Science of the Squat – Depth & Load – and How They Impact Your Squatting Muscles

The squat is often called the King of Exercises.

And for good reason – because nothing develops lower body muscle mass, strength & power faster & better than barbell squats.

And if you want to be known as the King of the King of Exercises, you’re going to need to take a look at this new research published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to determine the relative muscular effort (RME) while performing the squat exercise. Specifically, the researchers were looking at the effects of barbell load and squat depth on hip extensor, knee extensor and ankle plantar-flexor RME.

Study Design

Ten strength-trained women performed squats (50-90% of 1 RM) in a motion analysis laboratory to determine hip extensor, knee extensor and ankle plantar-flexor net joint moment (NJM). Maximum isometric strength in relation to joint angle for these muscle groups was also determined. RME was determined as the ratio of NJM to maximum voluntary torque matched for joint angle.

Results

Both barbell load and squat depth had significant interaction effects on hip extensor, knee extensor and ankle plantar-flexor RME (relative muscular effort).

  • Knee extensor RME increased with greater squat depth but not barbell load
  • Ankle plantar-flexor RME increased with barbell load but not greater squat depth
  • Hip extensor RME increased with both greater squat depth and barbell load

Conclusions

This data suggest:

  1. Training for the knee extensors can be performed with low relative intensities but require a deep squat depth.
  2. Heavier barbell loads are required to train the hip extensors and ankle plantar-flexors.

What does this mean to you???

It depends on your training goals?

  • Are you a bodybuilder trying to develop your quad sweep ala Tom Platz?

Then you need to squat deep – Ass to the Grass as they say

  • Or maybe you’re a sprinter, or a football player, or a powerlifter, or a strongman looking to develop a uber-power posterior chain to dominate your sport?

Then you need to focus more on load than depth of squat

  • Or maybe you’re an all-around / hybrid kind of athlete like myself?

Either way, with this info, you’ll be able to design better/smarter/more effective squat programs…all thanks to science 🙂

Reference

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Health Habits Workout -Week 36/Day 1 – The Deadpool Workouts

Alright people…get ready to sweat.

It’s the fourth and absolute final week of this Deadpool Workout. Next week is a recovery week and then on to something new.

WORKOUT WARM-UP

Same warm-up as always…with the goal being to warm up the muscles & lubricate the joints. Feel free to substitute exercises as long as they get your joints all warmed up.

Circles – Starting with the ankles and moving all the way up to your neck, gently make circles with all of your joints – 10 revolutions each joint in each direction

Dead Bug – Push your lower back into the floor and articulate your arms & legs as in the video. 1 set of as many reps as possible with your lower back pushed into the floor. When your back starts to arch…STOP

1 Arm Swing Snatch – 25 reps per arm  – Dumbbell or kettlebell – choose a light weight – the goal is to warm-up

THE WORKOUT

As I mentioned in Part Six, each workout has 6 main lifts.

Most main lifts will also employ a “wake up” exercise to get your fast twitch muscle fibers primed & ready

I have arranged each of the six (6) lifts by movement or muscle group in a way to maximize performance & recovery.

Superset #1

The goal is to perform as many sets as possible in 10 minutes – 3-8 reps per set

Start with the…

Wake-up exercise – Explosive Bodyweight (BW) Hip Thrust –  3-8 reps

Then, move as quick as possible to the….

Main Lift – Barbell / Smith Machine Hip Thrusts – 3-8 reps – perform the concentric part of the lift (lifting up) as quickly as possible – choose a weight you can perform 8 reps & stick with that weight

Rest long enough to catch your breath & go again (wake-up, main lift, wake-up, main lift…)

After 10 minutes, rest a little bit & move onto….

Superset #2

This time, we have a 5 minute superset focusing on hip rotation & core stability

The is NO wake-up exercise …so it’s not really a superset

Main Lift – Standing Cable Woodchop – handle at belly height – 3-8 reps – perform the concentric part of the lift (lifting up) as quickly as possible – choose a weight you can perform 8 reps & stick with that weight

The aim of this exercise is to rotate through the hips – not at the belly/lower back – The guy in the video does an okay job, but I want you to think of a baseball player swinging a bat…move those hips

5 minutes – back & forth – resting as little as possible – moving quickly & powerfully

After 5 minutes, catch your breath & move onto….

Superset #3

This 10 minute superset focuses on a horizontal pulling movement  – 3-8 reps per set

Start with the…

Wake-up Exercise Isometric Face Pulls into the floor – Lie on the floor with knees bent and arms flared out to the side – elbows are bent with hands pointing up to the ceiling

Begin the movement by pushing your elbows back into the immovable floor….as hard as you can – hold each rep for 1 second – Repeat for 3-8 reps

Then, move as quick as possible to the….

Main Lift – Standing or Seated Cable Rows – 3-8 reps – perform the concentric part of the lift (lifting towards your belly) as quickly as possible – choose a weight you can perform 8 reps & stick with that weight

Rest long enough to catch your breath & go again (wake-up, main lift, wake-up, main lift…)

After 10 minutes, rest a little bit & move onto….

Superset #4

This 10 minute superset focuses on a vertical pulling movement  – 3-8 reps per set

Start with the…

Wake-up Exercise – Super Fast Band Pulldowns – 3-8 reps –

Then, move as quick as possible to the….

