This workout starts with something nasty right out of the gate to get you moving at a whirlwind pace – an all-out barn-burner on the rower as you push for max distance in five minutes. Shoot for 800 to 1,500 meters each time and you’ll thank me later. The row will put your heart rate in your neck real quick and since getting peeled is the name of the game with these workouts, that’s what we want. The whole goal here is to shock the body fat right off of you, and starting with something like this is a good way to do it.
From there, we go to 15 wide-grip pull-ups, one of the best upper-body exercises there is. If you can’t do 15 in a row, use a pull-up assisted machine or – better yet – try the rest-pause technique so you can get there.
Next we’re going to test your grip strength real quick by going right into one rep of a legless rope climb. Don’t use any support and don’t cheat and your grip and upper body will be screaming. Going from a seated position to 10-15 feet up is no joke.
After rowing, pull-ups and a rope climb, your upper body will be super tapped, so it’s time to torture the lower body with a high-rep set of squats. Make sure you start light— even as light as 95 pounds— and take each rep deep, like burying it to the floor deep. Not only does that tax your body, it sparks a serious natural testosterone boost, always a plus on the road to getting peeled.
Then you get the repeat the madness at a minimum two more times, but if you’re really strong, try three more rounds for a total of four sets.
This workout is guaranteed to whip your ass, especially when you realize just how heavy 95 pounds suddenly feels on squats. The payoff, though, is worth it – so good luck.
What the hell? You’ve been dieting for a while now, and the results are lackluster at best. Why isn’t the weight coming off? Why are your abs still just a blurry suggestion of abs in the bedroom mirror at 6:00 p.m. when the light is hitting you just right, like that Egyptian tomb scene from “Raiders of the Lost Ark”? You think you’re doing everything right, but I’m here to be the dick that tells you no, you’re not. I have compiled seven very common blunders that prevent people from losing body fat. You are doing at least one of these, or maybe even all seven. Take a look and see what needs to be fixed, and you will be well on your way to a ripped-up, alpha physique!
You’re Eating Too Much
Too much of a good thing is bad, and that even applies to the cleanest diet foods. Losing fat is a simple mathematical equation of calories in versus calories out. If you are taking in more calories than you expend, you won’t burn off the fat you want to. People often either don’t realize this basic fat or else choose to ignore it. It’s normal and sadly, usually necessary to experience hunger when you’re dieting. Unless you have the world’s fastest metabolism, you shouldn’t be eating until you feel extremely full, even if it’s in the form of plain white fish and rice as opposed to Taco Bell Burrito Supremes. Yet many men and women who are ostensibly dieting with the goal of getting much leaner will continue to eat larger portion sizes than they should be. How much should you be eating per meal, and how many calories per day? No one can answer that question for you, which is why you will need to track your meals and calories. In the Stone Age before we all had smartphones, you had to log all that in a notebook and do the math yourself. Now you have no excuse not to track your nutrition, as you have a choice of many hundreds of apps for your phone, or online programs if you prefer using your laptop or desktop computer. If you’re not losing weight, you need to eat less than you are now. Again, it doesn’t even matter that you might be totally strict and eating perfectly clean. Too many calories are too many calories!
You’re on the Fence – Pick a Side!
What happens if you decide to travel east and west at the same time? You don’t move, because it’s not possible. One of the most common obstacles to losing fat is the inability to fully commit to the task. And the reason so many guys— and it’s mainly males that do this— can’t commit is because they can’t wrap their heads around not trying to gain muscle mass, even for a limited time period like 10 to 12 weeks. It’s that inability to throw the necessary mental switch that also prevents many physique competitors from getting in shape for contests. They want to get ripped for the show, but they also want to get bigger overall or at least bring up this or that lagging body part by the time they hit the stage. Instead of cutting back the carbs and calories the way they should, and doing as much cardio as needed, they keep eating to gain and shirk on the cardio because “it will hurt my gains.” Get it through your thick skulls that dieting is not a time for muscle growth, and realize that this is not only OK, but it’s the way it must be. Focus on losing fat and do what needs to be done. You had plenty of time leading up to this to try and gain muscle, and after you’ve reached your goal and lowered your body fat to the point you desire, there will be ample time to strive for gains again once you’ve stayed lean as long as you wanted to. In the meantime, forget about trying to walk on both sides of the road. Pick a side, and in this case, choose to concentrate on dropping weight and body fat. Unless you cut your calories too drastically or go psycho and start doing hours of cardio every day, you will maintain your existing muscle mass. The real bonus is that with substantial amounts of fat stripped away, your muscles will appear to be larger than they were with all that fluff covering them.
It Kills You to Lose Weight on the Scale
I am the poster boy for this one, probably because I started this journey back in 1983 at a scrawny 95 pounds. That’s right, I wasn’t even heavy enough to be a 98-pound weakling. If you also started off as a little guy, you probably also took immense joy in watching your bodyweight on the scale creep ever upward as the years of dedicated training and eating went by. If you were even close to being a hardgainer, you became not only proud of how much you weighed, but also very protective of that number. You did not want to see it go down any more than a stockholder wants to see the price of his shares go down. You worked much too long and hard to put that weight on to part with even one precious pound. Let’s say you started your diet off at 240 pounds. A few weeks into it, you might be down to 225. For many of us, panic starts to set in. Once we hit 220 or under, the real mind games commence. Oh no, I’m shrinking! I’m wasting away to nothing! Going back to the typical scenarios I’ve both experienced and witnessed related to competitive bodybuilders, many fail to get in shape because they had a weight in mind when they started the diet that they believed was their target weight. For example, plenty of guys have started dieting at about 250 pounds and assumed they would be at the very top of the heavyweight class, which is 225¼ pounds. Many times, they underestimated how much fat they were actually carrying, They get down to something like 225-227 and decide they’re in shape, even though anyone with an experienced and critical eye for physiques would tell them they still had at least 12-15 more pounds to lose to be in very good condition. Believe me when I say I know how difficult it is to be lighter than you are comfortable with. With all my diets, I never wanted to lose weight, only fat. Obviously, this was an insane way to think about the process, because unless you somehow gain muscle (very rare), you will have to accept that you will lose weight and be lighter on the scale. Rationally you understand this is irrefutable, but that skinny kid inside many of us isn’t operating on logic. You’ll just have to drown out his shrieks of protest every time you step on the scale, and instead focus on those cuts and veins making their way to the surface day by day.
You Refuse to Do Cardio
I can honestly say that when I started lifting weights at home or at my buddy’s house in 1983, I had never even heard the word “cardio.” Most of us got into training and bodybuilding as teens or young men, and the basic goal was to get bigger and stronger. We wanted to pump iron and get swole. We didn’t sign on to walk on treadmills like hamsters on a wheel or climb revolving stairways to nowhere. Of course, I can’t speak for everyone, but being ripped was not on my agenda in those foundation years. I was too busy doing everything I could to lift more weight and put more bodyweight on, not even being overly concerned for a long span whether it was muscle or fat. Eventually, we all come to a point where we do want to see some serious definition, and the cardio monster rears its ugly head. Faced with the prospect of doing boring, repetitious, time-consuming cardio, many professional physique athletes will attempt to rationalize their way out of it. I can just rely on my diet! They might even cite one of those rare genetic freaks who managed to display striations on top of striations without doing a lick of cardio). Sorry to break it to those guys, but you were not born with that one-in-a-million blast furnace metabolism. Diet is only going to take you so far on your quest for cuts. Eventually your metabolism will grind to a halt after a prolonged period of lowered calories. That’s your body’s clever survival mechanism kicking in— it doesn’t want to die! To keep things moving, you will need to do at least some cardio. You might be one of the lucky ones who can get by with no more than three 20- to 30-minute sessions per week, or you may have to suck it up and do 45 minutes every damn day. You all have Beats headphones and Pandora on your phones for tunes that get you moving.
