In talking with many other lifters who are looking for that thick upper back look, I’m convinced that many people are not seeing the results they want, due to a lack of poundage and overall volume.
In my experience with training to build a bigger set of traps and a thick upper back, heavier weights are the way to go.
Optimally, I’d be Deadlifting once a week, hitting other deadlift variations on another day during the week, and then performing some form of heavy Rack Pull or Shrug that requires lifting straps on another day during the week.
However, my lower back has given me some problems through the last quarter of this year, so I haven’t been able to perform those kinds of lifts with the frequency I’d normally go for.
Instead, I’ve had to switch gears and go very heavy on my “isolation work,” for the upper back, and recently I was able to get some of this work on film to share with you.
In the video below you’ll see the following exercises and suggested volumes if you try them out:
1A – Heavy Incline Posterior Flies – 8 to 12 reps
1B – Lighter Incline Posterior Flies – 8 to 12 reps
1C – Heavy Dumbbell Shrugs – 10 to 20 reps
On this particular occasion, I used 65lb dumbbells on the first sub-set of Posterior Flies, followed by 35lbs (I think), then immediately went to 120lb Dumbbells for the Shrugs.
Optimally, I follow the Posterior Flies up with heavier Dumbbell Shrugs, especially if I’m working in my own gym with plate-loadable dumbbells, but I had to make due with the light 120-lb dumbbells at the local commercial gym.
I’m convinced, you need to hit these body parts with heavy weight. Optimally, you go with big weights on barbells, but if your back is acting up, you can do some of the stuff I showed you today.
Any questions, please let me know.
All the best in your training.
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Build Big Traps, Thick Back and Stronger Shoulders
Tags: back, big back training, big shoulders bigger traps, big traps, bigger traps, shoulders, traps, upper back
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In 2014, I began doing month-long periods of specialization training to bring up specific parts of my body.
After doing August of Arms in August and Legtember during September, I was getting messages every day from people asking me to set them up with similar programming.
So, once October hit, I knew it was time to put something more formal together, and with that, Yoketober was born!
That was without a doubt one of the funnest months of training I’ve ever had, and I must say I thought I saw some pretty darn good gains too!
Since then, Yoketober has been a staple of my training, every Fall.
But this year, I wanted to shake things up.
I wanted to go through Yoketober, totally disassemble it, and put it back together to breath new life into it.
And now, I honestly feel that Yoketober is the best it’s ever been.
So, I’m having a special sale for the last few days here in September, so you can get the new and improved Yoketober for a special price.
And, if you have picked up Yoketober in the past, I’ve got an even better deal for you – all you need to do is contact me through email, Facebook, etc, and we can set it up.
You’re gonna love Yoketober, and the massive gains that come along with it.
Thanks and all the best in your training.
Click the Yoketober Banner Below to Start
Building Big Traps, Meaty Shoulders and a Thick Upper Back!
Tags: big shoulders, big traps, big yoke, bigger shoulders, bigger traps, build a big yoke, build a bigger yoke, build big yoke, build bigger yoke, shoulders, upper back, yoke, yoke building, yoke training, yoketober
Posted in back training, build bigger arms, Build Muscle, Build Shoulders, how to build muscle, how to build strength equipment, muscle building nutrition build muscle mass, muscle-building-workouts, Yoketober | No Comments »
August of Arms
The Funnest Month of Training is Just a Few Days Away, Brotherrrr!
August of Arms 2017 has been updated and is ready to go.
This year’s program is totally overhauled, in an attempt to bring you the best version of August of Arms ever.
What started in 2014 as just “going to the gym and doing whatever random stuff I could think of,” has gradually evolved into a more and more purposeful month of training, which is also full of fun.
This year’s program is based around a new set of Test Lifts. I modified them this year for a few reasons:
- feedback that I’ve gotten from past customers
- changes that I’ve made in my training recently
- to give a change of pace to those who have followed August of Arms the last couple of year
- and I feel they match better to the goal of building BIGGER and STRONGER arms
The training you this month is based around improving your performance in the Test Lifts, helping you build bigger, stronger arms, and get the most out of your training, with purposefully selected exercises.
August of Arms truly is the Ultimate Arm Training Specialization Program.
To give you an idea of some of the new stuff I’ve got planned for you, I thought I’d post some of my own Test Lifts.
The first Test Lift I’d like to share with you is the Bodyweight Close Grip Bench Press. I plugged this one into the August of Arms program because for a time earlier this Spring, I did a mini-run at the 225lb Bench Press for Reps, like is done in the NFL combine. I liked it so much, that I built it into AOA 2017.
Bodyweight Close Grip Bench Press
Here is my official Pre-Test video for the Bodyweight Close Grip Bench Press.
Don’t worry if you can’t do your bodyweight on the Close Grip Bench. I go over some alternatives you can take in August of Arms.
I’ll be sharing more Testing Results as I complete the Pre-Test Lifts for August of Arms.
If you’re ready to build BIGGER, STRONGER Arms, then pick up your copy of August of Arms 2017 today.
All the best in your training.
Tags: aoa, aoa 2017, august of arms, august of arms 2017, build big arms, build big biceps, build bigger arms, build bigger biceps
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When to Cheat to Build More Muscle
The Summer months are here now, and that means it’s time for some Cheating.
Call me crazy, but I think people put too much emphasis on STRICT lifting technique.
I’m not saying that you should deviate from the technique so much that you put yourself at injury.
For instance, I think multi-joint movements like the Squat, Deadlift, and their complex variations should be done with excellent form at all times.
But when it comes to isolation movements, exercises where there’s much fewer joints moving and less risk for injury, I think it’s perfectly fine to cheat a bit on your technique in order to bring about more gains.
Here’s why you shouldn’t be afraid to cheat sometimes on your form:
1 – When you go super strict, it limits how much weight you can use.
Eventually, you’ve got to move up in weight a bit, if you want to bring on more muscle growth. But if you’re always staying super strict, it makes it hard to bump the weights up.
For an example of when I like to modify the technique in order to lift more weight, here’s a combo set of Plate Front Raises and Dumbbell Side Laterals. I deviate from the strict form on the Front Raises, because I’m using a 100lb Plate, and I bend my arms a bit to improve my leverage. I still try to lower the plate under control to accentuate the negative.
As you can see, I bend my arms here a bit to be able to get the plate up – just a small adjustment away from textbook form in order to get a lot more weight, and put a lot more loading on the front delts. Believe me, my front delts were SERIOUSLY SORE after this workout – way more sore than the previous few weeks when I worked with much lighter weight.
(2) When you keep everything strict, it limits how many reps you can do.
Appreciable volume is a must in order to build muscle. In fact, I like to stay between 8 and 15 reps on my movements where the goal is building muscle and not sheer strength.
There’s a couple ways to dial back the level of strictness in your lifting, in order to get more volume. Here are my favorites:
Go Heavier and Cheat from the Start: This method pulls from the idea above, of using more weight. Grab something that’s a good 5 to 10lbs heavier than you normally do with pristine form, and use some body english right from the start in order to bump up the volume and feel the pump sink in.
Regular Weight and Cheat at the End: With this one, you’ll start out with your regular “textbook” form, and then if you burn out before you hit your goal number of reps, then stop being a form policeman, and get the rest of your reps.
This is really just a handful of ways you can ease back a little bit on the form, in order to kick-start your gains again by increasing the weights you’re using and the volume you’re hitting in your workouts. I’m sure you can think of a few more.
The way some people talk about lifting, it’s as if the Form Police are there shaking a nightstick at you, watching every rep you do, ready to pounce on you if you deviate even the slightest from perfect form.
That’s all in your head. Don’t feel the need to stay strict on every single set and rep you do.
Naturally, there’s a time and place for everything. You don’t want to get in the habit of ALWAYS using cheat form.
Use cheating as a way to break through plateaus, test yourself with higher weights, and challenge your endurance in higher-rep situations.
I think you’re gonna see that it can help you out a great deal and can bring on some last-minute size increases, now that the Summer is here.
All the best in your training.
Want More Ways to Build Bigger Shoulders?
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Tags: big shoulders, bigger shoulders, deltoids, delts, muscle building, shoulders
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Back Contraction and Scapular Control for a Bigger Bench
One of the things I’ve been working on really hard the last few weeks is intensifying the contraction of my lats and the scapular musculature when performing Rows and Presses, in order to improve my back development and increase pressing power.
By doing so, my Barbell Bench Press has never felt better, and it’s almost completely pain free right now, for my shoulder.
I recently shot a video to help understand what I’ve been working on, and the feeling I’m going for when performing a lot of my Row movements.
There’s a million ways to do this, and one way is with Recline Rows, which we just happened to be doing recently.
Shoulder Blades Into Your Pickets
This video also talks about the idea of Shoulder Blades Into Your Pockets. This is exactly what I’m trying to do whenever I do a Seated Row, a Pull-down, and many other pulling/rowing movements.
I think if you try to implement this kind of contraction when you Row, you’ll gradually develop a better mental connection between your lats and scapular muscles, and this will lead a much more stable and stronger Bench Press.
If you have any questions on this, please leave a comment below, and make sure to subscribe to my youtube channel.
All the best in your training.
Want a Bigger, Thicker Back? Check out YOKETOBER
Tags: "big back", bench press, big bench press, big lats, bigger bench press, build a big back, build a big bench
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While most of what you see from me is Grip Training related, I actually do much more training than just Grip.
In fact, I do just as much, if not more training, for my full body.
Every so often, I even try a mainstream strength challenge to see where I’m at.
Even though I’ve only benched with a barbell a couple of times in the last 18 months, I wanted to see how many reps I could get in the 225lb Bench Press for Reps that you see done in the NFL Combine and other tests.
I’ve done this test a few times in the past, but honestly I have no idea how much I’ve gotten before. I *believe* this is the most reps I’ve ever gotten.
Throughout all of 2016, my main objective flat bench pressing was Dumbbell Bench Press, because it didn’t hurt my shoulders, as much as Barbell Bench.
Well, as it turns out, I had developed some bad habits with my Bench Press technique, and these habits are what was causing my issues, not the Barbell Bench itself.
I figured this out when I visited my friend Jerry Shreck, head strength coach from Bucknell University.
He corrected my form while we trained on the Bamboo & Tsunami bars at his gym, and ever since, my shoulders have started feeling better and better.
By using these bars, I was really able to lock in my form, and feel my lats working the way they’re supposed to during the Bench Press. By working on this form and training for endurance in my lats, I think my form is back closer to where it should be, at least as far as my upper body positioning is concerned.
Naturally, with proper form comes improved strength. As I said above, I think I got into some bad habits with my Bench Press set-up that over time caused some serious discomfort.
Once this form issue was identified, and as I worked to correct it, the pain subsided, and I gradually built back some of my strength.
I still have no clue what my Max Bench Press might be, and I don’t really care right now, as I’m much more interested in working back up to 150lb Dumbbell Bench Presses.
But we’ll see what happens!
I hope you got something out of this quick Bench Press post, and if you have any questions, please feel free to comment.
Thanks and all the best in your training.
It’s Never Too Early to Start August of Arms
Tags: barbell bench press, bench, bench press, big bench, big chest, chest training
Posted in arm training, how to bench press, how to build muscle, how to develop strength, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »
Last week, I tried curling 80lb Dumbbells for the first time in a little while. The cross-body tension had really been bothering my back for quite some time. But it was feeling pretty good here, recently so I gave it a run.
80lb Curl Initial Test
This test didn’t go very well. Maybe I wasn’t warmed up very well. Maybe I was kind of tired. Maybe something was just a little off, but I didn’t get very many reps.