Main Lift – Pull-Ups, Chin-Ups or Pulldowns – 3-8 reps – perform the concentric part of the lift (lifting towards your belly) as quickly as possible – choose a weight you can perform 8 reps & stick with that weight

Rest long enough to catch your breath & go again (wake-up, main lift, wake-up, main lift…)

After 10 minutes, rest a little bit & move onto….

Superset #5

This time, we have a 5 minute superset focusing on core stability & abdominal bracing

The is NO wake-up exercise …so it’s not really a superset

Main Lift Turkish Get-Up – 5 minutes – as many reps as possible

5 minutes – back & forth – resting as little as possible – focus on form

After 5 minutes, catch your breath & move onto….

Superset #6

This time, we have a 5 minute superset focusing on some of your “beach muscles”

The is NO wake-up exercise …just 2 exercises – back to back – for as many reps as you can get in 5 minutes

Lift #1 – Standing Alternate Bicep Curls – palms up/supinated – pick a weight that you can handle 10 reps and then perform between – 3-10 reps – perform the concentric part of the lift (lifting up) as quickly as possible

Lift #2 – Standing Dumbbell Lateral Raise – pick a weight that you can handle 10 reps and then perform between – 3-10 reps – perform the concentric part of the lift (lifting up) as quickly as possible

5 minutes – back & forth – resting as little as possible – moving quickly & powerfully

After 5 minutes, catch your breath & go stretch out those muscles

.

And feel free to hit me up with questions about this workout.

It’s not exactly the type of workout you’re going to find in your copy of Men’s/Women’s Health.

.

Health Habits Workout – Week 35/Day 3 – The Deadpool Workouts

.
Week 3 – Day 3…last workout of the week
.
Get ready to sweat…this one is a real Mother-Trucker.
.
WORKOUT WARM-UP
.
Same warm-up as always…with the goal being to warm up the muscles & lubricate the joints.
.
Feel free to substitute exercises as long as they get your joints all warmed up.
,
Circles – Starting with the ankles and moving all the way up to your neck, gently make circles with all of your joints – 10 revolutions each joint in each direction
.
Dead Bug – Push your lower back into the floor and articulate your arms & legs as in the video. 1 set of as many reps as possible with your lower back pushed into the floor. When your back starts to arch…STOP
.
1 Arm Swing Snatch – 25 reps per arm  – Dumbbell or kettlebell – choose a light weight – the goal is to warm-up
.
THE WORKOUT
.
As I mentioned in Part Six, each workout has 6 main lifts. Most main lifts will also employ a “wake up” exercise to get your fast twitch muscle fibers primed & ready I have arranged each of the six (6) lifts by movement or muscle group in a way to maximize performance & recovery.
.
Superset #1
.
This first superset focuses on the horizontal pulling movement
.
The goal is to perform as many sets as possible in 10 minutes – 3-8 reps per set Start with the…
.
Wake-up exercise – 1 Arm Isometric Row – Grab hold of an immovable object (ie. heavy barbell, cable stack, piece of equipment, flagpole, etc and try to pull it towards you using a rowing motion. Neither you nor the object should move. Hold for 2-5 seconds per rep for 3-8 reps Then, move as quick as possible to the….
.
Main Lift – 1 Arm DB Row – 3-8 reps – perform the concentric part of the lift (lifting up) as quickly as possible – choose a weight you can perform 8 reps & stick with that weight
.
Rest long enough to catch your breath & go again (wake-up left arm, main lift left arm, wake-up right arm , main lift right arm…)
.

Superset #2

This second superset focuses on the posterior chain (lower body).

The goal is to perform as many sets as possible in 10 minutes – 3-8 reps per set..

Wake-up exercise – Broad Jumps –  3 reps

After a few broad jumps, move as quick as possible to the…..

Main Lift – Deadlift or Pullthroughs – 3-8 reps – perform the concentric part of the lift (lifting up) as quickly as possible – choose a weight you can perform 8 reps & stick with that weight

.

10 minutes – back & forth – resting as little as possible – moving quickly & powerfully.

After 10 minutes, catch your breath & move onto….

.

Superset #3

This second superset focuses on Vertical Pulling movements.

The goal is to perform as many sets as possible in 10 minutes – 3-8 reps per set..

Wake-up exercise – Jumping Chins or Speed Band Pulldowns –  3-8 reps

Note – Perform the lift much faster than the guy in the video

Main Lift – Chin-Ups/Pull-Ups or Pulldowns – 3-8 reps – perform the concentric part of the lift (lifting up) as quickly as possible – choose a weight you can perform 8 reps & stick with that weight

.

10 minutes – back & forth – resting as little as possible – moving quickly & powerfully.

After 10 minutes, catch your breath & move onto….

.

Superset #4

This time, we have a 5 minute superset focusing on your core – specifically on bracing the core

Their is NO wake-up exercise …today we have 2 Main Lifts

Main Lift #1 – Ab Wheel Roll-Outs – as many reps as possible with good form

Main Lift #2 – Standing Cable Plank/Bridge

  • Using a resistance band or cable station, face away from the band/cable station holding the band/handle overhead.
  • If arms overhead is too tough on your shoulders, rest your hands on your head.
  • With a “slight” forward lean, walk (gradually) forward until the resistance starts to pull you backwards or you start bending at the spine.
  • This exercise mimics a bridge/plank exercise, except instead of being in a horizontal position, you are vertical
  • To make it tougher, stand on one foot.

