Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Training to Failure

Should you train to absolute failure?  This has been a pretty controversial question in weight training and bodybuilding.  Jason Ferruggia (author of Muscle Gaining Secrets) addresses this in the following article.  What he is advocating here could be called training to "near failure"--training until you could not complete another rep with good form.  This is what I have been doing for years and it works well for me.  Now for Ferrugia's article:


Does Training To Failure Help Increase Muscle Mass?

By Jason Ferruggia

Training to failure has long been a much debated subject amongst fitness professionals. Many experts tell you that if you really want to increase muscle mass you have to go to failure on each and every set you do while others will warn you to avoid training to failure at all costs. At different points in my career I have been on both sides of this fence as I am continually experimenting with more efficient ways of getting bigger and stronger.

Years ago I recommended that everyone go to failure on a regular basis if their goal was to rapidly increase muscle mass. I knew that hard work and high intensity were needed to bring about dramatic improvements in size and strength. This worked out incredibly well when I was training all of my clients with low volume workouts. Eventually I got away from low volume and started experimenting with a slightly higher approach for various reasons. The problem, however, is that you can’t train with high volume and high intensity. When you are doing a large number of sets there is absolutely no way you can take each of them to failure without severely burning yourself out.

After realizing this I immediately started advising all of my clients against going to failure. I told everyone to stop their sets with a rep or two left in the tank but not to ever take it all the way to a point of momentary muscular failure.

This worked fairly well but the fact remains that everyone who is serious about training, and really wants to increase muscle mass rapidly loves to train HARD! So what was happening was people were ignoring my advice and continuing to go to failure on at least 80-90% of their sets. The honest truth is that I ALWAYS go to failure, or very close to it, no matter what volume of training I am using. I don’t know any other way to train and could never stand to give it less than 100% effort when I’m in the gym. To me, and everyone I know who lives to lift heavy weights, that way of training is a lot more fun than going in and trying to hold back. I don’t want to hold anything back, I want to lay it all on the table and give it all I have.

Because of this fact I have steadily lowered my training volume recommendations over the last few years. Nowadays I rarely ever advise doing more than 12 sets per workout if your goal is to increase muscle mass. When you keep your volume this low you can train as hard as you want and safely go to failure on every set without ever worrying about frying your CNS or overtraining. This makes your workouts more fun and more productive. Not to mention, shorter, for all of you who are pressed for time.

When I say you can go to failure on every set I mean that the set should end when you can no longer complete another rep in good form. I don’t want you to literally fail in the middle of a rep as this can be potentially dangerous, especially if you do it on a squat or a bench press when you don’t have a spotter around. What I want you to do is work as hard as you can but stop the set after you grind out one last slow, brutal rep that requires all the effort you can muster without causing yourself to have a nervous breakdown or having your eyeballs pop out of your head. At that point the set is over; do not attempt another rep because that is when you get into overtraining territory.

That’s all there is to it. Remember, low volume plus high intensity is the exact formula needed to increase muscle mass rapidly.

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. You can learn about his training methods by visiting Muscle Gaining Secrets.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Best Fat Burning Foods

My best selling abs/fat-loss program here at Strongandfit.net is Mike Geary's Truth About Abs.  Why is it so popular? It works!  Any effective program will teach you how to exercise and eat for fat loss, and that's exactly what Geary does.  Here's a sample of one of his articles:

Top 3 Fat-Burning Foods (by Mike Geary)

In all of my years as a professional Nutrition Specialist, I've noticed that most people are shocked to hear some of my picks for the top fat burning foods that are best for weight loss and good health.

I won't bore you with all of the typical "healthy foods" that you hear about all of the time such as fruits and veggies... everybody knows those. Instead, I'm going to show you some shockers that most people don't realize are super healthy foods for fat loss.

1. Egg Yolks - yes, that's right... full fatty egg yolks with all of their fat and cholesterol. By the way, you've been mislead about the cholesterol in egg yolks -- it actually raises your GOOD cholesterol and helps balance proper ratios, so don't be afraid of the fat and cholesterol in these little nutrition power packed gems. And if you choose cage-free eggs from free roaming hens, the omega-3 content is higher with a more balanced fat profile.

Egg yolks are also one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet in terms of vitamins, minerals, and trace nutrients. Trying to list all of the vital nutrients in egg yolks would take up an entire page so I won't even try that here. Just realize that egg yolks should NOT be avoided in favor of egg whites. Even the protein is more bioavailable when you include the yolks!

So don't be afraid to eat those delicious and healthy eggs and start burning belly fat faster.

