Muscle Building Priority

Probably the biggest mistake I see trainees making is choosing the wrong exercises and training with way too much volume (sets x reps).  I realize there is a new trend in fitness centered around Hybrid training.  By Hybrid training, I mean strength training routines for the purpose of burning calories and providing a conditioning effect.  This popular training protocol appears to pride itself in training folks to the point of utter exhaustion, and extreme fatigue (sometimes with evidence of rhabdmyolosis, blood in urine)  and using exercises that may not stimulate maximum amounts of muscle.  I am not here to throw stones at any ones methods but to point out that super high volume training and choosing exercises that use momentum rather than applying high levels of tension to muscle fibers will probably not result in Muscle Gain at least over the long term.  You must train hard on exercises that apply high levels of tension with enough volume that forces the body to change. 

Volume and Intensity are inversely proportional as volume goes up intensity (resistance or % of your 1 RM) goes down and in my opinion Intensity or progessive overload is more important than the addion many sets.  I do believe one needs appropriate training volume, but to train with so much volume that the poundage used is very low  (30-50% of 1 Repetition Max) probably short circuits hypertrophy. 

A Couple Suggestions

Choose exercises that involve multiple joints for all major muscle groups.  For example, Dumbbell Flat Presses instead of a Fly machine or Pec Deck, Squats, Leg Presses, and Lunges rather than Leg Extensions.  You show me someone who can bench twice their bodyweight and I would bet that person has a ton of upper body muscle mass, specifically, pectoralis, deltoid, and tricep tissue.

Over time You MUST BE PROGRESSIVE!  If in 6 months from now you are using the same poundages for the same number of repetitions you will probably not have any more lean mass.

As you become more advanced (>2 years of training) you may need to add in training volume in a step loading fashion (3-6 weeks of increasing volume followed by 1-2 weeks of 1/2 the total volume of the highest week).  This increase in volume may be necessary as strength improvements for advanced trainees become more difficult.

Keep it simple and get stronger on basic multijoint exercises.  Any program that is too extreme and unbalanced is probably not going to be a good approach if you are interested in building maximum muscle mass.

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Quadricep Training For Maximum Muscle

As with my earlier post this week, today I am going to be totally transparent with you guys.  I am going to describe my current quadricep routine.  So here goes no fluff just the meat!

I absolute love the Hammer Strength Linear Leg Press.  This leg press is similar to a 45 degree leg press but for some reason is easier on my knees.  I know James River Assembly has one along with a local gym.  I like how this machine has a guard that can be set to keep a heavy load from coming down on you if you were to fail.

The bulk of my leg training is performed on this machine.

Here we go:

Warmup

4 plates x 10, 6 plates x 10, 8 plates x 10, 10 plates x 10, 12 plates x 10, 14 plates x 10, 16 plates x 10

Working Sets

18 plates x 20, 20 plates x 15, 22 plates x 10, 24 plates x 10, 24 plates x 10, 24 plates x 10, 20 plates x 20, 20 plates x 20

Hammer Strength V Squat No need to warm up

6 plates total x 20, 20, 20-30

Each set of this workout is taken very close to failure.

Many will argue that I should be doing barbell squats.  I would agree that barbell squats can be very effective and for many people are probably superior for building up the quads.  However, I have a pretty bad back and cannot perform squats or deadlifts.  I will tell you guys that I think my leg development is actually better now and I have not squatted or deadlifted in about 5 years.

My main theory in exercise selection is an exercise should not cause injury to joints.  I have talked to many trainees that have injured their backs performing deadlifts and or squats.

Give my workout a try and keep in mind that a written workout is nothing with out HIGH levels of effort and progression from workout to workout.  You must find a way to get stronger on exercises that are appropriate for you.

Chest Routine For Maximum Muscle

Last week I shared an awesome upper back routine and today I wanted to illustrate a Chest Routine that will definitely result in more muscle and less fat.

As I thought about writing this article today I realized that I should be totally transparent.  By that I mean I am going to give the specific details about MY workout.  I am going to give you the meat today, the specifics of how I train to build MAXIMUM MUSCLE!

So here goes:

Flat Barbell Press Warmup 135×5, 185×4, 225×6

Start my stop watch:

275×5, 295×5, 305×4, 315×4, 315×4, 315×4, 315×4, 275×5, 275×5  (total time 20 minutes)

Second Exercise

Low Hammer Press   180 lbs per arm x10, 10, 8, 8,8  (5 minutes total time on this exercise)

Chest Press Life Fitness Machine 3 sets of 20-25 repetitions

Abdominal Crunch Machine stack x 10,10

I usually give myself about 9-10 days of recovery before training this muscle group again.

My focus will be to improve upon this performance.  Specifically, improving on the first exercise the barbell bench.

Many have asked me why I choose the barbell bench over dumbbells.  I would love to use dumbbells but with my back injury I cannot lift the heavy dumbbells in place to perform them.  I do think the dumbbell press is probably easier on the rotator cuff for most trainees.  Right now I am sticking to a moderate grip bench press as my core exercise for the pectoralis muscles.   I will switch exercises when I have reached a peak in performance or a decrease in strength.

Have a Great Day and Stay Strong!