You Feel Entitled to Cheat Meals
Sorry to keep harping on the good old days, but it really wasn’t that long ago that the term “cheat meal” didn’t even exist. Cheat meal? When you’re on a diet? Sounds like you just caved in and blew your diet to me! As more and more people got into fitness and particularly the competitive side of it, the coaching industry grew exponentially. Most competitors in the old days had strong athletic backgrounds in sports like football or wrestling. They were used to working hard, being uncomfortable, and in the case of my sport in high school, wrestling, even starving and dehydrating to make weight. It wasn’t until this new crop came along that we saw people who wanted to look great and get all the attention and accolades that come along with an ultra-lean body, but they didn’t want to put the work in and they certainly didn’t want to suffer one bit, ever. Coaches took advantage of their laziness and proffered a slew of fat-burning drugs like clenbuterol, T4, and even DNP to take some of the effort out of dieting. They also endeared themselves to their prep clients by rewarding them for a week of strict dieting with all-out food binges called cheat meals. I’ve known more than a few of this new generation of competitors who base their selection on which coach to hire on whether they are known to give clients cheat meals, and how often! Before you rip me a new hole, I do understand that refeeds (a meal or several meals with larger portions of clean food) and cheat meals can serve a real purpose to kickstart the metabolism after long phases of very low calories. But like any tool, it can be used, and it can also be abused. Cheat meals should be employed only if and when they are needed to keep the fat-loss process moving forward. Simply having a scheduled cheat meal every week or even more often as a reward for sticking to your diet constitutes abuse of the tactic and makes you a lazy fuck with no discipline in my book.
You’re Cheating on Your Diet Without Even Realizing It
Any of you who have at least an intermediate level of nutrition knowledge have been through this scenario a hundred times, more often when you happen to be in leaner condition. A family member, friend or some random guy or girl at the gym or a kid’s birthday party will hit you up for weight-loss advice. They assure you “they eat good,” and they truly believe it. Once you have them run you through a typical day of their eating, you’re horrified at how shitty their nutrition really is. They do things like skip breakfast, eat carbs by themselves, and eat fast-food and deli meats thinking they’re making a healthy choice because Jared from Subway told them to. They often go all day without eating much and then gorge themselves into a food coma every night before passing out. But even some of you might be making mistakes in your food choices that sabotage your fat-loss efforts. Do you eat white bread? Do you eat things like breaded chicken or fish? Do you drown your salads in ranch dressing, or your meats in heavy condiments? Do you drink fruit juice? Do you drink alcohol on a regular basis? How about those delicious flavored coffers and lattés from Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks? All these things and more will compromise the results of your diet. You need to educate yourself on what clean eating really is. A dozen Chicken McNuggets from McDonald’s and a chicken breast might contain the same amount of protein, but one has a ton of fat and salt that will keep you further and further away from a clear six-pack and veins on your quads.
I doubt many people are as proficient at the art of procrastination as writers, but plenty of guys and girls are champs at putting off the launch of a diet. It’s almost a cliché to see someone stuffing his or her face with pizza or desserts on a weekend as they let you know that their diet begins on Monday. In many cases, that Monday changes to the next Monday, or the first of the next month, or the day after some event they plan on chowing down at like a wedding, a company picnic, or some food-based holiday like Thanksgiving. More and more time goes by, and there always seems to be something on the horizon where they fear they would be missing out on a lavish spread of delicious grub if they were already on a diet. I get it. I wouldn’t want to be eating grilled chicken breast and rice out of a plastic container while everyone around me was inhaling a deluxe seven-course meal topped off with desserts so sumptuous they should be on one of those Food Network baking championship shows. But you all know it’s impossible to get where you want to go if you don’t take the first step. Putting off your diet over and over again increases the odds that you’ll never start, and thus you won’t ever get lean. Accept the reality that to lose body fat and show some sweet muscle definition, you will have to pass up a lot of the foods that put that fat on your body in the first place. You will be around people who are eating things like cheeseburgers and fries, pizza, cake and doughnuts, and you won’t be able to scarf those items down unless you choose to give up your diet. If dieting and eating super clean were easy, 74 percent of men and 60 percent of women in the United States would not be overweight or obese. The hardest part is taking that first step. It won’t be easy to stay on a diet, don’t get me wrong, but more people than we will ever know never even start. Stop putting it off already!
Arms are the one body part most people associate with being strong and muscular, which is why everyone from UFC fighters at weigh-ins to first graders will throw up a half-assed front double biceps pose to communicate power and confidence. Arms also happen to be the muscle group you can show off most often due to the way we as human beings in 2019 dress most of the time. You can’t walk around too many places in shorts, so there go the legs. Unless you’re in a string tank top, which went out of fashion about 25 years ago, no one can normally check out your chest, shoulders, back or abs. You need to be shirtless for that. But you can almost always wear short sleeves, whether it’s a T-shirt or a polo. And once the weather heats up, short sleeves and sleeveless shirts become not only the norm, but fully acceptable. This is the time of year to show off your biceps and triceps in all their glory. And while there are still a couple of summer months left, why not work extra hard on them to make them even more glorious? This calls for a specialization program.
THE GROW YOUR GUNS FAST SPLIT
Until there is a chill in the air and you are forced to start covering up or else look like a douche, here is the split you should follow.
Day 1: Arms
Day 2: Legs
Day 3: Chest, Back, Shoulders
Day 4: OFF, repeat
You’re going to be pulverizing your arms without mercy twice every eight days, after a full day of rest when you should strive to get plenty of actual rest and eat up. On Day 3 when you hit your entire torso, your biceps and triceps will also be getting solid residual work from the heavy presses, rows and chins/lat pulldowns you do for chest, delts and back. This sets your arms up for a phase of accelerated growth. We will be going over the arm workouts in detail, so allow me to offer a tip for Day 3. Do not attempt to train your chest, back and shoulders with the same volume for each that you typically would. If you do that, three bad things will happen. The first is that you’ll be stuck in the gym for two to three hours, which isn’t a tragedy if you’re unemployed or otherwise have ample time on your hands, but most of us have shit to do in life. The second reason not to maintain your usual volume for all those muscle groups is that whatever you train later in the workout will suffer due to your being partially fatigued. You only have a finite amount of energy and mental focus to apply to any one workout. The first body part will be OK, but once you get to the second, you will be starting to drag. By the third body part, you’ll just be going through the motions. The third and final compelling reason you must not try hitting full-volume workouts for all three of those body parts at once is that you will almost surely overtrain. I’m not talking about overtraining the individual muscle groups; I’m referring to systemic overtraining. You will burn out your CNS, or central nervous system, and lower your immune system. One day off the weights, as in the suggested training split above, won’t be enough time to fully recover. Do about half as much for chest, shoulders and back as you normally would. Focus on just a few basic movements for each. You can still train chest, shoulders and back hard and make improvements, but you need to keep those workouts shorter and distilled to just the meat.
