Top 10 Bodybuilding lessons I’ve learned from Ben Pakulski

Posted: April 2, 2013 in fitness, Muscle Building
Tags: , , , , , ,


Yesterday I got to meet my bodybuilding hero, a guy who has inspired from the time he made his video “Quest to be the Best”. So today’s blog will be a tribute to some of the things I’ve learned from him… out of respect I’m only going to mention things he has made freely available, whether it be interviews, free reports, his column in Flex magazine, etc.

  1. Importance of Time under CONSTANT tension
  2. There is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate
  3. Importance of body alkalinity
  4. How to maximize Growth Hormone to optimize results
  5. Why proper form is not only safer, but more effective!
  6. How to push yourself to the limit via “over-reaching”
  7. Why you must combat adrenal fatigue
  8. Opt for whole foods over powder
  9. Incorporating multiple functions of a muscle
  10. How to “train smart”

In my usual form, I’ll touch briefly on each of the above, but if you want to get a more in-depth version of most of these you can visit

Importance of Time under CONSTANT tension

Ben has coined the term “intentions” to imply keeping constant tension while performing an exercise.  Keeping my mind focused on the muscle I’m training, making sure to initiate with that muscle and keep it contracted through the entire movement is perhaps the single greatest thing that has improved my results over the past couple of years.  You can create greater tension with lesser weight sometimes which becomes far more effective than sloppily throwing around big weights… but that’s only half of the story. It’s also important to control tempo and adjust your number of reps to ensure that you are creating this tension for the optimal amount of time for hypertrophy (generally determined to be 30-60 seconds).

There is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate

This was Pakman’s way of stressing that carbohydrates should be used wisely, and only when your body needs them. I think most people will agree with this, unfortunately a lot of the misconceptions out there are about when they are actually needed.  Quite simply they are only really needed in the 3-4 hours following intense training.

Importance of body alkalinity

Before Ben brought this subject up in Quest to Be the Best, I had never really thought about it… He teaches that we should try to get the most out of our nutrients rather than just taking in the most amount of nutrients.  By keeping alkaline your body will use nutrients more efficiently… Following this principal has done a lot of good in terms of me improving my overall body composition. Ben says he will not go a day without at least one serving of a quality greens supplement.

How to maximize Growth Hormone to optimize results

Usually when it comes to hormones we tend to think about testosterone straight away, but overlooking GH can be a big mistake as I’ve discovered.  Since reading about the importance B-Pak places on GH I’ve subsequently learned that if you can combine GH with insulin (not an easy thing to accomplish naturally) you are creating a major cocktail for growth!!! Ben optimized GH via two primary mechanisms… one is by avoiding carbohydrates for several hours prior to training, as carbs blunt the GH response (in favor of insulin).  The second way is what he has marketed as NOS, which is essentially adding drop sets onto the last work set. He goes into specifics on how much weight to drop and how many actual drops to perform in his program MI40.

Why proper form is not only safer, but more effective!

Ben has said many times that a muscle is weakest at the extremes of the range of motion, so it stands to reason that these are the points in the movement that should be worked the most.  When working in a full range of motion (without hyper-extending) under complete control with the appropriate weight you are also less likely to put your joints in a compromising position. I’ve seen programs that are based on lifting massive amounts of weight in a tiny range of motion… I have come to believe that there might be a very limited place for this kind of training, but the vast majority of work should be done with the full range of available motion for each movement.

There is another point to address here however… Full range of motion implies that there is constant tension as well, so once you’ve reached the point where there is no more tension on the muscle you have reached the end of the useful range. As an example, when doing dumbbell side laterals, gravity pulling the weight directly down is a factor, and it keeps the shoulder under tension.  When the weight comes within about 30degress of your body at the bottom of the motion there is no longer that tension.  So when you see people bringing the weights all the way under their seat, it is somewhat a false range of motion because there is no tension at that point… However when doing this motion with a cable there would be tension at that point due to the opposing force.

How to push yourself to the limit via “over-reaching”

This was a biggie for me! He discusses this in depth with Dr. Wilson in phase 2 of his program Hypertrophy Max, but also touches on it within his articles in Flex.  The idea is that you push yourself to the limit by training a specific muscle group multiple times in a week (even multiple times in a day), then back off dramatically the following week to hyper-adapt.  I’ve made this part of my regular training philosophy as I’ve seen major improvements happen to my body in a short span of time by using it… and others have noticed too!

Why you must combat adrenal fatigue

Ben observes that a lot of the things we do as bodybuilders, whether it’s stress, training, or taking stimulants, our adrenal glands become fatigued which leads us to feeling crappy and depleted etc. He will often take some form of adrenal support year round.  My personal practice is to use a high quality multi-vitamin year round, and I might use additional herbal adrenal support when dieting down.  These steps will improve your sense of well-being dramatically.

Opt for whole foods over powder

As he puts it, whey powder isn’t going to make you huge, it’s just gonna keep you from getting small… Whether I’m dieting or gaining, I’ve found that using primarily whole protein sources has vastly increased my results!

Incorporating multiple functions of a muscle

In some of his videos leading up to the 2012 FLEX Pro, Ben really displayed this when training his chest.  The pectorals not only function to push, but are also internal rotators.  To strengthen this function he would add a slight internal rotation with dumbbell presses.  This is something I use from time to time, but keep in mind it tends to fatigue you a little faster.

How to “train smart”

Known as the smart man’s bodybuilder among other things, Ben really encourages people to think and even innovate when they are training.  He will often do an unconventional move, or use a piece of equipment slightly different, but it’s always for a reason, and he always maintains that constant focus and tension.  It is a really liberating thing to have a guy like this suggest you make things work as best as you can in your own given circumstances, and quite frankly probably lessens the amount of stupid questions he receives on his facebook page.

Until next time, as my mentor Ben Pakulski told me… Kill it!!!

Please join me on facebook

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