Saturday, July 31, 2010

Get Big Legs

Here's another great article from Jason Ferruggia on building big legs by using the king of all exercises--the squat. 


By Jason Ferruggia

Tom Platz and his favorite exercise
If you have been around the Iron Game for a while, there is one name that comes instantly to mind when people discuss leg training. That name is Tom Platz. “The Golden Eagle” is widely regarded as having the most massively muscular legs in the history of bodybuilding. His thighs measured a whopping 35 inches and were shredded to the bone. Tom’s muscle building program that created those unforgettable wheels revolved around one exercise and one exercise only; the barbell squat. If you want to add some serious mass to your legs you had better familiarize yourself with this exercise in a hurry.

Since the quads typically have a very wide variance of muscle fiber types you can use a great range of reps in your quest to build pillar sized legs. Often times, Tom and other lifters with notoriously huge legs, would go as high as fifty reps per set on squats. When I was young and painfully skinny, high rep squats were one of the most effective discoveries I ever made and helped me and my brother pack on size faster than anything we had ever tried to date. The old 20 rep squat programs from the golden era of the Iron Game made a massive man of many a skinny boy. For over 15 years I have used high rep squats with hundreds of clients, and without fail they have always gained enormous amounts of size and strength; not to mention several inches of raw mass on their thighs.

Although high rep squatting leads to massive and rapid gains, I usually recommend starting with a few heavy sets in the 4-8 range first. Sometimes I even add in a set of 10-15 after the heavy sets, and finally finish with one all out set of 20 (and sometimes 30-50). When you use this rep scheme you ensure that you hit all fiber types and stimulate the greatest amount of muscle growth possible.

Another note that needs to be added here is that high rep squats shouldn’t be done until you have mastered squat technique with several months of low rep training. You need to build the strength, coordination, endurance and stability needed to safely complete picture perfect low rep sets of squats first before you can move on to the high rep sets.

Beginners should squat three times per week, intermediates twice and advanced lifters should probably only squat once every 5-10 days, depending on a variety of factors and how much running and other extra curricular activities you participate in.

When putting together your muscle building program, be sure that squats are the focus of your lower body training; if not the only thing you do. Once you have mastered “the king of all exercises” you can then begin to think about adding in stuff like lunges, step ups and glute ham raises. Until then, and until you have gained significant size and strength from a steady diet of squats, I expect you to be spending a lot of time in the power rack.

Muscle Gaining Secrets
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 his 14 years as a professional fitness coach, including more than 500 athletes from over 20 different sports. Jason has written hundreds of articles for numerous top rated training magazines and websites and has authored four fitness books. He is also 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 Muscle Gaining Secrets.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Build Muscle with High Reps

Can high reps help you to build muscle or should you always stick with a lower rep range? 

Jason Ferruggia (creator of the Muscle Gaining Secrets program) answers this question in the following article:

How to Build Muscle with High Reps (by Jason Ferruggia).

Although I am not a fan of high reps on most exercises for most lifters, there are actually times when I do recommend them. So if you want to learn how to build muscle with high reps, then read on.

When you are more advanced and have developed a respectable level of strength, high reps can actually be a great tool for stimulating new muscle growth. The reason I don’t recommend high reps to beginners is because they don’t have the strength, coordination or stabilization to maintain perfect form throughout a long duration set and are likely to get injured. Also, when you are a weak beginner, it is very difficult to use a great deal of weight for more than eight reps on any given exercise.

The heavy weights for high reps concept only works with a few muscle groups and exercises and shouldn’t be used all the time. Also, the high rep set should always follow a heavy set. Therefore you would do a set of 5-8 first and then follow it up with a set of 15-20 reps.

Compound lower body exercises such as squats and leg presses are phenomenal muscle builders when done for high reps with heavy weights. My favorite set and reps scheme that I use with myself and all my advanced clients on leg days is one or two heavy set of 4-8 reps on some kind of squat followed by a high rep death set of 12-20 reps. If your legs don’t grow from that they never will.

Deadlifts are also great when done for high reps but you need to be careful to keep your back perfectly arched throughout. I recommend keeping the reps at twelve or lower on deadlifts to be safe. Rack deadlifts are a little bit safer and easier to maintain perfect form on so you may be able to push the reps to 15 on these.

Another great exercise to do high reps with is a one arm dumbbell row done with a slight cheat. I am a big fan of this exercise and am constantly trying to set new PR’s at certain rep ranges. When you can row a 130 pound dumbbell for twenty reps you will be far bigger and stronger than just about everyone else in your gym.

Whatever compound, multi joint exercise you can use a heavy weight with for high reps will be effective; just be sure that you have been training properly for at least two or three years and are quite strong before trying this. And when I say strong, I mean that you can bench press at least 1.5 times your body weight, you can squat double body weight and can deadlift 2.5 times your body weight (or at least be in the ballpark of those numbers).