The Sun’s Out, Guns Out Routine
If your arms haven’t grown in a while, maybe a very long while, it’s safe to assume that they are totally accustomed to whatever you’ve been doing for them. I’ve concocted two routines to shock your biceps and triceps and have them struggling so hard to keep up that they will have no choice but to adapt and grow. You will alternate them for as long as you choose to follow this routine. Be prepared for some serious lactic acid burn and some insane pumps. Note that warm-ups are not shown. Be sure to do at least two warm-up sets for each new exercise listed. Also, gradually increase the weight set by set, aka pyramid up. You will be keeping the same rep range, meaning the difficulty level will increase as the sets go on, and only the final set is taken to absolute failure. Why? To quote the wise eight-time Mr. Olympia, Lee Haney, our goal here is to “stimulate, not annihilate!”
Cable Pushdown Tri-set
Sets: 3 x 12 + 12 + 12
Attach a short straight bar to the cable pulley. Do 12 reps with an underhand grip, flip your hands over for 12 more, then face away from the weight stack and do a final 12 reps leaning over and extending overhead.
Close-grip Smith Incline Presses: 4 x 10-12
Seated Dip Machine: 4 x 10-12
(Pyramid up in weight)
Machine Curl 21s: 3 x 21
(7 reps from the bottom to halfway up, 7 full reps, then 7 reps from halfway up to peak contraction.)
Standing Barbell Curls: 4 x 10-12
Close-grip Chin-ups*: 4 x 10-12
*Use an underhand grip. Hands completely together is optimal if you can do so without wrist pain, otherwise a couple of inches inside of shoulder width. If you lack the strength for chin-ups, substitute with close-grip lat pulldowns using an underhand grip.
Decline Dumbbell Skull-crushers: 3 x 10-12
Cross-body Dumbbell Hammer Curls: 3 x 10-12
Curl up at a diagonal toward the shoulder opposite the working arm, striving to squeeze the brachialis and outer (long) biceps head at the top of every rep.
Alternate flexing and stretching the biceps and triceps for two minutes.
Incline Dumbbell Curls: 4 x 10-12
Standing Dumbbell Curls: 4 x 10-12
For these, simply rep to failure on the seated curls, being sure to lower under control to a full stretch of the biceps on each rep, then stand up and continue with the set. Curl with both arms at the same time for both halves of the superset. We are looking for good form and a full range of motion here, so forget about swinging up 50s or 60s. Even those of you with decent biceps strength probably wouldn’t need more than a pair of 30s or 35s for these on your final set.
3 x 15, 12, 10 (increasing weight)
2 x 10, 10, 10 (double drop sets)
Bench Dips: Bodyweight, 4 sets to failure
(Note: if you can get more than 20 reps, put a plate or a dumbbell on your lap)
Standing EZ-bar Curls: 4 x 10-12
Seated EZ-bar Curls: 4 x 12
Do these standing in front of a seated bench. Do as many full-range-of-motion reps standing as you can, then sit down and continue, lowering until the bar touches your thighs. These will be partial reps in the top half of the ROM, yet you will find you can grind out more of these than you expected.
Seated Overhead EZ-bar Extensions: 4 x 10-12
EZ-bar Skull-crushers on Flat Bench : 4 x 10-12
The overhead extensions can be done either on a straight-back seated bench, or an adjustable incline bench. Ideally you want to have this next to a flat bench, so you can go directly from the overhead extension to the skull-crushers, using the same bar.
Alternate flexing and stretching the biceps and triceps for two minutes.
GET THOSE GUNS OUT IN THE SUN!
Even if you’re already motivated year-round to build bigger arms, the fleeting nature of summer for most of us should be an added incentive to work them even harder and squeeze out some new gains. Just like in “Game of Thrones,” winter is always coming, so make the most of these brief months of blazing sunshine and blast your guns to sleeve-stretching dimensions— while you can show them off without any sleeves at all!
4 TIPS FOR RAPID ARM GROWTH
Never Lose the Mind-muscle Connection
I encourage everyone to try and get stronger and gradually use heavier weights in their arms training. However, this increase in resistance must only occur if you are still able to contract the biceps or triceps on every rep and feel that muscle group working. For instance, there is always a point you pass on compound movements for triceps such as close-grip bench presses or various seated dip machines where you lose that connection to the triceps after a certain amount of weight is added. At that point, you’re engaging far more chest and anterior deltoids than you are triceps. The same can be said of any type of curl. Even though your form might not look too bad to the outside observer, you will cease to feel the biceps working to the same degree once you go too heavy. Only you will know when you’ve crossed that line, and the solution is to lighten the load a bit and get back to feeling the biceps or triceps flex and stretch on every rep.
Know When to Stop the Workout
Even though there are workouts listed here for you to follow, you need to develop an awareness for when your biceps or triceps have been fully expended, and no further work for them that day is either needed or should be done. Usually you can gauge this by your pump. There should come a point in the workout where your pump is maxed out and the skin feels tight. You can continue to chase that pump with more exercises and sets until you’ve completed the full routine that you are following or that you had in mind yourself. If you start losing that pump or worse, losing the ability to even feel the muscle working, you’re done for the day. Nothing more you do will yield any positive result, and it may even make deeper inroads into your recovery ability than you will be able to bounce back from before your next arm session.
Eat for Gains
“Duh, I knew that.” I’m sure you did, but I want you to apply it specifically to your arm training while you follow this program. The two meals of your day with the highest carbohydrate content should be the one you eat about 90 minutes before your arm workout, and the one you eat 60-90 minutes afterward. As soon as the workout is over, you need to have either essential amino acids (EAAs) or whey protein isolate along with a generous amount of simple carbs. Those carbs can come in the form of a high-tech modern creation such as cyclic dextrin, or you could have a cup of fresh pineapple slices or chunks, or even some candy like jelly beans. If you’re going to have a cheat meal, try to have it the night before you train arms. The whole point is to provide the biceps and triceps with all the nutrients they need to fuel a killer workout, and then fully replenish all the spent amino acid and glycogen stores to support recovery and repair.
Customize Your Arm Training
One major problem with following prescribed workouts is that we aren’t all built the same. We all have different limb lengths, muscle belly insertions, leverages, and so on. Some exercises will be more suitable than others, and you will be able to figure that out if you pay attention when you perform them. Can you really feel that exercise working your muscle? It often takes a few tries to make a valid decision, but eventually you will recognize some exercises really thrash your biceps and triceps, delivering sick pumps and making them sore, while others don’t seem to do much at all. Keep the ones that work well for you and discard the others. Continue trying new movements and new twists on exercises you’ve been doing for years, because you never know what else is out there that might work well for you. By the same token, don’t waste precious training time and energy doing exercises that aren’t doing shit for you— assuming you have given them a real chance and tweaked the form to see if this or that minor adjustment might make it work for you.
The summer is flying by and are you still hiding in those tank tops and t-shirts? Well, it’s not too late to get in summer shape. Here are some tips to enjoy the remainder while getting that lean, muscular physique we all desire.
