Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Ben Pakulski Chest Workout

Here's an article from Ben Pakulski: professional bodybuilder, celebrity trainer, and creator of the Mass Intentions (MI40) Workout Program. He describes one of the workouts he does in order to make his chest grow:


We sit smack in the middle of my offseason and things are going great! I have been giving extra attention to bringing up my chest and back over the last two months. My ability to contract the muscles is way better than what it had been in the past. My pumps are painful and the roundness and fullness has improved as much as I could have ever imagined. One of my favorite parts of being a bodybuilder is trying to pack on as much muscle as possible in the offseason, so that when you get shredded for your next contest, its almost like unwrapping a gift. You get to see the result of all that hard work and meticulous attention to perfect form.

Now that I boast about how awesome my training has been and how much my chest is growing, how about I share my secrets to why my chest is growing almost at will, it seems. You all know me as a stickler for form. I am constantly trying to learn the absolute best way to train every muscle, and be able to explain and prove why that way is the best.

The basic idea behind “perfect” form, of course, also depends on your specific goals. In my case, the goal is maximum muscle growth. The factors to consider when assessing an exercise are simple: does it create maximum and continuous tension, and does it take a muscle through a full range of motion. As you’ve all heard before: Muscles don’t know how much weight you’re lifting, they only know TENSION. A question I’m always asking myself is: How do I create greater tension?

By now, many of you have heard of the technique that I use, called “intention”. This is the simple idea of generating greater muscular tension by exerting force in certain directions. For chest, simply try shoving your hands toward each other on barbell exercises. Its hard to do as the weight gets heavy, but give it a shot on your warm up sets, the tension on the muscle will blow your mind. Try to keep the squeeze through the entire range of motion.

Here is a sample of what my workouts have looked like lately:
Incline barbell press (heavy) 5x6**,
Incline dumbbell fly 4x8**(plus one warm up set)
Flat Machine press 4x8**
Incline dumbbell press 4x12**
Dips 3 sets to failure.

**last set of every exercise is Neurological Overload Set “NOS” set ending with forced negatives to complete muscular failure

Please do NOT try this without a very competent spotter. This is a VERY advanced workout designed to take my muscle to complete failure to ensure maximum growth. Always ensure you are in complete control of the weight, especially at the extremes of the range of motion.

Good luck and happy growing!
Bpak

UPDATE (JUNE 2014):  Ben's latest program is called MI40X.  You can CLICK HERE to read my
review. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Diet Rule Experiment: Which Diet is Right for You?

Here's an article from Brad Pilon, author of Eat Stop Eat.  This is the most simple weight loss plan I've ever seen and it works.  

It's important to remember that compliance--whether or not you'll do the diet, is one of the most important factors you should consider before trying a plan or program. You can read this article for more helpful information on discovering which diet plan is right for you. 


If you and I went to the local magazine stand and scanned the covers of the fitness magazines we would find dozens of ‘weight loss’ rules.

In fact we could spend the rest of the week reading magazines about the latest greatest weight loss tricks many of which may actually work for someone. But realistically there’s just no way you could actually follow ALL of them. So how do you know which ones are right for you?

The easy answer is you have to decide which rules fit best for YOUR life and then try to stick to just one or two that will make the most sense for you and have the most benefit.

This may be the first time in your life you become a scientist, and your experiment is you. Here’s what you do…

Browse any of the popular magazines, blogs, websites or anywhere you like to get fitness information. Read up on the diet and weight loss tips and tricks, these could be simple changes like not drinking calories, or a bigger philosophy like limiting the amount of carbs that you eat.

Make a top 10 list of diet strategies you’d like to try, and that sound doable to you. At this point add one new diet strategy to your life for two weeks. Record your bodyweight at the beginning of the two weeks and again at the end. If you haven’t lost any weight this strategy doesn’t work (for you). Discard it and move on to the next one.

This is the simplest way to tell if something will work for YOU. If the strategy you picked sounds like a good idea but seems too difficult for you to manage then it’s simply not a good fit for you in this stage of your life. If it worked for your friend but not for you that’s ok, there will be one that works just for you, this is why you make a top 10 list and try each of them, one at a time.

Let’s suppose you find one that works over a two week period and you don’t want to stop. That’s fine, just add the next one in the list, if you can handle more than one strategy at once more power to you and you’ll probably lose fat even faster. My guess is that sticking to more than one or two rules will be almost impossible, so it will be pretty easy to tell which strategy is really working.

For me the simpler the diet is the better, (which is the main premise behind Eat Stop Eat).

Even when you are following the Eat Stop Eat lifestyle you can still use the top 10-diet rule as a way to guide how you eat on your ‘eat days’.

The top 10 diet rule experiment is the fastest way to find dietary habits that work for you - after all you’ll never know until you try.

****
Brad Pilon is a nutrition professional with over eight years experience working in the nutritional supplement industry specializing in clinical research management and new product development. Brad has completed graduate studies in nutritional sciences specializing in the use of short term fasting for weight loss.


His trademarked book Eat Stop Eat has been featured on national television and helped thousands of men and women around the world lose fat without sacrificing the foods they love. 


NOTE:  You may want to check out my review of Eat Stop Eat.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Complexes for Fat Loss

Here's an article from Nick Nilson discussing an effective way to lose fat in your workouts called complexes. 

If you've never heard of "Complexes" for fat loss before, you're in for a treat...a very tough, very challenging (and I think very fun) treat!

Complexes are basically a series of exercises done without releasing your grip on the bar or dumbells, going from one exercise straight into the next with no break. It's a form of circuit training that actually gives you even LESS of a break than normal circuit training because you're using the same equipment for each exercise and you're transitioning instantly into the next exercise.

I've put together 4 good complexes that target all the major muscle groups in your body to maximize the metabolic effects of the training.

These complexes are bodyweight exercises combined with barbell exercises to really cover more bases. They're really powerful for kicking up the metabolism for fat-loss purposes. You're not going to build much strength or muscle with them but the sheer amount of muscle mass used in these complexes makes them ideal for fat burning and boosting the metabolism.

Just an fyi, if you can't do straight bar dips, sub in push-ups on the bar instead. And if you can't do pull-up rows with your feet off the ground, set your feet on the ground. You'll see what I mean with these adjustments when you see the complexes.

They're an incredibly effective way to get a FAST fat-loss workout done.

Complex #1

Set the bar in the power rack at about stomach level. Load it with a light to moderate weight (you'll be able to judge your weight better when you see the exercises being used for it).

Straight Bar Dips - this is a bodyweight dip done with your hands set on the barbell.

Now swing yourself down UNDER the bar (preferably without letting your feet touch the ground) and do Pull-Up Rows.

Set your feet down on the floor and change your grip to set up Front Squats.

Duck your head under the bar to get it on your back for back squats. Set your feet out WAY wide so that the forefoot area is actually up on the side rails of the rack and only your heels are on the ground. This is a GREAT glute and hamstring version of the squat (you could call it a sumo squat, like the sumo stance deadlift). The front squat hits the quads more so this aims to focus on glutes and hams.
Bring your feet in and do standing calf raises (half range from flat on the floor to up on your toes and hold).

That's it! The video will show you the transitions between exercises best.

Complex #2

The first two exercises of this complex are the same as first. Set a lighter weight on the bar, though, because you'll be doing shoulder presses after the pull-up rows.

So start with the straight bar dips then swing down under the bar for pull-up rows. Next, swing your legs around and kneel down for barbell shoulder press. Get your feet back under you and do squats with the bar in the bottom position of the shoulder press .

That's it!

Complex #3

Start with the straight bar dip again then to feet on the ground pull-up rows.

Next, got to kneeling barbell shoulder press then to front squats then back squats.
That's it for #3! This one is a bit easier to perform, especially with the leg exercises - the lighter weight used in the shoulder press means you'll need to do more reps for the leg part.

Complex #4

The first exercise is On-barbell push-ups. I have my legs hooked on another bar, but it's not necessary. I just wanted to see if it would work any differently. It does work well, but regular push-ups will be just fine here, too.

Set your feet down then go to barbell rows. Next it's stiff-legged deadlifts.
That's it for #4! Definitely use your imagination and use these as a jumping-off point to come up with your own complexes.

RECOMMENDED: to best understand how to perform and get the most out of these complexes, I HIGHLY recommend checking out the pictures and video of them in action...click here (or the image) to see them now!





And if fast fat loss is your goal, I would definitely recommend checking out my program "Metabolic Surge - Rapid Fat Loss". It's a targeted "done-for-you" 36-day rapid fat loss program that helps you KEEP and even BUILD muscle at the same time, reshaping your body quickly and efficiently.  Just CLICK HERE to check it out.
------------------

Nick Nilsson has a degree in Physical Education and Psychology and has been innovating new training techniques for more than 20 years. Nick is the author of a number of bodybuilding books including "Gluteus to the Maximus - Build a Bigger Butt NOW!", "Muscle Explosion! 28 Days To Maximum Mass", "Metabolic Surge - Rapid Fat Loss," "The Best Exercises You've Never Heard Of," and "The Best Abdominal Exercises You've Never Heard Of", all designed to maximize the results you get for the hard work you put into your training. Be sure to grab your FREE copy of Nick's 30-day "Dirty Little Secret Program for Building Muscle and Burning Fat FAST," available at Fitness Ebooks.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Alpha Male Fat Loss Tips

Here are five fat loss tips from  the creators of the Alpha Male Advanced Workouts program.   Remember--there's not much point in building muscle if all of it is going to stay covered in a layer of fat.  Follow this advice and you'll be on your way to a leaner physique.    