2. Avocados - This is yet another "fatty food" that is also one of the best fat burning foods! Not only that, but avocados make just about everything creamier and more delicious. They are also power-packed with healthy fats, fiber, and antioxidants, as well as vitamins and minerals. The healthy fat in avocados also helps control appetite and fat burning hormones in your body.

Try adding avocado slices or guacamole to everything from morning eggs, salads, sandwiches, and burgers, and starting burning body fat faster! I would definitely consider avocados one of the best healthy super foods.

3. Grass-fed beef - While most beef you see at the grocery store is grain fed beef from cattle that are in poor health and has lower nutrition values and omega-6 to omega-3 fat ratios that are far out of whack, there is a better option... and that is Grass-Fed Beef!

Grass-fed beef is known to have much higher levels of healthy omega-3 fatty acids and lower omega-6 fats (which most people get too much of anyway). Grass-fed beef also contains higher levels of many vitamins and minerals, as well as containing high levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is a healthy fat that is known to help muscle building and fat burning.

So don't be afraid to live it up a little and eat more beef, as long as you choose healthy grass-fed beef instead of grain fed beef. Enjoy and start burning more body fat with these so called "fatty" foods!

If you want to lose body fat faster, check out these 5 tips to Burn Stomach Fat the smart and effective way.

Enjoy, and good luck with your fitness endeavors!
Mike Geary
Author - The Truth about Six Pack Abs

Monday, September 20, 2010

Muscle Building Tips

Ready for some basic muscle building tips?  Let's look at five tips for building muscle.  This is another article from Jason Ferruggia, creator of Muscle Gaining Secrets review.  I especially like his tip about over-analyzing things--I've seen people do this and it never makes them bigger or stronger (just drives them crazy).  So here goes:

5 Muscle Building Tips, by Jason Ferruggia:

Before/After Muscle Gaining Secrets Program
Here are 5 random muscle building tips that may make a big difference in your training.

– Don’t exceed 5-6 reps on most of your warm up sets. Your first set could consist of a very light weight for 10-20 reps just to get loosened up and get the blood flowing but beyond that you want to keep the reps low. The reason for this is that you don’t want to build up too much lactic acid or accumulate too much fatigue with your warm ups.

– Don’t stretch before your workout in the hopes of preventing injury. This doesn’t work. The only benefit of stretching before a workout is to help you get into positions you might not be able to reach (such as a full squat) because you are tight in specific areas (such as the hamstrings and hip flexors). But stretching for the sake of injury prevention is an outdated idea and doesn’t really work.

– Don’t over-analyze and over-think everything you do in the gym. This never gets you anywhere. Don’t worry if the incline of the bench is supposed to be 50 degrees or 55 degrees. Don’t worry that if you don’t supinate at exactly the right time that you won’t activate your biceps optimally. Don’t stress out about the exact grip width on the bar. If someone tells you that a 16? grip on the bench press hits your triceps better than anything else, but because of an injury or anatomical difference you can only comfortably use an 18? grip, don’t sweat it. People over-think themselves to death and they never get anywhere because of it. Go to the gym, get stronger, go home, eat, sleep and repeat. Don’t turn it into advanced calculus. That is one of the best muscle building tips I can give you.

– Always train both sides of the joint with equal volume. Therefore if you do six sets per week of pressing exercises you need to do six sets per week of pulling exercises. If you do two sets of curls you should do two sets of triceps work. And so on and so on…

– If you can’t get your forearms to grow, try hitting them with more frequency than other muscle groups. They can easily be trained three times per week and recover without any problem. Also, try to hold the bottom stretched position of wrist curls for 3-5 seconds per rep. When you finish training the forearms, hit them with a deep stretch for both the extensors and flexors for 30-60 seconds. These muscle building tips should get the forearms to grow.

For more incredible muscle building tips please visit 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 is the head training adviser for Men’s Fitness Magazine where he also has his own monthly column dedicated to muscle building.  CLICK HERE to learn more about his training program. 


Note: You can read my review of Ferruggia's program here:
Muscle Gaining Secrets Review

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Shoulder Injuries and Muscle Building

Here's another great article from Jason Ferruggia, creator of muscle gaining secrets.  He discusses shoulder injuries--especially those associated with the bench press.  I've had shoulder surgery myself and I can tell you it isn't fun (I had to have my left ac joint reconstructed).  He gives some good advice here, so pay close attention: 


How to Build Muscle Fast and Avoid Shoulder Injuries
by Jason Ferruggia

Been There, Done That
Many moons ago when people asked me how to build muscle fast I told them that they had to squat, deadlift and bench press. That was before I injured my own shoulder and saw it happen to countless others. It happened again yesterday. My friend and ex training partner called and told me he tore his rotator cuff while benching heavy over the weekend. This did not come as shocking news. This bench press has been injuring shoulders and tearing pecs since the first time it was ever performed.