1) Smarter/healthier choices – When at the beach, pool, BBQ or that occasional
happy hour with your friends, be smart about your selections. Dieting doesn’t mean
you can’t have a life and need to hide from the world. Anyone who knows me knows
I enjoy these times with my friends and weather I’m prepping for a show, shoot
or Hollywood part, I will still enjoy these times. When you head to the beach or pool, you can keep it simple and pack your favorite low-cal snacks, protein bar or shake.
What I like to do is grill up my favorite protein and bring it with me to the beach or pool. When grilling up ribs isn’t an option, one of my favorite beach body dishes is a Mexican dish called ceviche. The dish is typically made from fresh raw fish marinated in citrus juices, such as lemon or lime, and spiced with ají or chili peppers. It is a super clean and lean dish that is protein packed and with a refreshing citrus flavor, it’s perfect for the summer.
Let’s not forget about those summer cocktails! Luckily we have so many different
options of Crystal Light that we can still enjoy an adult beverage on occasions.
Again, “smart choices,” so put that beer down and make yourself a cocktail using one
of these sugar free, low-cal mixers. If you see me walking around with a gallon of lime green water and a umbrella hanging out of the top, that’s just me killing that margarita craving with my favorite margarita flavored Crystal Light. Sure, you may roll your eyes at this trick, but after a gallon of margarita flavor, I am good to go! That craving is long gone and the best part is I can wake up the next morning with no headache, which allows me to make that morning cardio session with no pain!
2) Don’t miss that workout – every hotel these days accommodates with some sort
of workout facility. In this day and age of fitness and health, gym locations are
all over the place and if you don’t have access to a gym, well that’s why they
make resistance bands and so many other things to make it easy to workout on the
go and nothing is wrong with some push-ups, pull ups, sit-ups and air squats. Something is better then nothing!
I love to travel, I love to go on vacation and I love to enjoy life but you won’t catch me missing a workout. This is a lifestyle, not a fad. We aren’t dieting, we are living a healthy life. Diets break, life doesn’t. Don’t live your life for a cheat meal; train like a beast and earn one.
3) Cardio, another essential component to achieving that summer shred – is any movement that gets your heart rate up and increases blood circulation throughout the body. Enjoy the summer weather and get outside. Run, head off on a hike, track or hit the gym. With so many different options, and the fact that all you need is your body and a place to run – or enough space in a room to jump rope – no excuses for not including your cardio at last a few days a week.
Cardio will help improve heart health, increased metabolism, helps with recovery and improves hormonal profile. This is key when you are trying to sculpt your body and be dialed in for that beach trip, vacation or pool party!
A study taken showed that you burn the same amount of calories in a fasted state as in a fed state. But those fasting prior to exercising burned a greater amount of fat than those who ate their last meal up to an hour and a half before exercising. Other benefits to morning cardio include increased energy throughout the day and
increased metabolism (calorie burning) during waking hours.
Very simple and easy and you don’t need a gym for this. Get out of bed and get
those miles in, a nice morning jog or a little time on the jump rope is how I
kick start my early mornings. NO EXCUSES! When I have clients at 5am, you will see me hitting the pavement and putting my miles in at 4am with just enough time to get home, shower, grab my food and head out the door and be on time to my clients.
4) Goal Setting – set short and long term goals. No goal is too big or too small; a
goal is a goal. In my years of training, I have heard some great goals and have
seen all my clients achieve them (wedding, summer, graduation, reunion, anniversary, competition, photo shoot, birthday day party, etc.). Some goals don’t always have to be about physical appearance but performance-based goals. Even when training for performance, you have no choice but to get in phenomenal shape. Years back, I worked with a woman who had a goal of reeling in a full grown marlin off the coast of Mexico. Well, she reeled it in all by herself and looked damn good doing it! Goal setting keeps you focused and gives you something more to train for. Stay focused and set goals so you don’t get lost in the world of excuses.
5) Last but not least, consistency – consistency is key!!! It’s not a one week on,
one week off thing we are talking here. This is a lifestyle now, it’s not fit for summer, flab for fall.
We need to stay on point year round and put in some effort. It is very simple to make healthy choices, take a little time for yourself and get those workouts in, start your day off on the right foot with morning cardio, set your goals and consistently accomplish each and every one of your goals by consistently staying true to you and these simple five steps. Remember, if you work hard you can play hard! Follow these simple steps and enjoy life with that beach body you desire year round.
You have a late night, on vacation or on the go and want to get a quick heart-pounding sweat dripping workout in so you can clear out those toxins or feel accomplished for the day with skin tearing pumps then give this routine a shot.
This is one of my favorite full body routines I like to get in when I am on vacation or short on time. You will do 30 reps of each exercise and must complete all reps with proper form before moving to the next exercise.
YES NOT MUCH NEEDED SO NO EXCUSES!!!
Burpees w/ push up
Incline dumbbell press
Standing military dumbbell press
Incline dumbbell curls
Incline dumbbell skull crusher
Bent dual dumbbell row w/dead lifts
The completion of all 8 exercises completes one round you will do 3 rounds.
1 round in 30 minutes = beginner
2 rounds in 30 minutes = athlete
3 rounds in 30 minutes = BEAST
Art Ortiz, a 29-year-old model, actor, sponsored athlete and family man, was born and raised in Los Angeles. He first discovered his love for fitness during his 17 years playing baseball. An unfortunate wrist and arm injury left his baseball career at a standstill and sparked his decision to pursue a career in fitness. He has been featured in Models Health fittest body winner in 2009, and Models Health featured model in 2010.
In 2011, he was titled NPC National Men’s Physique competitor 2x overall winner, as well as placing 2nd in the 2011 NPC Southern California Championships. He took home 1st and winning the Overall in the 2011 Los Angels Bodybuilding and Figure Championships, and also placed 1st and winning the Overall NPC Tournament of Champions in 2011. In 2012, Art placed 4th at the NPC USA’s and fell short of his pro card. But he earned that elusive pro card at the NPC Team Universe. He is also a Sponsored Pro Supps Athlete.
While competing in fitness championships both state and nationwide, he found his love for the camera and acting. Art has three years of acting and modeling experience and has worked on several hit T.V. shows such as Cold Case Files, The Mentalist, The Forgotten, Bones, and House. He also modeled for a Dr. Pepper ad that was featured in several magazines. His latest acting/modeling achievement is playing 3rd baseman Eric Chavez in Brad Pitt’s new movie MoneyBall.
My fellow Americans, you know that many parts of our fine nation experienced their coldest winters in recorded history just a few months ago. In fact, temperatures were lower in some Midwest states on certain days than they were in Antarctica. That means many of you were dreaming about summer with a newfound desperation, fantasizing about the day when you could feel the hot sunshine on your skin again, hear the waves crashing and seagulls crying out. That time is upon us now. Your body was buried under layers of thick, insulated clothing throughout that seemingly endless winter, but now you won’t be wearing anything other than board shorts. As all of you who live in areas with four seasons know all too well, summer comes and is gone before you know it. It’s a very brief window of time when it’s OK to walk around half-naked. Maybe not at the office or on Main Street, but at places like the beach, pool parties, and water parks. You’ve worked your ass off, punishing yourself with heavy weights throughout all those dark, cold, gloomy days, and now you get to display your masterpiece. But are you ready? And here’s a crazy idea: why not do everything you can to keep looking better and better every day of this summer? How are you supposed to do that? That’s what we’re here to talk about.