Even if you’re hitting the weights hard, you may be packing some extra pounds of fat you’d like to leave behind. There’s no better time to get that butt in even better shape than right NOW! Here are some tips for you guys out there from Eric Broser, James Villepigue and Rick Collins, the creators of the Alpha Male Advanced Workouts program that has even the most experienced hardcore bodybuilders talking!

1. GET OFF THE SCALE Americans are notoriously obsessed with their body weight, and even many gym rats start their training session with a jump on the scale. Forget it! Weigh yourself only once a month. Scales can be inaccurate, misleading, and a psychological deterrent to your success. If you add some muscle to your frame while you’re dropping fat (like you would with our program, for instance), the scale may fool you!

2. DO IT FOR THE HEALTH BENEFITS Everybody wants to look great in the mirror. But don’t forget to pay attention to your overall health, not just your appearance. Sure, you want a program that’s going to make you look awesome, but you can add years to your life and reduce major health risks by following a sound nutrition and exercise program. And you’ll look better and feel better too!

3. CAN THE SODA AND SAVE Soda adds useless (and expensive) calories to your diet. Just drinking water rather than sugar-rich soda can put an extra $2-$3 in your wallet each day. Over one year, that adds up to over $1,000 saved. And 100,000 fewer calories consumed! Considering that 1 pound of fat is the equivalent of 3,500 calories, that can be a weight savings of 28 pounds!

Eric Broser
4. BE ACTIVE… BUT BE SMART Proper diet and exercise go hand in hand. One without the other is a recipe for failure. Just because you walked for 30 minutes doesn’t mean you can reward yourself with a pint of your favorite ice cream! Find smarter ways to reward yourself for a week of hard training!

5. REDUCE THE CALORIES Americans take in way too many calories, Period! From super-sized meals at fast food chains to enormous servings at our favorite steakhouse, we are on the receiving end of an abundance of calories. Weight reduction is a caloric formula. Calories in (through eating) versus calories out (through activity) – it’s that simple. Stick with smaller portions, and keep your protein high, especially if you’re engaged in intense training! Combine these tips with a top-notch training program like the amazing Alpha Male Advanced Workouts and you’ll see some dramatic changes in the way you look … AND FEEL!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Neurological Overload Set (NOS): Ben Pakulski

Question: One of the concepts in MI40 Mass Intentions is the neurological overload set (nos). I think a lot of people are curious about this and would like to hear it explained a little further.  Would you tell us why you think this concept is so important for maximizing your workouts and stimulating new growth?

Answer:  Have you ever left the gym wondering if you could have done more? If you should have done more? I know I have. Heck, there has even been days when I contemplated going back in the gym because I just didn’t KNOW that my muscles were exhausted. That’s a terrible feeling.

I don’t know about you, but when I go to the gym I want to KNOW that my time is well spent and im not wasting my days and getting less results than I am after.

Here is the next cutting edge intensifier in muscle building: NOS

NOS stands for Neurological Overload Set. The set that overloads the body and creates the optimal hormonal environment for growth inside the muscle!

Hormones like testosterone, growth hormone, IGF-1 are responsible for growth. The best way to stimulate these hormones is through intense exercise that takes muscles to their limit.

NOS is the single most effective way to take a muscle to its complete physical exhaustion.

As many of you already know, TIME under TENSION is the number one most highly correlated factor with muscle hypertrophy (growth).

NOS start out by putting you in the exact optimal range for muscular growth via optimal Time under Tension (40-70 seconds)

8 repetitions done with a 4010 cadence (5-second reps) . For those of you unfamiliar with this cadence reference, it is very simple. It means 4 seconds DOWN(negative/eccentric portion) , 0-seconds pause, 1-second explosive concentric (contraction), and then 0-second pause.

The “0’s” tend to be most confusing for people, this simply means DON’T STOP. Use continuous motion and no rest or pause at the top or bottom of the rep.

Once you have completed 8 repetitions with 5-second reps, IMMEDIATELY decrease the weight by 20% and keep going. No cheating, no extraneous movement, just strict executed form.Repeat this 20% drop in weights 2 more times for a total of 3 decreases in weight.

This process will take your muscle to complete physical exhaustion. The lactic acid will be uncomfortable but find comfort in knowing that more lactic acid is correlated with more growth hormone, bigger muscles and a leaner, harder physique.

Note (June 2014): Ben's updated program is called Mass Intentions Extreme 2.0.  This program is even better than the original MI40.  CLICK HERE to check it out.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Tension, Training, and Muscle Growth

Ben Pakulski
Here's an article from Ben Pakulski, creator of the MI40 Mass Intentions Workout Program.   According to him, there is an often overlooked factor that can lead to more effective workouts in the gym.  This one factor can radically affect muscle growth:

Question: Ben, please identify the number one training mistake that would be preventing individuals from achieving maximal muscle gains.

Answer: Well, we all know “the guy” in the gym that throws a ton of weight on the bar and moves it with terrible form and looks like hes going to hurt himself. He is the root of many of our jokes, and definitely gets a lot of sideways looks from the patrons of the gym.

We’ve all asked ourselves “WHAT is he trying to do?” Chances are, he has no clue. He comes in the gym everyday and does the Exact same thing week in and week out because he really has NO IDEA what he is trying to do.

Therein lies the problem! Guess what, more likely than not, you have all been guilty of doing this too at some point in your life (whether you care to admit it or not).

The first thing you need to do is identify your desired goal. If your goal is to build muscle, then you have come to the right place and you should take a minute listen up.

The one and ONLY most important factor that you need to consider when it comes to your quest to build muscle, is TENSION (more on that in a minute).

We have all heard people speak about mind-muscle connection, or that you’ve got to really “squeeze” a muscle to make it grow. I don’t know about you, but for most people this is a really hard concept to figure out. Those of us that “get” what it means, still really have a difficult time putting it to action.

The good news is, this is quite a simple concept and I will show you how to apply it to building your muscles literally TWICE as fast. Here is what you need to know: Muscles communicate in terms of tension. They have absolutely NO idea how much weight youre lifting. They only know how much tension or torque is going through them.

What if I told you there was a way to perform more or less ANY exercise so that you could FEEL it EXACTLY where youre supposed to feel it, AND increase muscular tension with LESS weight to get results TWICE as fast in half the time. Sounds pretty cool, right? I’ll explain.

YOU can control exactly how much tension or torque that goes through a muscle you are working at ANY point in the workout. You have complete control over HOW HARD you squeeze, HOW LONG you work, and most importantly EXACTLY WHERE you squeeze and contract. You can selectively train EXACTLY the muscle youre supposed to be and not train anything that you don’t want to be.

Every guy out there knows what im talking about. We've all don’t bench presses and got NO pump in our chests but our delts and tris were cooked! No more, gents! I would like to take this moment to introduce to you the revolutionary muscle building technique called INTENTION!

The way I describe intention to people I encounter that are unfamiliar with it is this: “Intention is the CONSCIOUS INTENT to create TENSION in the muscle” I know, I know, sounds a little hokey. BUT the fact of the matter is that this is BY FAR the best way to ensure you are maintain tension on the working muscle.

The number one most highly correlated factor with building muscle is “TIME UNDER TENSION”. The longer you can keep tension directly on a muscle, the more you control the rate at which that muscle grows.

You can do a bench press all day long, and if there is not tension in the pecs, you WILL NOT build pecs. Why is it that some people can build great chests while bench pressing while others cant? Because some peoples “genetics” all them to thoughtlessly keep a greater amount of tension in that muscle!

We now have the ability to do this consciously. The best part is, IT'S EASY!! INTENTION in action.

The most simple example of intention exists on the bench press. Grab on the bar in front of you, just like you would on a bench press. You can use any stable surface for this example. I will use the edge of my desk. I grab the edge of my desk about equally as wide as I would on a bench press. Hold on firmly, and without letting your hands move from that position, “shove” them toward each other.

What happened? Your chest contracted didn’t it? Now imagine doing this exact thing through a range of motion, like in a bench press. WOW! You just created continuous tension in the EXACT muscle you wanted to! Pretty cool right!?

You can read my review of MI40x for more information on Ben's training techniques. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Mass Intentions 40 Review

Hey guys:
Be sure to check out my MI40 Mass Intentions Program Review.  You can read my explanation of what you get with the program, who it is best suited for, etc.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Muscle Review: New Blog

You may want to check out a new blog I'm working on:  Muscle Review.  I am not sure if I'll move some of the old articles from other blogs into this new one, but we'll see.  I'm thinking of moving my best articles to this new blog. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ben Pakulski Workout

Professional bodybuilder and trainer Ben Pakulski has a new program coming out called MI40 workout (Mass Intentions 40). 

