Archive for January, 2014

Supplements can be pretty expensive so here are some ways to try to lower the cost…

Step one: determine what you need and why you need it.

This will help you avoid hyped up junk. It will also cause you to look at your diet and you will probably realize that by fixing your diet you won’t need much in the way of supplements.

The worst offenders are pre-workout supplements and natural testosterone boosters. When it comes to pre-workout determine what your actual goals are and them work from there. For most people that will simply be protein. As for hormonal supplements, unless you have a deficiency these will do very little for you and even then probably not a ton. Instead it’s best to make sure that you are getting all of the minerals and nutrients you require that way your organs which produce hormones can function optimally.

Step 2: research what reputable companies have the lowest markup.

This can be tricky because companies are not forthcoming with such info, but often you can determine this by looking at the online retailers.

Step 3: for most things, shop online and buy in bulk as it will save in shipping (whey is an exception as it tends to be too expensive to ship to be cost-effective).

The bottom line is to use good sense when getting supplements instead of jumping on the latest product or getting “feel-good” products.

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Related: Between-meals shake


The perfect rep for building muscle always includes a slower negative (eccentric) than positive (concentric). Why?

Reason #1: you are stronger in the eccentric portion, so growth requires greater time under tension.

Reason #2: muscle growth is about creating tension that the body sees as a threat to its survival. That can only be created when you control the weights and you do not allow them to control you.

This principal is about making use of TEMPO. The ideal tempo being about 3010 to 4010 (3-4 sec negative, 0 at bottom, 1 sec positive, 0 sec at top) most of the time for hypertrophy. 4 seconds is a lot but is a good goal to strive for.

Tempo translates into Time Under Tension, and this greatly determines the kind of adaptation the body makes. Typically a set should be no less than 30 seconds of CONSTANT tension and not exceed 70 seconds (when hypertrophy is the goal). If using a 4 second negative that means 8-12 reps. Personally I like going a little heavier and rarely go above 10 reps web training for hypertrophy.

Another important thing to consider is the lockout. For 90% of moves I suggest NOT liking out your joints at the top of the range. Going just short of the point of locking out maintains tension on the muscle.

As a quick aside, It’s mainly back movements were I find locking out can be useful in conjunction with adding a pelvic thrust to incorporate glutes.

As mentioned above the goal is constant tension in the muscle which means using perfect form and maintaining tension. Doug this will mean keeping your mind strictly focused the entire time. It also means using as great a range of motion as you can while maintaining tension. It becomes vitally important to start the movement correctly by flexing the muscle before doing the first rep.

Summary: to do the perfect hypertrophy rep maintain tension with perfect form in the full range of motion using a slow, controlled negative and pick a weight that you hit failure between 8-12 reps.

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Related: Occlusion Training

Super Hero Physique
superhero_physique by Shawn Buffington

In some circles, isolation is considered a bad thing. This is usually because isolation exercises are considered less effective than compound movements. And with good reason; by their very definition compound movements involve more secondary muscles and tend to have a greater hormonal effect.

But let me throw this out there: in order to build a muscle you have to work that muscle hard.

So it stands to reason that when performing a movement (even a compound one) you should strive to isolate the muscle you want to work a much as possible by minimizing the involvement of the secondary muscles. This means you will have to decrease the weight because you will not have as many muscles pushing or pulling the weight. but leads to the desired growth.

I’ll use Bench Press as an example. There are several muscles that can assist on this: back, shoulders, triceps and even hips. It is not likely to remove all of these completely (nor possible), but here are a couple of ideas that can help you to use your chest more than the others:

  • DON’T arch your back. That is a technique power lifters use which will incorporate more of your back into the movement. Instead keep your lower back tight to the bench (flex your abs)
  • keep your shoulders back. Rolling them forward will cause you to use more triceps.
  • really focussing your mind on keeping your chest flexed for the whole movement will force your body to use more chest
  • when using a bar, squeeze inward on the negative portion. One of my trainers had me pull outward on the negative, but I found that made my back work more than my chest.
  • There you have it. If building muscle is your goal I highly suggest isolating compound movements.

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    Related: Mass Method Training

    Super Hero Physique
    superhero_physique by Shawn Buffington

    The essence of bodybuilding is being big while also being lean.

    If you want to gain muscle mass you are probably already aware that you need to eat more as that means losing some definition (gaining fat). But gaining too much fat leads to higher estrogen, which makes building muscle harder and that’s to say nothing of the fact that you will lose definition and look worse. So how can we accomplish the fine line of eating a lot but not getting fat?

