at increasing repetitions.
This does not imply doing sets of 30 reps on a given exercise, but, instead when a weight increase is no longer possible due to current strength limits, reduce the weight used and perform more repetitions than previously lifted with that lowered weight. For example you’ve benched 100kg for 6 reps previously and been adding 1kg to the bar each workout. At 110kg you stall and can’t get more than 1 rep. Drop back to 100kg and aim to beat the 6 reps you lifted at the time. If you then hit 8 reps, you have clearly increased your strength, with this increase you should then have built some muscle alongside it (as long as you’ve been eating enough! – see reason 1). You would then continue with normal 1kg increases as before, only this time you have a set rep record to beat every time you workout. On top of this you can monitor your progress and improve every session!
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).
How many of you see people training multiple sets to failure at every angle possible for chest development? How many sets should people be doing of curls? Why perform squats, then leg extensions, then lunges, then several different calf movements when working legs?
We have been polluted with these ridiculous bodybuilding methods for years, and despite the fact that nobody ever seems to make much progress from these, we continue to train in the same manner. Men’s fitness magazines to this day push high volume training and splits as a good thing, yet any personal trainer who has been around for a while or bothered to do some research on more than just one type of training should be able to tell you otherwise (I say should, as I have encountered many a complete idiot in the industry as well as some very knowledgeable trainers).
I myself used high volume training and although I did gain some weight in the short-term, most of this was just due to increasing the amount I was eating, alongside what is affectionally termed ‘the beginner effect’.
I’m not saying that no-one will benefit from high volume, there’s plenty out there who have, but this is structured volume like GVT or otherwise – The type of high volume I’m talking about is the classic split – Let’s take Chest & Triceps as an example split – several sets of flat bench, followed by incline, decline, some flyes or crossovers and then onto tricep extensions, pushdowns and maybe some dips to follow. Sound like something you’ve seen? Has this person made significant gains in the last year? Most likely not.
If you want to get bigger or stronger, you need to increase the weight on the bar, or the number of reps your performing with that weight. Adding another 4 sets will not help if you’re still only managing 10 reps every session with that same weight. I read a great article the other day where the author wrote “What if someone added 20kg to the bar, put a gun to your head and said ‘do another rep!’ You’d do it!, how about if they said ‘do two more or I shoot your wife?’ Again, you’d do it. How many sets would you do at that intensity? and do you think you would then go and perform 5 more sets of a different exercise using the same bodypart?”
How many of us are working at that level of intensity? If you are training without a log book your holding yourself back already. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing if you’re not taking note and increasing the intensity with either weight or reps each time you hit the gym – how do you know your progressing? You don’t! Cut all the crap, get a log book, start writing it down and start adding some intensity to your workouts!
A great article from Johnny Pain – Always straight talking!
9 mistakes you probably see everyday.