You can expect more information to come soon (reviews, interviews, etc).  Until then you can check otu a free e-report called 5 Tricks to Immediately Double Your Gains.  This will be a helpful introduction to help you decide if you want to invest in the program.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Review: 24/7 Fat Loss


I have posted a review of Joel Marion and Craig Ballantyne's new fat loss program over at my main blog.  I recommend it:  I think you'll find combining their exercise and diet strategy would help you lose fat.  Check out the entire review here: 24/7 Fat Loss Review

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fasting: Seven Benefits (Hormones, etc)

I've read through Brad Pilon's Eat Stop Eat program and   I have to say this is the most simple, practical way to lose fat I've ever seen.  This program has caused me to re-think much of what I used to believe about fat loss.  It's also been a valuable reference for me--I keep going back and re-reading certain parts of it.  Here's an article from Pilon on the seven benefits of using intermittent fasting as a weight loss strategy.

Flexible intermittent fasting is becoming a very popular way to use your body’s natural ability to burn lots of fat in a short period of time. Here is a list of the ways that flexible intermittent fasting will turbo charge your fat loss.

1. Increases Fat Burning Hormones 
Hormones are usually at the root of most of your metabolic functioning, and fat burning is no different. Growth Hormone is the most important fat burning hormone in your body. Fasting pushes growth hormone production into high gear and this makes your fat burning furnace start to work overtime. Fasting also decrease your insulin levels, which ensures that you burn body fat instead of storing it.

2. Increased Fat Burning Enzymes 
Fat burning hormones need the help of fat burning enzymes to get their job done. Fasting will sky rocket the activity of two of the most important fat burning enzymes in your body. Adipose tissue HSL (Hormone Sensitive Lipase) is the enzyme responsible for allowing your fat cells to release fat so it can be burned as energy in your muscles. Muscle tissue LPL (Lipoprotein Lipase) is the enzyme responsible for allowing your muscle cells to take up fat so it can be burnt as a fuel. Fasting increases both of these enzymes to optimize fat burning - A perfect combination.

3. Burn More Calories 
Short term fasting (12-72hrs) actually increases your metabolism and adrenaline levels. This causes you to increase calorie burning during the fast period. The more calories you burn the faster you can lose weight. The extra energy you get from the fast might actually help you through a workout or get more work done at work or around the house. When I did my first fast I was shocked at how awake and energetic I was. My fasting days are now my most productive days of the week.

4. Burn Fat Instead of Sugar 
Fasting shifts your metabolism from burning blood sugar to burning mostly body fat. When you eat a meal your body likes to burn carbs first, then the fat from your food. Any extra fat that your body can’t burn in the few hours after you eat get stored as body fat. When you fast your body has no choice but to burn stored body fat. By the end of a 24 hour fast your body is burning way more fat than it would during a regular day of eating.

5. You’ll Find Out Why You Eat 
The most surprising benefit people report back when they start fasting is a new found awareness of what causes them to eat. When you make a conscious decision to fast for a day your less than flattering eating motivations become painfully obvious. This is the first and most effective step to getting rid of bat habits for good. Knowing what your motivations are for poor eating choices is essential before you can change them and build better habits.

6. Builds Positive Attitudes Towards Yourself and Food 
Each short fast is an accomplishment that can build self confidence and gratitude. At the end of a 24 hour fast you can feel good about your accomplishment and start feeling good about your relationship with food again. The positive empowerment from each fast builds on the last until you feel completely in control of your food choices.

7. Eat All The Foods You Love Guilt Free 
Short term fasting allows you to lose weight and burn fat without restricting any of the foods you love to eat. With this style of eating you can consume any and all of the foods you like whenever you choose without feeling guilty about it and still lose weight. You will never again have to be sitting in a restaurant picking at a salad while everyone else at the tables indulges in their favorite entrée and dessert. Eating for fat loss doesn’t need to be complicated and food should never be a source of anxiety or guilt. Mixing in a few 24 hours fasts to your week can liberate you from the dieting prison and allow you to enjoy food again.

****

Brad Pilon is a nutrition professional with over eight years experience working in the nutritional supplement industry specializing in clinical research management and new product development. Brad has completed graduate studies in nutritional sciences specializing in the use of short term fasting for weight loss. His trademarked book Eat Stop Eat has been featured on national television and helped thousands of men and women around the world lose fat without sacrificing the foods they love. For more information, visit Eat Stop Eat


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Turbulence Training Workout

Turbulence Training is a worthwhile investment for transforming your body.  This program is perfect for busy professionals who want maximum results with limited time in the gym.  About all you need is 45 minutes, three times a week to do this program.  Here's an explanation of how you would go about choosing your workout if you use this program:

With Turbulence Training for Fat Loss, there are a lot of workouts to choose from.

So why did I create so many fat burning programs? Because you need to have variety in your workouts to keep on boosting your metabolism, and burning fat month after month.

If you did the same workout program for 3 months straight, your results would screech to a halt after 5 or 6 weeks.

With the Turbulence Training fat loss program, you will be able to change your workouts every 4 weeks. Each time you do that, you'll kickstart your fat burning and your metabolism to a new level.

You must change your workout every 3-4 weeks.

Unfortunately, with so many Turbulence Training workouts, people often ask, "Which program should I start with?". So here are the fat burning guidelines you need to get the most out of Turbulence Training no matter what your fitness level:

1) The Best Program for a Total BEGINNER Overweight, sedentary beginners should start with the Introductory Program in the main Turbulence Training for Fat Loss manual. If you haven't been doing any exercise, you must start there. No exceptions. The bodyweight exercises will prepare your muscles for all future workouts, and will prevent the overuse injuries people usually get when they start a high-volume cardio program (which is the worst thing an overweight person can do for weight loss).

2) The Best Program for an Experienced Lifter Who Has NOT Exercised in the Last 4 Weeks Please start with the Intermediate Workout from the main Turbulence Training for Fat Loss program. BUT NOTE: Do only ONE SET per exercise in each workout in the first week. This will prevent you from being excessively sore from the exercises, which can occur when you have been away from exercise for so long.

3) The Best Program For ADVANCED Fitness & Fat Loss I suggest you start with the "Original Turbulence Training Workout" from the main Turbulence Training for Fat Loss manual. Work your way through each following three advanced workouts in the manual. Upon completion of the Turbulence Training for Fat Loss workouts from the main manual, you can move onto the bonus workouts in this order:

A) If you are a women that wants to put the final touches on a female physique, use the Turbulence Training for Women workout.
B) If you are a man that wants to build muscle, use the TT for Muscle program.
C) If you want to keep burning fat, move to the DB-BW Fusion Workout.
D) Follow that with the 30-Day Advanced Fat Loss program.
E) And finally, finish with the Advanced Fusion Fat Loss 4-Week Program.

At any time you are traveling or want a break from the dumbell workouts, you can use the beginner, intermediate, or advanced bodyweight program from the Original Bodyweight 4-Week TT workout.

Sincerely,
Craig Ballantyne,
Craig Ballantyne
CSCS, MS Author, Turbulence Training 

About the Author:
Craig Ballantyne is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and writes for Men's Health, Men's Fitness, Maximum Fitness, Muscle and Fitness Hers, and Oxygen magazines. His trademarked Turbulence Training fat loss workouts have been featured multiple times in Men’s Fitness and Maximum Fitness magazines, and have helped thousands of men and women around the world lose fat, gain muscle, and get lean in less than 45 minutes three times per week. For more information on the Turbulence Training workouts that will help you burn fat without long, slow cardio sessions or fancy equipment, visit Turbulence Training.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Bodybuilding Foods

One of the most important things you'll do to build muscle is buy the right kind of foods at the grocery store and properly stock your kitchen.  Here's an article from Reuben Bajada (author of the Permanent Muscle program) on how to buy the right foods to build muscle:

Proper eating starts with getting the right foods in your kitchen and the bad foods out. I treat my kitchen like a mini laboratory, a place that provides me with all the fuel I need to maintain hardcore intensity in life and training! Below are my 13 essentials for fueling your muscle building journey.

1) Do your shopping on a full stomach. Shopping when you are hungry leaves you more likely to purchase the quick fix foods high in sugar, fat and sodium. If you don’t believe me, try shopping first thing in the morning before breakfast and see how much junk makes it home!

2) Learn from those in the know. Here is an extract from a local grocery store assistant I stumbled across; ‘As a veteran of supermarket employment, most of the time items sold end-of-day are reduced by as much as 50%. It is not to say these items are "bad" or "spoiled" but merely unfit to be sold the next day due to specific rules and/or laws. These items usually have a longer shelf life than actually noted; considered edible 3-5 days after sell by date. Also, when fresh items arrive, there is a need for shelf space, therefore, we reduce prices to push the products out.’ So basically, don’t be afraid to buy foods with huge reductions due to their use by date, they usually are considered edible 3-5 days past that date. I usually just buy and freeze immediately, then eat whenever I like.

3) The foods we want most of are found around the perimeter of the store. Pretty common knowledge but thought I’d throw this in.

4) Know the leanness of your meats. Meat is animal flesh and is most often the muscle. When you're selecting beef for example, choose cuts labelled "Choice" or "Select" instead of "Prime" — which usually has more fat. Opt for cuts of meat with the least amount of visible fat (marbling). Even then, trim any visible fat before preparing the beef. When you're selecting ground beef, opt for the lowest percentage of fat.