    The first way is by shifting your mindset. It is not an excess of calories you need, but an excess of NUTRIENTS.

    This suggests that instead of eating massive amounts of junk you ensure you’re taking in large amounts of the nutrients your body needs to function and to build muscle. This includes protein, essential fatty acids, fiber, vitamins and minerals.

    The next way to control fat gain is by cycling your diet. I’ve found it takes 4-6 weeks on a gaining phase if you want to keep your lean gains. Less than 4 weeks and you’ll probably lose them. Beyond 6 weeks you’ll probably be gaining mostly fat. After those 4-6 weeks do a moderate cut for 3-4 weeks before going back into a gaining phase. To make the gain even more effective do a 5-7 day detox before wading into the gain.

    Eating like a bodybuilder

    Super Hero Physique
    superhero_physique by Shawn Buffington

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    One of the ways I determine if a leg day was successful is if I have to limp out of the gym with cramped legs.

    Like any muscle group, legs will adapt to your training program after a while… here’s a little method I’ve found for blasting quads that’s almost guaranteed to hurt! Better still, this is great for illiciting growth because it blasts both testosterone and GH.

    The method is very similar to Super drops. In this case instead of two drops it will be three drops of 25-30% while INCREASING reps.

    I find this works best with leg extensions and as the last exercise of the session. Perform it as follows, making sure to have as little rest between drops a possible!

    Set 1: 6 reps (heavy)
    Drop 1: 8 reps
    Drop 2: 10 reps
    Drop 3: 12 reps

    Rest 1 min then repeat (twice).

    Note: when scorching legs make sure to have lots of water and electrolytes.

    Feel free to curse me in the comments below 🙂

    Ninja Turtle legs

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    It is now Thursday. On Monday of this week I did the following arm workout and I’m still sore!!

    Since arms are a small muscle group I find getting them super sore to be beneficial for building them. For this workout I use Tri-sets (TS) and REVERSE the order of the three movements each set. The intension is to fatigue the ENTIRE range of motion for the arms by using different angles. Here’s the workout:

    CNS Arms (dumbbell curl with one hand while doing a triceps cable press with the other hand) – 3 sets x 15, 12, 10 reps

    TRI-SET 1:
    A1. Incline DB curls – 8 reps

    A2. Cable curls to face (with supination) – 8 reps

    A3. Preacher curls (with wrist manipulation) – 8 reps

    Rest 1 min, then repeat in REVERSE order. Do it a total of 4 times.

    TRI-SET 2:
    B1. Rope press down (with external rotation) – 8 reps

    B2. DB close-grip bench press – 8 reps

    B3. Overhead DB extension – 8 reps

    Rest 1 min, then repeat in REVERSE order. Do it a total of 4 times.

    Finisher: Behind back BB wrist curl – 3 sets x 15 reps

    Related: How I added an inch to my arms… in a caloric deficit! (with 8 tips for arm growth)

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    SuperHero Physique
    superhero_physique by Shawn Buffington


    Back in 2005 (before I was even in the bodybuilding game) Tom Venuto wrote an ebook called Burn the fat, Feed the Muscle. It was the first online fitness ebook to reach massive sales, and spawned an industry. For good reason too. It shared with the world the techniques that elite fitness models and bodybuilders use to get super lean. Now he has published an updated hardcover version of the book and the question is, does it stand up to the original?

    First a brief overview of the book…

    The book begins by introducing the basic principles that will be utilized and then goes on to discuss various body types and how to adjust your plan of attack based on your individual circumstances. Actually when I first read the ebook the ability to customize his program is one thing that really stuck out at me, and the same remains the case for the new book.

    Part 2 is the “LEAN” plan of action. This section opens by teaching you how to measure your body fat, as well as determining what your body composition should be and then it covers how to track your progress. Next the “LEAN” plan comes into play where several strategies are covered, including mental programing, nutrition — which is an extremely in-depth section that spans several chapters, cardio and weight training.

    The next leg of the book is about taking fat loss to the next level, when you’ve hit a plateau or have stalled and need to take more extreme measures to get super ripped.

    Finally there are some charts to help you along the way.

    To me there is no question about the book’s value, it just has to be asked if it is an improvement on the original e-book?

    To be fair I think either one would serve you equally well. Hopefully however, this book brings Tom wide-spread recognition and possibly brings his methods to those who are not as aware of him. I do believe that this book (or the original) will be considered a “must read” for all fitness enthusiasts in time.

    Related: Putting the “Progress” into Progressive Overload
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