5 minutes – back & forth between the 2 exercises – focus on form

After 5 minutes, catch your breath & move onto…

.

Superset #5

This time, we have a 5 minute superset focusing on the core – side flexion and/or rotation

Their is NO wake-up exercise …today we have just 1 Main Lift

Main Lift #1 – Standing Cable Woodchops – Starting with a horizontal woodchop, perform 3-8 reps (using an 8 rep weight) from one side, then switch to the other side and repeat. After chopping to both sides, adjust the position of the cable – setting it higher – this creates a decline movement, provides a different stimulus & decreases the difficulty as fatigue begins to set in.

5 minutes – back & forth between the 2 exercises – focus on form

After 5 minutes, catch your breath & move onto….

Superset #6

This time, we have a 5 minute superset focusing on some of your “beach muscles”

The is NO wake-up exercise …just 2 exercises – back to back – for as many reps as you can get in 5 minutes

Lift #1 – Cable Tricep Pushdowns – palms down – elbows pinned to your sides – pick a weight that you can handle 10 reps and then perform between – 3-10 reps – perform the concentric part of the lift (pushing down) as quickly as possible

Lift #2 – Reverse Grip/Palms Down Cable Bicep Curls – pick a weight that you can handle 10 reps and then perform between – 3-10 reps – perform the concentric part of the lift (lifting up) as quickly as possible

5 minutes – back & forth – resting as little as possible – moving quickly & powerfully

After 5 minutes, catch your breath & go stretch out those muscles

.

And feel free to hit me up with questions about this workout.

It’s not exactly the type of workout you’re going to find in your copy of Men’s/Women’s Health

.

Is Exercise the Ultimate Antioxidant?

 

According to the latest research, strength training is one of your best defenses against oxidative stress.

In fact, after a mere 6 weeks of of workouts, test subjects saw significant improvement in two key markers of oxidative stress

And when you consider that oxidative stress is directly responsible for atherosclerosisParkinson’s diseaseheart failuremyocardial infarctionAlzheimer’s diseasefragile X syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome and aging in general, perhaps we should stop selling gym memberships based on getting a wicked six-pack and focus more on….living healthier, living longer, living better, etc…

The Research

J Strength Cond Res 24(9): 2491-2497, 2010

The purposes of this study were:

  1. to determine whether acute resistance exercise training (RET) induces oxidative stress,
  2. to determine whether chronic RET decreases oxidative stress level at rest condition in previously untrained men,
  3. and also to investigate how the RET intensity influences the training-induced oxidative stress response.

Sixteen young men who did not have RET experience in the past were randomly divided in 2 groups.

The hypertrophy-intensity group performed 3 sets of 12 repetitions at an intensity corresponding to 70% of 1 repetition maximum (1RM), whereas the strength-intensity group performed 3 sets of 6 repetitions at an intensity corresponding to 85% of 1RM.

The workouts  involved 6 exercises, and it was performed 3 times a week on nonconsecutive days for 6 weeks.

Blood samples were obtained just before (pre-RET) and immediately after RET (post-RET) on the first day of the first week, on the last day of the fourth and sixth weeks.

After 6 weeks of training, pre-RET values of malondialdehyde (MDA) significantly decreased and pre-RET values of glutathione (GSH)significantly increased in both hypertrophy- and strength-intensity groups.

These alterations occurred independently of training intensity.

Conclusion

This study indicated that hypertrophy- and strength-intensity whole-body RET performed regularly for 6 weeks, decreased MDA concentration and increased GSH level in healthy young men.

Results suggest that chronic RET has protective effects against oxidative stress similar to aerobic exercises and that these effects seem to be independent of the training intensity.

 

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Building Muscles 101…aka Turning Skinny Guys into Ripped Guys with Muscles

Today’s article is for the ectomorphs (aka skinny guys) in the audience.

Specifically, it’s for those guys who want to look a little less like Michael Cera and a little more like 1970s bodybuilding legend Frank Zane….or maybe somewhere in between.

  • And I’m here to tell you that it can be done.
  • It isn’t going to be easy…but it can be done.

frank zane beardmichael cera

 

So, let’s get started…

First off, let’s discuss why you are so darn skinny in the first place.

Answer: Genetics + Lifestyle

Genetics

When it comes to your genetics, you’re kind of stuck.

There is nothing we can do about your genetic inheritance….unless you are willing to submit to some freaky stem cell operation being performed by former East German scientists.

So, let’s just drop the subject of genetics and move onto lifestyle.

Lifestyle

Ectomorphs never like hearing this, but when it comes to “bulking up”….success depends entirely on:

  1. stimulating muscle growth &
  2. eating like a pig.

That’s it……That’s the big secret.

So, why is it that every single skinny client that I have ever had has sworn that they:

  1. work out harder than anyone in their gym &
  2. eat like a pig.

…and they still can’t gain any muscle.

The Answer?

They lie to themselves.

Like most of my obese clients, they think that they are doing all of the right things.