5) Only eat ‘Whole Grains’ when eating grain foods. Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley and any other cereal food are known as grain foods. Some good examples are breads, tortillas, rice’s and pastas. Grains come in whole grains and refined grains. Refined grains are the ones you should steer clear from, they have been milled, which means the ‘bran’ and ‘germ’ have been removed during processing, reducing their energy, vitamin and fibre contents. Most common refined grains are; white breads, white rice and white flour.

6) Vegetable fact to remember: Fresh is better than frozen, frozen is better than canned. I personally have a 1:3 ratio of fresh to frozen foods. If you are time and money conscious, buying frozen can be a lifesaver. Frozen vegetables are snap frozen almost immediately once they are picked which seals in valuable vitamins and minerals until they are cooked. They are a very convenient option as they are often available with a variety of different types and can be stored for long periods of time. Fresh vegetables are by far the cheapest option when bought in bulk from wholesale locations. They taste great, can be cooked in a variety of different ways though a downside is they only stay in a fresh state for around 3-4 days.

7) Don’t get confused by ‘sugar free’. This refers to sucrose (general table sugar). There are many other varieties of sugar that might find their way into your foods; honey, sweeteners, corn syrup, maltose, lactose, fructose, dextrose and glucose.

8) The stronger the cheese the further it travels. When selecting cheeses, as cheese is naturally high in fats, choose the stronger flavoured varieties, this will mean that you will not need to use such large portions for it to impact on your foods.

9) Fats to run away from. Yes some fats high in omega 3’s and omega 6’s are healthy when eaten in moderation, but that doesn’t mean they all are! Some fats like trans fats (trans-isomer fatty acid) and hydrogenated oils are not essential and certainly do not promote good health.

10) Canned foods can be extremely high in sodium (salts) and preservatives. Food isn’t sold in canned because it looks good! It’s sealed airtight and treated with preservatives to maintain its shelf life. Only buy canned or jarred foods as an absolute last resort.

11) Avoid UFO’S! Unidentified food object (foods with unpronounceable ingredients)

12) Buy 2 plain foods rather than one treated. When buying many dairy products like milk, yogurts and shakes, instead of buying the pre-flavoured options which are likely to be high in sugars and fats, buy the plain item and then buy another natural food like your favourite fruit to add for extra flavour.

13) Choose your condiments (sauce, seasoning & relish) sensibly. We all know that eating the same things day after day can get damn well boring, so adding a splash of soy sauce of sprinkle of garlic pepper on your steak can do the world for your standard plain Jane dish. Just take care with your selections, and eat in moderation. Choosing condiments high in salt and sugar can turn a normally nutritious meal into a damaging one in no time.

Reuben Bajada
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About the author:
Reuben Bajada is known around the world as an elite results based coach and trainer. He is a renowned strength & conditioning coach, personal trainer and sports performance nutritionist who offers his time, knowledge and training advice to anybody ready to commit to both improving the way they look and perform. He is the author and mind behind 2011's most popular muscle building program; Permanent Muscle which guarantees to build real muscle, on real people, real fast.  Just visit Permanent Muscle for more information.

You can read my review here: Permanent Muscle Review

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Cardio Machines

I see a lot of people spending countless hours on different types of cardio machines.  Maybe they have their place, but I think there are much more effective and time-efficient ways to lose fat.  Here's an article explaining why:

Recently, I was in Tampa, Florida, at a seminar. Between sessions, a physician from Georgia stopped me in the hall and said, "Hey Craig, you were right about those crosstrainer machines. I've had your program for a few months now and I'm getting better results with the bodyweight circuits."
It's always great to meet clients, and I was curious to find out how he heard of me.

Turns out, he found me through Google, landing on an article I wrote about "how elliptical machines (crosstrainers) suck for fat loss". That's right, I think those machines are almost a complete waste of time.

"I was using one of those machines for a long time and was wondering why I wasn't getting any results," the physician continued, "I'm so glad I found your program and now I'm using the bodyweight circuits from the Dumbell-Bodyweight Fusion Workout", he added.

I told him how I wasn't surprised. In fact, I've never personally known anyone to get great results with one of those crosstrainer machines. Now I've watched really lean people use them, but they didn't get lean with those machines.

I know some people will be angry with what I have to say because they like exercising on the crosstrainer, but the truth is that they just don't work as well as harder forms of interval training.

And hey, any time you are traveling or want a break from regular interval training workouts, you can use one of the 4 bodyweight circuits from the TT DB-BW Fusion Fat Loss program that you get as a bonus when you order the Turbulence Training fat burning workout routine.

Let me know how it goes for you,
Craig Ballantyne,
CSCS, MS Author,
Turbulence Training 

About the Author: Craig Ballantyne is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and writes for Men's Health, Men's Fitness, Maximum Fitness, Muscle and Fitness Hers, and Oxygen magazines. His trademarked Turbulence Training fat loss workouts have been featured multiple times in Men’s Fitness and Maximum Fitness magazines, and have helped thousands of men and women around the world lose fat, gain muscle, and get lean in less than 45 minutes three times per week. For more information on the Turbulence Training workouts that will help you burn fat without long, slow cardio sessions or fancy equipment, visit Turbulence Training.

You can also read my honest review of Turbulence Training for more info. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Five Fat Loss Tips (Alpha Male Advanced Workouts)

Here are five fat loss tips from the folks at Alpha Male Advanced Workouts:

Even if you’re hitting the weights hard, you may be packing some extra pounds of fat you’d like to leave behind. There’s no better time to get that butt in even better shape than right NOW! Here are some tips for you guys out there from Eric Broser, James Villepigue and Rick Collins, the creators of the Alpha Male Advanced Workouts program that has even the most experienced hardcore bodybuilders talking!

1. GET OFF THE SCALE Americans are notoriously obsessed with their body weight, and even many gym rats start their training session with a jump on the scale. Forget it! Weigh yourself only once a month. Scales can be inaccurate, misleading, and a psychological deterrent to your success. If you add some muscle to your frame while you’re dropping fat (like you would with our program, for instance), the scale may fool you!

2. DO IT FOR THE HEALTH BENEFITS Everybody wants to look great in the mirror. But don’t forget to pay attention to your overall health, not just your appearance. Sure, you want a program that’s going to make you look awesome, but you can add years to your life and reduce major health risks by following a sound nutrition and exercise program. And you’ll look better and feel better too!

3. CAN THE SODA AND SAVE Soda adds useless (and expensive) calories to your diet. Just drinking water rather than sugar-rich soda can put an extra $2-$3 in your wallet each day. Over one year, that adds up to over $1,000 saved. And 100,000 fewer calories consumed! Considering that 1 pound of fat is the equivalent of 3,500 calories, that can be a weight savings of 28 pounds!

4. BE ACTIVE… BUT BE SMART Proper diet and exercise go hand in hand. One without the other is a recipe for failure. Just because you walked for 30 minutes doesn’t mean you can reward yourself with a pint of your favorite ice cream! Find smarter ways to reward yourself for a week of hard training!

5. REDUCE THE CALORIES Americans take in way too many calories, Period! From super-sized meals at fast food chains to enormous servings at our favorite steakhouse, we are on the receiving end of an abundance of calories. Weight reduction is a caloric formula. Calories in (through eating) versus calories out (through activity) – it’s that simple. Stick with smaller portions, and keep your protein high, especially if you’re engaged in intense training!

Combine these tips with a top-notch training program like the amazing Alpha Male Advanced Workouts and you’ll see some dramatic changes in the way you look … AND FEEL!

Friday, August 12, 2011

5x5 Workout

Here's an article from Jason Ferruggia (author of Muscle Gaining Secrets) on the 5x5 program. The 5x5 method (five sets, five reps) is one of my favorites for putting on muscle.  It's a time-tested method and it works:


The 5x5 system is one of the oldest muscle building programs in the book and has stuck around forever. 5x5 is good and 5x5 is bad; it just depends on the situation. There are a few ways that the 5x5 muscle building system is implemented.

The first way that people use the 5x5 system to build muscle is that they warm up to a weight and then stick with that weight for five sets of five. So you need to choose a weight that you can handle for that many sets. In essence, the fifth set will be the only set that is quite difficult. This is a decent method to build muscle but largely a waste of time for anyone but a beginner. There is too much volume at an intensity that is too low building muscle. For beginners and early intermediates, I think the 5x5 system is a good one. When you are neurologically inefficient, you seem to respond better to a few more repeated efforts. I still don’t know if five sets are really necessary though; 3x5 is probably better in most cases.

The next way people employ the 5x5 system in an attempt to build muscle is by starting with a heavy weight that they can barely get five reps with and then lowering the weight with each significant set. Again, I think this is too much. The only set that was worth doing was the first and maybe the second. This is not the optimal way to build muscle.

The third way I have seen this system employed to build muscle is to work up to a heavy weight that you can barely get five with and then keeping that weight for the next four sets, no matter how many reps you get. Progression is made each week by trying to get more reps in the subsequent sets. This is a favorite of one particular egomaniacal strength coach and like everything else he recommends, is total crap.

