Archive for December, 2008

Thank You

Thanks for signing up! I hope to show you a TON of ways to build your body in the coming days and weeks.

Chest Training for Blowing Up Your Pecs

By The Muscle Nerd, Jeff Anderson

In This Chest Training Article…

* Why 95% of the guys in the gym are short-changing their chest training…WITHOUT EVEN KNOWING IT!
* How a simple (but POWERFUL!) form change in your bench press can pay off with BIG DIVIDENDS in building mass on your chest!

Today, I want to share with you a VERY common mistake most people make when training their chest…

Ignore this info at your own peril!  The difference in muscle fiber stimulation is IMMENSE!

Here’s what I’m talking about…

When you perform “pushing” exercises like the Bench Press, most people don’t know where to place their “focus” and ultimately just end up instincively pushing the weight up in any form that feels “natural”.

However, what happens to 95% of you is you end up using too much “front shoulder” and take a large part of the focus off of your chest muscles, leaving them short-changed on fiber stimulation for maximum growth.

Here’s how to overcome this common blunder with what I call the “Shoulder-Rib Lock”:

1.  When lying on the bench (for a Bench Press), begin by dropping your shoulders BACK (toward the bench) as far as comfortably possible.

2.  Next, roll your shoulders DOWN (in the direction of your feet).

3.  And lastly, “puff” out your ribcage to keep it held high.

Consider this your “locked” position for the entire movement and keep your pectorals “aimed” high toward the ceiling!

You’ll be amazed at how much of a difference you’ll see in your chest workouts!

Oh…and what about using this technique for bodyweight exercises?

Well, these very same principles apply to the PUSH UP as well!

Just go through the same little “checklist” and keep your shoulders locked back and down while keeping your ribcage “puffed out” and you’ll see the same difference in your training (AND your RESULTS!)

The Magic Number for Building Muscle

By Jason Ferruggia

When looking at most popular muscle building workouts you need to understand that most forms of training have just been passed down for decades from one generation to the next, without the inclusion of rational thought. Sometime in the ’60s sensible muscle building programs started becoming less and less prevalent with the rapidly growing usage of anabolic steroids.

In days gone by, men like Steve Reeves and Paul Anderson trained with far more sensible, lower volume muscle building programs, but these started to disappear during the ’60s. By the time Arnold got to Gold’s Gym in Venice for the first time, high volume, bodypart splits were the widely accepted way for everyone who wanted to build muscle and gain strength to train.

This type of training is not based on rational thinking but just on the fact that “it’s what everyone else is doing.” The proponents of these training methods will always blindly tell you that “higher volume training is needed to build muscle.” Says who? I can tell you for a fact that the University of Chicago isn’t wasting time examining the effects of Jay Cutlers workouts. There are no studies saying that you need 8-12 sets per bodypart to build muscle. However, there are, in fact, studies that show the exact opposite; that one set is just as effective as three when it comes to building muscle.

The proponents of this type of training will also tell you that higher volume training is associated with higher levels of growth hormone secretion. What they don’t tell you is that almost anything you do elevates GH. Extreme temperatures elevate GH but my biceps don’t get bigger every time I take a shower. The increased GH secretion is not enough to make the slightest difference whatsoever in the muscle building process.

For the drug free lifter who does not possess muscle building genetics quite up to par with the Austrian Oak, training this way is a huge mistake. Not only does it drain your amino acid pool and glycogen stores but it dramatically increases your recovery time between workouts. If you do 8-12 sets for chest on Monday you can not recover from that workout and be able to train again for seven days. So you are only getting one growth stimulus per week or fifty two per year. Now if you reduce your volume to the point where you can recover faster and more efficiently without draining your amino acid pool and glycogen stores so greatly, you can train bodyparts twice per week instead of once. Now instead of 52 growth stimulating workouts per year for each bodypart, you can now do 104.

To train more often you absolutely have to lower your training volume. The total sets per workout should be kept low and the total sets per exercise should be even lower. Contrary to what a lot of the popular programs out there today prescribe, there is rarely a need to do more than two sets per exercise when you are trying to build muscle. If you can’t get the job done with two sets you probably aren’t training hard enough. In theory you should be able to get the job done with just one set but I like to use two just to be safe and make sure all bases are covered. The second set is basically an insurance set.