Upper Body Emphasis
You’re going to be strutting around in swim trunks for the next couple of months for the world to see, including all those hot girls rocking their tiny bikinis. So guess what? I’m going to suggest something that will strike most of you as insane and will go against all you know and believe as a serious weight trainer. Until summer is over, don’t train your legs! Yes, I went there. You will still hit calves, as they will be seen in shorts, but quads and hams will be taking the summer off. Why would I even propose ignoring your thighs for an entire season of the year? It’s all about prioritization. Training the quads and hams demands a large amount of your time and energy. If we can take those limited resources and shift them over to your upper body for a limited phase of roughly three months, you will see better results from the waist up. It’s the same principle we use all the time to bring up lagging body parts, only on a larger scale. I’ve come up with a training split you can follow (see sidebar), but feel free to customize your own if you like.
If I lost some of you at this point with the whole heresy of not only skipping leg day but also skipping leg summer, hear me out. Yes, you will lose a little size in your quadriceps and hamstrings, but it won’t be much. The cardio you will be performing, especially if you man up and get on a StepMill, will stimulate the muscle fibers enough to maintain most of the mass that you’ve built. And rest assured that any mass you do in fact lose will be regained in a month or less once you resume your usual training program after Labor Day.
There are even a few bonuses to laying off legs for a couple of months. One is that your knees, hips, and lower back will all get a nice respite from the constant heavy squats, leg presses, and hack squats you beat them up with every week. If you’ve had nagging knee pain, the culprit was most likely tendinitis, a chronic inflammation that would never go away unless you let those tendons around the knee joint fully rest and heal. Now they will finally get a chance to do just that! Next, the psychological benefits of getting back to training an area you haven’t been able to in months is something any of you who have been injured are already familiar with. Your motivation will be through the roof! Forget about dreading leg day. You’ll be dreaming about it and bursting through the gym doors like a man possessed for at least the first few weeks after you get back to training legs. And by then, you’ll have made substantial improvements to your upper body that you were able to show off while the weather permitted it.
Lean Out for Summer
This is a tricky area, mainly because we are attempting to do something that isn’t quite impossible, but still a serious challenge: gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. I need be honest with you and state that this feat is far more achievable if drugs to build muscle and cut fat are part of the equation. In most cases where you see people simultaneously building mass and getting leaner, one of three scenarios is at play. The first is that they are using a combination of steroids to build lean muscle tissue, and other drugs like GH, clenbuterol, and/or T3 to incinerate body fat. The second situation is that they are brand new to all of this. Their muscles respond incredibly well to the shocking new stimulus of weight training, and anyone who’s eating clean for the first time after a lifetime of subsisting on the typical shitty American diet of processed foods, fast food, and snacks will drop pounds and pounds of chub in a flash. The third and final possibility is when a person is returning to training after a very long layoff of anywhere from six months to several years. That person will regain their lost mass at a dramatically more rapid rate than another person gaining said mass for the first time.
Even if you don’t fit into any of those three boxes, results can still be yours if you buckle down and get to work. First up, clean up your diet. You can have your treats and cheat meals or whatever after summer is over, but until then, you’re basically on a competitive physique athlete’s contest diet. Avoid butter, margarine, any deep-fried foods and saturated fats. Also avoid fruit juice, all breads, white flour, and white sugar. Obviously, fast food is not an option. You will have to meal prep and cook batches of grilled chicken breasts or thighs, baked fish, sirloin patties, ground beef and turkey, rice, and potatoes. I do advise you limit your carbs to just the right amount where you are still able to continue making incremental muscle gains (this is not a bulking program, so forget about trying to add 10-20 pounds of muscle), while still losing body fat. This amount will vary by the individual, but most men find they don’t need carbohydrates in any other meals other than breakfast, the pre-workout meal, and either the post-workout shake or meal, usually not both. You will need to experiment and adjust. You also have the option of going keto for the summer, though many find it impossible to gain mass without at least some carbs in their diet. A lower carbohydrate approach will work well for most.
Finally, let’s talk cardio. How much you will need to do depends on how much body fat you need to get rid of to be fully beach-ready, but suffice to say that a minimum of five 30-minute sessions is to be expected. You can do these sessions fasted first thing in the morning if possible, or after your weight training, but before you have your shake. Some of you will have to hit double cardio sessions. We men hold most of our body fat right around the middle. If you can’t see your abs and you have a little muffin top going on, you will obviously need to do more cardio than someone who already has some abs showing. Few of us look forward to doing cardio, but just throw your Beats headphones on and grind it out. Every ounce of fat you strip off your body is only going to make your muscles look better.
Grooming Makes the Man
Even the finest luxury sports car only looks its best when it’s washed, waxed, and detailed, and you need to give your physique the same consideration. First up, let’s talk body hair. Women have mixed reviews as to how hirsute or hairless they like a man to be, but they all agree that a shaggy back is repulsive. If you look like Bigfoot back there, that hair needs to go. Unless you have long arms and are double jointed, you will probably need someone to help you. Your four options with any type of hair removal are shaving, waxing, depilatory cream, or laser. Shaving is the most common method. If there’s a great deal of hair, you will need to start off with clippers to take the bulk of it off before using a razor. Since “manscaping” is widespread these days, you have many products to choose from. Waxing can be done at home or at a salon. That horrifying scene in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” isn’t so far from reality— this shit hurts! The upside is that it takes hair much longer to grow back from waxing as opposed to shaving, wherein you’ll see new growth showing in just a few days. Depilatory creams and gels like those made by Nair and Veet dissolve the hair. Finally, laser hair removal is permanent, yet expensive, and requires a series of up to 10 visits for an area as large as your back.
Should you shave everything else? That’s up to you. For both competition and photo shoots, professional athletes and fitness models get rid of everything: hair on the chest, arms, abs, even the legs. If you want to show maximum definition, you should probably do the same. Chances are you can leave your legs alone. Assuming you wear board shorts to the beach, lake, river, or pool rather than a Speedo, no one’s going to see your thighs anyway.
Next up is tanning. A darker skin tone will allow muscle definition to be more evident. Again, you have options: real tan from the sun, tanning in a bed, or an artificial tan from bronzer or a spray tan. If you want your skin to stay supple and wrinkle-free, and you also wish to avoid skin cancer, the fake tans are your best bet. If you opt for the sun or a tanning bed, protect your skin with sunblock and absolutely avoid getting burned.
Be the Biggest Stud Around This Summer!
Let’s be honest, no one will judge you. Any time you’re at a beach, pool party, or any place where it’s hot and bodies are on display, you immediately scan the area to see how your physique stacks up against those of all the other males you can spy. Who is the best built, the Alpha Male? Who will the ladies lick their lips at and make flirty eye contact with? Who will they look at like a piece of prime beef? And for my gay brothers out there, simply substitute men for women in that scenario. Obviously, you want it to be you, and it can be you. You’ve already put most of the necessary work in before the weather heated up, now finish the job and fine-tune it all so you can be the biggest stud around this summer!
Beach Body Training Split
Day 1: Chest, shoulders, triceps
Day 2: Back, biceps, abs
Day 3; Calves and cardio
Take rest days when needed.