But, after a week or two of tracking their workouts & their food intake, it becomes clear that they need to:

  1. stop doing so many cardio workouts, bicep curls, crunches &
  2. start eating like a pig

Let’s start with the workouts

Start with this mass building program.

Now, on to the food

First off…we determine how many calories you need to eat per day.

Start by determining your Lean Body Mass.

  • Hop onto a bathroom scale that measures body-fat percentage along with your weight.
  • Record both numbers
  • Multiply your weight by your BF % (150 lbs. x 9% = 13.5 lbs.)
  • 13.5 is your body-fat in lbs.
  • Subtract your body-fat weight from your total weight (150 – 13.5 = 136.5 lbs.)
  • 136.5 is your Lean Body Mass

Now, if your body-fat % is 10% or lower

  • Multiply your LBM by 17 to calculate your Maintenance Calories
  • Using our example, our test-skinny would need to eat (136.5 x 17) 2320.5 calories every day just to maintain their current level of buffness.

If your body-fat % is between 10% – 15%

  • Multiply your LBM by 16 to calculate your Maintenance Calories

If your body-fat % is between 15% – 18%

  • Multiply your LBM by 15 to calculate your Maintenance Calories

If your body-fat % is between 18% – 21%

  • Multiply your LBM by 14 to calculate your Maintenance Calories

If your body-fat % is above 21%

  • Multiply your LBM by 13 to calculate your Maintenance Calories

And now that you have determined your Maintenance Caloric Needs, if you want to gain muscle, you need to take it up a notch.

I recommend increasing  your daily caloric intake by between 500 – 1000 calories.

That would mean that our test-skinny would need to eat between 2820.5 – 3320.5 calories per day.

And that’s a lot of food.

Here’s how you do it:

  • Commit to a minimum of 2 weeks of non-stop big eating
  • Set an alarm to remind you to eat at least 5 meals per day
  • Write everything down – a food log is essential
  • Chug a minimum of 2 meal replacement shakes per day – Muscle Milk & Monster Milk are 2 of my favorites
  • Carry high calorie snacks with you everywhere – nuts, seeds, granola
  • Post workout – drink a shake & eat additional carbs (fruit for the Paleos & grains {bread, rice} for everybody else)
  • Eat a protein/carb meal right before bed – meal replacement shake, cottage cheese, meat & potatoes, ham sandwich, etc…
  • And always, always, always…make sure you hit your caloric target

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The Deadpool Mega Muscle Mass Workout – Part Five

Get ready for the nastiest, sweatiest, most muscle-buildingest workout of all time.

Get ready for the workout guaranteed to turn the scrawniest fan boy into the ultra-quick, ultra-powerful, ultra-muscley bad-ass superhero of his dreams.

Get ready for Deadpool….bitches.

Alright, enough hype….let’s get down to business.

If you haven’t read the preceeding 4 posts, do so now – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

As I mentioned in Part 1 of this series, the Deadpool workout works because it focuses on your nervous system and your fast twitch muscle fibers.

And depending upon the techniques we use, we can train your muscles to be super fast, super strong, super powerful and/or super big.

It’s simply a matter of how we organize the techniques & how much effort & intensity you bring to the workout.

So, what kind of Deadpool body do you want?

  1. A lightly muscled, super quick, speed demon kind of body
  2. A heavily muscled, bodybuilder kind of physique
  3. A freakishly strong body – smaller than a bodybuilder…but scary strong
  4. The Ultimate Deadpool – a combination of scary strong & freaky fast

I have been beta testing all four workouts over the last 9 months and have seen some amazing results.

  • 2 NCAA track & field programs are now using Deadpool training techniques with their sprinters after a successful test with a small group of their freshmen athletes
  • A handful of veteran bodybuilders up here in Toronto are using Deadpool techniques to break through some really old, really stubborn plateaus. In fact, the two bodybuilders that I have worked with personally have added more mass in 12 weeks than they had added in the previous 2 years.
  • A whole bunch of my strongman & power lifting friends are using Deadpool techniques to increase their power & set new PBs.
  • And finally, dozens of my “normal” personal training clients are using aspects of the Ultimate Deadpool techniques to transform their formerly flabby fifty-something bodies into bodies that are leaner, stronger, healthier & more athletic than they have ever been.

One of my clients, a 40 something male who weighed 266 lbs and was initially unable to do a single chin up is now…

  • 40 lbs lighter,
  • able to do multiple sets of 5 rep chin ups with 90 lbs of weight hanging from his waist,
  • sprint hills faster than his teenage son,
  • bang out multiple sets of 5 rep push ups with 120 lbs of extra weight on his back,
  • able to quit taking medication for high blood pressure and high LDL cholesterol.

So, if this has piqued your interest…stay tuned.

Because on Wednesday, I quit teasing you and lay out the Ultimate Deadpool Workout.

And on the following Monday, I will begin posting daily Deadpool workouts here and on the Facebook page.

Stay tuned.

.

Free Your Mind and Bigger / Stronger Muscles Will Follow

Lately, I have been bumping into way too many close-minded fitness “experts”.

Experts who honestly believe that their training method is perfect and that every other method sucks in comparison.

To these people, I dedicate this little nugget of exercise science.

The Science

occlusion kaatsu bicep

Researchers already know that single-joint training (ex. bicep curls) with blood flow restriction (aka Occlusion Training or BFR) results in significant increases in limb muscle size and single joint strength (aka Bigger & Stronger muscles).