80lb Curl Second Test
About a week later, I tried the 80’s again, and was pleasantly surprised with how many reps I got: 5 with the Left arm and 4 with the Right. No idea why my left is stronger or has better endurance, but it has been that way for a few months.
85lb Curl Initial Test
After the PR at 80, I figured I’d better try out the 85’s. I have never curled these 85’s before, and in fact have only been able to curl 85’s one other time, if memory serves.
I approach arms like this. Sure, I want them to be big, but I want them to be strong too.
That’s why I have a double-sided goal for my arm development of 20″ biceps, cold (no pump) and to one day be able to curl 100lb Dumbbells.
All the best in your training.
How to Avoid Chest Pain from Benching
Every so often, my shoulders and pec tie-ins are sore, on Chest Day.
This kind of stinks, because one of my overall goals is to build my Dumbbell Bench Press to a set of 10 with 150lbs (which I fell very short on last year).
However, I found a nice variation that I can do without pain, and I want to share it with you today.
Pain in the Chest – Try This Benching Variation
Give this variation a try – it BLOWS the chest up BIG TIME and leaves your Triceps completely wasted.
All the best in your training.
Tags: build a big chest, build a bigger chest, build chest size, chest building, increase chest size
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Sample Circuit from Yoketober Program
I want to show you a sample of the Yoketober program. Here’s a circuit from Workout #3.
Workout #3 was a Chest day, so you’re going to see some Chest work, with some Yoke work sprinkled in.
C1. Shrug Top Holds
3 sets of 10 reps with 3-ct hold at the top
C2. Incline Bench Press
3 sets of 12
3 sets of 15 to 20
Here’s a video from yesterday’s workout. Sorry that the audio is gone. There was an Ozzy Osborne song playing in the background, which YouTube didn’t like, so they zapped all the audio out of it.
Yoketober Workout #3: Shrugs, Inclines, and Push-ups
If you want to blow up your Yoke this month, then there’s no better way to do it than Yoketober.
You can pick up your copy by clicking the banner below or this link: Yoketober 2016 Program
All the best in your training.
Tags: big traps, big yoke, bigger traps, bigger yoke, build big traps, build big yoke, build traps, build yoke, traps, yoke
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I have a few sayings I’m known for.
One of them is, “It’s not about how much you lift, It’s about how much you LOVE Lifting.”
What that means is, lifting is about being passionate about something and doing it with fire.
Lifting is about setting goals to always be improving.
Lifting is about feeling good, and feeling good about yourself.
So, a couple months ago, or so, when I really took a look at some of my training, I came to realize I wasn’t following my own advice.
The whole idea about that saying is that you should be pushing yourself because you love lifting.
It has nothing to do with pushing yourself so hard that you reach your goals at the expense of everything and everyone else.
But, there I was, trying to reach some goals related to the Barbell Bench Press, and instead of getting closer, I was coming further and further away each session because the exercise was tearing my shoulders up, and leaving me in pain.
It’s now been the better part of this year, that I have quit Benching with the Bar, and moved exclusively to Dumbbell Bench Press. And although my numbers were completely embarrassing at first, I now feel like I’m living more in tune with my beliefs.
And, after a couple months, or however long it’s been, I’m starting to see some good increases, feeling better in the shoulders, and I think even seeing a bit of growth.
I LOVE LIFTING, but I think I was coming severely close to having the majority of my training SHUT DOWN due to the pain I was feeling in my shoulders.
I encourage you to do the same as well – by all means train hard – don’t just go through the motions in the gym.
But, if there’s a movement that is tearing you up inside, don’t feel the need to push through pain and suffer because of it.
Remember…It ain’t about how much you lift. It’s about how much you LOVE lifting.
All the best in your training.
P.S. Along these lines, I want to help you out as much as I can, to get you to your goals. And that means helping you learn to do your goal lifts properly and as safely as possible.
Check Out the the Special Offer I’ve Got Going On This Week:
Tags: avoiding injuries, barbell bench press, bench press, lifting for life, loving lifting, smart strength training, smart training, strength training
Posted in athletic strength training lift odd objects, how to build muscle, how to develop strength, how to improve fitness and conditioning, strength training powerlifting, strength training to improve athletic performance, strength training to prevent injury, strength training workouts, strongman, strongman competition training, strongman training for athletes, strongman training log stone tire farmer, your daily inspiration | No Comments »
Monster Yoke Finisher
Every Friday, I wake up early, knowing I’m about to step into battle.
This is not the type of battle that is fought amongst opposing teams or countries, though.
This is a battle fought within myself.
The constant struggle to physically keep fighting, or to listen the voice inside my head telling me to stop and give up.
Fridays is when, I do a my Yoke workout with my adult men training clients, where we hit Upper Back, Traps, Posterior Deltoids and Triceps.
This week, the final siege included this 5-exercise superset:
- Banded Paused Rows
- Rope Bodyweight Rows
- Posterior Flyes
- Dumbbell Triceps Skiers
- Triceps Kick Backs
Each exercise was done for a total of 15 repetitions. We rest-paused as needed and/or dropped down in weight in order to get the reps.
It was nothing short of all out struggle, waged until the very end.
Monster Finisher for Building a Massive Yoke
We went through this one time, as we were running out of time, but if you go through this with the goal of finishing in 3 to 4 minutes, one set is really all you need, brother.
I’ve talked about it before, how much I love the Back & Triceps combination – can’t say enough about the rush I get each and every week. These workouts are probably the hardest I do each and every week, because at only 1 hour, including warm-up, I don’t take up a bunch of time with Grip Sport lifts, which is actually a big mental relief for me.
If you’re looking for some absolutely SICK WORKOUTS that will help you build a big Back, cannon-ball deltoids, and Traps that deform every tee shirt you put on, then try out Yoketober, below.
All the best in your training.
Build a Big Back, Thick Traps, and Massive Delts:
I wanted to share this workout with you that I did last Friday morning.
This was the second time I’ve done it (with just a couple of modifications), and I’m telling you, this workout is awesome.
It involves 4 separate blocks (A,B,C,D), each with 3 exercises (1,2,3), done with minimal rest between sets for a maximized pump and engorgement of the muscles.
If you’re not familiar with the exercises, watch this video:
Big Back Workout
A1. Pull-ups – 3×10
A2. Dips – 3x 10-20
A3. Ab Wheel – 3×10
B1. Pull-downs – 3×10-12
B2. Front Laterals – 3×10
B3. Crucifix – 3x15sec
C1. Reverse Curl – 3×8-12
C2. Prone Pull-downs – 3×12-15
C3. Band Face Pulls – 3×15
D1. Unilateral Pull-aparts – 3x10each side
D2. Belly Pull-ups – 3×5
D3. Chain Hammer Curls – 3×15
As you’ll notice, there’s a lot more than “Back” exercises in there. I had to modify this workout quite a bit because my Chest/Shoulder/Biceps workout got interrupted last week, and I wasn’t able to get my Biceps or Deltoid work in. I added these in where I’d normally have my other Triceps exercises (I only did one pure Triceps exercise, Dips).
I’m gonna be straight up with you here – you can’t mess around between sets with this workout, or you won’t get it all done.
A lot of people will not be able to get this workout done inside of an hour, like my buddy Mark and I did.
In fact, a lot of people are not in shape enough to do all of this PERIOD, let alone inside an hour.
If you can’t finish the workout, don’t worry about it. Work on it.
We’ve been training this way for a while, and while it’s intense, I truly feel this is a great way to train, especially on days when you don’t have strength-specific work (requires longer rest periods), and are only looking at building slabs of muscle all over your body.
Like I said, if you don’t know the exercises, check out this video, because all of them but 2 are in there:
Any questions, please let me know.
All the best in your training.
P.S. I just completed something I worked on all last week. It’s a complete Catalog Page of all my products, many of which you might never have heard of, so I wanted to share it with you: Full Diesel Product Catalog
Many of the prices on that page are newly reduced, so be sure to check them out.
Coan Phillipi Deadlift Program
After Nationals, I decided I want to work on my full-body strength more by following the Coan Phillipi Deadlift Program.
Free on the internet, the Coan Phillipi Deadlift Program was designed by Ed Coan and Mark Phillipi.
Aside from that, I don’t know much about the program itself, except that my partner, Luke, began BLOWING UP when he started following it, and his strength went up BIG TIME.
That’s what I wanted too! So I got started.
We jumped in on Week 3, because Weeks 1 and 2 seemed too light. I just finished Week 7 this past weekend, of the 10-week program.
What I’ve got for you below is footage from Weeks 7, 6, and 5 in reverse order, as well as a little Q & A I did recently on my YouTube Channel in an episode of Cooking with Napalm.
You’re gonna see, I do a lot of my Deadlift stuff with some version of Double Overhand Grip, whether Full DO, Monkey Grip, or Thumbless, depending on the weight. This is to strengthen my fingers & hands, as I don’t get as much grip work in on the days I’m deadlifting.
Week 7 Coan Phillipi Deadlift Program
Week 6 Coan Phillipi Deadlift Program
Week 6 Coan Phillipi Deadlift Program
Q&A on Coan Phillipi Deadlift Program
Look, I’ll be honest. I’ve only ever followed a Deadlift program once, and only for a few weeks. That one did nothing for me.
This Program however, I like. I’m feeling good and the weights are going up, so that’s cool.
I really thank my friends Eli Thomas and Jerry Jones for turning me on to this.
I’ll keep you posted on my progress. In a few weeks, we re-test our maxes.
All the best in your training.
August of Arms is Coming Soon!
Stay Tuned for Updates and Add Your Info Below:
Tags: deadlift, deadlift program, deadlift training, increase deadlift
Posted in how to build muscle, how to build strength equipment, how to develop strength, muscle-building-workouts, strength training muscle building workouts, strength training powerlifting, strength training to improve athletic performance | No Comments »
Last year, in May, I performed a Strongman Show during the Bodybuilding Contest at the Empire Classic Fitness Expo in Spokane, Washington.
I also assisted with several other events that were part of the Expo, including a Strongman contest, and that’s where I met Luke Ehlis, one of the competitors in the Strongman Contest.
Luke had been a bodybuilder prior to the Strongman Comp, and I was extremely impressed with his prowess in Strongman.
Let’s face it – you don’t often see competitive bodybuilders who are able to crossover in Strongman competition and excel, but Luke did.
What’s even more impressive, to me, about Luke is that he trains primarily in his garage, not some giant warehouse gym, not some fancy fitness center, but his own garage gym at his home.
I’ve stayed in touch with Luke since the contest and have an interview with him planned, and since then, I’ve enjoyed watching Luke’s videos on Instagram and Facebook, because the dude is an innovator.
One of the things I saw him do recently was what I refer to as a Pendulum Row. In a recent video, he attached a Bar to his Reverse Hyper device, and used the hanging weight as the resistance for his Bent Over Rows.
I thought that was awesome, because I knew it would feel completely different from a regular Bent Over Row.
This past weekend, my lifting partner, Lucas Raymond, and I got the chance to try out these Pendulum Rows, and they are KILLER!
Build Your Back with Pendulum Rows
These are so stinkin’ Intense, brotherrr! The swinging action of the Reverse Hyper makes the weight pull away from you at the highest point of the Row. What I was trying to do was to get a good, solid pause at the top of the movement, but it was HARD!
To challenge our grip more, we used the FBBC Crusher, which is a free-spinning thick bar handle, much more difficult to use than the Rolling Thunder, plus, we were flexing our wrist into a partial gooseneck position, which made these even more difficult to do.
I’m telling you right now, these are a WINNER for your back training. The way you have to brace your core on these is just plain sinister. You feel them BIG TIME in your back. Try them if you dare.