There are only a few times you should do more than two sets per exercise. If you are a raw beginner who needs more sets just to practice and perfect your form then you should probably do more than two sets. If you are doing speed exercises such as cleans or box jumps you should also do a few more sets. Finally, if you are varying the reps and weights, you can do more than two sets. For example if you are doing two sets of three with 315, a set of five with 295 and a set of eight with 275, you can get away with more than two sets. But other than that, you should never do more than two sets of any exercise with the same weight for the same reps.

There are a few different approaches you can take to doing your two sets. The first approach is to go balls out on your first set and then drop the weight a little bit on your second set and use it as a sort of backoff set. Theoretically this will allow you to give your most effort when you are freshest on your first set. The second approach is to hold a little something back on your first set and instead use it as a hard, working warm up set. Then you go balls to the wall on the second set. It has been suggested that a heavy, but not all out set, before your money set can serve as a neural primer and arouse your nervous system thus making the second set even more effective. The third option is to not take neither set to the limit but instead just do two very hard sets to clean failure. Each option works very well but you will have to experiment to see which is best for you. The most demanding method would be to do two all out death sets to failure. This can work but may be a bit hard for most people to recover from.

Whatever option you choose will be far better than the normal, mindless nonsense of doing 4-6 sets per exercise and you will get far better results. Better muscle gains with far less work? Sounds like an unbeatable plan to me.

Jason Ferruggia is a world famous fitness expert who is renowned for his ability to help people build muscle as fast as humanly possible. He has trained thousands of clients during the course of his 14 years as a professional fitness coach, including over 500 athletes from 20 different sports. Jason has written hundreds of training articles for top ranked magazines and websites and has authored four books. He is the head training adviser for Men’s Fitness Magazine where he also has his own monthly column dedicated to muscle building. For more great muscle building information, please visit

The Greatest Quad Builder

By Tom Venuto, NSCA-CPT, CSCS

It’s axiomatic that the exercises which give you the best results are always the hardest ones to do. If you want a huge back… you row and deadlift. If you want huge legs, you squat… OR… you do THIS leg exercise – that almost no one wants to do because its one of the hardest of them all.

Which one am I talking about? FRONT SQUATS!

Barbell Front Squat

In my opinion, front squats are one of the absolute best quad builders. Back squats are a tremendous mass builder as well, but front squats introduce an additional level of challenge because they require flexibility, technique, and core strength because the bar must be held and balanced on the front of the shoulders. As such, the front squat does everything the back squat does and more.

One great advantage of the front squat, especially for someone like me, having previously suffered a low back injury (herniated L4), is that the torso can be held in a more upright (vertical position). Since there is less forward trunk inclination, this removes some of the stress and shear forces from the lower back. At the same time, this upright position is closer to a bodybuilding squat and throws much more emphasis on the quads and less on the hips. It is truly a superb bodybuilding exercise.

There are two styles of front squatting, the Olympic lifting style and the crossed arm style. I find that most athletes, and of course Olympic lifters, use the former, while most bodybuilders seem to prefer the latter. The barbell should generally be your weapon of choice, but for bodybuilders, front squats on the smith machine are an outstanding alternative. The Smith machine front squat takes some of the balance issues out of the picture, which allows the physique athlete to really focus on working the muscle rather than worrying about balance and stabilization. Be sure to rotate between both versions, however– barbell and smith machine – because long term overuse or dependency on machines may lead to stabilizer weakness or muscle imbalances and variety is never a bad idea in the physique game. Incidentally, the barbell front squat is an outstanding “core” exercise.

A third version of the front squat worth considering is the dumbbell front squat (especially the sumo or wide stance version). These can be performed holding a single dumbbell with both hands on the front of the shoulders, cupped between both hands (goblet squat) or with two dumbbells, one in each hand, resting on top of each shoulder. The limiting factor on these front squat variations is often the poundage, as holding heavy dumbbells can become unwieldy. This can be partially overcome by performing the dumbbell front squat last in a leg workout or second in a superset, or by manipulating tempo and range of motion so the exercise is made more difficult. The dumbbell variations are also a great choice for women who usually don’t require as much weight as men for stimulation.