What they don’t know is the effect of blood flow restriction (BFR) on multi-joint training (ex. bench press or squat)

To test their hypotheses, researchers grabbed a bunch of college students, restricted the blood flow to their upper arms (biceps/triceps) and had them perform the following bench press workout.

The Workout

  • Flat Bench Press
  • 4 sets / 75 reps total
  • 30% of one repetition maximal (1-RM)
  • performed twice daily,
  • 6 days week for 2 weeks.

During the exercise session, subjects in the BFR group placed elastic cuffs proximally on both arms, with incremental increases in external compression starting at 100 mmHg and ending at 160 mmHg.

Before and after the training, triceps brachii and pectoralis major muscle thickness (MTH), bench press 1-RM and serum anabolic hormones were measured.

The Results

Two weeks of training led to a 6% increase in 1-RM bench press strength in the BFR group. The control group increased their 1-RM strength by only 2%.

And it wasn’t just an increase in strength. The BFR group increased triceps and pectoralis major muscle thickness by 8% and 16% respectively while the control group increased pec thickness by 2% and actually lost 1% of tricep thickness.

Interestingly, there were no changes in baseline concentrations of anabolic hormones in either group.

Conclusion

These results suggest that occlusion training is not only effective for increasing the strength & hypertrophy of the occluded muscles (limb muscles), but that non-occluded muscles also receive significant strength & hypertrophy benefits from this form of training.

Warning

I am not suggesting that you start wrapping tensor bandages around your limbs before your next workout.

Restricting blood flow during strenuous physical activity may have unintended side effects as yet undiscovered, and I don’t want to be responsible for anyone throwing a blood clot and keeling over in the middle of the gym.

Let’s let the eggheads study it a bit longer.

Conclusions #2

Exercise science expands its knowledge base every day.

New training methods are created.

Old methods are improved upon.

And close minded “experts” who think that their method of training is superior to all others should get prepared for disappointment.

Reference

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Transformation #1 – the Healthy Irishman – Workouts #2 & 3

The transformation of the Healthy Irishman (and bro) continues

And they’re both going to be nasty workouts

Transformation #1 – the Healthy Irishman – Workout Overview

jason-statham-shirtless-trans3

The other day on my blog, I introduced you to the Healthy Irishman and his plans to transform his body. Here is a link to that post.

Today, I will be outlining his program.

PROGRAM GOALS

  • The client want to add approx. 10 lbs of lean muscle.
  • Improve definition.
  • Improve fitness
  • Doesn’t want to look like a bodybuilder…more like LL Cool J or Jason Statham

llcoolj

PROGRAM OVERVIEW

This program is designed to:

  • provide maximum hypertrophy stimulus, while
  • supercharging anaerobic fitness and overall athleticism

In short, this program is going to make the Irishman bigger, stronger, faster, more flexible and hopefully reverse some of his dysfunction in his left shoulder.

THE WARM-UP

Unlike most programs, the warm-up doesn’t just get the Irishman ready for the workout, it is part of the workout.

I have designed two separate warm-ups that he will perform on alternate days.

Each warm-up is designed to dynamically stretch his joints, increase muscle temperature & elasticity, prime his anaerobic energy system as well as get his mind laser focused on the remainder of the workout

WARM-UP #1

  • Barbell Snatch x 8 reps
  • Barbell Overhead or Front Squat x 8 reps
  • Back Squat x 8 reps
  • Barbell Good Morning x 8 reps
  • Barbell Bent-Over Row x 8 reps
  • Barbell Deadlift x 8 reps
  • Hip Flexor Stretch x 8 reps

Repeat as many times as possible in 10 minutes (no rest between exercises – 30 sec. rest between supersets)

Note – You NEED to get through this at least 3 times in 10 min.

WARM-UP #2

  • Goblet Squat (DB) x 8 reps
  • Push-Up x 8 reps
  • Body Weight Row x 8 reps
  • Shuffle Lunge x 30 reps
  • Ab Wheel Roll-Outs x 8 reps
  • DB Swings x 20 reps
  • Hip Flexor Stretch x 8 reps

Repeat as many times as possible in 10 minutes (no rest between exercises – 30 sec. rest between supersets)

Note – You NEED to get through this at least 3 times in 10 min.

By the end of the 10 min. warm-up, the Irishman should be sweating hard and gasping for breath.

Take 5 min to get ready for the “real” workout

THE WORKOUT

The key to the success of these workouts is intensity.