High rep contests can always be fun with training partners also. Whenever I train with a friend or old training partner that I haven’t seen in a while I always like to have a heavy weight challenge and then a high rep challenge to finish the workout. We usually pick a weight that we know we can do at least 12-15 reps with and in the heat of competition end up doing nearly twice that number. For example we may choose the heaviest dumbbells the gym has for a set of one arm dumbbell rows and do anywhere from 15-30 reps for one all out, gut busting set. It’s a blast and really brings out the best in you. Not to mention that it helps pack on insane amounts of size.

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 his 14 years as a professional fitness coach, including more than 500 athletes from over 20 different sports. Jason has written hundreds of articles for numerous top rated training magazines and websites and has authored four fitness books. He is also 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 Muscle Gaining Secrets.

Friday, July 9, 2010

How to Gain Weight with One Exercise

What is the single most important exercise for building muscle and gaining weight? Jason Ferruggia answers that question. A lot of guys just waste too much time on isolation exercises when there's a better way to pack on the mass.


How to Gain Weight with One Exercise

By Jason Ferruggia

When people ask me how to gain weight the first thing I ask them is if they do deadlifts. If you are trying to get big but aren’t including deadlifts in your program you are simply wasting your time. There is simply no more effective exercise than the deadlift

From your neck to your calves, nearly every muscle in your body gets activated and receives a powerful growth stimulus from deadlifts

Not only is the deadlift the most effective mass building exercise there is but it is also the most basic and has the greatest carryover to the real world. There aren’t many times in life where you would lie down on your back and press a weight overhead like you would during a bench press. But hardly a day goes by when you don’t bend down and pick something up off the floor. And that is what you do when you deadlift. So it trains you for real life situations and helps to prevent the oh-so-common lower back problems that plague hundreds of thousands of adults

But the bottom line for all skinny guys and aspiring mass monsters is that if you want to know how to gain weight, you gotta learn how to deadlift

Although the deadlift works the entire body from head to toe, it is especially effective at building huge traps, upper back muscles, spinal erectors, glutes, hamstrings and forearms. Plenty of puffed up bodybuilders have the big pecs and biceps but a deadlifter stands out from the crowd, looking powerful and intimidating with the mountainous traps and thick, ruggedly muscled upper and lower back

To perform a proper deadlift, stand directly over the bar with your shins nearly touching it and feet approximately 8-14 inches apart. Squat down by breaking at the hips and pushing your glutes back. Keep your back tightly arched, chest up and head in line with your spine. Your upper body should be at a 45 degree angle in relation to the ground. Grab the bar with a vice grip and begin to pull up and back. As the bar passes your knees, drive your hips forward powerfully, push your chest out and pull your shoulders back to lockout the weight

When you lower the weight, be sure to begin by pushing your glutes back before you squat down. After the bar clears you knees, squat down while maintaining a tight arch in your lower back, allow the weights to touch the floor and repeat

Remember- a lot of deadlifts lead to huge, muscular physiques. If there was only one thing I could teach you about how to gain weight that would be it. Now get to the gym and start pulling some big weights.


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 his 14 years as a professional fitness coach, including more than 500 athletes from over 20 different sports. Jason has written hundreds of articles for numerous top rated training magazines and websites and has authored four fitness books. He is also 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 Muscle Gaining Secrets.



Note: You can read my review of this program here: Muscle Gaining Secrets Review.  

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

How to Build Big Calves

Here's another great article from Ferruggia. I'll ad my 2 cents here: Jason mentions the pause at the bottom of calf training movements. This is very important:  the Achilles tendon absorbs most of the force if you just bounce and don't pause.

How to Build Big Calves
By Jason Ferruggia (author of Muscle Gaining Secrets)

How to build big calves… it’s a question that I pondered for many years as a kid, being born with calves like string beans. After much experimentation, what I finally realized was that high volume works great for calves. They are probably the hardest muscle to build. Just doing a few sets for them never did anything for me. Since I had no desire to train them and preferred to focus on strength, athleticism and bigger compound lifts they stayed that way for years.

The only time they finally responded was when I hit them with very high volume. I usually do this for about a month and then I am bored to tears and stop training calves again for another year. Also, you can't really tolerate the high volume loading for too long before you will start to develop some ankle/achilles problems. If you are an athlete and run or jump a lot, don't even consider doing high volume calf work.

But if how to build big calves is a question that you obsess over, and you just want to get them jacked then you need to really increase your volume and frequency. I once put two inches on my calves in just over a month! Now, don't get me wrong, my calves are still nowhere near huge, but the point is you can add significant size to your calves if you really want to.

They were Arnold's worst bodypart and he dedicated all his time and effort to bringing them up. He even cut all of his pants off at the knee so he had to suffer the embarrassment of having his calves exposed wherever he went.

One option is to do a set of calves between every set of every exercise you do at each workout. Be sure to go heavy, get a good, deep stretch and hold it for a second (and up to ten seconds) at the bottom and get all the way up on your big toe at the top while flexing your calves hard. When you do standing calves your knees should be slightly bent on the way down and then locked out on the way up.

