Archive for March, 2014

I recently re-read this fantastic article by Tom Venuto where he breaks the quest for added mass into 3 parts: Calories, Macronutrients and Training.

I found it interesting that he split up calories from macronutrients where most (including myself) would lump them together under “diet”.

I like that he sticks to the basic philosophy of a moderate caloric surplus with a 55/30/15 (carb/protein/fat) macronutrient split complemented with a hypertrophy-based progressive overload training routine that centers around compound movements (as per Tom: “Out of all these basic mass building exercises, no exercise is better for packing on pounds of quality muscle than the squat.”).

Regarding calories he even suggests the following: “The secret to gaining lean bodyweight is calories. Most people who want to gain weight and are having a difficult time doing so just aren’t eating enough.”

I think Tom has hit the nail on the head here. Speaking from experience, especially as someone who has dieted extensively in the past, it is a challenge to get eat as much as is needed for noticeable gains. And what happens with a lot of people is they resort to eating junk to fill in the caloric gaps. That becomes problematic because instead of using the calories to build muscle your body has to digest and remove waste, and you tend to add weight as fat.

My friend and mentor Rob Regish figured this out. He created the massively popular program “The Blueprint” which was an extremely innovative way to utilize nutrients. He realized that by limiting your food initially you create both a hormonal response as well as setting you on the right path from a psychological standpoint as well.

Personally I’ve found that the only way I can hit my needed calories in a surplus is to follow a pre-designed diet, which can be as simple as an excel table. But even that becomes a challenge after a while. Within a week of following a diet like this I found myself actually dreading eating if you can believe it.

So this is where having clearly defined goals comes in, and I’ve found that re-writing my goal every morning was the best way to accomplish this. If you as me, THIS is the “secret” to gaining muscle.

It’s just about diet season for me, but I’m actually excited by all of this and may even head into a third gaining phase when I’ve sorted out an injury I’ll be posting about shortly. Stay tuned 🙂

Keeping Lean in a Caloric Surplus

Isolating Compound Movements

SuperHero Physique
superhero_physique by Shawn Buffington

I have admired well-developed las (Latissimus dorsi) since long before I knew how to train them… This goes back to my very first attempt to recreate my body when I was going after a physique like Brendan Fraser’s George of the Jungle.


It took a few years of trying to figure it out, but finally I learned the following tips:

Tip 1: Flare lats out before starting the movement
Tip 2: Squeeze shoulder blades together at the fully flexed position
Tip 3: Don’t lockout elbows at the extended position
Tip 4: Take shoulders out of the movement by keeping them retracted for the entire movement

The goal is to do ALL 4 of these on every back movement. If do w right these will help you get a massive burn and send you on a path towards growth. And then try to incorporate this final tip into back day:

Tip 5: Start lat day with a movement that allows you to FEEL your lats like straight-arm pull-downs or bent elbow dumbbell pullovers

If back growth is one of your priorities I also recommend checking out the book: SUPERHERO PHYSIQUE, which has a specialization programs for back (called “Bulletproof Back“) as well as programs for chest, arms, legs and several others!

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Super Hero Physique
superhero_physique by Shawn Buffington

Mass Factors

Posted: March 15, 2014 in fitness, Muscle Building
Tags: , ,

It’s Saturday, and I feel like keeping it light so today I’m going to cover the “Mass Factors”, basically things needed to do if you want to have any hope in building muscle.

Factor 1: Eat right

Recently I’ve realized that most people don’t know how to eat, and due to crap like Dr. Oz a lot of people are mislead on many things. Trying to build muscle is HARD so eating had to be perfect or you will most likely get fat.

Food related articles: eating like a bodybuilder; eating disorders in bodybuilding; how to stay lean in a caloric surplus

Factor 2: Train smart

How you train is crucial to whether you make gains or not. You need to consider your goals (ie strength or hypertrophy), joint health, etc while always striving to make progress in one aspect of your training (this is why logging your workouts is so important for making gains).

Training related articles: isolating compound exercises; the perfect rep

Factor 3: mindset

The importance of this really hit me this past year and by no coincidence I also made my best gains while utilizing mindset tools such as visualization and positive affirmations.

I firmly believe that mental barriers is the biggest thing holding people back from reaching their potential.

Mindset related articles: Why Mindset is so Important to achieving Fitness Goals; how to lift heavier weights; putting the progress into progressive overload

Related Articles:
How to get the most out of your training and diet

3 keys to massive muscles

Ok, I’ll cut right to it, if you are reading this blog it’s because you want to try out a chest routine that will hurt. I did the following routine a few days ago and I’m still feeling it:

A1. Incline Dumbbell bench press
A2. Incline dumbbell row

Do 1 superset if the above for 8-10 reps then after 45 seconds rest move to:

B1. slight incline Dumbbell bench press
B2. 1-arm dumbbell row

Again after 1 set of 8-10 reps and 45 sec rest move to:

C1. flat dumbbell bench press
C2. 1-arm db row


D1. decline dumbbell bench press
D2. 1-arm db row

Once complete these sets add 5-10 lbs and do the 4 supersets in REVERSE ORDER striving to do the same number of reps.