I don’t care about the amount of weight lifted or how many reps. What I care about is effort. If you push harder than you thought you could ever push yourself, this workout will reward you with truly impressive results

For example, I tried this workout on a personal training client with amazing results

He is/was a tall (6’5″) guys with little muscle

In 9 weeks, he added 13 lbs of muscle and if his impedance scale is accurate, his BF has dropped from 23% to 14%

WORKOUT BASICS

  • Each workout will consist of 3 supersets
  • Each superset will consist of 2 exercises
  • Each superset will last 10 minutes
  • The reps performed per exercise will be modified by yours truly to maximize results.
  • The weight selected per exercise will also be modified by yours truly.
  • Intensity level HAS to be 100%

Simple…but not easy

SAMPLE WORKOUT

Superset #1

  • Alternate between exercise #1 and #2  for 10 minutes
  • No rest between sets

Exercise # 1

  • Goblet Squat
  • Choose a weight that would allow you to perform 20 quality reps (doesn’t have to be exact, weight selection will improve with experience)
  • Perform a maximum of 10 reps per set (at first, this will seem very easy..don’t worry, after 10 minutes you legs will be dying)

Exercise # 2

  • DB Lateral Raise / DB Bent-Over Lateral Raise
  • Choose a weight that would allow you to perform 20 quality reps (doesn’t have to be exact, weight selection will improve with experience)
  • Perform a maximum of 10 reps per set (by the end of 10 min, you may only be getting 1 or 2 reps per set, but remember 100% intensity)
  • Alternate between shoulder exercises –  ie Goblet/Laterals/Goblet/Bent-Over Lateral/Goblet/Lateral/Goblet/ Bent-Over Lateral…

5 Minutes rest between supersets #1 and #2 – Use that time to set up for superset #2

Superset #2

  • Alternate between exercise #1 and #2  for 10 minutes
  • No rest between sets

Exercise # 1

  • Swing Snatch
  • Choose a weight that would allow you to perform 40 quality reps
  • Perform a maximum of 20 reps per set

Exercise # 2

  • Cable Straight Arm Pushdown (aka the Vertical Woodchop or Hi-Lo Slam)
  • Choose a weight that would allow you to perform 20 quality reps
  • Perform a maximum of 10 reps per set
  • Be explosive with these
  • Perform standing

Superset #3

  • Alternate between exercise #1 and #2  for 10 minutes
  • No rest between sets

Exercise # 1

  • 1 Arm Kneeling Pulldown (or 1 Arm Alternating Standing Pulldown if 1 arm is n/a)
  • Choose a weight that would allow you to perform 20 quality reps
  • Perform a maximum of 10 reps per set

Exercise # 2

  • Shuffle Lunge
  • Bodyweight
  • 30 reps per set
  • Focus on speed…shuffle those feet

Okay, that’s it for this intro post.

Tomorrow, I will be posting the Healthy Irishman’s first workout (just in case anyone wants to join in)
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Enjoy fellas.

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The Deadpool Mega Muscle Mass Workout

deadpool

Since building the Squidoo Lens about Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool Workout, I have become a big Deadpool fan and am really looking forward to the movie. I think the studio made a great choice casting Ryan “Smart Ass” Reynolds in the role of Wade Wilson.

But, as I mentioned in the lens, Ryan is naturally a pretty skinny guy.

As a result, adding a whole lot of muscle mass was job #1 as he got ready to take on the role of Deadpool.

And he did a pretty good job.

Ryan-Reynolds

But we can do better.

In Part 1 of this series, I outlined the concepts behind my Official “Make Ryan Reynolds your Beeyotch” Workout

In this post, I give you a mass building workout that will put Deadpool to shame.

And I have named it…

The Deadpool Mega Muscle Mass Workout

DeadPool muscle

Like I mentioned in the previous article, the key to the success of this mass building phase is the focus on your nervous system and fast-twitch muscle fibers.

The theory is that since most hardgainers are slow-twitch fiber dominant, and slow-twitch fibers aren’t built for hypertrophy, we need to do something special to wake up those dormant fast-twitch fibers and force them to grow.

And here’s how we’re going to do it:

  • Each workout will consist of a series of 2-exercise supersets
  • The first exercise in each superset is designed to wake up the fast-twitch muscle fibers
  • The second exercise in each superset is designed to take advantage of the newly awakened fast-twitch fibers

How to Wake Up your Fast-Twitch Fibers

I was exposed to this concept about 15 years ago. At that time, I was training for powerlifting and strongman events. But my bench press was stuck. So, here’s what I did.

I would perform a partial bench press in a power rack with as much weight as I could handle. After a few sets of single reps, I would crawl over to standard bench press and attempt a maximum lift.

This technique allowed my to put over 30 lbs on my maximum bench press…after just 2 workouts.

The Theory

My strength was improved due to some combination of fast-twitch muscle recruitment and improved neuro-muscular co-ordination.

Since then, I have researched this topic…without much success. At least in the English speaking world. Those Russians were way ahead of us back in the day.

Anyway, most of you probably don’t care very much about the theory, so let’s move on.

The Wake-Up Exercises

I use 3 different methods to wake up the fast twitch fibers

  1. Very Intense Concentric Muscular Contractions – that’s what I did with the partial rack bench press
  2. Very Intense Eccentric Muscular Contractions – Plyometric movements
  3. Very Fast Concentric & Eccentric Muscular Contractions – think sprints or throwing movements

Okay, your fast-twitch fibers are awake…now what?

Now we take advantage of those FTs, by exposing them:

  1. Slightly Less Intense Concentric Muscular Contractions…through a full range of motion and performed as fast as possible. Think explosive bench presses.
  2. Slightly Less Intense Eccentric Muscular Contractions….but we drastically increase the time under tension. Sloooowwww negatives on those bench presses.
  3. With no pause at the top or bottom of the lift. The muscle is always under tension.

Reps, Sets & Bodyparts

Here’s where individual goals play a part.

Are you interested in athletic performance or just getting big and buff like Arnie?