Stay tuned for an interview with Luke Ehlis, as soon as I can get my act together.
All the best in your training.
P.S. August of Arms is coming. GET READY.
P.P.S. If you want even more cool ideas to build a bigger upper back and thicker set of traps, check out YOKETOBER:
Last week, I travelled to Juniata College, for the Juniata Strength and Conditioning Clinic.
Before Day 1, I hooked up with Jerry Shreck and Cody Miller, both from Bucknell Strength and Conditioning, and we hit a nice, quick, solid back workout.
It’s always fun to hit a workout in a different gym from time to time, because you get to try stuff you wouldn’t normally get to, especially when you usually train in a garage gym.
Here are some clips we got from this Big Back Workout. Believe me, my lats, posterior delts, and the rest of my back were PUMPED for hours from this one.
Warm-up 1 – Peg Board
It was a chore getting warmed up. We were rushed, hadn’t had any coffee, no breakfast, and got poor sleep, so the regular full-body joint mobility-style warm-up I am used to just wasn’t cutting it.
That’s when we spotted the Peg Board in the next room, and that’s when the blood finally started pumping.
What we did: +/- 3 sets each
Warm-up 2 – Freedom Climber
Right in the same room, on the same wall, even, Juniata had a “Freedom Climber.” I’ve never even heard of these before, let alone seen one, but we were both excited to try it out. With this one, the further you climb to one side, the quicker it turns. For me, the grip was no problem. The issue was the footwork – I couldn’t move my feet fast enough to stay on the holds. Really fun device – can’t imagine what it costs though.
What we did: +/- 3 sets each
Exercise 1 – Dumbbell Rows
Now, we were warm, so we headed back into the training center. We started off with Dumbbell Rows. I was interested in trying something heavy, upwards of 150, but the heaviest they had was 125, so I stuck with those and tried to keep the reps slow and controlled. This was great, my back was blown up.
What we did: 3-5 sets each of 8 to 10 reps, emphasizing control
Exercise 2 – Cable Pull-Downs
This might be one of the toughest Cable Pull-downs I ever tried. I rarely fail to get a rep on the full stack of a Cable Pull-down, but I literally could not do it on this piece. Jerry and I mixed up the tempo and range of motion of our repetitions on this one to try to mix things up and make our backs grow!
What we did: 5 sets each of 8 to 15 reps, manipulating ROM & tempo
Exercise 3 – Football Bar Curls
The Football Bar is something I don’t have in my gym, so I made sure to hit this before leaving. Naturally, we took it directly to the Squat Cage, the best place to hit Curls in the gym of them all.
What we did: 3 sets of 3 to 5 reps on each handle
Jerry and I packed this workout into about an hour or so, and I was very happy with it, especially considering the struggles we were having in getting rolling.
It was great training with Jerry, too. We always come up with some pretty intense stuff to push each other with. My only regret is that we didn’t have more time to work in some Trap work and some Triceps. Hopefully next time!
All the best in your training.
Did you know that Jerry and I collaborated on a product a few years back? It’s called Deceleration Training and it will help you prevent ACL tears. Click the banner below to find out more:
Want to Build a Big Back, Traps, and Wide Shoulders? It’s time to get YOKED with Yoketober:
I posted this video on my Facebook wall a week or so ago, but I wanted to also add it here.
This video is by my friend, John Wojciechowski, a strength coach and grip sport friend of mine.
As you watch this video, think about this…
Every day that goes by, there are opportunities to improve, to get stronger, to get BETTER.
It may seem like we have all kinds of time to put the work in we need to, with each passing day, the opportunities to get better are sliding by.
We all need to make sure that we are taking advantage of the time we have.
That may mean sneaking in an extra workout, planning meals better, getting your water intake right, or any other number of things.
But it’s gotta come from inside YOU.
Your parents, your friends, your family, your partners can’t do it for you.
YOU know what YOU need to do.
Make your opportunities count. NO REGRETS.
Renew your commitment to your goals RIGHT NOW, if you’ve been letting distractions get in your way.
And if you need help getting back on the right path, send me a note and maybe I can help you.
All the best in your training.
Start Building Monster Traps, Shoulders and Upper Back Muscles
In the Yoketober program, and in any good quality muscle building program, there is going to be plenty of multi-joint exercises, movements where there is movement across more than one joint.
And while these types of movements are very beneficial for build strength and muscle, they are also much more technical than other simpler, isolation-style movements. If you don’t do these things correctly, not only will you not get the results you want, but you can also injure yourself.
Today, I have a couple of videos for you that can help you with your technique so you can maximize your training results and reduce and eliminate risk for back injury.
Check them out below:
Back Safety Considerations for Hip Hinge Movements
Back Safety Considerations for Bent Over Lifts
These videos are short, but if you apply these quick pointers to your training, you should be able to keep your back healthy and strong and that in turn will lead to more intense workouts and better results.
All the best in your training.
Tags: bigger back bigger shoulder, bigger traps, build big traps, build bigger traps, build traps, get big traps, get bigger traps, yoketober
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Yoketober is in full swing.
This month, we are focusing on the Yoke – the Traps, Upper Back, Shoulders, and Triceps – the parts o fthe body that make up your outline and help you cast a big shadow.
The objective – To Develop Monster Mass by Halloween.
Yesterday was Yoketober 1st, so Workout #1 went down in the garage. It was my Upper Body Push Day, with Yoke work sprinkled in for seasoning.
#Yoketober Workout #1/31
In the past months of specialized training, #AugustOfArms and #Legtober, lots of people were requesting workout plans, but I didn’t work ahead those months.
Yoketober is different. I put together an entire ebook that includes a full month of training for you from Yoketober 1st to Yoketober 31st.
It’s time to fill that shirt up with some serious slabs of muscle.
All the best in your training.
Close Bigger Grippers with This Proven
Gripper Training Program
Tags: bigger traps, build bigger traps, trap training, yoke, yoke training, yoketober
Posted in arm training, build bigger arms, how to build muscle, how to develop strength, how to improve strength, strength training powerlifting, Yoketober | No Comments »
20 Rep Squats for Building Massive Muscle
Since August, I have been experimenting with 20 Rep Squats.
Performing 20 Rep Squats is a tactic that was made famous by many oldtime strongmen and other writers of yesterday.
The claim is that by performing 20-Rep Squats, you can put on substantial amounts of muscle mass.
Since that is one of my primary objectives right now, along with increasing full body strength, I decided to give 20-Rep Squats a try.
Now, from my understanding there are a couple of ways that 20 Rep Squats can be done. The method I am using is what was described to me by James Fuller, who actually is the one who made me consider doing these after all.
He suggests taking your 10-rep max weight in the Back Squat and performing 20 Reps with it. You rep out the first 10 Reps without rest, and then you finish with the last 10 Reps with any rest-pauses you need, but you absolutely do not set the bar down. It remains on your shoulders from the moment the set begins until you hit the 20-rep mark.
Other approaches exist. For instance, some teach rest-pausing as needed throughout the set. Others suggest taking as big of a breath as possible into the lungs before each repetition, in an effort to expand the rib cage as much as possible.
As far as expanding the rib cage, I have not researched that, but I will say that after my set of 20-Rep Squats, I do lie on a bench and perform chest stretches using the Dumbbell Pull-over movement.
Regarding MY 20-Rep Squat Sets
When you watch the videos below, take note that I am not using my 10-RM in any of them. There are a couple of reasons why…
1) I am always cautious of my back and I am siding toward being cautious. Nothing sucks more than being hurt and unable to train, especially when you know you could have prevented the injury by being cautious, so that is exactly what I am doing.
2) I do a great deal of Squatting BEFORE I do my 20-Rep Squat set. I pair Squatting with my gripper work and often do 8 to 10 work sets before my 20-Rep Squats, so I am already fatigued.
3) These 20-Rep Squats have essentially become my Squat finisher. These are the last thing I do before I move on to the next portion of my workout. My 10-RM is probably closer to 305 or 315.
Tom Platz Squats 500 for 23 Reps
Reading Sources for 20-Rep Squats:
I have not read these books
My 20-Rep Squat Workouts
20 Rep Squats: 225lbs – Aug 17
20 Rep Squats: 235lbs – Aug 26
20 Rep Squats: 255lbs – Sep 2
20 Rep Squats: 265lbs – Sep 10
I did 20-Rep Squats one time back in like 2004 and hated them. I got extremely sore and it interrupted a whole week of my training, so I said to hell with them.
This time however, I really wanted to see what they could bring me, so I have stuck with them.
I plan on gradually moving up in weight and will eventually be up over 300-lbs with them, I am just taking my time.
I welcome comments, especially from those who have followed the program, and I would love to hear about your results.
All the best in your training.
Learn Another Great
Full Body Strength and Muscle Building Method:
Tags: 20 rep squats, 20rep squats, breathing squats, oldtime strongman squats
Posted in build bigger arms, how to build bigger arms, how to build muscle, how to build strength equipment, how to develop strength, muscle-building-workouts | 3 Comments »
#Legtember is under way brother
After taking a much needed day off from training on Sept. 1st to enjoy a relaxing Labor Day holiday with my family, I am back at it brother.
In September, I will hit some form of intense leg work every single day. To make up for the day I missed, I will also do an extra workout on a Friday, the day I train before sun-up.
If your Legs are lagging behind, or if you desperately need to bring up your Squat or Deadlift, then join me for #Legtember.
Here are the details:
Any questions, let me know.
All the best in your training.
My KEY to Pain Free Barbell Curls: Globe Gripz
Tags: bigger legs, bring up squat, how to build hamstrings, how to build leg muscle, how to build legs, how to build quads, improve deadlift, improve squat, increase squat
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Throughout the month of August, I trained arms every single day in order to bust through my current plateau and trigger a quick increase in arm size.
I called this August of Arms and used the hashtags #AugustOfArms & #31DaysOfArms when I put up updates on Facebook.
August of Arms:
The Tale of the Tape
I was successful in adding just under an inch to each arm over the course of the month. I took preliminary measurements and each arm was about 18″ on August 1st. I re-measured every 10 days.
August 1 Measurements:
By August 10th, I had added roughly a 1/2 inch to each arm. I saw no increase on August 20th, but on August 31st, when I remeasured again, each arm had increased to roughly 19″, cold.
August 10 Measurements (+/- 1/2″ Increase):
August 20 Measurements (No Change):
August 31 Measurements (+/- 1/2″ Increase):
This seems to have been a very common theme across the board as many, many lifters who approached and followed through the August Of Arms plan also saw solid increases of .5 inches to 1 inch and slightly above.
To really go out with a bang, on the 31st, I ended the month with a Big Arm workout, hitting both Biceps and Triceps with some of my favorite lifts from the great month of August.
Here are some of highlights from Workout 31 of #AugustOfArms
I am very happy with my results from this month-long experiment, and I plan on doing more focused training, just like this.
Stay tuned for more information on what is coming during September.
It is imperative you get your best email onto my newsletter, if you aren’t already.
The form at the top of the right-hand side bar will make sure you are notified every time I put up a new post on the site.
Also, make sure we are connected through Facebook and Twitter:
I will have more information coming your way soon.
All the best in your training,
Tags: arm training, arm workouts, big arm workouts, bigger arms, bigger biceps, bigger triceps, build arm size, build arms, get bigger arms
Posted in arm training, build bigger arms, how to build bigger arms, how to build muscle | No Comments »
There are a couple of very sick, twisted and sadistic people out there who deserve to be punished severely.
They are Derek Poundstone and Jason Steeves.
Yes, that Derek Poundstone – the pro strongman competitor.