2 whole eggs, 6 egg whites, 1/2 cup (dry) gluten-free oatmeal with handful of blueberries or chopped strawberries (NO DRY FRUIT)
40-50 grams of protein from extra lean ground turkey, 1 cup green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, or several asparagus stalks, 1/3 cup unsalted mixed nuts
40-50 grams of protein from lean red meat of choice (steak or ground, patty), 1 cup green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, or several asparagus stalks
Meal # 4 (Pre-workout)
40-50 grams baked or grilled chicken breast, 1/2 cup brown rice
40-50 grams of whey protein isolate, 1 apple
40-50 grams of protein from chicken breast or white fish, large green salad, 1/3 cup unsalted nuts
A: Americans tend to be a litigious group: when somebody gets hurt, a lawsuit gets filed. Some personal trainers think a liability waiver protects them from being sued. Wrong. Anyone can be sued. A signed release only protects against certain claims, and some states heavily scrutinize releases or won’t enforce them at all as a matter of public policy. Other trainers think they don’t need liability insurance if they have a signed release. Wrong again. To avoid digging into your own pocket for legal defense or settlement costs, having insurance is essential.
Working out assumes certain risks; e.g., you can tear a muscle, tendon or ligament. “Assumption of the risk” is a legal defense that can protect trainers from lawsuits resulting from those kinds of foreseeable injuries that are inherently involved in exercise. But it won’t protect a trainer who injures a client by a negligent, reckless, or intentional act (“negligence” is failing to exercise the care that a reasonable or prudent person would exercise under the circumstances).
News headlines report examples of lawsuits against personal trainers for negligent conduct. For example, when a trainer lifted his client onto a bosu balance ball and walked away, the client fell, fracturing her hip and wrist, requiring surgery. She sued, and the court cited several ways in which the trainer was negligent, including: 1) he failed to ask about the woman’s medical history before training (she had a surgically fused ankle); 2) given her medical history, she should not have been instructed to use a bosu ball; and 3) the trainer failed to instruct her properly on the equipment. The case reportedly settled for $750,000.1
In another case, a trainer instructed the client to perform an intense workout consisting of burpees, jumping jacks and deadlifts after being informed of the client’s prior back surgery. The client severely damaged spinal disks, requiring two further surgeries. It was noted that the trainer: 1) lacked a current certification; 2) failed to keep program records; and 3) had no recent continuing education courses. She sued, and was awarded $1.4 million (less 30% for her own negligence).2
In another case, the client complained to his trainer about dizziness and vision problems. The trainer insisted that he continue exercising. The client left the gym and went to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a right internal artery dissection and suffered a stroke. The lawsuit alleged that the trainer: 1) failed to monitor the client adequately; 2) instructed him to continue exercising even after he complained that he was not feeling well; 3) failed to warn him of the dangers of continuing to exercise in that condition; and 4) failed to call for emergency medical assistance. Jury verdict: a whopping $14.5 million for the plaintiff (less 25% for plaintiff’s negligence).3
I’ve recently spoken at two conferences of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA.org) on the topic of risk management – what trainers can do to safely train their clients while protecting themselves against lawsuits. Besides liability waivers and insurance, trainers should:
Conduct a thorough pre-training interview, including assessments for past surgeries, coronary risk factors, diagnosed diseases, and lifestyle;
Refer to an allied health professional when necessary to obtain medical clearance and program recommendations;
Keep records and documentation, including intake forms, program records, workout notes, and client medical records;
Get certified and maintain certification through continuing education;
Design programs that are appropriate, not excessive, for the client’s individual capabilities and limitations;
Inspect the facility and/or equipment to ensure proper working order (e.g., if a cable snaps, the question will be whether the trainer checked it to see if it was frayed);
Instruct clients thoroughly on proper equipment use and exercise performance;
Supervise clients closely, especially those who are unfamiliar with the equipment (one lawsuit ensued when a trainer put a sedentary woman on a treadmill at 3.5 mph; she drifted backwards and fell off the end of the treadmill, fracturing her ankle);
Carefully monitor for signs of medical distress, such as stroke or heart attack, and call 911 when warranted (stay off your cell phone and pay attention!).
At a time when so many Americans are sedentary, overweight or obese, personal trainers can play an important role in improving people’s health and vitality. Being mindful of the key points above can benefit clients and save trainers from very costly mistakes.
You don’t have to officially be in a ‘gym‘ to burn calories and lose weight. All means of ‘physical exertion’ or ‘physical activity’ in general – burns calories (energy). This means voluntary movements such as walking, talking, brushing your hair and teeth, (or sex) and involuntary movements such as breathing and the heart pumping blood throughout the body and even sleep – all burns calories. It’s like gas in a car, every second that engine is spinning, gas is being consumed – conversely – every physical move you make, calories are being spent; most folks just aren’t aware of this. If you love to be in the gym to burn calories and enjoy performing the various exercises associated with it, then you should be good – but – if you’re one of those millions of people that are intimidated of a gym for one reason or another, listen up. There are a multitude of various exercises that can be performed in your own community or even your own house that will permit you to burn those extra calories even though you’re not in a gym.
If you’ve ever walked your dog, washed your car by hand in your own drive way, mowed your lawn, raked leaves, vacuumed your carpet, washed dishes, or a million other things around your home (or office), guess what – you’ve burned calories in the process and you weren’t at a gym or engaged in a ‘formal’ workout. We’ve heard time and time again that even 30 minutes of moderate walking or even exercise at least 4 times a week can work wonders for your overall health. Walking or running with ankle weights, weight packs (usually worn like a vest), hand held weights, or even bottles of water, can step up your game. Carrying more weight while performing these activities – burns more calories as it stresses the muscles more which utilizes more calories during the process.
Tips: From a nutritional perspective, I’ve already discussed things like putting the reduced fat sauces and dressings on the side instead of smothered on top of your favorite dish to save you some calories. As far as ‘physical exertion’ goes – try some of these tips and incorporate them into your daily lifestyle.
When out and about, instead of always taking the elevator, take the stairs. If it’s 100 stories to where you need to go, take the elevator to the 90th floor, or even the 95th floor, and take the stairs the remainder of the way up. These calories expenditures will accumulate over a short period of time and loosen those jeans up really quick. Instead of driving the quarter of a mile to the store or cafe for lunch, try walking, or even brisk walking if you need to step up your game. If it’s too hot to walk outside, walk inside. Grocery stores and shopping malls provide and large air conditioned facility to do this in; just be careful of the bakery section at the stores or your favorite food outlet if your preference is the mall.
Long story short, if you’re storing weight in unwanted areas, this is your body’s way of communicating with you. It’s trying to tell you that you need to exercise more and ‘spend some calories’ or cut back on your daily consumption of calories, or perhaps a little bit of both. My point in this article is to make sure you not only burn calories but you actually enjoy the process, it makes things easier and enhances the quality of life. If you don’t enjoy the process of burning calories, you won’t look forward to it and you won’t commit to staying active for life and everything slows down from there. There are thousands of ways to burn calories, find one form that you like (and benefit from) and stay consistent with it.
How often do you chill at the pool? If you love being outside and love spending time with your family, my guess is that you are at the pool often. The pool is always a great place to be for family and fun but did you know that your pool is actually a great place for you to get a tight and toned six-pack? Yep! It is, and I’m going to show you exactly how to turn your pool into a six-pack workout in minutes.