The last way that the 5x5 system is used to build muscle is by doing five increasingly heavier sets so that only your last set is tough. Basically the other sets are warm ups so you are really just warming up to a five rep max or very close to it. If this is the case, it’s really 1x5 and not 5x5. It’s a bit of a misnomer. But if I had to pick one, this would be the best method.

Working up to a five rep max and then a down set at 90% of your best is an even better option for building muscle. Or you could do a very heavy set of five but leave a little something in the tank and then go for broke on the second set. There is some evidence which shows that this second option may even be the better choice simply because the body may not function optimally during the first heavy set. This is due to the laws of homeostasis and various things of this nature. The first set causes shock and certain protective mechanisms may set it which prevents the first heavy set from actually being the best set. The job of the first heavy set may be to provide neural arousal and prepare the body to go all out on the second set. This is something that people have to play with on their own and see what approach helps them build muscle fastest.

For more information on how to build muscle fast, 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 advisor 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.  

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Permanent Weight Loss: Intermittent Fasting

One thing I like about intermittent fasting is its viability as a long-term or permanent solution to weight loss. Fasting allows you to lose weight without having to obsess over every meal or completely avoid certain foods. Here's an article from Brad Pilon, creator/author of Eat Stop Eat.


If you've been looking for a way to lose and keep weight off permanently, then you would do well to consider using intermittent fasting as a method of reducing your caloric intake to aid you in your weight loss quest.

Intermittent fasting is defined as short-term fasts, typically 24-36 hours in length, once or twice per week. These fasts are normally water only. Doing a so-called “juice fast” can defeat the purpose of intermittent fasting altogether, as by its very definition you are consuming large amounts of natural sugars, which can throw off your blood sugar as well as other bodily functions as well. Other types of fasts that emphasize one food or drink (other than water) can be just as worrisome.

Short-term fasts like these are simple to do and they also provide a way to cut your caloric intake rather easily. Imagine knocking off two full days worth of calories from what you've been taking into your body. It makes the task of reducing that much easier.

Of course, replacing those saved calories with massive amounts of food on the other days will negate this aid, but in truth, if you are in tune with what your body is telling you this will not be an issue. Many times we succumb to our mind's indoctrination that we'll somehow starve if we don't get that extra food. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We can survive and indeed thrive on much less food than we've been conditioned to think we need. America, in particular, is notorious when it comes to conspicuous consumption, and if we're not careful, we'll feed our next generation into an early grave with the amount of food we're forcing down their throats. There is no relief or help in sight from either the food industry, government or health organizations. Many are either trying to sell us what they have to offer, the latest diet solution (that won't work!) or deny there's a problem in the first place. (The FDA comes to mind!)

So when push comes to shove the only real way to lose unwanted fat and pounds is to consume less food than we use in calories. It's simple math, and the proof that different types of diets don't matter as much as they'd like you to believe lies in the fact that most of these diets will help you to lose weight. It's being able to sustain that particular diet that becomes the problem. Most are so restrictive that it's next to impossible to do them long-term.

Fasting offers a good alternative, as it's not asking you to add anything, buy anything or do anything apart from abstaining from food for a designated period of time so your body can get into calorie deficit and begin to cleanse itself. You owe it to yourself to look into this further and see if intermittent fasting might be a good idea to add to your weight loss plan.

****
Brad Pilon is a nutrition professional with over eight years experience working in the nutritional supplement industry specializing in clinical research management and new product development. Brad has completed graduate studies in nutritional sciences specializing in the use of short term fasting for weight loss.


His trademarked book Eat Stop Eat has been featured on national television and helped thousands of men and women around the world lose fat without sacrificing the foods they love. For more information visit Eat Stop Eat.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Hardgainers

Attention, Hardgainers:
Maybe you need a swift kick in the pants to really get motivated.  There's no one better to do this than Jason Ferruggia, creator of Muscle Gaining Secrets.  I've always found his articles to be inspiring, and this one is no exception.  Read this and think about if you're really doing everything you know you need to do to put on muscle. 

The Hardgainer Mindset
By Jason Ferruggia

Nothing pisses me off more than skinny guys who complain about their inability to gain weight.

“Waaaaa (said in a whining baby voice ala Artie Lang and Howard Stern), I have a really fast metabolism.”

“Waaaaa, it’s harder for me than most people to gain weight.”

“Waaaaa, I don’t have the appetite to eat that much.”

“Waaaaa, I have terrible genetics.”

“Waaaaa, I don’t have time to eat that much.”

“Waaaaa, I have tried everything and still can’t get bigger.”

“Waaaaa, I’m a hardgainer.”

You know what I say to people who make those excuses?

Give up.

Quit.

It’s hopeless.

You’re right, you are a hardgainer. So, stop going to the gym today and never even think about picking up a weight again. End your misery now and start something else because I promise you that you will never get bigger.

There’s not a shot in hell… and that’s the honest truth.

You know why you will never get bigger and stronger?

Because you don’t have the heart to do it. It’s that simple. And the sooner you realize it the sooner you can move on and start doing something more productive with your time.

You are a weak, lazy chump… or as you like to put it- a hargainer.

And you make me sick.

I graduated high school weighing all of 147 pounds at six feet tall. I was the epitome of a hardgainer. Eventually I got up to 231 pounds through proper training and eating and an undying dedication to achieving my goal.

I trained as hard as I could and ate when I didn’t want to, when it wasn’t convenient and when I wasn’t hungry. I went to sleep early on nights I wanted to be out drinking and partying. I did whatever I had to do to achieve my goals and refused to believe that my crappy genetics would hold me back. I never fell into the hardgainer mindset.

Somewhere along the path I came down with tuberculosis and nearly died. I spent a few weeks in the hospital and six months on bed rest. I was on medication for a year and when I returned to the gym could only bench press the bar.

But I didn’t let that stop me and picked up right where I left off.

Over my fourteen years in the fitness industry I have seen numerous people achieve the same kind of results time and time again. Many, far more impressive than mine. Many who all could be considered the classic hardgainer.

My client and friend, Mike Schwalb gained 100 pounds of muscle in the time he trained with me. I witnessed Mike force down many a meal and come in to train on nights when his friends were out having fun.

Another good friend, client and former training partner of mine named Todd Coker gained over 120 pounds during the time he trained with me, going from somewhere around 130 pounds to over 250.

My friend Jim Wendler has less than God like genetics and even had a serious disease which he overcame to go to squat 1000 pounds in competition and a body weight of over 280 pounds.

Jim’s teammate and friend Matt Rhodes went from 220 pounds at 6’4” to 313 pounds within the course of two years because of his incredible commitment to eating and training. I had dinner with Matt a few weeks ago and personally watched him force feed himself long after he was full. In fact we all laughed as the sweat dripped down his head while he choked down another bite of chicken. That’s dedication.

I could literally list dozens and dozens of examples of people I know personally who were once considered a classic hardgainer but went on to big time success in the weightroom, (let alone the thousands of people who overcame crappy genetics that I don’t know) but I think you get the point.

You know what those people all had in common?

Drive, desire, dedication and an iron will and commitment to excellence.

That had heart and they had balls.

They never succumbed to the hardgainer mindset.

And most importantly, they never made excuses.

Do you?

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 Hardgainer Mindset tips, check out Muscle Gaining Secrets.

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

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Best Muscle Building Exercises

One of the mistakes new trainees make is to focus on the wrong exercises.  They spend too much time on isolation movements (cable crossovers, etc) instead of working on basic, compound lifts.  This article from Jason Ferruggia (author of Muscle Gaining Secrets) will give you some helpful tips on exercise selection in the gym:

The Top Ten Weight Training Exercises for Building Muscle
By Jason Ferruggia

Deadlift=muscle
1) Deadlift- Not many weight training exercises work as many muscle groups and build muscle as fast as the deadlift. The neck, traps, upper, middle, and lower back, glutes, hamstrings, quads, biceps, forearms, and abs are all utilized in the deadlift. No other exercise is a better test of overall body power. While uninformed people always ask, "how much can you bench," the question they really should ask is, "how much can you deadlift?" A deadlift is the most basic exercise anyone can do. Bending down and picking a weight up off the floor is the one weight training exercise that mimics everyday real life situations. Most people will rarely find themselves on their back needing to push a heavyweight off their chest but everyone has to bend down and pick things up. If you could only do one exercise to build muscle this would be the one to do.

2) Squat- The squat has been known for years as the "king of all muscle building exercises" and for good reason. I'm not talking about sissy boy half squats either; I'm talking about real below parallel, full squats. If you don't at least break parallel it's not a squat. Like deadlifts, squats involve an enormous amount of muscle mass and stimulate the release of anabolic hormones such as testosterone. This is great for building muscle fast. The squat is probably the most revered exercise among serious lifters and the power rack is considered our sacred ground. If you ever want to develop any kind of real lower body strength and build muscle fast, you have no choice but to squat.