He’s the one that came up with this craziness.
The other one, Jason Steeves, is someone who I thought I was my friend, but now I know the truth – HE IS NOT – since he’s the one that introduced me to the challenge.
The way he put it, he was “helping me out” with a way to spice up my #AugustOfArms training this month.
But, I think he was actually trying to maim me, brother.
What is the Poundstone Barbell Curl Challenge?
Apparently, for some reason, Derek Poundstone thought it would be a great idea to try to curl an empty barbell for 100 reps.
I guess he started doing this a couple years ago, once a month.
Well, up until a couple weeks back, I had steered clear of this challenge and knew nothing about it.
That’s where Jason Steeves comes in.
The conversation went a little something like this…
Jason: Hey Jedd, I see you’re doing #31DaysOfArms. Ever hear of Derek Poundstone’s 100-rep Empty Barbell Challenge?
Jedd: No man. What is that?
Jason: Oh, just try and curl a barbell 100 times. You’ll love it. It will change your life. Best thing ever. It will help you sleep better at night. You’ll never want to put sugar or salt on your food ever again. You’ll start getting discounts on your meals at fancy restaurants, and so on…
Jedd: OK, I’ll give them a try.
So I moseyed on down to the gym that night and tried it, and I couldn’t believe the PAIN in my biceps.
I couldn’t believe how quickly it went from being easy and feeling like a complete waste of time, to being so ridiculously hard!
I had to double check and make sure Poundstone or Steeves hadn’t actually snuck into my gym and quietly slid a 45-lb plate on each end of the bar, brother!!!
I think the first time I tried it, I got 24 reps and I couldn’t believe how pathetic I felt.
I must have been having a bad day.
I HAD to try it one more time.
Trying the Poundstone Empty Barbell Curl Challenge
Here is the second day I tried the Poundstone Empty Barbell Curl Challenge:
So I post the video above and who comes and leaves a comment below? Jason Steeves himself.
Jason: “You had more Jedd!!! Where was the fire to blast out another 15? The last rep looked just as crisp as the first. If you were really bagged physically I would’ve seen them slowing down. Get mad!! Get your 50!!!!”
Jedd: “I will do it again tonight duuuuuuude!”
True to my word, I picked my poison again and hit the challenge that night.
Here it was:
Poundstone Barbell Curl 100 Rep Challenge
And just like someone who is hooked on crystal meth, now, I can’t stop doing these.
Just like someone who gets hooked on pain killers, and they need more and more and more, now I even find myself trying this challenge WITH EXTRA WEIGHT ON THE BAR.
Do you see how crazy this is?
Poundstone Curls with Weight Added – Purely Crazy Barbell Curl Challenge
And now, just like a drug dealer who pushes their addiction on others, I’m pushing this Poundstone Barbell Curl Challenge on YOU, brother.
Honestly, just like I talk about in Call to Arms, I don’t like mindless reps when training PERIOD, let alone when training arms.
I don’t like just standing there and curling weight just to hit a target number.
I like squeezing each rep and having control over the bar or dumbbell, so that each rep has a purpose.
But this Poundstone Empty Barbell Curl 100-Rep Challenge thing has been different.
I want to keep on pushing the envelope to see where it will take me.
If you want a crazy, illogical, bicep curl challenge, then give this a try my friend!
Let me know what you think.
All the best in your training.
P.S. Regardless of the fact that the barbell is empty, it KILLS my wrists and forearms if I don’t use Globe Gripz. If Barbell Curls hurt you, you need to get some of these life savers.
P.P.S. I have no heat against Derek Poundstone or Jason Steeves regarding this Barbell Challenge. That was all a work.
Tags: arm training, arm workout, big arm workout, bigger biceps, build arm size, build arms, derek poundstone, derek poundstone challenge, get bigger arms, get bigger biceps, poundstone challenge
Posted in arm training, build bigger arms, how to build bigger arms, how to build muscle | 2 Comments »
31 Days of Arms – August 2014
Brad Martin and Jedd Johnson
I was recently talking with my old friend, Brad Martin of Titan Strength in Horseheads, NY.
As it turns out, he is just as OBSESSED with Arm Training as I am, and we cam eup with a pretty crazy idea.
Inspired by a friend of mine, Dave Depew, owner of Grinder Gym in San Diego, CA, we are going to embark upon a new training program for the month of August.
We are calling it “31 Days of Arms.”
31 Days of Arms
Starting August 1st, and going through the entire month, every single day we will be hitting some form of Arm Training.
I want to do this to set a foundation for my Arm Training Initiative of reaching 20″ Guns while cold.
What I mean by that is I want to reach the point that my arms are 20inches, just walking around.
Not during the workout, not with a pump, and not after training, but ANYTIME during the day.
Brad and I were talking about it on Facebook and we already have one guy interested in joining us, Nate Gagnon, an Arm Wrestler from New England.
Guidelines for August of Arms
So, do you want to be a part of this “August of Arms” initiative?
If so, leave a comment below or get a hold of me in some other fashion.
Stay Up to Date on August of Arms
And Get More Info on Arm Training
We are going to take before and after pics, measurements, and we are going to document our workouts on Facebook.
I hope to hear from you soon.
All the best in your training.
Tags: "big biceps", arm training, arms, big arms, big triceps, bigger arms, bigger triceps, build arms, build bigger arms, get big arms, get bigger arms
Posted in arm training, build bigger arms, how to build bigger arms, how to build muscle | 1 Comment »
I love variety in my training.
If I do the same old stuff all the time, I get bored.
Honestly, as good of a lift the Bench Press is for developing upper body strength and putting on muscle, I just can not get “into it.”
Lately, I have been doing a lot more Dips instead.
And, I have been going super heavy on them.
I think you should try Dips Plus Weight too, and today, I am sharing my Top 10 Reasons for why you should use Dips Plus Weight in your Upper Body Training.
10 Reasons to Train Dips Plus Weight
1. Better for Shoulders and Elbows
On most Dip Set-ups, your hands will be in a neutral grip, or close to it. If your shoulders are beat up, this will take pressure off them. If your elbows are beat up, this will give them a break. Less distraction from pain, better effort during the exercise!
2. Freedom of Movement for the Shoulder Blades
When you lie on a bench, the shoulder blades are restricted in their movement. When you perform Dips, the scapulae can move freely. Again, if you are feeling beat up, this can give your body a chance to recover while still training hard.
3. Better for the Back
If you have lower back issues, a hard arch of the lumbar spine can really cause you problems. Believe me, I know. But with Dips, you actually experience a degree of traction, and the back can feel better. I talk more about how dips can make the back feel better here.
4. No spotter needed
When you are going heavy on the Bench you want NO DOUBTS whatsoever. It is a lot easier to do this if you have a spotter. No spotter, and you are taking a risk. You don’t even need a spotter with Dips. If you miss, you just drop down to the floor or foot platform.
5. Better Stretch for the Chest
One key aspect of lifting weights is getting the muscles to stretch under tension. This results in microtrauma that our body must repair, making us bigger and stronger. With Dips, I feel a better stretch than with Bench Press, and if you pay attention to your form closely, I think you will feel this too.
6. Works the Triceps Big Time
Just like the Bench Press, Dips will hit the triceps hard too. Depending on how wide the handles are and how you angle and load your body, you can also switch up how hard the triceps get hit by the movement.
7. Add Weight with Belts or Chains
You might not have tried this, but you can add a lot of weight to your body for Dips. You can use a Dip Belt and hang Kettlebells, Inch Dumbbells, Weight Plates or a Loading Pin from it. You can also use Weight Vests, Chains, and other forms of weight to your body to progressively overload Dips and keep your body growing.
8. Dynamic Stability for the Grip
I like the stability aspect that Dips require. You need to grip the handles harder in order to keep your balance, especially when you are loaded with a dynamic load, such as weight from a Dip Belt, or Chains around the neck/shoulders. Your hands get good solid work from Dips when you go heavy.
9. Improve Speed
You’ll quickly notice when training Heavy Dips that SPEED is your FRIEND. Being explosive out of the whole will get you more reps with heavy weight, and help you build more muscle and strength.
10. Deload the Body from Bench
If you are feeling beat up from the Bench, make Dips your primary lift for a couple of weeks. When you go back to it, your body will feel refreshed and ready to set new PR’s on the Bench Press.
Here is a recent video of 1RM Dip Plus Weight from the Grip Monsters Challenge. While super tough, I felt no pain in either of these attempts in my shoulders or chest, which is something I could never say about Bench Press.
Dip Plus Weight: 442.8 Total Lbs
Obviously, you don’t have to go adding close to 200 pounds to your body to get great benefit out of dips. Instead, start lower and go up. I think you will be happy with your results.
Dip Plus Weight Training Plan
Try this ramp-up for Dips Plus Weight.
Week 1: Bodyweight Only. 3 Sets of 20
Week 2: 25lbs Weight Added. 3 Sets of 15
Week 3: 50lbs Weight Added. 3 Sets of 10
Week 4: 50lbs Weight Added. 4 Sets of 12
Week 5: Deload
Week 6: Return to Bench or Dips + 25lbs 3 Sets of 20, and so on.
Enjoy your Dips and all the best in your training.
P.S. Due to an ordering error, I am overstocked on copies of the Nail Bending DVD. Through this weekend, you can get your copy and save $10. Click below for the Nail Bending DVD. ONLY 20 COPIES AVAILABLE
Every morning, I start my day with the same exact routine, whether I am home, in a hotel, or at a friend or family members house.
You see, about 4 years ago, I was having a run of nearly daily headaches.
This is kind of what the headaches felt like
Every day I went to work, the headache would start about 9 AM.
That meant the daily dose of Tylenol or Advil or some other pain relief pill.
Sometimes it worked a bit, but usually it did nothing.
I knew it wasn’t migraines. I’d had migraines before, and these weren’t that bad. They didn’t stop me in my tracks. They were just that dull, annoying, ache, that never changed, kind of like when the radio dial isn’t quite exactly where it needs to be for the station to come in perfect, and you are stuck with that little bit of static over top of every song that plays.
You know what I mean.
The static where it’s not Ice Ice Baby that’s playing, but Zice Zice Baby.
I knew it wasn’t a sinus infection. I’d had those before, too. I still do to this day. Generally, once in May and once in September my cheeks, forehead, and sinus cavity gets so filled with junk and the tissue so inflamed that every step feels like someone jabbing me in the sinus cavity with a pitchfork. And the only way to sleep is by placing my face on top of my fist so that the skin is pulled off to the side.
And I hadn’t had any head injuries, thank god, so it wasn’t some kind of trauma that had set these things off.
So I began looking at what else could be causing these low-grade daily headaches.
And the hunch that I came to was “maybe I was dehydrated?”
So, the next day, when I got up out of bed, I used the toilet, and I walked straight to the kitchen.
There, I filled up a glass of water, about 12 to 16 ounces, and drank it down. Then, I did it again.
My hunch was that I had somehow gotten myself into a rut of dehydration. I hypothesized that I was going to bed dehydrated, waking up dehydrated, and going through the entire day dehydrated, and this was causing me to have this crazy, nearly hungover, type of headache.
And I was RIGHT.
Once I downed that water, it was like I had hit the re-set button on a bad game of Super Mario and was able to start over from the beginning.
That day at work, it felt awesome to be able to look at other Managers in the eye without having to squint if there was a light behind them. I could sit and have conversations with employees without shuddering in pain if their voice was high pitched. And my workout that night was the best I’d had in a long time.
Every Day Brotherrrrr
So now, every morning, since then, with only a handful of exceptions, I have started the day with the Morning Gulp – 24 to 32 ounces of water, depending on how big the actual glass is, and I always will from now on.