You will then have completed 8 awesome sets. Finish off with a superset of:

E1. Push-ups -squeeze inward on the negative (to failure)
E2. Push-ups -push outward on negative (to failure)

The beauty is we will not need a ton of equipment, just a bench and dumbbells.

In my book Superhero Physique I’ve got a chest-specific program you also may want to try called Powerful Pecs that uses pretty much every (effective) chest trick in the book.

Go forth and destroy your pecs!!!

Building a Man of Steel Chest with “SUPER DROPS”

It is mid-march (the ides are upon us) and since the kids are in a break from school I took them to the local wave pool the other day.

A lot of parents seemed to have the same idea. It truly felt like I was only guy there who was in decent physical condition. Yet I’m sure I’m not the only gym rat that was there.

With the new 300 movie recently released, I think an interest in getting in great shape will re-emerge, but I dot think a lot of people know how to actually get a Spartan physique.

As an aside, I should mention that I was far more excited by the first movie since I was already a Gerard Butler fan when the first one came out, but I really knew nothing of Sullivan Stapleton prior to his 300: Rise of an Empire role.

Crappy workouts based on the first 300 movie have popped up all over the place in the last few years, so what I’m going to do is give a realistic idea of what getting a body like that requires.

Essentially the physique they created was that of a bodybuilder, meaning having above average muscle mass while also being extremely lean. Accomplishing this is a task that can only be accomplished by paying strict attention to the details of your diet and training.

Now is actually the perfect time to start getting into summer time spartan shape!

Step 1: determine how many calories you require (TDEE)

Step 2: create a moderate caloric deficit (about 85%) and stick to this 5 days per week with 2 days slightly above TDEE, making sure to have protein with every meal.

Step 3: perform hypertrophy style training (8-12 reps) 3-5 times per week. Make sure to have a well-designed split that will get the most out of your muscles and use proper form for everything.

Step 4: include cardio training 3-6 times per week.

If you are able to manage these guidelines successfully you will have overcome a huge hurdle few have.

For more specific training and dietary programs to both build muscle and get shredded, you can check out my new book: Superhero Physique!

One other BONUS STEP I’ll suggest is something in my book is what I refer to as the “Hero”a breakfast” which is designed to give you energy all day long and help build muscle and raise your metabolism, so on that note I quote:
“Spartans….ready your breakfast and eat hearty; for tonight we done in hell!”

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Man of Steel: Building a physique like Henry Cavill’s Superman

Superhero Physique
superhero_physique by Shawn Buffington

I just got an interesting bulk sales email from Vince Del Monte. Actually I don’t know how this happened because I asked to be taken off his spam email list long ago and he decided to put me back in for some reason which is probably A violation of spam laws. It was titled: Please do NOT purchase P90X or Insanity.

It’s obviously not any surprise that this schmuck went on to suggest that his own home workout programs are superior to these ones (don’t worry they are NOT).

First I ought to mention p90x because I doubt Vince had ever actually seen it based on the content of the email. I actually did the program entirely for 90 days a few years ago. It has a lot going for it. The trainer (Tony Horton) is charismatic and fun. The training is long and metabolic. It is probably the best home workout program going. That being said I find training with weights superior, but if that is not an option this program definitely had merit.

Yet Vince has decided to insult the program creators in an attempt to market more of his own garbage. When will this guy learn?

What REALLY caught my eye was the bottom of the email. It is the obligatory part of the email where he provides company info. He starts out with: Vince Del Monte Fitness Services LLC… Well I know for a fact that His company Vince Del Monte Fitness was never incorporated. So what did this little weasel do? He stuck the word “services” onto his business name – likely to avoid all of the legal suits he has against him.

Also the address provided at the bottom is different from the one he previously had listed with the BBB. It appears to be a phony address he can easily change if and when he gets into more legal binds.

If any of you got this email I’m sure you shook your head as well, if any of your friends are considering his programs please remind them how he had duped me!

Related articles:
David vs Goliath: The Vince Del Monte saga continues

Yet another reason NOT to trust Vince Del Monte

reciprocal inhibition

Wow, that’s possibly the longest blog title I’ve made to date, but this is a pretty cool concept in the world of bodybuilding.

Reciprocal Inhibition is a technique of training where you train antagonist muscles together ie. biceps and triceps; chest and back; quads and hams.

When a muscle contracts it also inhibits the antagonist muscle from contracting. Recent studies suggest this is an extremely powerful way to train as the “inhibited” muscle actually winds up being strengthened. For what it’s worth Arnold trained this way long before this science came out.

The 3-day split of Arnie supposedly used is:
Day 1: chest/back
Day 2: legs
Day 3: shoulders & arms

It is a pretty solid spit, however I prefer to spread it out a little more and set up my RI training like this:
Day 1: chest & back (rows)
Day 2: quads & hams
Day 3: shoulders & lats
Day 4: biceps & triceps

When doing this split I usually alternate between calves and forearms every training day as either a warmup, a finisher or both.

The idea with the above split is to do supersets of exactly opposite angles, such as bench press and barbell row. When doing this I find that my strength improves each set – lending to the validity of the method!

Don’t be shy, give it a try 🙂

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Super Hero Physique
superhero_physique by Shawn Buffington