I find that the front squat is particularly effective at developing the tear drop shaped vastus medialis portion of the (“lower”) quads, and you can emphasize this effect even more by elevating your heels on a board or a wedge. Elevating your heels is considered controversial and some say that this is damaging to the knees. I’m not convinced that this is the case with a slight elevation and very strict form and controlled tempo, although I would not recommend this method to anyone with existing knee problems. There is certainly a risk to benefit ratio of every technique variation, and you have to decide if the added potential benefit is worth the potential risk, depending on your particular situation (consult the appropriate medical or training professional if you’re not sure)

You can also emphasize the medialis and increase overall effectiveness by working FULL squats (breaking parallel) and only coming up three quarters (no locking out). Have you ever seen Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman’s workout videos? I realize that Mr Olympia’s bodybuilding video tapes are not “workout instruction” nor do they really have anything to do with us mere mortals, but I pay attention to everything in the world of bodybuilding, and I did find it very interesting to watch Ronnie front squatting 500+ pounds. I also found it interesting that he went rock bottom and he did ¾ reps without releasing tension for even a single rep. Although he certainly has some advantages over other bodybuilders, everything is relative and he has some ridiculous quads, even compared to other IFBB pros. Indeed, continuous tension ¾ reps are a tremendous technique to employ with the front squat exercise, regardless of whether you’re a novice or a pro. Be prepared to leave your ego at home, however.

In addition to the ¾ reps, try manipulating your tempo. It will limit your poundage even further, but what you sacrifice in strength you will make up in hypertrophy. Whereas a regular rep might be 2011 or 3011 tempo, or even a full-out explosive concentric with a controlled eccentric, bodybuilders may want to try utilizing a tempo of 3020, or (even harder) 4030. With sets of 10 -12 reps, this will give you a minimum of 50-70 seconds of continuous time under tension. The lactic acid burn around the 10-12thth rep has to be felt to be “appreciated.” The only thing more difficult than continuous tension/non-lockout ¾ reps are continuous tension, non-lockout reps with a slow tempo. Truly a quad killer!

Note: 4-point tempo prescriptions are as follows:

3020 tempo =
3 = negative/eccentric action
0 = pause in stretch/bottom position
2 = positive/concentric action
0 = pause in contracted/top position

So if front squats are so good, why don’t more people do them? Simple – because they’re damn hard. Here is what I usually see happen: Someone will start front squatting (or try to), and they inevitably put on way too much weight. Their form is horrible, it feels totally uncomfortable and unbalanced, so our novice front squatter quits and writes off front squats for good after only one try, and heads back over to the leg press machine.

I usually advise them to unload the bar and master the form first with very light weights, but invariably, ego gets in the way, and 315-405 squatters and 1000+ pound leg pressers don’t want to be seen with a single “wheel” (45 pound plate) on each side of an Olympic bar while they patiently master the technique for a new exercise. Alas, they never learn to front squat, they go back to what is easy and familiar and they never gain all the benefits of this awesome exercise.

Tom Venuto, NSCA-CPT, CSCS
Lifetime Natural Bodybuilder

About the Author:

Tom Venuto is a natural bodybuilder, certified personal trainer and freelance fitness writer. Tom is the author of “Burn the Fat, Feed The Muscle,” which teaches you how to get lean without drugs or supplements using secrets of the world’s best bodybuilders and fitness models. Learn how to get rid of stubborn fat and increase your metabolism by visiting:

How Many Calories a Day Do I Need to Eat to Gain Weight?

d6197 asked:

I would like to gain mass, but i know i have to expect some fat to come with it.

I have my workout sorted; it’s just the diet that’s stressing me out. I am 19 years old, weigh 120 pounds, and my height is 6″2.

I wouldn’t say the reason i am so skinny is because i am a hardgainer, but rather the fact that i just don’t, and never have done, eaten enough food. I would say for the past few years i have eaten anything between 1000-1500 calories a day. Usually coming from 2 meals, breakfast and tea, and biscuits throughout the day.

Anyway, im serious now about gaining weight and i’m going to commit my time to doing so.

What would be an ideal amount of calories to eat?

How much should it differ on training and non-training days?

Where should the calories come from, i.e. 50% carbs, 30% protein, and 20% fat.

What type of food to eat, i.e. oats, pasta, rice, etc

Any advice is appreciated. Thanks

 Page 1 of 3  1  2  3 »