But tomorrow, I am running a new experiment.
You see, my good friend Mark, with whom I train Back and Triceps on Friday mornings, pointed out something that I have been over-looking all year.
The water that I have been pouring down the sink after steaming my vegetables every other day or so, is most likely LOADED with nutrients and vitamins. So, today when I steamed the latest batch, afterwards I poured it into this giant plastic glass, and even though it looks like alien urine, tomorrow, I will be pounding this like a Keystone Pounder instead of just plain water, broccoli stubs and all.
Left-over Water from Steamed
Broccoli, Green Beans, Cauliflower, and Carrots
The idea is that tomorrow I will not only start the day off with a burst of hydration surplus, but also get a shot of vitamins and nutrients along with it.
Can’t wait brother.
Are You Chronically Dehydrated?
A quick google search on dehydration will tell you that an estimated 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated.
When you consider that it takes only a 1% dehydration level to drastically decrease your mental focus and physical prowess, let alone cause headaches, it is worth it to sacrifice the 30 seconds of your morning in order to jump start your hydration status.
Yep, 30 seconds to fill and chug two glasses of water, first thing in the morning.
Risk of Water Intoxication
Naturally, if you drink too much water, it can reach levels that are considered poisonous, even carrying the names “water poisoning,” “hyperhydration,” and “dilutional hyponatremia.” So, you can’t go overboard here. I am not a doctor and have no idea how to figure out how much is “too much.” So don’t try this until you talk to one about it.
Either way, if you aren’t drinking enough water, you’ll know it when you take a leak throughout the day because your urine will be yellowish, or if you’re really dehydrated, then it will be like neon orange, and you’d better start drinking more water.
Why not get ahead of the curve by drinking it first thing upon waking up?
Start with just one glass.
Give it a try and let me know how you feel by leaving a comment below.
It’s been roughly 6 months since I’ve gotten a legitimate comment on this site. I half wonder if anyone reads this site anymore, since I get no feedback, no props, no complaints, nothing.
All the best in your training,
Check Out The SPECIAL OFFER for the Month of October
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Tags: avoid headaches, drink enough water, get enough water, how much water to drink, hydration, watter and headaches
Posted in how to build muscle, how to develop strength, how to improve fitness and conditioning, how to improve strength, how to lose fat improve fat loss, how to lose weight and get in better shape, nutrition for athletes how athletes should eat | 11 Comments »
Me and Chris
A few months back, I was talking with an old friend of mine from college, Chris Christian.
Chris was one of my main training partners when I was in college between 1999 and 2001.
Unfortunately, he had been through an extended stint of “training vacation” and he wanted to get back into it.
He asked me for some guidance, and I asked him what he was currently doing.
He began to tell me about all this Beach Muscle work he was doing – each workout was filled with all this Pushing work and very little Pulling work.
Multiple Bench Variations, Shoulder Isolation work, Arm Training, but barely any Pulls.
So, we began working on that right away, because when you do too much Pushing and not enough Pulling, you run the risk of serious shoulder issues. Any doctor, physician or therapist will tell you that.
I laid out some new routines for Chris and shot him this video on balanced shoulder training guidelines.
He set forth following these new guidelines and said that once the Summer was over and his weekend job working security at an amusement park was done for the season, he would be up to hit a Big Workout, just like Old Times.
This past weekend, Chris made it up, and we had an awesome training session.
The way I laid it out, I wanted to give him plenty of new options for his training that were balanced between Pushing and Pulling movements for his entire upper body: Chest, Shoulders, Back, and Arms.
What this meant was that we would be hitting three upper body movements all in one day.
DISCLAIMER: I would not normally recommend training sessions like this on a regular basis. We trained for a solid 2.5 hours with very little rest. Doing this on a routine basis will almost definitely result in undue soreness and most likely over-training. That’s your warning, DIESELS. Don’t try this at home.
Part I: Intro Video, Warm-ups and Pressing
In this video, you’ll get to meet Chris. I immediately got him going on some warm-ups for his hips since he spends much of the day sitting on his ass and had just driven nearly 2 hours to my place. Even though we weren’t going to be hitting much lower body stuff, I still wanted everything to be limbered up well so that he was feeling right and performing well.
As I mentioned in the video, Chris’s job has recently been pretty intense. It was a long week filled with altercations, so I decided to add in some Odd Object Training along with the conventional barbell and dumbbell work. The idea behind the Odd Object Training is to get him better prepared for the altercations he sometimes sees in his job.
Part II: Log Incline Press, Incline Flies and Shrugs
Since Chris’s gym’s equipment selection is limited at best, I wanted to give him a treat of working the Incline Press with a Log. He said he loved it.
Also, since Chris is limited to a 30-minute workout since he trains at work, we threw in a nice super-set combo of Incline Flies and Shrugs. There’s no reason why Chris can’t get back into awesome shape. Even with 30-minute workouts, he can build muscle and burn off fat if he keeps his sessions intense, by including back-to-back pairings like these.
Part III: Pull-up Variations for Back and Grip Development
One of the ruts Chris and many people get into is they abandon Pull-ups and instead do all kinds of work on the Lat Pull-down Machine. I told Chris to start working Pull-ups back in because they are the Ultimate Back Builder.
You’ll also see in the video that we varied the grip and hand position throughout this section of the workout. We did this because I want Chris to start training his hands harder in order to be ready for anything on his job. You will see several different grip implements you can use.
This doesn’t even scrape the surface of what we did that day. Here it is almost a week since we trained, and I still haven’t got all of the footage edited and uploaded.
Make sure you subscribe to my YouTube channel so that you get to see all of the footage from this awesome workout.
All the best in your training,
There’s been a HUGE surge in people wanting to learn Nail bending recently. If you do too, start out with the two best resources available today:
The Nail Bending eBook and the Nail Bending DVD
Tags: muscle building, strength training, workouts
Posted in how to build muscle, how to develop strength, how to improve fitness and conditioning, strength training muscle building workouts, strength training powerlifting | No Comments »
Perfect Tool for Core Strength
4 Days ago, I did the drill I am going to show you today, and I am STILL SORE.
Normally, I wouldn’t judge the effectiveness of an exercise by whether or not it made me sore, but consider the following…
I have been doing Ab Wheel work for several months. I have been working it HARD.
I did 10 sets of 10 Roll-outs on my knees one day while I was on vacation, so I thought I was getting where I needed to be.
Then, last Friday, I set this drill up and 4 days later my abs are still cooked. That just goes to show you how vicious this exercise is, and why you should start doing it right now.
Standing Ab Wheel Roll-out Training
If you are looking for a way to build core strength, get stability for the lower back, strengthen the hips, and build your abdominal muscles, the only real piece of equipment that you need is the Ab Wheel.
Over the last 4 months or so, I have been including the Ab Wheel in my training on at least a weekly basis and I love it. I have written several articles about the Ab Wheel this year and will be continuing to experiment with it.
- How to Use the Ab Wheel Correctly
- Back and Triceps Training
- The Perfect Tool to Compliment Your Kettlebell Training
I would say my experimentation is still in its infancy, although the ideas that are going through my head are non-stop. I am doing my best to get them onto my ever-growing note pad, and hope to one day compile everything for you.
I have decided that one of my goals I hope to complete before the end of this year is a Full Ab Wheel Roll-out on the Feet.
As I am sure many of you know if you have tried one of these variations, the difference in difficulty between Ab Wheel Roll-outs on the Knees and Ab Wheel Roll-outs on the Feet is crazy. These two drills are not even in the same galaxy.
For Full Ab Wheel Roll-outs on the Feet, you must have much more abdominal strength, you must be much more stable through the core and the hips, and your shoulders must be able to with stand a great deal force in the full flexed position as well.
All of these factors, plus more that I am surely over-looking, make the Ab Wheel Roll-out version on the Feet much harder.
I have begun implementing more Ab Wheel work on my feet and moving away from Ab Wheel work on my knees altogether.
Today I want to show you a very promising progression step I have been using for working up to the Full Ab Wheel Roll-out on the Feet, and it involves using bands.
Someone asked how to do this method if you do not have bands. My answer to them is GET BANDS.
Bands are useful for countless exercises and methods. There are innumerable ways they can be used to make exercises easier, harder, and to de-load or assist you in bodyweight movements.
If you do not have a set, here are a couple of places to get them:
Again, if you don’t have bands, I really have to ask why. They are very affordable and the myriad of ways that they can be used make them very high in value. The links above are affiliate links. When you order through them, you will not only be getting yourself some training tools that you will use in countless ways, but you will also be helping me out with some commissions. Although they are small, it all helps me continue to improve this site and keep it available as a source of reliable information.
Keep an eye on new updates on my pursuit for legit Standing Ab Wheel Roll-outs by joining my Ab Wheel Roll-out Update List below.
If you don’t have an Ab Wheel yet, you can get one here: Where to Buy an Ab Wheel
All the best in your training,
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Tags: ab wheel, ab wheel roll-outs, ab wheel rollouts, standing ab wheel roll-outs, standing ab wheel rollouts
Posted in bodyweight training, core training workouts, core workouts for athletes, feats of strength, how to build muscle, how to develop strength, how to improve fitness and conditioning, how to improve strength | 1 Comment »
One of the biggest parts of strength training has nothing to do with how big you are, the loads you use, the volume you perform, or the time you spend in the gym.
Most people have those aspects pretty well covered.
This is something totally different that most people never give a bit of attention to…
Today, I am interviewing someone who knows a great deal about that. Logan Christopher.
Interview: Get Better Results in the Gym Through Mental Training
Jedd: Logan, thanks for doing the interview. Please tell us a bit about yourself and how you got your nickname, the Physical Culture Renaissance Man.
Logan: I have to thank Geoff Neupert for calling me that in the first place. For those that don’t know, physical culture is an old term to describe all different aspects of health and fitness. And renaissance man is the term used to describe someone who is good at a wide range of things. The term is usually applied to people like Leonardo Da Vinci for his amazing work in art, music, sciences, invention and more. So basically this term refers to someone who is good in all different sorts of strength and fitness areas. If it’s related to strength I’ve probably done it. Some of the things I’m more or less regularly working on are heavy lifting, bodyweight training including hand balancing and gymnastics, oldtime strength feats, grip strength, kettlebells and more.
Jedd: Logan, what does it mean to “Think and Grow Strong?” Your DVD Set is the first I had heard of this, and I think I have an idea, but tell us more.
I came up with this title based on the famous wealth and business book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. Everyone has heard the stories of old ladies lifting cars off of their family. Well if a person has that amount of strength stored within them strength training isn’t really about getting stronger but unlocking the power already within us. As you mentioned proper physical training is crucial and there is soooo much information available on that. Many people reading this will be quite versed in how to train to get stronger.
But very few people pay attention to the mental side. What I have found with myself and clients is that how you use your brain will instantly effect the amount of strength you can put forth, thus you can literally think and grow stronger.
Jedd: There have been some strength feats that I just knew right away I was going to attain and I did. Why is it that the way you think can have such a profound effect on something like strength training?
Logan: Just think about it for a second. When we’re exerting strength our nervous system is sending signals to tell the muscles to contract. If the CNS sends a stronger signal than you can contract harder and thus be stronger. And its not about trying any harder. In fact, with many of these drills you get better results with less effort. I recently did a simple experiment using hypnosis and curls. I saw a 27% improvement on reps using my weaker arm than what I could do with my stronger arm.
Basically you mind is going to direct EVERYTHING that you do. If it is optimized it just makes sense that you will see instant effects in performance. This stuff is actually easy once you understand how it works. But it only took me several years of studying it all to put it together 🙂
Jedd: Are some people born better able to optimize this mental strength than others?