I’m always on the hunt for new and cool things to show you guys when it comes to living a healthier lifestyle and getting you guys the results you want. I’m sure a lot of you are going to love this. Start implementing this into your day and soon enough you will see a more defined set of abs and probably a great tan to go with it! Sound good to you?
Here we go.
How You Do It:
Really simple – take these 5 moves and create a workout circuit. Here is how the circuit will work:
Round #1 – go for 45 seconds at each move.
Rest for about 1 minute.
Round #2 – go for 30 seconds at each move.
Rest for about 1 minute.
Round #3 – go for 30 seconds at each move.
Round #1 = 45 seconds
Round #2 = 30 seconds
Round #3 = 30 seconds
Here are the moves.
The Moves: (see video)
How To Get Toned Abs Using Your Pool - YouTube
Straight-Leg Kicks underwater
Single Leg Lifts underwater
Pool Jump Tucks
V-Sit Hold (have fun with this one … ha!)
For more quick, simple and effective workouts just like this, be sure to head over to benboudro.com where I post workouts and simple tips for all fitness levels.
Do you have as much mass as you’d like? I sure don’t, and I bet you don’t either. The nature of weight training is that we’re never fully satisfied with what we see in the mirror. One reason for that is that many of us aspire to resemble the larger-than-life professional athletes we see on social media. Yet without their rare, gifted genetics (supplements or other enhancements play a part as well, but genetics are the true determining factor), it’s not possible to reach their outrageous dimensions—if you’re talking about 22-inch ripped arms, or weighing 270 pounds at 5’10” with 3 percent body fat. Still, let’s forget about anyone else for the moment and focus on you. You have built a certain amount of muscle tissue since the day you started lifting. Have you maxed-out on your full potential for size? Odds are very high that you have not. You may think you’ve done all that you could, or that you are training as effectively as possible right now. Once again, odds are that you could be doing better.
One glaring commonality in all our workouts is that as the years go by, we get away from many of the basics that served us so well in our early days. We drift away from the tried-and-true barbell and dumbbell classics, and fill our sessions with isolation exercises, machines and cables. Though not without value, those choices will never give you the same bang for the buck. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up the 10 best lifts for mass, whether you’ve been training for two weeks or 20 years. It’s no coincidence that seven of the 10 are compound movements, where you can involve several muscle groups at once and move some serious iron. Unless you have an injury that makes any one or more of these either a very bad idea or outright impossible, you need these 10 in your life right now.
It’s the big daddy of all lower body exercises. Long before you knew what weights were, or even before you could talk, you were squatting. It’s a natural movement for human beings from the time we are able to walk. That’s why squats are so incredibly effective. There is simply no more effective way to load the muscles of the quadriceps, glutes and hams than to put a barbell on your back, squat down low and stand back up again. To garner the most gains from squats, I do believe in descending to below parallel. We don’t all have the flexibility in the hips and ankles to sink down to “rock bottom,” but we can all perform a full rep as it relates to our individual structure.
Tips: Avoid piling on more and more plates and sacrificing range of motion. It’s OK to do the positive part of the rep, aka the lifting, in an explosive manner, but always take care to lower the weight under control. Absolutely never bounce out of the bottom position. This will wreck your knees over time. Find a stance that feels right for you. Some guys do well with a shoulder-width foot placement, while others need to go wider to achieve proper depth. Try to maintain as upright a posture as possible, as many trainers tend to hunch forward with heavy weights and shift the stress over to the glutes and lower back (as powerlifters do to put up maximum singles). Use a belt unless you have a very powerful core.
All the pushing muscles of the upper body band together for this monster lift: the pecs, the anterior deltoids and the triceps. It’s an exercise used not only by hardcore physique athletes, but also as part of strength and conditioning in dozens of other sports. Nothing else is quite as effective at developing raw pushing power. Though the flat barbell variation is the most popular, you should also do incline barbell presses to give extra attention to the upper region of the pectoralis major.
Tips: “How much ya bench?” isn’t nearly as important as how you bench. To maximally recruit the pecs and ensure that the shoulders and tri’s aren’t taking the brunt of the load, set your body mechanics up correctly. Pinch your shoulder blades together, and roll your shoulders down toward your butt. Put a slight arch in your lower back. Use a spotter, but only to hand the weight off to you and help you rack it at the end of the set. Do not become dependent on your spotter lifting part of the weight for you!
If there is any exercise that could come close to being a “full-body movement,” it’s the deadlift. Not only do you get the entire back involved, from the traps all the way down to the spinal erectors, but you’re also using the rear delts, biceps, quads, hams, glutes and calves! That’s a lot of muscle mass to hit all at once. It’s also why those who put the time and effort into deads tend to have a look that reeks of brute power. It’s legitimately the simplest exercise possible— lift something off the ground, and put it back down. “I pick things up and put them down,” in other words. There is power in simplicity.
Tips: While powerlifters aren’t allowed to use straps to reinforce their grip, you are. There’s no need for their over/underhand position on the bar. Set both hands overhand (knuckles up), and strap in. The initial drive off the floor is a simultaneous pull with the back, biceps and rear delts, along with a push from the quads and glutes. Never allow your lower back to round. Many lifters have transitioned to partial-range “rack deadlifts,” usually starting the lift at mid-shin level or under the knees in a power rack, rather than picking it up off the floor. Some swear by them as being more of a true back movement by taking the legs greatly out of the equation, and others dismiss them as a weak substitute for full deads. That’s for you to figure out on your own if you decide to try them.
The chin-up is not only a very natural movement among humans, but also all primates. It’s how you pull yourself up on to a branch or the top of a surface such as the top of a fence or wall, or when climbing steep hills or mountainsides. As an exercise, nothing trumps it for working the upper lats, rhomboids, teres major and minor, and even the biceps. It requires minimal equipment, just a bar bolted to the wall or between two other supports. Once someone has mastered the chin-up with their own bodyweight, the next step is adding weight via a belt. Once you get to the point where you are doing good reps with a 45 hanging off you, you can be sure your upper back is going to be pretty wide and rugged.
Tips: Due to the popularity of CrossFit, we now see people doing chins and variations of them being done in a very ballistic manner, with vigorous body swinging. These do not recruit the lats in the same way as chin-ups in the style that those who lift weights perform them: with controlled speed of motion, and with extra emphasis on contracting the muscles of the upper back. Wide-grip chins have been proven to target the lats most effectively, but you should also do them with an underhand grip, as well as neutral. Use wrist wraps if they help you get more reps, as is the case with most of us. The grip can be and often is a limiting factor on chin-ups for many. Don’t let that weak link shortchange your gains!
The dip is right up there with the bench press in terms of overall impact of the pushing muscles of the upper body. Bodybuilders from the 1940s, all the way through to Arnold Schwarzenegger, relied on dips for complete pectoral development. When leaning the torso forward, the chest is maximally recruited, as the angle is very similar to a decline barbell press. If you maintain a more upright torso position, the triceps are forced to take more of the workload. Weighted dips are one of the most effective mass builders you will ever do for the chest and triceps.