 

 

My Journey To Winning The USA

Today I want to share the content of a poster a close friend gave me several years ago. This poster hangs in my office and I read it weekly. I always seem to find inspiration when I take the time to absorb every word.
The Foundation of Excellence
“Tentative efforts lead to tentative outcomes. Therefore give yourself fully to your endeavors. Decide to construct your character through excellent actions and determine to pay the price of a worthy goal. The trials you encounter will introduce you to your strengths. Remain steadfast…and one day you will build something that endures; something worthy of your potential.”
Epictetus

Roman Teacher, Philosopher
Wow, that says it all. Are you achieving something worthy of your potential? Let me share an experience in my life. In 2005, I had been preparing for 2 years to compete in an event in California. This event was a proqualifier for the WNBF. I was working hard to achieve a huge dream of becoming a WNBF Pro. I dieted for 10 months shedding about 50 pounds of body fat. We traveled all the way to California only to get my butt kicked. I placed last in my class and wasn’t even close to achieving pro status.

On the plane ride home I realized I wasn’t working hard enough to reach my potential. Sure, I had dieted hard and trained hard up to that point, however I still fell way short. I realized I must change my plan if I was ever to achieve my goal of becoming a pro. My program needed to be radically changed. I turned my major disappointment into action. I read about successful natural bodybuilders like, Skip LaCour and Jeff Willet and realized I was not putting in the effort necessary to be my best.  My intensity in the weight room completely changed.  My attention to detail on my diet and cardio was completely reset to match my goal of not just winning but leaving no question in the judges minds as to who was the winner. I visualized success and believed in my efforts and listened to no one who told me different.  My next competition was planned for October of that same year. I was to compete in Chicago at the USA and Great Lakes Championships, giving me another opportunity for the WNBF Pro Card.

I worked my butt off for 14 weeks. Those 14 weeks were the hardest 14 weeks of training I have ever experienced. Performing cardio twice a day on some days along with a session of strength training.  I arrived in Chicago at least 15 pounds leaner, and much more muscular. I went on to win my class and overall at both events. My dream of become a WNBF Pro was now a reality.
What I want you to understand is that you never know how close you are to achieving your dreams. If you would have asked me in July after that huge loss that I would have went on to win the overall at this event I would have probably not believed you. There was a time during the few days after that loss I wanted to retire from competition. But deep down I felt I had not given it my best and wasn’t achieving “something worthy of my potential.”  I also want you to understand that if you have BIG DREAMS the amount of effort needed will be BIG. I promise you,that anything in life worth having will require Amazingly Hard Work for an EXTENDED PERIOD, often longer than you originally expect. I dieted and trained hard for 1 year to win. I remember getting up at 4 am to get in extra cardio to lose bodyfat.  Stop looking for the easy path to victory. Usually the easy road won’t get it done. If your goals are big there will be a lot of discomfort and hard work.  That discomfort is the cost of victory.  The sacrifice and hard work will be well worth it when you achieve your goal.
 Set your goals, set your standards of performance high and take action NOW.
Have a Great Day,
Michael

Upper Back Workout For Maximum Muscle

Today as I was training clients I realized I should share an example of the Upper Back Workout we used today.  My method of training is only focused on basic hardcore muscle building exercises, so if you are performing exercises on a swiss ball and pilates machines you might not like my style of training.  However, I have and can prove my methods build muscle and they do it fast.  If you want proof of the muscle gain possible click the link in yesterday’s post that presents my research project.

So here is what today’s upper back workout looked like:

*Pullups for 20 minutes:  We did about 20 sets of 6-10 repetitions per set.  That worked out to about 1 set per minute.  I started the clock and after 20 minutes we moved to the next exercise.

*Dumbbell Rows for 10 minutes:  Here we picked a pretty heavy load about 75-80% of our 1 repetition max.  This worked out to about 8 sets of 8-10 repetitions in the 10 minutes.

Finally:

*High Repetition Pulldowns.  3 sets of 20 repetitions taking each set very close to absolute failure.

Total workout time 35 minutes.  Give each set your absolute best effort.  This type of workout will require at least 7-10 days of recovery between subsequent workouts for this muscle group.  If you want more information, just wait, my new book “Leave No Doubt Training Manual Volume 1 will be out soon.

A word of caution.  This is a very advanced workout.  You perform this workout at your OWN Risk.

Have a Blessed Day,

Michael

Muscle Building 101

After 22 years of strength training, competing in natural bodybuilding, and spending thousands of hours training clients, I have came to a few conclusions as to what is necessary for maximum muscle hypertrophy.  This brief article is only focused on resistance training necessary for hypertrophy.  

1.  Stimulus.  You must strength train in such a way that you exceed a prior performance.  This could be an increase in volume, resistance, and or workout density.  Bottom line, you better find a way to push your body to higher levels (more reps, more resistance, decreased rest periods with same resistance, or some other method of training to force your body to adapt).

2. Recovery.  Time for complete recovery of the muscle group trained and the body as a whole.  With the research I have done over the past 3 years we dug deeper into the conundrum of training frequency.  At this point, I think you might be better off to train with decreased training frequency allowing for complete recovery, at least for hypertrophy.   Our research demonstrated that in advanced strength trainees, training with equal volume, frequency had no impact on strength or gains in lean mass (3d/wk vs. 1 d/wk).  To read my thesis click the link below.

Thesis