Logan: Yes, just like some people are born physically stronger than others. But they’re all trainable skills. Many people, when they see what I can do, assume I was always strong. That’s not the case. In fact I was a very weak and scrawny kid growing up. Although I was fairly smart I wouldn’t say I was mentally strong either. If anything what I did have was a strong will to succeed, and that too is a trainable skill.
Jedd: Is this about repeating a mantra? Having motivational posters in the gym? What all is involved in this?
Logan: No, no, no. A mantra is a form of affirmations. While they can work mantras are the weakest of any techniques I’ve seen. The problem with them is that if you don’t believe what you’re saying you’re actually going to be affirming the opposite of your desire. You have to be careful of these limiting beliefs, but once you know how, they’re actually quite easy to change once you’ve identified them.
A motivational poster can do something but its not going to double your reps. Let’s talk about motivation. If you need to be motivated it means there is conflict between different parts of yourself. One part wants to achieve a goal and another wants to sit on the couch and eat cheetos. You can work to integrate these parts of yourself and then be congruent as you work towards what you want. And if you’re in this state than no motivation is necessary.
Some of the main techniques of what I teach come from Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Hypnosis, Visualization and Energy Psychology. There are different ways to help you achieve whatever your strength training goals happen to be by using these methods.
Everyone knows about visualization but few people practice it, at least regularly. But even with that I’ve found there are much more powerful tools. As an example visualizing yourself doing an exercise may help. But if you change HOW you visualize in specific ways, which changes your mental programming, you will definitely see an improvement.
Jedd: OK. So it’s not just about practicing Mental Programming, but also about How You Do it. Awesome. Another thing that caught my eye about your Think and Grow Stronger Master Course is that you talk about “manipulating your past, present and future.” How is this possible?
Logan: Time isn’t something that is real, in the sense that its not a physical thing. All it is is a mental construct that has many uses, but people also become trapped by it. All you really have is the present. In your mind you can go to the past and the future. Any exercise in goal setting is working towards a future time. You can also change how you frame the past. Just how much is possible with it? I think an example will show you what sort of manipulation you can do.
At the Wizards of Strength Workshop I led Matti Marzel through a drill. He was already quite strong in that he did two handstand pushups against the wall on just the index finger and thumb of each hand. At the time this was the best he could do. I led him through a little drill accessing how he programmed this exercise within in his mind. I had him step into the future where he had continued to practice this exercise. In this state he had more for a “feeling of owning the exercise”. I had him step back to the present bringing that feeling with him. He then did another set and was able to get 4 reps. He doubled what he could do by manipulating his mental programming and the future.
Jedd: When I played baseball, my dad always said I “wore my emotions on my shirt sleeve.” What exactly do emotions have to do with all of this?
Logan: The emotions are intimately tied into your thinking processes. Psyching up is a form of mental training that is common among strongmen and powerlifters. To get into this state people use anchoring, even if they’ve never heard of that term. What are they doing? They’re doing something to trigger their emotions, usually anger, to enter an altered state where the can lift heavier things. And it works. BUT there are better methods and while it works for non-complex heavy movements, psyching up does not work as well for everything else. Different emotional states are more or less useful for different lifts and exercises.
Jedd: Logan, I truly believe having your Mind right is a huge factor in success with strength training. I have seen people wrap up horseshoes and steel bars and then just before they attempt the bend they say, “I’ve never been able to get this.” And sure enough, they fail. I would love to put together a resource to help people improve this, but your Master Course is amazing. Please tell people about it and how to get it. I know you are planning on retiring it and it won’t be around much longer.
Logan: Limiting and empowering beliefs are such a huge aspect of success in any field. These not only directly responsible for your success or failure in training, but whether you even train and how you do it in the first place!
The Think and Grow Strong Master Course is a huge amount of information. It originally began as a monthly program but is now available all in one set. Ten modules cover all of the areas I’ve discussed and more. In total there is a binder full of written manuals, 12 DVD’s and 5 CD’s. The CD’s have hypnotic tracks that all you have to do is listen to in order to help you get stronger, gain muscle or lose fat. And they work.
But I’ve decided to retire this course and pull it off the market. I’m doing this to make way for new information in the future like my upcoming book Mental Muscle. So once this month is over it is gone for good. But right now you can get it for about one third of the price.
My guarantee is that with this course alone you’ll be far beyond any personal trainer and even sports psychologist out there in knowing how to properly use mental training.
I only have a few copies left and if they don’t sell out right away I’m pulling them off the market for good at the end of this month.
Jedd: Think about this guys:
It’s likely that you have spent a decent amount of money in acquiring training information in the forms of books, videos, certifications, etc. The great thing about mental training is that it builds on top of whatever knowledge you currently have. Regardless of how you’re training or what you’re training for it can be added on top to act as an accelerator for your goals.
If you want an edge on your competition, whether you are in strength sports, more classic sports, are a coach, or just want to look better, this could be the final piece to the puzzle to make your preparation complete.
Get it here while you still can for 1/3 the regular price:
Think and Grow Strong Master Course
All the best in your training,
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Tags: get bigger, get leaner, get stronger, how to build muscle, improve strength, lose fat
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Stretches for the Shoulders and Lats
I am willing to bet that it has been a while since you gave your lats a good, solid stretch.
This means your results in the gym are probably being stifled.
Tight lats will inhibit your muscle growth gains. Muscles need to be limber and flexible to allow for optimal growth, and if they are tight, your results will be stunted.
Don’t believe me?
Have you ever seen how flexible bodybuilders are? They may look muscle bound, but the truth is most of them stretch their asses off in order to maintain flexibility. If your lats are tight, you are limiting the amount of size you can put on.
Tight lats also mean your shoulders will not work right and your lifts will suffer. A great example is any form of overhead lifting: Strict Press, Push Press, Log, Barbell, Axle – it doesn’t matter. Tight lats will hinder your overhead performance.
Don’t believe me?
Try this. Do any version of overhead press with a thick hoodie on. Put a belt on your waist over top of your hoodie. You will feel the hoodie begin to restrict your overhead movement once the bar passes your head. This is essentially what happens when your lats are tight too – they inhibit your movement, and the Overhead Lifting is not the only thing they affect either.
Best Way to Stretch the Lats
Watch the video below. It will will show you my favorite stretch for the shoulders and lats. If you do this 4 or 5 times a workout, your tight lats will be on their way out the door, brother.
Obviously, this stretch utilizes bands. If you don’t have any bands, then you need to get some because these things are worth their weight in gold. If you have any questions on which bands to get, just let me know.
Places to Get Bands
If you don’t have bands, order some today. Beyond stretches like the one I show today, you can use them for tons of other things. Here are a couple of sources.
Start doing this stretch TODAY and I guarantee you will see better results from your muscle building and strength training, plus, your shoulders will me healthier because of it.
All the best in your training.
Got Other Shoulder Issues?
Get Back to Pain Free Workouts with Fix My Shoulder Pain
Tags: bigger bench press, bigger overhead lifts, bigger press, lat stretch, shoulder strength, stretch lats
Posted in how to build muscle, how to develop strength, how to improve fitness and conditioning, injury rehab recover from injury, Uncategorized | No Comments »
Superstar Billy Graham
Former WWWF Champion and
Partner of Arnold
Some of the classic bodybuilding pairings for the upper body are Chest and Triceps, Shoulders and Triceps, and back and Biceps.
These are time-tested methods, of course, BUT sooner or later, you’ve got to mix your training up a bit.
Do the same stuff for too long, and you’re sure to become stagnant in your results.
Before you know it, your training split is actually holding your training results back.
And if you’re anything like most people, you get sick of doing the same stuff like that all the time.
Today, I am going to show you how you can mix your training split up. The guys who have tried this with me have loved it, and I think you will too.
Reverse Muscle Building Workouts
Here’s how I do most of my upper body workouts with a “bodybuilding/muscle building” style workouts.
- Chest and Biceps (or Chest, Shoulders, and Biceps)
- Back and Triceps
What you end up with is some of the most ridiculous pumps you have ever felt.
Chest and Biceps day blows up your chest and biceps until your shirt screams in agony. Throw in some shoulder work and its even more phenomenal.
On Back and Triceps days, your lats, posterior delts and traps get smoked, and when you throw in triceps along with it, you get the most interesting pre-exhaust sensations.
Here is an example Chest, Shoulders, and Biceps day that JT Straussner and I recently did.
Example Reverse Muscle Building Workout:
Note: Each letter signifies one training block, either a single exercise or a pairing. Each number shows the order of exercises done in pairings.
Example Reverse Muscle Building Workout
A. Bench Press: We worked up to 275 and hit it for 3 sets of 6 to 8.
B. Seated Dumbbell Military Press: We worked up to 70’s and we to failure or near failure on these, since we didn’t pair them with another exercise.
C1. Rock Front Raise: I saw the Rock doing these in a recent issue of Men’s Fitness. Good for an occasional use now and again, but I prefer Kneeling Landmines to be honest.
C2. Farmer’s Shrugs: This is my favorite way to work shrugs. Perfect way to go with heavy weights without straining the back. Find out more here: Heavy Shrugs Without Hurting Your Back.
D1. Push-ups : This is a great pushing exercise that builds your chest, delts, and triceps. We did a slight variation of the push-up with the feet elevated, since we also did Flat Bench Press.
D2. Pull-aparts: This is often used with a light band to work the smaller muscles that abduct the shoulders, BUT we used heavier bands here to work the bigger muscles and the triceps.
***Note: For the D1/D2 combination, we focused on 20 reps per exercise and for some sets, we had to do Rest Pauses in order to get the target reps.
E. Reverse Curls Stare-down: This was just plain INSANE. We loaded the EZ Curl Bar and hit set after set until our arms were about to blow up.
Left: Superstar Billy Graham Right: Arnold
So, the majority of the workout was Push & Biceps. I added in Shrugs because I like to get those in a couple of times a week. Same with the Pull-aparts.
This workout provides some of the necessary ingredients for growth: multi-joint movements, isolation movements, varied rep-ranges, and varied loads. When you mix the variables like this up on a routine basis, you can’t help but grow.
My suggestion is to try one thing at a time though. First off, try the switch to Chest and Bi’s and Back and Tri’s using some of the exercises, rep-ranges and loading you like. Once you get a taste of these two non-conventional workout set-ups, then you can start tweaking with some of the other adjustments.
Enjoy the crazy pumps.
All the best in your training.
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Overhead Lifting: A Must for Shoulder Strength and Size
I Love Pressing Movements
Hulk Hitting Some Odd Object Press
I love shoulder training. I especially love the idea of taking barbells, axles, logs, stones, kegs and other odd objects and lifting them over my head like an absolute caveman or barbarian.
Hell, I’d Overhead Press every workout if I could recover quick enough. When you are doing overhead lifts, it’s like you can just feel the muscle fibers expanding and becoming stronger.
I Hate Shoulder Isolation Work
But one thing that bores the hell out of me is isolation work for the shoulders, like front and side laterals.
Now, if you’re talking posterior delt work, postural work, shoulder stability specific training, I am all about it, but as far as doing Dumbbell Side Laterals, man, I’d rather have you jab me in the eye with an ice pick.
The other reason I don’t like doing a lot of Side Laterals is the fact that the rotator cuff is responsible for the initial movement of the dumbbell, and I have read of people injuring these small muscles doing this exercise, and being out of the weight room for a while because of it, so I don’t like to press my luck in that way, either.
But recently, I wanted to start putting some more emphasis on the Front Delts, so I entertained at least doing some Front Raises with an EZ Curl Bar.