Tips: Some find dip machines to be better options, particularly when it comes to attempting to isolate the triceps. But if you can do them, nothing beats parallel bar dips. Experiment with keeping your elbows closer to the body or flaring them out, to find the optimal form for you. If you have the shoulder flexibility, lower all the way down until your shoulders are just above the level of the bars to really nail the pecs. If you want to hit more triceps, lower only until the bones of your upper arm are parallel to the floor. To lock out the elbows or not is also a matter of how much triceps involvement you want. A full lockout will fully contract the tri’s. Another option with dips is “bench dips” between two benches, piling weight on your lap. And finally, not all gyms have dip/chin belts to add weight. If yours doesn’t, you can find them online for 20 or 30 bucks.
If you want a thick back, you must do barbell rows. Nothing beats barbell rows for raw horizontal pulling power, and they are unparalleled for developing back thickness.
Tips: These are often called “bent” or “bent-over rows,” though the angle of torso bend varies. Some trainers do theirs with a full 45-degree bend, with torsos parallel to the ground. Others might stand a bit more upright at around 70 degrees, feeling it’s a better way to engage the lats. Going any higher than that starts turning a row into something close to a shrug, as the range of motion is truncated. A forceful pull of the bar into the abdomen should coincide with a contraction of the lats, then followed by a controlled negative in which you can feel the lats stretch. Whether you pause each rep for more emphasis on the lats, or keep the bar moving in more of a piston style, is a matter of personal preference. As with deadlifts and chins, use straps if you need them.
The military press was considered so basic and vital to overall development that in the early decades of powerlifting, it was a competition lift along with the bench press, squat and deadlift. The only reason it was dropped was because there were arguments over how much backward lean was permissible in the standing press. Regardless, the standing and seated versions of the barbell press to the front, aka the military press, are fantastic for building overall shoulder size and strength. Though dumbbells also have their merits and do allow the shoulders to rotate back a bit more, they become cumbersome to get up into position once you reach a certain level of strength.
Tips: Standing military presses are the toughest way to do these, but they are more effective too. They also make the excessive back arch and backward lean that often occurs with the seated press impossible. You may only be able to put up 135 standing as opposed to 225 seated. That’s how much harder they are! But again, it’s worth the extra effort. Use a belt for these, and a spotter is as necessary on seated military presses as they are for the barbell bench press. Lower the bar to the bottom of your nose, or your chin at the lowest. There is no need to lower the bar all way down to touch your clavicles, as this overstretches the shoulder joint.
If you’re pulling substantial weights on deadlifts, barbell rows and adding weight to chins, your biceps are getting a hell of a lot of residual work. They still need some direct training, and the barbell curl is the most effective option. Every man who has ever built a pair of kick-ass biceps has used the barbell as a tool. The barbell allows for a greater load than dumbbells, so you can curl some decent loads of iron.
Tips: Barbell curls are among the most commonly abused exercises in terms of form. The overriding tendency is for trainers to use more weight than they can handle using only biceps power, and proceed to heave and swing and thrust their hips to throw the barbell up from the bottom position. While “cheat curls” do have their place, that place is after at least a few strict sets or reps have been done. Do your best to keep your elbows at your sides as you curl, and don’t jerk your whole body to start the reps. Use a controlled rep speed. Think about flexing your biceps as you curl, and feeling them stretch back out as you lower the bar. After three or four sets, your biceps should be pumped and burning. If they aren’t, you need to use a little less weight and make the biceps do the work. The straight bar is the most popular option, though many find that the contoured shape of the EZ-curl bar causes them less wrist strain.
If you’ve gotten to the point where you can bench press 1.5 times your bodyweight for reps as well as do dips with half your bodyweight strapped on, your triceps will no doubt be thick and beefy. They still need some direct work, which is where lying triceps extensions, aka skull-crushers, come into play. They fulfill the primary function of the triceps, which is to extend the arms.
Tips: Most people do skull-crushers on a flat bench, but you may find you get a better range of motion and a better stretch with either an incline or a decline bench. Most trainers fare better with an EZ-curl bar here rather than a straight bar, because you will be using heavier weights than you can curl; and not all of us have big, clunky wrists. You can lower the bar to your nose, your forehead or behind your head. Use a spotter, if possible, at all times. Once you are handling substantial weight, having a spotter hand off the bar to you and take it away at the end of your set will save you a lot of trouble, as well as save your energy for the actual set instead of wrestling the bar into place.
Standing Calf Raises
Last but not least, we need to hit the calves with one winning basic movement, and the standing calf raise is the best selection. You don’t even need a machine for calf raises. Anything you can stand on and hang your heel off, such as a step, will suffice. The late Arthur Jones, of Nautilus fame, refused to build a machine for calves, because he felt nothing he could engineer would be any better than a block of wood to stand on and a heavy dumbbell in one hand.
Tips: The calves are a notoriously stubborn muscle group to build, for two reasons. One, they are largely genetic. If you have high muscle insertions, there just aren’t a lot of muscle cells there to work with. We have no control over how high or low our calves insert. We do have total control over how we train them, and many of us do it wrong. We do short, bouncy reps with too much weight instead of using a full range of motion and a controlled rep speed. Rise up all the way on your tiptoes and flex your calves, then lower until your heels are lower than the arches of your feet. Very low reps don’t seem to do much for calves. Work in ranges of 10-12, 12-15 and 15-20.
Those are the 10 best exercises for building mass. If getting bigger is what you want most out of your time devoted to the gym, all 10 belong in your routine. You can add in other exercises, of course, but put your emphasis on these 10 by doing them early in your workouts when you’re fresh. If you really want to go on a mission for mass, take a few weeks and use only these 10 movements, as shown in the sidebar. It will be a brutal shock to your system that will force new gains your way. If not, just be sure these exercises form the core of your routine. Consider them the main course, while everything else is merely an appetizer and dessert. These 10 classics deliver the most bang for the buck, and will help you grow to the size you want.
“10 Best” Back-to-Basics Mass Routine*
Bench Press 5 x 12, 10, 8, 8, 8
Chin-ups 5 x 10
Military Press 5 x 12, 10, 8, 8, 8
Deadlifts 5 x 12, 10, 8, 6, 6
Barbell Curls 4 x 8-12
Day 2 OFF
Dips 5 x 10
Barbell Rows 5 x 12, 10, 8, 8, 8
Skull-Crushers 4 x 8-12
Squats 6 x 15, 12, 10, 10, 10, 6
Standing Calf Raises 5 x 20, 15, 15, 12, 10
Day 4 OFF, Repeat
*Warm-ups not shown. Always warm up as much as you need to!
Eating for Maximum Mass
It should go without saying that the greatest workouts will fail to yield substantial results without proper nutritional support. Training stimulates muscle growth, but actual growth only takes place with adequate recovery between workouts. That means plenty of rest, and plenty of good, clean food. Without enough raw materials, our bodies simply cannot synthesize new muscle tissue. Make sure you are packing in the quality calories every day and especially taking in 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. Don’t go too low on carbohydrates or healthy fats, either. Your body needs all that to fuel intense workouts, then recover and rebuild the damaged muscle fibers. Along with focusing on the 10 best exercises, you should be eating copious amounts of chicken, eggs, turkey, lean red meat, fish, potatoes, rice, sweet potatoes and oats, along with fresh fruits and vegetables. Put all that together with eight solid hours of sleep every night, and boom! Grow time.