3) Chin up- Not many exercises will build muscle in the upper body like chin ups. Known as the upper body squat, chins stimulate nearly every muscle from the traps down to the abdominals. Any exercise that allows you to move your body through space as opposed to moving a weight or fixed implement around you has a much higher degree of neuromuscular activation, and therefore a much greater potential to elicit gains in size and strength. Look at the development of male gymnasts and you will see for yourself what years of chin ups and dips can do for the upper body. If you want to build muscle fast, be sure to include chin ups in your weight training program.

4) Parallel Bar Dip- A close second to chin ups as one of the best upper body exercises for building muscle fast, and for all the same reasons. If you want big arms you had better include dips in your training program. No other weight training exercise will add slabs of muscle to the triceps as effectively as dips. A huge chest and enormous pair of front delts are also a pleasant side effect that comes with regularly performing this outstanding muscle building exercise.

5) Hang Clean & Push Press- A total body muscle building exercise which hits the calves, hamstrings, glutes, quads, lower and upper back, traps, shoulders, biceps, triceps, and forearms. Although it is, by definition, an Olympic lift, it can be done in more of a strict manner to really target the traps, upper back, and shoulders. When done in this manner, it is not performed solely with the intention of developing explosive speed like most Olympic lifts are performed. Doing the clean and push press in this manner is a form of power bodybuilding and will really blow up the traps and shoulders. If you could only pick one weight training exercise for building muscle, this might be the one. It’s a shame you don’t see this in more bodybuilding programs.

6) Bench Press- This is one of the three powerlifting exercises and along with Military Presses, is the greatest of all pressing movements for building muscle in the upper body. When looking at the effectiveness of an exercise, the questions to be asked are what will allow the lifter to use the most weight and what exercise involves the most muscle mass. The bench press meets both of these prerequisites and besides being incredibly effective as a muscle building exercise, it is one of the best measures of upper body power.

7) Military Press- Also known as the front press, this was once considered the number one measure of upper body power and was the premier muscle building exercise for the upper body. In the old days of strength training most people didn't even do bench presses; every weight training exercise was done standing up. Bench pressing was looked down upon as a show lift and real men only did overhead presses to build muscle. Bench pressing took over with the development of powerlifting and bodybuilding and the military press took a back seat. It is still however, a great measure of upper body power and should be done by anyone interested in building an impressive set of shoulders and building overall muscle mass throughout the upper body. Even though some uninformed doctors will have you believe that overhead pressing can be dangerous, old time strong men argue that there would not be as many shoulder injuries as there are today if the military press had remained the upper body weight training exercise of choice. Equally effective variations of the military press include the push press, push jerk and split jerk.

8) Bent Over Rows- When it comes to building muscle in the upper back and lats, bent over rows are hard to beat. This weight training exercise can be performed many different ways; palms up, palms down, wide grip, close grip, to the abdomen, to the sternum, with an ez bar or with a straight bar. However you do them, nothing will develop thickness in the back like rows will, and anyone who has been involved with bodybuilding for a while will tell you there is nothing more impressive than a well developed back, muscular back.

9) Good Mornings- Although they are a rarely performed weight training exercise by a large majority of bodybuilders, good mornings remain one of the staples of a good size and strength gaining program. Powerlifters seem to be the only ones who know about the muscle building properties of this outstanding exercise. The reason this muscle building exercise is often avoided is that good mornings are brutally hard work. But that hard work brings huge rewards. Good mornings will build muscle fast and pack tons of size on your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. They are also one of the best weight training exercises to help improve your squat and deadlift, which is the main reason they are a mainstay in powerlifting.

10) Pushup- Yes, you read that right, I said pushups are one of the best weight training exercises to build muscle fast. For a beginner pushups are the absolute best muscle building exercise to do for the pecs, delts, and triceps. However, as you make progress and get stronger pushups become too easy and are usually forgotten about. That is a huge mistake. There are several varieties of pushups that can be used by intermediate and advanced lifters such as elevated pushups on pushup handles, dumbbells, or chairs. Pushups can also be done on gymnastic rings hanging from chains and suspended a foot or so above the ground to make them even more challenging. When either of these versions of this awesome muscle building exercise becomes too easy you can have a partner hold weight on your back, use a weighted vest or even drape heavy chains across your back. If you are looking for more variety, Hindu pushups are another great version of this exercise and can sometimes humble even the strongest of men.

So there you have it, the best weight training exercises for building muscle fast. All the food and supplements and drugs in the world are worthless if you train like a Nancy boy. Machines and isolation movements are as effective as running on a treadmill when it comes to getting big and strong. Stick with the weight training exercises above; make them a staple in your training, and start saving up for a new wardrobe. Its time to build muscle fast!


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 great muscle building information, please visit Muscle Gaining Secrets.


You can read my review of his program here: Muscle Gaining Secrets Review

Friday, July 22, 2011

Review: Super Hero Workout

Some of you may have heard about John Romaniello's Super Hero Workout.  It looks like this would be a worthwhile investment for intermediate/advanced trainees who want to mix things up a bit.  You can read my full review here: Super Hero Workout Review

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bodybuilding Protein Intake

Open a bodybuilding magazine and you'll run across ads for one of the most popular form of supplement: protein powders.

I do use protein supplements--they are convenient and the taste has come a long way since I first started drinking them (back in the late 80's).

But do we really need that much extra protein?  I've finally found a good resources that deals with this issue in a scientific way.  I'd encourage you to read How Much Protein if you are interested in learning the truth about protein requirements for muscle growth. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

CNS Fatigue

One extremely important aspect of building muscle is understanding the role of the Central Nervous System (CNS). Jason Ferruggia (author of Muscle Gaining Secrets) discusses this in the following article. You'll see how important it is to adjust your training in a way that works with your body.

CNS Fatigue: A Real Concern or Just Another Lame Excuse?
By Jason Ferruggia

The CNS controls everything; if it’s fried your performance is going to suck. So you have to be careful about CNS intensive methods and allowing for proper recovery of the CNS. CNS intensive training methods are the max effort method in which you are lifting extremely heavy weights for a max or near max attempt and the dynamic effort method in which you are lifting light weights very fast. Sprinting and all types of plyos are also CNS intensive activities.

Ideally, you never want to perform two CNS intensive workouts on back to back days. The nervous system needs adequate recovery and although you may not be sore the next day after a CNS intensive workout, that doesn’t mean that you are ready to train.

So if you do a 1 rep max squat on Monday you need to do something like repetition upper body work and/or some light running drills or cardio or whatever on Tuesday. What you don’t want to do is sprint, jump or lift heavy again. You should ideally separate CNS intensive days by 48 hours. Therefore if you have to incorporate sprints into the weekly schedule it is usually best to do them as a double session on your max effort days. So on Monday morning you would run your sprints and then on Monday night you would do your max effort squats. If you are really pressed for time you could do a short sprint workout outside and then walk into the gym for your max squats.

If you are simply training for bodybuilding this is not as important but if you are training for strength/performance this rule needs to be taken under strict consideration.

While CNS recovery is important to consider I should also point out that it has gotten to be a very hot topic recently and I think some people may be taking it too far. Actually, I know they are taking it too far. It’s good to constantly make advances and stay up to date on the latest scientific discoveries and apply them to our training but we never want to get too caught up in this either. If your schedule doesn’t work out perfectly with the structure of CNS intensive days and non CNS intensive days, don’t freak out about it. When we were growing up we didn’t know anything about this and we were all ok. I used to jump, trying to touch the rim at least fifty times per day in high school. And when I finally got there, I continued to jump fifty times per day trying to dunk for the next few years. That was high intensity plyos being done 365 days per year and you know what happened? My vertical went up.

Walter Payton was probably the greatest running back of all time and he famously did hill sprints every single day of every off season. Would he have been better if he skipped a day between? Who knows? But the point I am trying to make is that you have to always be aware of and take into consideration the science, but never be afraid of hard work and breaking the rules when you have to; we don’t live in a perfect world. The guy who works harder than anyone else will always have an advantage over the science geek who worries about and plans his training to the T. It’s like Rocky versus Ivan Drago…

Years ago nobody ever discussed or heard of CNS fatigue or adrenal fatigue and now everybody and their mother is worried about it and is p*ssy footing around like a bunch of school girls. Get over it. If you drink too much coffee and don’t always get ten hours of sleep and get stressed out on occasion and train harder than everyone you know, it aint gonna kill ya. You’ll be fine. I don’t know who is writing this stuff but I keep getting questions about it and now I feel bad that I ever mentioned it in the first place. It just gives the weak another excuse to remain weak.

Yes, CNS and adrenal fatigue are real issues and you should be concerned about avoiding both of them by trying to adhere to the rules I listed above. But the reality is most people just need to learn how to train harder and smarter and stop making excuses.

Besides, rules are made to be broken. Right?

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 great muscle building information, please visit Muscle Gaining Secrets.

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

I also endorse Ferruggia's Programs for intermediate/advanced trainees, like Triple Threat Muscle or Minimalist Training.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pre and Post Workout Nutrition

I've noticed there's more confusion and hype surrounding pre/post workout nutrition than almost any other aspect of training.  Guys obsess over the exact timing and nutrient percentage of what they eat or drink before and after training.  This article by Will Brink (author of Bodybuilding Revealed) will set the record straight. 