After a couple of shoulder sessions, I was bored out of my mind and looking for something else to try.
Enter: The Landmine Press
Then, out of nowhere I saw an article by Tony Gentilcore on T-nation that showed several lifts for training the front delts, and one of them that caught my eye was Landmine Press, as if he was reading my mind.
I instantly gave the lift a try in my next upper body workout, and I loved it.
Although not a full-on isolation movement for the anterior delts, it did hit them hard and provided yet another way to get my press on.
The next day after the workout, I had that familiar feeling of working the delts hard, but without the stinging pain of straining the underlying, smaller stabilizer muscles.
I tried a couple of variations of the lift, but by far my favorite is the Kneeling Landmine Press. By kneeling, you end up pressing upwards more and it makes the movement a bit more challenging this way.
For instance, I was able to hit the Standing Landmine with 100-lbs added for a set of 8 with each arm, but in the Kneeling position, I could only muster half the reps, plus there seems to be a better core engagement.
Low Ceiling Getting Your Press Down?
When I posted this video up on YouTube, Nate Brous, a friend of mine and certified Red Nail Bender, mentioned that the exercise looked very promising for him in particular, because he is very tall and his home gym has a very low ceiling which makes overhead pressing very difficult. By performing the Kneeling Landmine Press, he can work the pressing muscles without having to deal with the ceiling.
I know all about that, because I used to have a hell of a time pressing in my basement, due to the low ceiling. If you are in the same boat and a low ceiling is keeping you from getting your press on, then this might be the accessory movement for you.
Main lift vs Accessory lift
Take note that I think this lift is best used as an accessory lift. I think for sheer shoulder mass and strength, you will be much better off doing some form of overhead pressing, either standing, or seated, simply because you will be able to move much more weight and work much more overall muscle all at the same time.
To see how to set up this exercise check out this video.
Programming the Kneeling Landmine Press
Here is how I have been training the Kneeling Landmine Press.
Set 1: 25-lbs added. 8 reps per arm
Set 2: 50-lbs added. 8 reps per arm
Set 3: 75-lbs added. 8 reps per arm
Set 4: 100-lbs added. Max reps left arm, match reps with right arm.
Set 5: Same as set 4.
I have done this two weeks in a row and my best is 4 reps per arm at 100-lbs, if you count that last rep with my right arm in the video as a rep. I got out of alignment, lost my balance, and had to chase the barbell in order to keep from dropping it.
I am toying with the idea of ramping up quicker through the loading and then going for some sicker volume next time I hit this. This is what I am planning:
Set 1: 50-lbs added. 8 reps per arm
Set 2: 75-lbs added. 8 reps per arm
Set 3: 100-lbs added. Max reps left arm, match reps with right arm.
Set 4: 75-lbs added. Max reps left arm, match reps with right arm.
Set 5: 75-lbs added. 8 left, 8 right, 7 left, 7 right, 6 reps left, 6 reps right, and so on.
To me, that sounds like some sick-ass volume and it should blow the delts up big time. I will give this a try and report back here.
Until then, make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel for more awesome videos.
All the best in your training.
The Call to Arms is NOW!
Tags: build bigger delts, build bigger shoulders, get bigger shoulders, shoulder training
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Building a Bigger Bench Press
Dino Bravo – World Bench Record – 1988
It goes without saying that the Bench Press is one of the most popular lifts that are done in the gym.
And no wonder – it’s one of the best lifts for building upper body muscle, especially the chest, shoulders, and triceps. On top of the mass building potential of the Bench Press, it is also a great lift for building upper body strength.
In this post, I am going to cover a subtle adjustment you can make when you Bench Press to increase the weight you are able to press, the number of reps you can perform, and the safety of the Bench Press itself. When you can increase those three factors, your potential for size increases and strength gains is practically guaranteed.
The Power of the Lats in the Bench Press
Many trainees do not think about the lats when they Bench, because the lats are part of the back and are prime movers in rows and pull-ups, but the lats actually play a very important role.
Unfortunately, they do not realize that the lats are there to provide stability to the shoulder during the Bench Press. When the lats are activated properly, they provide a much better foundation for the shoulder, and this can be HUGE for your confidence under the barbell, when you are benching.
So, since the lats are so important, it makes sense to get them involved in the Bench Press as soon as possible, correct?
Well, many lifters miss the boat on that one as well. In fact their problems begin right from the moment they prepare to take the barbell out of the rack or hooks.
You can see exactly what I am talking about in the short video below.
Activating the Lats RIGHT AWAY for a Bigger Bench Press
I really want to thank Todd Hamer, strength coach from George Mason University, for showing me this technique modification. I met up with him at the Juniata Strength Clinic in June and asked him to take a look at my Benching Technique, and this has been a big help to me. It starts each new Bench Press set off with a completely different feel.
This way of un-racking the barbell may only be slightly different from what you are doing right now, but the way the bar feels in your grip and as you support it in the ready position is not. There is a night and day difference between these two techniques, and when you get this right, you can begin to see big improvements in your Bench Press.
And what’s great is, you can use this pulling lat activation method on your other Bench Press variations, such as Incline Bench and Decline Bench.
Let me know how you like this technique. Give it a try and leave a comment below.
All the best in your training.
Have you hit a plateau in your Bench Training?
Maybe it is time you switch it up and go for some VOLUME instead of just MAX WEIGHT. If so, click the banner below to learn the art of the
Bench Press for Reps.
Tags: bench press, bench pressing, benh press technique, bigger bench press, how to bench press, improve bench press
Posted in how to build muscle, how to improve strength, muscle building anatomy, muscle-building-workouts, strength training muscle building workouts, strength training powerlifting, strength training to improve athletic performance, strength training to prevent injury | 1 Comment »
Back and Triceps Training
Here is a recent workout compilation that my buddy Mark Gannon and I did.
In it, we are Back and Triceps.
This is a crazy combination. Many people don’t realize that the triceps will assist in the movement pattern of shoulder extension, so when you work Lats and Triceps together, it makes for a freakin’ sick pump with a pre-exhaust factor that is hard to put into words.
I also threw in some Ab Wheel. Sure, it works the core primarily, but I love adding it in on this day because it also works the lats, when you pull back to the starting position, and it hits the triceps hard too, because they have to hold your bodyweight up as well.
In the video, I added text blocks to show the set-and-rep schemes we use, and in some cases the loading. Go through it and you’ll see what I mean.
Try this workout combination and let me know what you think. I bet you will be hooked on this combo as much as I am.
All the best in your training,
Need to JACK UP Your Conditioning? Try out some SLED DRAGGING.
Tags: back training, back workout, bigger back, bigger triceps, build back, build triceps, tricep training, tricep workout
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Build Big Traps Without Hurting Your Back
I LOVE all forms of Back Training. Rows, Pull-ups, Chins, Pull-overs, Shrugs…You name it, I include some form of it in my training.
However, up until a few months back, one movement that many people do, I was cutting out of my regular routine.
This lift was Barbell Shrugs.
You see, I have a history of lower back issues, and a handful of times over the years when I would go heavy on Barbell Shrugs, I have tweaked my back.
So, I eliminated them from my program and stuck with Dumbbell Shrugs, because the weight was positioned at my sides and they felt better on my back.
Unfortunately, it is hard to go heavy enough on Dumbbell Shrugs to really shock the Traps into growing. As I mentioned in this post on Trap Training, my 100-lb dumbbells have begun to feel like warm-up weights after doing them so long, so I added Bands to the equation to make the Traps work harder.
Watch the Video: Band-Intensified Shrugs
Click Image to View Video
The method shown above is great because it makes the Traps work harder without causing additional stress to your back.
Today I am going to show you another way you can take your Shrugs to the next level, without hurting your back. This way is so basic, I can’t believe I never thought of it. This variation is simply Shrugs with Farmer’s Walk Handles.
Shrugs with Farmer’s Walk Handles
Provided your back is strong enough to pull the weight off the floor, you should be able to perform this lift safely. For me, at least, I can keep my core stable enough while performing this lift so that my back feels no unnecessary strain.
This is a great way to perform more weight in the Shrug. While it is almost impossible to find 200+ lb Dumbbells, if your gym has Farmers Walk Handles, you should have no trouble getting to that weight in the Shrug with this technique, plus, it is a great way to work your Grip Strength.
All the best in your training,
Powerful Traps are very important for Braced Bends, and particularly important for bar bends started with the Row Technique over the Knee. For more information on Braced Bending, check out our DVD – Braced Bending: How to Destroy Everything in Your Path
Build Bigger Traps
Dave Batista – BIG TRAPS
A common body part that lags behind other body parts is the traps. Many lifters I have spoken with have asked if I know any good ways to build the traps up besides normal shrugs. Today I will share that with you, but first let’s look at what the traps are designed to do.
Functions of the Traps
The traps, or trapezius, (so-called because altogether the three sections of the muscle are shaped like a trapezoid) is a muscle with many functions. While they are most visible at the top of the shoulder, they also extend down the back.
There are 3 segments of the trap, each with a different responsibility.
Image Source: Wikipedia
1. Upper Trap: Primarily responsible for elevating the shoulders and shoulder blades. Secondarily responsible for pulling the shoulders and shoulder blades back.
2. Middle Trap: Primarily responsible for pulling the shoulder blades together.
3. Lower Trap: Primarily responsible for pulling the shoulder blades down.
Now, when it comes to “building big traps” most people think of the section of the traps above the collar bone and shoulders. Dave Batista, pictured in the image at the top of the page, had some of the biggest traps I have ever seen in all my years as a wrestling fan.
Classic Trap Building Exercises
The classic exercise for building big traps are Shrugs and their variations. These are usually done with a barbell at the front of the body or with dumbbells at the sides of the body.
However, just because Barbell and Dumbbell Shrugs are what “everybody does” doesn’t mean everybody loves them.
Here are a few reasons why Barbell Shrugs and Dumbbell Shrugs fall out of favor with some trainees. Maybe you agree…
1. Barbell Shrugs, when done in front of the body, can be hard on the back if you have back injuries, especially when you start getting into serious weight.
2. Barbell Shrugs can also be done behind the body, but they can be uncomfortable on the shoulders and can force poor posture.
3. Dumbbell Shrugs are a fairly safe alternative, but some gyms are limited in their heavy dumbbell sizes and may not have loadable dumbbells that can be used to go heavier.
4. Because Dumbbell Shrugs are often done with lighter weights, you can find yourself doing very high rep sets in order to get the feeling that you have accomplished some effective muscle-building stimulation of the traps.
Because of all of these things, and possibly others you can think of, today I am going to show you one way you can intensify the Shrug to help build bigger traps.
In my garage gym, the heaviest matched dumbbells I have are 100’s. For anything higher than that, I use my loadable dumbbells and 25-lb plates. However, it is hard to do Shrugs with 25’s on loadable handles because the plates roll up your thighs, so to keep the movement legit, I have to stick with the 100’s until I get bigger dumbbell pairs.
I have gotten to the point now where I can perform upwards of 20 reps with my 100’s, and it doesn’t even feel like I have stimulated the traps unless I have already pre-exhausted them with another movement, like High Pulls. Unfortunately, those are tough on my back, so I don’t do them that much.
Instead, I have found a way to make the traps work even harder on every single repetition of the Shrug. You see, as listed above, the upper two portions of the trapezius are involved in pulling the shoulders back, as well as elevating them.
If you perform a shrugging movement, and then combine that with pulling the shoulders back, you will feel a much more solid contraction when you combine both movements. Even though the change is subtle, it has a big effect.
Try it now, even without weight in your hands and you’ll feel the difference.