  • My GPs were athletes, so I had them doing total body workouts. If they had been interested in appearance only, I would have had them do split body workouts (ie Back & Bis on Monday, Chest & Tris on Wed)

When it comes to rep selection, I had the GPs perform 3-8 reps on the Wake Up sets and 3-8 reps on the Work sets

For sets, I was much more fluid and looked at performance and time.

  • Max time for a workout was 45 min
  • But more important than time was speed. If I noticed a drop in the speed of movement, we shut everything down and hit the showers….not together. You get my point.

So, there you go. That’s the nuts and bolts of the Deadpool Mega Muscle Mass Workout

In the next installment, I will give you some examples of Wake-Up Exercises and show you how to pair them with the traditional lifts to get the best results.

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I, Bodybuilder….Fitness Marketing 101

I Bodybuilder

Nobody does a better job marketing to amateur bodybuilders than the guys at T-Muscle.

And they may have outdone themselves with this program.

Just released this morning, people are already going nuts.

They are lining up to buy a supplement that costs 80USD and may only last for two weeks.

Prorate that over a year and we’re talking just over 2000USD.

And they’re begging to buy it.

Begging.

OH MY GOD THIS IS SO EXCITING I WAS LITERALLY SCREAMING AT THE TOP OF MY LUNGS EVERY 10 SECONDS WHILE READING THE ARTICLE.

So, my question is…

What do we need to do to get the general public this interested in their own health & fitness?

What buttons need to be pushed?

Imagine how quickly America’s obesity epidemic would be turned around if everyone got this excited about a new exercise  nutrition program.

300 million fitness junkies.

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Occlusion / Kaatsu Training: The easiest and fastest way to build muscle mass OR health club kink?

You gotta love the Japanese.

They start with a little of this:

arnold bicep curl arm blaster

Add in a little of this:

image credit: Roger Hargreaves
image credit: Roger Hargreaves

And end up with this:

kaatsu biceps

Occlusion or Kaatsu training.

What is Occlusion or Kaatsu Training?

In a nutshell, Occlusion Training involves applying a tourniquet of some sort (Researchers use a pneumatic tourniquets similar to a blood pressure cuff) to the proximal portion of one of your limbs to restrict blood flow (partially or fully) while you perform low intensity exercise.

And why would you do that?

According to this recent study:

Low intensity occlusion (50-100 mm Hg) training provides a unique beneficial training mode for promoting muscle hypertrophy.

Training at intensities as low as 20% of 1 rep maximum with moderate vascular occlusion results in muscle hypertrophy in as little as 3 weeks.

A typical exercise prescription calls for 3 to 5 sets to volitional fatigue with short rest periods.

The metabolic buildup causes positive phsiologic reactions, specifically a rise in growth hormone that is higher than levels found with higher intensities.

Occlusion training is applicable for those who are unable to sustain high loads due to joint pain, postoperative patients, cardiac rehabilitation, athletes who are unloading, and astronauts.

In fact, during the study, test subjects saw some pretty startling results:

  • Lactate increased
  • Growth Hormone increased
  • Norepinephrine increased
  • IGF-1 increased
  • Noradrenaline increased
  • Myostatin decreased
  • One rep maximum strength increased
  • Isometric strength & torque increased
  • Isokinetic strength & torque increased
  • Muscular endurance increased
  • Cross-sectional area of the muscle increased
  • Slow twitch fibers changed into Fast twitch fibers

And all you need to turn yourself into a muscle-building Kaatsu warrior is some bondage gear and the ability to ignore the stares and giggles of your fellow health club members.

occlusion training - leg extension

So, what do you think of that?

I may come back and expand this post with more data in the next few days. I just received a full copy of this latest study and I am poring over the details. But, I couldn’t wait to share this with you.

Looking forward to the comments.

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Reference

Mechano Growth Factor

Mechano Growth Factor Arnold

Scientists in the UK and Denmark have shown that elderly men are capable of dramatically increasing their muscle mass.

All it takes is some growth hormone and some deep knee bends (elderly man speak for squats).

barry bonds then now before afterGrowth hormone???

Isn’t that the same stuff Barry Bonds was (allegedly) self-medicating with?

Well, yeah, but it’s okay because….because the doctor says so.

In fact, study researcher Dr. Geoff Goldspink says that this reseach “raises the question: Can age-related loss of muscle strength and increased fragility be ameliorated by the therapeutic application of mechano growth factor (MGF)?”

Question 1:

Is it morally acceptable to demonize athletes for taking GH or MGF or all manner of anabolic steroids and then turn around and put Grandpa on the juice?

Answer:

Next Question

Question 2:

What the heck is MGF?

Answer:

According to the Dr. Goldspink, MGF is a local muscle growth/repair factor (MGF).

This  means that MGF is produced locally in response to mechanical stress and acts on those muscle fibers that produce it. And once released, that local MGF pulse lasts for a few days.

It  is derived from the insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) gene by alternative splicing, but, owing to a reading frame shift, MGF has a unique C-terminal peptide. After resistance exercise, the IGF-I gene is spliced towards MGF which ‘‘kick starts’’ hypertrophy and repair of local muscle damage by activating the muscle stem cells as well as anabolic processes.