The Truth About Pre and Post Workout Nutrition
--By Will Brink

Pre- and post-workout nutrition is all the rage these days, and for good reason. For some, however, it’s become more than a science—it’s become their religion, or perhaps just a place to focus their OCD-like tendencies. Regardless, people have taken the topic of pre- and post-workout nutrition to a level that is not justified by the research, or at least not confirmed by the research that currently exists.

Readers should realize I may have my membership card to the Bodybuilding Nutrition Guru Society torn up and thrown at me for what I am about to share in this article…

As expected, supplement companies—and self–proclaimed ‘net guru types—have used what does exist for research to convince everyone that that if they don’t take in exactly 98.7 grams of carbohydrates and 37.2 grams of protein within 28 seconds after they leave the gym, their muscles will be attacked by every muscle-hating hormone they possess in their body by second 29; with the prior year of hard work in the gym totally wasted by second 30!

People are fixated on this particular topic like nothing else, and when you throw in the other possible ingredients that can be added to the post-workout drink, such as creatine, glutamine, and many others, it’s taken to the level of psychosis!

Of course supplement companies have come out with their own “techno-functional ultra-repartitioning multi-dimensional”* post-workout drink formulas that are claimed to be the latest breakthrough. Besides the carbs and protein in these formulas, many of the additional compounds are either under dosed (ergo the ‘label decoration’ syndrome), have no particular justification for being in the formula in the first place, or both (ergo, the ‘shot gun’ approach)…but I digress.

Now I have to take at least some blame—or credit—for this predicament, depending on how you want to view it. I have written extensively about the importance of post-workout nutrition in all manner of articles, and give the topic extensive focus in my Bodybuilding Revealed e-book.

Unlike many of the supplement companies and ‘net experts’ out there, however, I never claimed you would shrivel up into Pee Wee Herman in a matter of minutes if you didn’t get your ultra high-tech post-workout drink 29 seconds after your last set of squats. I have always taken a balanced view on the topic, by pointing out that food is still more important in the overall equation of muscle growth.

Thus, what I can say is that research—and common sense—tells us it’s advantageous to get some fast-acting carbs and protein after a hard workout to optimize the time we put in the gym. From there, however, people have relied more on wishful thinking than science for their pre- and post-workout nutrition. People who have poor diets and poorly thought-out training routines, but focus on the latest magic pre- and post-workout elixirs are missing the point. Their approach is like trying to hold up a three-legged stool with one support leg and the other two missing.

General Considerations of Research vs. the “Real World”

As we all know, a great deal of research is performed that—although interesting—has very little “real world” application to bodybuilders and other athletes.

This is because scientists do everything in their power to study their chosen topic in isolation. In other words, they go to great lengths and trouble to control variables that will impact the outcomes of their studies. For example, in a study looking at the effects of a drug or supplement, a placebo group is matched to the “active” group. The scientists want to make sure the effect they get—or don’t get—is due to the drug/supplement and not the placebo effect. Making the study double-blind is another way of attempting to prevent the bias of the scientists from influencing the study.

The point is that, when they attempt to isolate an effect of something being tested, scientists often end up with results that may not always be directly applicable to the “real world” of Joe Schmoe gym goer.

When study designs don’t reflect “real world” conditions, they need to be taken with a grain of salt. Were the study participants fasted? What type of exercise did they perform? What effects did the researchers actually look at and how does that apply to the “real world” or athlete in question? Were the study participants new to the form of exercise being utilized in the study or were they experienced athletes? How many people were in the study? Who do the results apply to: endurance or strength athletes? Both? Neither?!

Those are just a few of the essential questions that have to be asked and answered before you can even begin to draw any useful “real world” conclusions from the studies that come out. Yet this doesn’t stop people and supplement companies from jumping on the latest studies as the last word in nutrition and start making recommendations from them. They also tend to ignore the studies that contradict or fail to replicate the advice they are giving out. Let’s look at some examples…

The Fast vs. Slow Protein Craze..

The use of fasted subjects in nutrition studies illustrates how researchers can end up with results that may not apply well to the real world. As the name implies, the study subjects are a group of people who have not eaten for an extended period of time. In many cases, they haven’t eaten for 8 – 10 hours or more, which of course does not reflect how the average person eats, at let alone how the average athlete eats—especially bodybuilders looking to add muscle mass.

Enter stage right, the “fast vs. slow” protein craze. The study that got this craze rolling was called “Slow and fast dietary proteins differently modulate postprandial protein accretion” and was responsible for causing a resurgence of interest in casein. The basic premise of this much-touted study was that the speed of absorption of dietary amino acids (from ingested proteins) varies according to the type of dietary protein a person eats.

The researchers wanted to see if the type of protein eaten would affect postprandial (e.g., after a meal) protein synthesis, breakdown, and deposition. To test the hypothesis, they fed casein (CAS) and whey protein (WP) to a group of healthy adults, a single meal of casein (CAS) or whey WP following an overnight fast (10 h). Using this specific study design, they found:

•WP induced a dramatic but short increase of plasma amino acids.
•CAS induced a prolonged plateau of a moderate increase in amino acids (hyperaminoacidemia)
•Whole body protein breakdown was inhibited by 34% after CAS ingestion but not after WP ingestion.
•Postprandial protein synthesis was stimulated by 68% with the WP meal and to a lesser extent (+31%) with the CAS meal.

The basic non-science summary is: the study found that CAS was good at preventing protein breakdown (proteolysis), but was not so good for increasing protein synthesis. WP had basically the opposite effects: it increased protein synthesis but didn’t prevent protein breakdown. The problem is that they were using fasted subjects for a single meal. ***

Keep that in mind as we move along here…
So far so good right? So what can we conclude from this study and how useful are the results? Like so many studies, the results were interesting—and of little use to people in the real world. Do these results hold up under more “real world” conditions where people are eating every few hours and/or mixing the proteins with other macronutrients (i.e., carbs and fats)?
The answer is probably not, which is exactly what the researchers found when they attempted to mimic a more realistic eating pattern of multiple meals and or the addition of other macronutrients. The follow up study was called “The digestion rate of protein is an independent regulating factor of postprandial protein retention.” Four groups of five to six healthy young men received:

• a single meal of slowly digested casein (CAS).
• a single meal of free amino acids mimicking the composition of casein (AA).
• a single meal of rapidly digested whey proteins (WP).
• repeated meals of whey proteins (RPT-WP) mimicking slow digestion rate of casein (i.e., reflecting how people really eat).

So what did they find? In a nut shell, giving people multiple doses of whey—which more closely mimics how people really eat-—had basically the same effects as a single dose of casein, and mixing either with fats and proteins pretty much nullified any big differences between the two proteins.

Even that’s not the end of the story, however, as multiple follow up studies done by the same group and others found these effects could also be different in older versus younger people and male versus female! How messed up is that?! So how much press did these follow up studies get? Little or none, as I recall.

Now, a later study did attempt to examine the actual net amino acid uptake after resistance training with whey vs. casein, and found both proteins had essentially the same effects on net muscle protein synthesis after exercise despite different patterns of blood amino acid responses.

Does that put to rest the issue or debate of one protein vs. the other post-workout? No, as there are yet more conflicting studies out there and my bet is still on whey as the superior post-workout protein, but it’s important to realize the answer is far from established at this time.

Got Milk?

Milk: nature’s original MRP. Despite all the fancy proteins out there all claiming to be the next step in the evolution of proteins that “will blast you past your plateaus in the gym,” good old milk seems to be competing—and winning—against some “high tech” products on the market. We have various studies finding increased protein synthesis and other positive effects when a purified protein supplement (e.g., whey, soy, casein, etc.) ingested right after or before a workout—usually in conjunction with carbohydrates—but what about good old milk, a “real” food?

One recent study found good old milk to be an effective post-workout drink that increased net muscle protein synthesis after resistance training. Yet another recent study compared 2 cups of skim milk as a post workout drink compared to a soy drink and a “sports drink.”

In this study, the milk and soy drinks were matched for basic macronutrient ratios and calories and all three were matched for total calories. 56 male volunteers were split into three groups, with all put on a resistance training program for 12 weeks. The volunteers were then randomly assigned one of the three drinks to consume as a post workout drink and again one hour after the workouts.

Although no major differences were found in strength between the 3 groups, the group getting the milk had the greatest increase in muscle mass (via increases in Type I and II fibers) with researchers concluding

“…chronic postexercise consumption of milk promotes greater hypertrophy during the early stages of resistance training in novice weightlifters when compared with isoenergetic soy or carbohydrate consumption.”

But it gets better: how about our favorite childhood drink, chocolate milk? How about chocolate milk vs. two commercial energy/fluid replacement drinks, such as Gatorade and Endurox R4?

One recent study—albeit a small one—found chocolate milk as effective as Gatorade, and more effective than Endurox, as a recovery drink for trained cyclists between exhaustive bouts of endurance exercise.

Now is this a condemnation of sports drinks and an endorsement for milk/chocolate milk as the last word on post-workout drinks? Not at all: remember those essential questions I mentioned above? You have to look at such a study in context—in other words, at the experimental design and how that applies to the “real world.” The subjects fasted for 10 - 12 h prior to the chocolate milk experiment, and these drinks were the only food these guys had for 14 - 16 hours. The results may have been quite different had they been following their normal eating patterns.