Now, you can obviously just pull your shoulders back while you shrug in order to engage the traps differently, but I have found that there is a better way to accomplish this by combining bands with the exercise.
Watch the video below to see exactly what I mean.
Band Resisted Shrugs to Build Bigger Traps
So, as you see in the video above, the heavy band resistance makes you fire the traps and other musculature of the upper back intensely. This creates a movement that hits the traps in a much different way to help build them better.
Putting it Into Action to Build Bigger Traps
If you try this, I encourage you to start out with light dumbbells and band tension. This way, you can get used to the feeling of this movement, which is much different from a normal Shrug. Then, over the course of a few short sets, work up in weight and tension.
Also, you can play with the point the band is rigged to the structure. Since shooting this video, I have movement my anchor point higher for an even better feeling with this movement.
I think you will be surprised how much harder it is to perform Shrugs in this manner compared to just holding dumbbells. To give you an idea, I can Shrug the 100’s for more than 20 reps, and have yet to hit 15 reps with the blue bands on without taking a rest period mid-set.
Suggested Trap Building Workout
Barbell Clean or Log Clean – 6 Sets of 2
Overhead Lifting (Military Press, Dumbbell Press, or others) – 4 Sets of 3
Horizontal Band Resisted Shrugs – 4 sets of 10 to 12
Grip Training: Open Hand – Work up to a Max, then perform 10 doubles with 70 to 80% of Max
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All the best in your training.
Tags: build bigger traps, build traps, training the traps, trap build exercise, trap building workouts, trapezius
Posted in Diesel Workout of the Week, how to build muscle, how to develop strength, how to improve strength, muscle building anatomy, muscle-building-workouts, strength training muscle building workouts | 2 Comments »
Article by Logan Christopher, Legendary Strength
In this article I’m going to share a secret of strength that is rarely if ever spelled out in detail. Yet if you utilize these factors in your favor you can easily and dramatically increase the strength that you have. What I’m talking about is training with partners or a group that is strong, where the expectation of strength is high. Doing this, and this alone, will almost assure that you become strong yourself.
I got a review copy of an ebook package on Chuck Sipes called Chuck Sipes Power Storm this week and I must say the guy was impressive. Here are a few pictures I found of him showing some of the awesome stuff he did.
While a lot of the oldtime bodybuilders are cool and all, I haven’t found a great deal of evidence that they bent steel on top of hitting the iron relentlessly, but Chuck Sipes did. In fact, he doubled as a regularly performing strongman during the 1960’s while maintaining a world-class physique, reportedly all drug-free.
Text-book reverse bending technique, above. Check out the location of the nail in relation to his thumb .
Here he is crushing down what is most likely a 60D (60-penny) spike. It looks as if he just wrapped them in a small towel. Bending 60D’s with minimal wrapping like that involves a tremendous amount of pain tolerance. Chuck was obviously an intense dude.
Sipes didn’t just do the short non-braced bends, he also did the long braced feats. While I don’t know how far he went with the finish, whether he just put a U in the bar or if he “fished” them wrapped them into a scroll, above it shows he had some massive arm and shoulder strength to be bending bars in this way.
I can’t even imagine how many magazines must have featured Sipes back in the day.
My bouts of research on Chuck Sipes have been very impressive. My biggest take-away from it all was his work ethic. Maintaining his physique would have been much easier if he were not employed as a lumberjack, working long shifts, with less-than-optimal meal conditions, I’m sure, yet he managed to make it happen, keeping himself as hard as the mountain rock that he walked on. Keep that in mind next time you are feeling run-down after a day’s work.
For more inspiration, you can read more about Chuck Sipes,one damn intense dude, right here: Chuck Sipes Power Storm
All the best in your training,
“How Much Ya Bench?!”
This is a guest post from Chandler Marchman, designer of the SWOLE System: The New Authority for Building Size, Strength, and a Lean Athletic Body
The Bench Press – the one lift in the gym that’s seemed to transcend beyond the realm of just meathead weightlifting enthusiasts, and solidified itself as the official lift that every man must know his number for. So pretty much, if an over eager Man-Crushing beckons the question, we as men must be prepared to respond proudly with a stout number otherwise risk getting asked to turn in our MAN-Card…
But what if you are a competitive Strongman, CrossFitter, or Olympic lifter that holds the Overhead Press in higher regard????
I for one can attest to this dilemma. However, instead of ditching the bench press all together, I have found a simple and extremely effective way to not only do both, but also utilize one of powerlifting’s most prominent training systems to do so. That’s right, for those of you afraid to expose your undying allegiance to the Overhead Press, you no longer have to shamefully explain to people that you prefer a different movement pattern than the King of Meathead lifts…So rejoice, and restore your MAN-Card to its rightful place in your wallet. You no longer have to just do Overhead, you can Bench Press too!!!
The Birth of the SWOLE System
The solution I found to this meathead conundrum was birthed whilst training for my last Strongman Competition in which the pressing portion of the competition would be a certain number of reps on different implements for time. Noting that the weights for this event weren’t my limiting factor, I had to focus my time and effort on developing as much speed overhead as possible.
It wouldn’t be enough to just be able to lift maximal loads overhead, I had to lift them with a relative degree of speed. So taking what I have implemented successfully with my own interpretation of the Westside Method, I simply adopted the same principles utilized to build the bench press, only using the Overhead in its place.
If you know the Westside Method and the results this program produces you can expect to produce an athlete that can lift a hell of a lot of weight as fast as greased lighting. Pretty much, their power output rivals that of an angry bear with the munchies going after your picnic basket. Scary…I know…
The Basic Concepts
How are they able to do this? Simple, their training goals (squatting, benching & deadlifting as much as humanly possible) are met by two different methods with two different objectives. The Dynamic Effort Method, which is put in place to increase the rate of force development in each core lift, and the Max Effort Method, which is put in place to be able to continually overcome the maximal load your body is able to lift.
***Because inducing hypertrophy and a greater degree of work capacity are important goals for my athletes and I, we also implement a Repetitive Effort day for our core lifts as well***
Applying Dynamic Effort Training to Overhead Lifts
The objective of the Dynamic Effort Method is to increase the rate of force development in your core lift so that your max effort lifts will have greater bar speed. In order for me to take advantage of this training effect so that I could lift not only heavy weights overhead, but do so with speed, I would focus my efforts on the Strict Press, Push Press and Jerk as my core lifts instead of the Bench Press. I follow the same percentage (40% – 60%), rep (3 reps), and set (8 – 12 sets) range as the Westside Method, just with a different core lift.
Applying Max Effort Training to Overhead Lifts
The same principles apply to my approach to Max Effort Method training days. Three days after my Dynamic Effort Day, I would focus on hitting anywhere from a 1-5 rep max on the SAME core lift I did three days prior (it’s important to note that I’d rotate implements as well as the style of OH lift in order to continuously adapt to different stimuli).
By focusing on developing as much maximal strength as speed, I was able to develop tremendous power output in this movement pattern, insuring that on competition day, those lifting against me would soil themselves in fear! It worked… #Strength,Speed,&Stamina=Dominance
So where does the Bench Press fit in? Well, just like with the Bench Press, I found that focusing your supplemental work on the muscles involved in the core lift itself was the best way to improve the core lift. In this case, conveniently enough, the same muscles that are used in increasing your OH Press are the ones being used in the Bench Press (triceps, shoulders, and upper back to be specific). So my supplemental work was composed greatly of Bench Pressing.
Training Volume Considerations
As far as volume goes, I used the same protocol as that of many powerlifters using the Westside Method. On Dynamic Effort Method training days where the weight is submaximal, my supplemental work (on the Bench Press) would be relatively heavy (3-5 sets of 4-8 reps), whereas on Max Effort days when I’m lifting near maximal weights for my core lift, the supplemental work would be much lighter with far greater volume (3-5 sets of 12-20 reps).
So all I had to do was implement the Bench Press as my supplemental lift and BOOM, I could actively achieve my objective of increasing not only the weight I could put over head as well as how fast I could do it, but also answer the most important question any and every meathead could be faced with… HOW MUCH DO YOU BENCH?
This has been a guest post by Chandler “MANdler” Marchman, author of SWOLE System: The New Authority for Building Size, Strength, and a Lean Athletic Body
NOTE FROM JEDD: I recently met MANdler at a seminar in New Jersey and asked him to tell us a little bit about his program, and this is what he had to say (I had just beaten him in a Hulk Hogan impersonation contest).
Here’s a run-down of what is included in the SWOLE System:
Component 1: The Training Manual
Understand the SWOLE System and how MANdler gets such awesome results with his clients.
Component 2: 12 Week Training Routine
MANdler lays out 3-months worth of programming to turn you into an ass-kicking machine.
Component 3: Exercise Video Database
MANdler shows you exactly how to perform each exercise to ensure proper form and best results.
Component 4: The Diet Manual
Understand how to eat the right way in order to get Swole even faster.
Component 5: Meal Plans
Apply the Swole Methods for quickly and easily with this done-for-you diet plan.
Component 6: Supplements Guide Book
Not all supplements are bad – find out the ones that are worth your money and will help support all your other hard work and discipline.
Common Questions About the SWOLE System
Q: What is the SWOLE System and HOW does it work so fast?
A: The SWOLE System is an all-inclusive training packet that focuses on a percentage based scientific approach to training and easy to follow diet guide, that lead to fast and efficient results such as increased size, strength, endurance, and a lean athletic physique.
Q: What is included with this training system?
A: Included in this success pack are a done for you 12-Week transformation program, Video tutorials for EVERY exercise, a simple to follow diet guide, as a well as a theory portion that explains WHY the SWOLE System works so well for increased size, strength, power, endurance, and SEX APPEAL (you’ll look good while performing good as well)!!!
Q: I’m an athlete that needs to build strength, size and SPEED…will this training system work for me?
A: This system was actually started with athletes in mind. You will build size, strength, endurance and yes, even speed at a ridiculous rate! All things held constant, the athlete with superior strength, speed and conditioning ALWAYS wins. You don’t want to be left behind or face an opponent that has trained with this system. TRUST ME!!!
Q: Is there a diet component to this program? How does it work?
A: Yes. It’s one of the most important issues you must address when working towards your goals, and the simple system we use to address WHAT to eat, WHEN to eat, and HOW MUCH to eat, are what make this done for you, “Plug & Chug” diet system SO effective.
Q: Will this program work if I’m just trying to get ripped?
A: HELL YEA!!! For many of the weekend warriors at my gym, this is there one and only goal!!! When you focus on the training protocol that we focus on with this training system, it is theoretically IMPOSSIBLE to not decrease your body fat percentage while developing a lean athletic physique.
Q: I’m older than a lot of your “success stories” seem to be (in my late 30’s), will this program be suitable for me as well?
A: Absolutely it will work for the older than 30 crowd! Our bodies are meant to adapt to the demands that we place upon them. When we go through this specific, science based training protocol, it’s all the more important that we focus on training efficiency. And that’s the cornerstone of the SWOLE System’s philosophy. Train smarter, not harder. Train optimally, not maximally. When we match our training, our nutrition, and our lifestyle with the proper road map that are dictated by our specific goals, we are guaranteed to have success, REGARDLESS of age!
For more information on the SWOLE System, click the image below:
Tags: military press, overhead lift, overhead press, overhead workout, push press, shoulder training
Posted in athletic strength training lift odd objects, how to build muscle, how to improve strength, how to lose fat improve fat loss, how to lose weight and get in better shape, muscle building nutrition build muscle mass, muscle-building-workouts, strength training muscle building workouts, strength training powerlifting, strength training to improve athletic performance | No Comments »
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