Another option is to start each workout (or each lower body day) with calves. One day per week would be heavy standing calf raises for 5-10 sets of 5-8 reps and the other day would be seated calf raises done for 4-5 sets of 15-30 reps.

You should also consider training the tibialis anterior muscles. These are the muscles that run down the front of your shin. Some people develop imbalances from too much ankle extension and not enough ankle flexion. When this happens and becomes a problem, the calves will not grow. So train these muscles by hanging your feet off the end of a bench and holding a dumbbell or DARD device between them and flexing your feet up toward you for a few sets of 10-20 reps, twice a week.

After you finish up with standing, seated and donkey calf raises and the tib raises, try doing farmers walks for up to five or even ten minutes while remanining on your toes the entire time. This will absolutely smoke your calves.

Finally, finish up your workouts with 10-20 minutes of jumping rope.

The above strategies should definitely get anyone’s calves to grow rapidly in a couple of months. Just be sure to ease into the extra volume slowly and gradually and take a step back if your ankles start to bother you.

If you are currently doing only 3-4 sets of calves twice per week you should slowly add a set or two at every workout until you get to about 10 or so. Ten hard, heavy sets plus the farmers walks and jumping rope should be more than enough for most people to add an inch or so in a month.

Now you know how to build big calves. For more information on adding size to the rest of your body check out Muscle Gaining Secrets now.

Train hard,

Jason Ferruggia


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 is the head training adviser for Men’s Fitness Magazine where he also has his own monthly column dedicated to muscle building. For more How to Build Muscle Fast tips, check out Muscle Gaining Secrets.

Note--you can read my original review of this program here: Muscle  Gaining Secrets Review.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

How To Build Big Triceps

Here's another great article from Jason Ferruggia. Pay close attention to his warning about going overboard on weighted dips: I used to do them with really heavy weights and the end result was having to get surgery done on my left ac joint (shoulder).

How to Build Big Triceps
By Jason Ferruggia

When people ask me how to build big triceps I respond with two simple words; “do dips.” Do dips and do a lot of them. Why, you ask? Have you seen the triceps development on male gymnasts lately? The dip is basically the only true triceps move they do and they are absolutely jacked with huge, thick, horseshoe triceps. Whenever you use your bodyweight for resistance or bodyweight plus additional resistance via a chin/dip belt or weight vest, you activate a much greater number of muscle fibers than you would if you simply used a machine. Machines do not recruit the smaller stabilizer muscles and do not force the muscles to contract naturally as they would in real life. Whenever possible you want to try to move your body instead of simply moving the arm or attachment on a machine. And although free weight exercises are very effective and a much better option than training on a machine, moving your own bod will always reign supreme when it comes to building muscle.

Dips can be performed on parallel bars or, if you are really strong, gymnastics rings. Be sure to squeeze the bars tightly, brace your abs as if you were about to be punched and lower yourself no lower than the point where your triceps are parallel with the ground. Going lower than that puts too much stress on the shoulders and getting the extra stretch is not worth the risk of an injury.

Dips can be performed three times per week as a beginner. After a few months of that I don’t think you will be confused about how to build big triceps anymore. When you get more advanced it is recommended to cut your dips down to twice per week. Although I used to love weighted dips and routinely had many of my clients perform them with numerous 45 pound plates strapped to their waists I have found, over the years, that there is simply too great a risk of injury with heavy weighted dips and now do not allow anyone in my gym to do dips with more than just one 45 pound plate. Anything beyond that seems to get too risky.

For intermediate lifters you could do one day heavy, where you add resistance to your weight belt, and one day light where you simply rep out with bodyweight. The two days should be about 72 hours apart. Once you get strong enough to do a 45 pound plate you will probably only want to use weighted dips as a rep exercise and not a heavy strength movement anymore.

To make dips more difficult without adding more weight, try doing them on gymnastics rings or on straps. You can also try holding your legs straight out directly in front of you as well. Either option will be very challenging and are great muscle builders.

Aside from dips, the next best muscle building exercise for the triceps is a reduced range of motion close grip bench press or some variation of it. The top half of the bench press really focuses the stress on the triceps which is why you want to limit the range when training simply to increase the size of your arms. To do this you can set pins in a power rack or have a partner hold a few two by fours on your chest. These are called board presses. Three, four and five boar presses are awesome for building huge triceps and should be incorporated into your routine on a regular basis. When you get too strong to go heavy on dips without risking a shoulder injury, make board presses your heavy triceps movement and dips your light triceps movement. Keep pushing up the weight and reps and pretty soon people will be asking you about how to build big triceps like yours.

Train hard,

Jason Ferruggia


About the Author:
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 is the head training adviser for Men’s Fitness Magazine where he also has his own monthly column dedicated to muscle building. For more How to Build Muscle Fast tips, check out Muscle Gaining Secrets.

Note: You can read my review of this program here: Muscle Gaining Secrets Review.