They also measured effects on endurance vs.—say—strength or increased protein synthesis, etc.

So, in the context of this particular study design, look at it this way: chocolate milk has casein (a “slow” protein), and whey (a “fast” protein) as well as calcium, some vitamins and a bunch of carbohydrates—so it makes a pretty good, cheap MRP, if that’s all you are going to get all day long. It’s not a half-bad post-workout drink either. It’s not the best MRP—or post workout drink—I could design, but it’s cheap and easy to find. The reality is that there are some inexpensive foods out there can be used, and most of your old school bodybuilders and strong men used milk as the original post workout drink/MRP.

The study that looked at milk vs. soy and sports drink, was done in novice weight lifters, so that too needs to be taken into consideration. Regardless, milk, in particular chocolate milk, should make a perfectly acceptable and inexpensive post workout drink and people who think it’s too “old school” or not “high tech” enough to be if any use are clearly misinformed and the victim of marketing.

Now the study we need to see that does not exist, of course, is milk or chocolate milk vs. a well thought out post-workout drink of—say—whey and maltodextrin (high GI carb source), in experienced weight lifters who are not fasted—but don’t hold your breath on that one. Studies like that get expensive quickly and also pose practical issues. For example, if you wanted to match the protein content of—say—2 scoops of whey isolate to chocolate milk (so the groups were getting an equivalent amount of protein), the subjects would need to drink a large volume of milk (remember, milk is mostly water).

My hunch is that a correctly designed post-workout drink would be superior to chocolate milk, but it would be nice to see the two compared, no?

The Pre-Workout Drink

The pre-workout drink craze followed the post-workout craze after a study found pre-workout nutrition may be more effective than post-workout nutrition.

The study that got this craze going was called “Timing of amino acid-carbohydrate ingestion alters anabolic response of muscle to resistance exercise” which found that drinking a mixture of essential amino acids and carbohydrates induced a greater anabolic response (i.e., a net increase in muscle protein balance) when taken right before weight training vs. right after. ****

This study had everyone taking in a pre-workout drink as well as a post-workout drink in an attempt to cover all the bases. It should be noted, however, that—once again—they were using fasted subjects. Think of it like this: you have not eaten in 8-10 or more hours, then you are made to work out on a (very) empty stomach.

Under those particular circumstances, does it not make sense getting something to eat before the workout would be superior to after the workout? We all know hitting the weights on an empty stomach is not an optimal method to preserve—or build—muscle mass. Nor is it reflective of real world eating patterns where the vast majority of people have eaten a full meal at least a few hours before they hit the gym.

After this study, everyone started drinking a protein drink before they hit the gym. Interestingly, however, a recent study done by the same group who did the pre-drink study mentioned above, found whey taken before hitting the gym did not result in an improved net protein balance vs. taking it after the gym.

“Well wait a dang minute Will, now I am really confused!” you are saying angrily to your comp screen! Does this new study show pre-workout nutrition is no more effective than post workout nutrition?

No, and here’s why. It’s an apples vs. oranges study. The first study used free amino acids plus carbohydrates, and the follow up study used whey alone without carbohydrates—which is very odd if they were truly trying to see if free aminos were superior to a whole protein such as whey.

Unfortunately this latter study really didn’t do much to confirm or deny the first study’s findings. And, don’t forget my comments regarding using fasted subjects, which adds yet another wrinkle to all this.

So does that essentially disprove the pre-workout drink vs. the post-workout drink studies? Nope. One recent study did look specifically at the issue of timing and does support the idea that the pre- and post-workout window is the most effective period for ingesting some fast-acting protein and carbs.

This study, titled “Effects of supplement timing and resistance exercise on skeletal muscle hypertrophy,” has gotten a fair amount of attention in the bodybuilding/sports nutrition oriented publications. The researchers examined the effects of a drink of whey, glucose and creatine given to two groups of experienced weight lifters, either morning and evening (M/E) or pre- and post-workout (PP), to see if the actual timing of the drink had an effect on muscle hypertrophy or strength development.

The study found that the group getting the drink PP had an increase in lean body mass and 1RM strength in two of three assessments that were tested. The group getting the drink PP also experienced greater creatine retention and glycogen resynthesis, which means timing of specific nutrients is an important strategy for optimizing the adaptations desired (e.g., increased muscle mass and strength) from your hard work in the gym.

So does this study finally put to rest the issue of pre- vs. post-workout nutrition? No, it did not compare one strategy to the other per se, but did confirm that nutrient timing is an important aspect.

One obvious issue is that this study used a drink that contained creatine throughout, so technically it’s not a pro + carb study, but a pro + carb + creatine study. On the plus side, it was done in experienced weight lifters and they were not fasted, so it does at least represent the metabolic realties of “real world” people looking to get the most of their nutrition. Either way, it supports the idea of taking in the right nutrients both pre- and post-workout, but people should not be under the impression that this issue of timing has been “put to bed,” so to speak, and realize there are still plenty of unanswered questions yet to be explored.

Of course, there are more studies than just the ones mentioned above, so there are plenty of measurements on indicators of recovery from exercise, such as effects on glycogen resynthesis, alterations in hormones, and hormone levels. Nonetheless, I prefer to look at the actual endpoint that really matters at the end of the day: did this person gain muscle mass, strength, or performance by using this product? Without that, everything else—though potentially interesting—is not very important.

Conclusions, and Real World Recommendations.

Now I didn’t write this article to confuse you, but to demonstrate that the optimal strategy for increasing strength and LBM in response to resistance training is not as cut and dried as you are often led to believe. However, it’s also probably simpler than you are led to believe, as the human body is far more adaptable to the types of protein it receives as well as the amounts it receives.

Thus, the people who stress over whether they got 35g of protein and 60g of carbs in their post workout drinks vs. 32g of protein and 70s of carbs in the drink are probably wasting their time, and causing what is known as “paralysis by analysis.” Put more practically, the amount of cortisol you produce from worrying about such minutia probably offsets any gains you might make from one drink vs. another!*****

I also wanted to dispel some of the hype over one protein vs. another, and the fact that expensive pre-made high tech drinks that are all the rage right now are just that: expensive and over hyped.

In the real world, people have used variations of the idea that fast acting proteins and a good dose of simple carbs can improve the effects of resistance training for many years. My good friend, the late Dan Duchaine, used to give people whey mixed in water and Corn Flakes with skim milk as their post workout meal.

One bodybuilder I knew who went onto be a well known IFBB pro, used to have a drink of whey after his workouts and several slices of apple pie at the local Friday’s restaurant next to the gym for his post-workout meal.

Most of your old time strong men and bodybuilders drank quite a lot of milk, and as we have seen from the research, it’s not a half bad post workout drink either.

If people want to buy pre-made carb/protein mixtures with other nutrients added (e.g., creatine, glutamine, various vitamins, etc) out of convenience and don’t care that they can “roll their own” for less money, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Just don’t think there’s anything magical about the pre-made post-workout drinks, no matter what the marketing material or web site says to entice you to purchase it.

Comments of interest:

* = yes, I have seen every one of those words used in the marketing of a product; sadly it's not exaggeration!

** = Brink’s Body Building Revealed

*** = The reason for this is that whey is absorbed rapidly (being a highly soluble protein) and much of it is oxidized while casein forms a “clot” in the gut and is absorbed slowly (being a fairly insoluble protein), thus causing a steady level of amino acids. That’s why they dubbed whey a “fast” protein and casein a “slow” protein.

**** = Measured as the Phenylalanine disappearance rate - considered an indicator of muscle protein synthesis - via femoral arteriovenous catheterization, as well as muscle biopsies from the vastus lateralis were used to determine phenylalanine concentrations

***** = Credit for that statement/joke has to be given to nutrition writer Lyle McDonald who said something very similar in a post on the news group misc.fitness.weights a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away about a topic I don’t remember….

About the Author - William D. Brink

Will Brink has over 15 years experience as a respected author, columnist and consultant, to the supplement, fitness, bodybuilding, and weight loss industry and has been extensively published.Will graduated from Harvard University with a concentration in the natural sciences, and is a consultant to major supplement, dairy, and pharmaceutical companies.

His often ground breaking articles can be found in publications such as Lets Live, Muscle Media 2000, MuscleMag International, The Life Extension Magazine, Muscle n Fitness, Inside Karate, Exercise For Men Only, Body International, Power, Oxygen, Penthouse, Women’s World and The Townsend Letter For Doctors.

Will was a former high level trainer with a rep for getting Olympic athletes, bodybuilders and fitness stars into shape and has gained a reputation for being a no "BS" industry insider who's not afraid to reveal the lies and hype found in the fat loss , muscle building & supplement industry.

He has been co author of several studies relating to sports nutrition and health found in peer reviewed academic journals, as well as having commentary published in JAMA. William has been invited to lecture on the benefits of weight training and nutrition at conventions and symposiums around the U.S. and Canada, and has appeared on numerous radio and television programs and now runs seminars for tactical law enforcement (SWAT).

He is the author, of Bodybuilding Revealed which teaches you how to gain solid muscle mass drug free. You can visit Bodybuilding Revealed to learn more.