Back in the golden days of the Iron Game, when the military press was the main upper body exercise of choice, nobody ever heard of rotator cuff injuries or pec tears. It was only after the bench press achieved extreme popularity that shoulders and pecs started getting obliterated at record rates.

The bottom position of a heavy bench press puts your shoulders in a very vulnerable and dangerous position. Some people can tolerate this for decades. For others it will only take a few years. But sooner or later it’s bound to happen. It’s really not a question of if, but when. The flat bench press will eventually lead to some kind of shoulder problems or pec tear in the majority of lifters who do it heavy enough and long enough.

Like a lot of you, I have always been obsessed with learning more about how to build muscle fast, and the bench press has long been a staple in popular mass building programs. For years I proudly proclaimed it to be a great size and strength building lift and measure of upper body power. Nothing made me happier than helping one of my athletes add 50 pounds to his bench in the off season and watching him go to camp and destroy the competition.

But after 20 years in the game, having been witness to far too many injuries resulting from the flat bench press and getting my own shoulder cut open recently, I have finally had to look myself in the mirror and admit the truth that I have been hesitant to come to grips with for far too long…

Bench pressing sucks!

I have discussed this issue with many of the worlds top shoulder specialists in recent months and they are all in full agreement.

That’s not to say that you can never bench again. I know many of you will refuse to stop and I can relate to that mindset. If you get tested on the bench or compete in powerlifting, of course you have to do it. For the rest of you, who still love to press big weights and impress your friends and gym members I recommend you do so with extreme caution.

Make sure your technique is picture perfect and you bring the bar down to the right spot while properly activating your upper back and lat muscles. Secondly, don’t use the flat bench for more than 4-6 weeks without switching to a safer version of a barbell press like an incline or floor press.

The smartest route, however, is to get rid of this destructive exercise forever. There are far more effective movements that will build mind blowing strength and size in your chest, shoulders and triceps while saving you years of frustrating and costly injuries.

While the bench press is probably the most dangerous exercise most of you are doing on a regular basis, it is not the only harmful one. Unfortunately many of you are probably doing damage to other body parts without even realizing it.

To learn how to build muscle fast and to discover the most effective and safest exercises that will replace the bench press and many other useless movements, check out Muscle Gaining Secrets today… before it’s too late.

Train smart,
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.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Best Chest Exercises

How to Build an Impressive Chest
By Jason Ferruggia

Question: I have heard that the bench press is a crappy chest exercise. Is this true? If it sucks, what’s better?

Answer: The bench press is a great exercise. If you bench properly, there will be minimal pectoral involvement, however. The triceps and front delts will do most of the work. This is individual and is based on your strengths and weaknesses, but for the most part, your chest will not be doing the majority of the work when you bench press.

Trying to make the bench press target the pecs more by bringing your elbows out wide and lowering the bar up higher on your chest (the way that bodybuilding magazines typically show you how to do it) is a shoulder injury waiting to happen, so that’s not an option to even consider. I did these many years ago for a few months before I knew any better and my shoulder has never been the same since. Don't make the same mistakes that I did.

Even though the pecs do not do the majority of work during the bench press I still think it's is a tremendous, if somewhat overused, mass builder for the whole upper body. If you have shoulder issues, however, it should be avoided at all costs, but for everyone else it is one of the great upper-body exercises.

Strap Push-Ups
Equally as effective, if not more so, is the dumbbell bench press. The dumbbells allow a more natural range of motion and are much safer. These can be done on a flat bench or an incline bench. The dumbbells also give you the option of pressing with your palms facing down toward your feet (pronated) as they do when you press with a bar or with your palms facing each other, in toward your body. The latter variety places less stress on your shoulders but if you are healthy you could probably use both varieties.

Finally, pushups of all varieties will always remain among my top chest builders. My favorites are weighted blast-strap pushups with the straps set about five feet apart from each other. The function of the pecs is to draw the arms across the midline of the body. By setting the straps far apart from each other, you make the pecs function in this way as you press/pull yourself back up from the bottom position. You have to do it and feel it to appreciate what I’m talking about, but I don’t think you will find a better chest exercise than this. If, like Frank Rizzo of the Jerky Boys, you have a chest like a wet blanket, then I highly recommend you give this exercise a try.

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.



*You can read my review of Ferruggia's program here: Muscle Gaining Secrets Review