When you stretch your muscles during exercise, they start pumping out your own supply of MGF. That activates the stem cells that are already present in your muscles. And once “activated, these progenitor cells begin to divide, creating additional muscle fibres and increasing the size and strength of the muscle”.

Interestingly, loss of muscle mass in old age and in certain diseases is associated with an impaired ability to express MGF. In these conditions it seems that the muscle stem (satellite) cell pool is not adequately replenished.


Question 3: I’m young and loaded with growth hormone. Where do I get some of this MGF to kick start my anabolic process?

Answer:

  • Option 1 – You can buy a synthetic version of MGF on the internet. (link is strictly for illustration purposes. I am not advocating buying MGF on the web) Currently it’s expensive, but the price is expected to drop in the coming months.

And yes, this stuff is already popular amongst bodybuilders, strength athletes, professional ball players, old men aching to strut their stuff on the beach… In fact, the combination of IGF and MGF is preferred by many performance enhancement gurus over the use of straight GH as an anabolic agent.

  • Option 2 – Research has shown that MGF is a stretch sensitive growth factor. And not just any old 30 second static stretch. Both MGF and IGF respond much more strongly to clclic/dynamic stretching than to static stretching. This research jibes well with the research that shows eccentric resistance exercises to have a very powerful effect on MGF production. This makes sense as it combines muscle lengthening with increased mechanical stress (load).

So, what does this mean to you?

If you want to naturally increase your production of MGF and IGF and get bigger and stronger and more powerful, you need to stretch your muscles under load.

I would like to suggest 2 different methods to achieving this goal.

  1. Eccentric weight training.
  2. Resistence Stretching ala Dara Torres

But remember, this is bleeding edge science kind of stuff. Listen to your body and don’t do anything stupid. Also, go see your doctor for a check-up…turn and cough

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Reference

Health Habits Pop Quiz

If you think it’s possible, leave a comment explaining how it can be done.

On Friday, I will throw in my 2 cents.

arnold_bicep

huge strong and ripped-fitness-health-healthhabits-exercise-muscle

Do You Wanna Get Big and Strong?

It’s a common theme in gyms all around the world – Guys want to get bigger and stronger.

So, that’s what we’re going to talk about today. A kick ass training program designed to get you bigger and stronger.

The “Do You Wanna Get Big and Strong?” Program

Phase 1  –  10 x 10 Training

In phase 1, we are going to use one of the all-time best size building programs.

This phase goes by many names….

  • Call it  10×10 training,
  • Call it German Volume Training,
  • Call it that mother-blanking workout that causes so much pain that you can barely walk after a workout, call it whatever you want.

Here’s what you’re going to do.

  • Lift 3x per week on non-sequential days (M,W,F)
  • Rest between lifting sessions (Tu,Th,Sa)
  • Sunday is devoted to either HIIT training or Cardio training or something else athletic.
  • Day 1 focuses on Chest & Back training
  • Day 2 focuses on Legs & Abs/Core
  • Day 3 focuses on Arms & Shoulders
  • Each bodypart will be hit with one main compound exercise for 10 sets of 10 reps.
  • You are going to stick with that same exercise for the next 6 weeks
  • I have also included a couple of supplemental exercises in each workout. If you find that your muscle mass isn’t noticeably increasing, remove the supplemental exercises and just stick with the basic 10×10 sets.
  • When it comes to weight selection, choose a weight that you perform for 20 reps. This means that the first few sets of the 10×10 will seem way too easy. But don’t worry, around set number 6, you WILL feel the pain.
  • If you are able to complete all 10 sets of 10 reps, you need to increase the weight. Don’t make a huge jump in weight. A 5% jump should be about right.
  • After 6 weeks, you should be ready to move onto Phase 2. However, if you find that you’re still growing like a weed after 6 weeks (and you aren’t too bored of doing the same exercises over and over) feel free to stay on Phase 1 for another 2 weeks.

Suggested Exercises

For the 10×10 exercises, we are going to choose big, long range of motion, compound exercises. We want to involve as many muscle groups as possible while still maintaining simplicity of movement.

In the past, some people have tried to incorporate olympic style lifts into 10×10 training. It doesn’t work real well. Too much volume. Too much fatigue. Too high a chance of injury. Stick to the basics

  • Suggested 10×10 Chest ExercisesPresses – BB or DB, Incline, Decline, Flat…it’s your choice. You can even do push-ups with additional resistance (chains, bands)
  • Suggested 10×10 Back ExercisesChins or Rows – Try to resist doing pulldowns – do a band assisted chin-up if you need help. For rows, standing cable, bent-over barbell, even bodyweight rows with additional weight (weight vest, chains)
  • Suggested 10×10 Legs ExercisesSquats or Deadlift – Front squat, back squat, safety bar squat, trap bar squat – For deadlift, if technique is an issue, partial deadlifts out of the rack may be an option – set the pins just below knee height
  • Suggested 10×10 Arms & Shoulders ExercisesDips, Curls & Presses – no machines

Why the 10×10 Program works

It’s simple. You are exposing your biggest muscle groups to a huge volume of work.

You will grow. I have seen this program work time and time again.

And if you don’t that even the skinniest guy can get big and strong, check out Christian Bale

Christian Bale muscle transformation

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Health Habits

Do You Wanna Get Big and Strong?

Phase 1 Workout Log – PDF

Next Page – Phase 2